It's again time to Police the Grammys
Of recent years we've pretty much avoided watching the Grammy's or even doing much more than a cursory review the day after to see what-the-hell it was that Grammy voters decided was worthy "music." But this year we'll have to watch again.
That's good news. (Yeah, they played a song or two at their induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, but that was more of just a "thank you" gesture.)
Here at Oklahomily Central we still cherish the booze-filtered memories of watching Sting, Stew and Andy do their thing in the front of a small club in Durango, Colorado, back in the summer of 1979. This was just as their ship was about to come in, as it is said, or just before massive American radio airplay - demanded by those of us who saw the boys as they roughed it across America in what various histories say was either a) a panel van or b) a station wagon.
We can shed no light on this mystery for a very simple reason: Once the Police began to play, the Oklahomalist and his young bride refused to budge from their table, as it was located front and center, with only about a fifteen foot gap between us, our libations and the band!
Naturally we had no desire to leave the club to see what kind of wheels these three amazing guys were sporting. Even going to the can was done carefully so as to make sure the open seat was defended. The place, which earlier had been sleepy, was now packed well beyond fire code requirements, as memory serves.
How had we happened upon this musical event? Don't know much about synchronicity, but serendipity do!
We were in Durango with tickets to ride the Narrow Gauge Railway the following morning. That afternoon we ate a fabulous late lunch at some Mexican restaurant, crossed over to the movie theatre for a bit, then drifted along the streets of downtown Durango. On the doorway to one watering hole it said, "Tonight - The Police."
A waitress suggested we take a table early and wait. "These guys are great!" she gushed. "You're gonna love 'em." I seem to remember a $3 cover charge, or some pittance. Perhaps not even that.
And was she ever right! The Police played their music, so many of the songs we now recognize as their classics, with a stripped down equipment ensemble (maybe Stewart had more than a floor tom, kick and snare, hi hats and a couple of cymbals, but I don't recall it that way). Andy had his controller box for his synth-guitar, and Sting, clad in shorts and a tank top, had his bass. There were three mics for vocals. There may or may not have been stage lights; again, don't remember them and can't help but think there wasn't enough room.
It didn't matter. Whatever they lacked in equipment they more than compensated through a manic energy that captivated and transformed the audience.
Roxanne. Driven to Tears. Message in a Bottle, and many more.
Every little thing they did was magic. Even without the marqueritas and (later) the beer it would have been marvelous.
Of course the next morning was a bit rough. We had three-alarm hangovers, iffy digestive systems and an early departure on a train that belched coal dust into the passenger cars on a three-hour trip upward into the old mining area of Silverton. There were several necessary trips to the latrine. It was a most difficult trip.
Yet I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was worth every minute of the evening before, and the train ride itself was spectacular, the joy of the moment far overshadowing the nausea and pain. A beer with lunch in Silverton and the natural recuperative powers of a 20-something body gradually managed to assert a sunnier inward disposition to match that of the Rocky Mountain day!
Since then we've loved the Police, acquired just about everything they ever recorded. We aren't even bothered by Sting's political activism even when it diverges from our views significantly. He was a fabulous Feyd Rautha Harkonnen in the "real" movie version of Dune. Yeah, admittedly, we tossed aside any logical objections to their post-Police lives and gave 'em a pass. The only real objection to their actions has been the fact that they broke up in the first place.
Perhaps the Grammy's will give them the excuse they need to get back to making music again.