“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” ~ Henri L. Bergson
I don’t know about you, but I avoid activities that make me feel old. Hanging out in clubs (or even hipster bars), group exercise classes where the median age is half of mine, or leaving the house with my grays showing, for example.
So it was with more than a little trepidation that I bought tickets to go see Sting, my original rock star crush.
Revisiting bands I loved back in the ’80s and ’90s is always a land mine of potential elder explosions. A couple of years ago I went to see ABC and Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s fame on a double bill. Sadly, the poison arrow ABC shot at my heart was laced with Metamucil, and Belinda’s get up and go-go had got up and went-went.
Our arrival at the venue did nothing to alleviate my concerns. In a sea of aging hippies and gray-haired hipsters, I mounted the gigantic, winding steps in the outdoor amphitheater, winded after the first steep incline and wishing I had one of those electric chairs that attach to staircase railings that would whisk me up to my nosebleed seats.
The weird part was as I scanned the crowd, I could imagine what everyone around me looked like in high school. To my left was a jock that had no real interest in the show — he was just doing his girl a favor taking her to see Sting, while downing an endless stream of flat beers from paper cups. Behind me was a stoner pair who back in the day would’ve spent their free period burning in wood shop, and now were laughing and dancing, blissfully unaware that everyone else was sitting down during the slow numbers. There were plenty of pretty people, too: a cute guy in a porkpie hat and cool shades; a meticulously preserved blonde in a lacy top; the pair voted, “cutest couple,” holding hands and sneaking a few kisses during Every Breath You Take.
Sting looked amazing and sounded fantastic, but I couldn’t help but feel a little depressed. The song list consisted of fan favorites from The Police and Sting’s early solo efforts from the late ’80s/early ’90s, but he played nothing new.
So I started to wonder: Was the King of Pain also the King of Unchanged?
Granted, I was a little biased as I was coming off a weekend that celebrated creative evolution in a way that Sting himself would’ve enjoyed. My BBF and biz partner, Hillary Carlip, was featured in an exhibition, “Stocked: Contemporary Art from the Grocery Aisles,” at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Her contribution was portraits taken from her book, A La Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers (originally published in 2008), where she transformed herself into the people whose shopping lists she found: a recent widow, a therapist, and woman who produces porn for the senior set (Driving Miss Daisy Chain), among others, and was photographed as those characters. The stunning images were artfully shot by another BBF, Barbara Green. For both women, the show was a new level of exposure for a past effort, and although the moment was extremely sweet, both are also knee-deep in fresh projects, which are taking each of them in exciting new directions.
So Back to Bass (yes, that’s the name of Sting’s tour) and the question of where the guy has been for the last couple of decades. Upon close inspection of his website (http://www.sting.com), I was reminded of the incredible work the man has done saving rainforests, supporting Amnesty International, and contributing to a host of other charitable causes. He’s never stopped releasing albums — I realized that there are a handful I’ve missed and now want to revisit, plus numerous movie soundtrack contributions. His musical work has come full-circle and unlike me, he’s happy to go out with his roots showing, although his are not so much gray as they are the blues.
But most exciting of all, he’s been hard at work developing a musical called The Last Ship, which is about “homecoming and self-discovery… the complexity of relationships, the passage of time, and the importance of family and community.” (The music from the play will be released this coming September.)
And then there’s this from the man himself: “Before I began writing for this project, I hadn’t written anything in about eight years. I’d lost the urge to create — the urge that had driven me most of my life. But once I decided to turn these memories of my childhood into a narrative, and began to think of writing for other people — for other characters, from other viewpoints apart from my own — the songs came very quickly. I wasn’t in the way anymore. I really felt, for the first time in a long time, that I was free to tell a story that was important to me. The floodgates seemed to open, and every time I sat down, the songs would pour out.” (For more on this, check out Sting’s article in the Huffington Post.)
And whoop, there it is: fresh inspiration from my old crush. And one of my many current projects is writing a musical. (This is true — and no, I’m not just saying that cuz Sting is. Well, maybe I am a little…)
Because after all, when my compatriots and I go see Sting (or any solo artist or band from that era), what are we doing besides revisiting our youth?
As I closed my eyes and swayed to the music, I was on an emotional trip to a time and a place where so much of my creative inspiration began. And it was Sting and The Police who rocked me; reggaed me; jazzed me; and carved groovy, intense, indelible neurological pathways in my brain that trail right to my emotional gut. And now knowing that he’s embarking on yet another brand new day is well, magic (magic, magic… every little thing).
So if you see Sting and me chewing our pencils and sweating over the minutiae of musicals, just know that everyone old is new again. And de do do do, de da da da, well, that’s all I want to say to you!
Now, with renewed belief in the creative vision and spirit of our favorite rock god, please enjoy the number Sting opened with, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” —