The Police On The Grammys

They’d better not play a fucking medley.

Last year, I don’t think I even fast-forwarded through the Grammy telecast.  Why?  Just a bunch of self-congratulatory poseurs involved in a circle jerk, trying to make themselves feel good, trying to raise the revenues of a dying industry.

But this year I’m gonna watch the show.  To see the POLICE!

I’m not gonna watch in real time, I’m on KLSX.  Tune in, my special guest is John Boylan, producer of the first Boston album, the man who put together Linda Ronstadt’s backing group, otherwise known as the Eagles.  Unassuming and loquacious, still excited after decades in the business, Boylan is a pleasure to interact with and a fountain of wisdom. 

9-11 PST, KLSX/97.1 FREE FM (streamed at: 97.1 Free FM.)

But as soon as I get home I’m gonna fire up the video equipment, to see what exactly HAPPENED, whether Sting and the boys DELIVERED!

If Neil Portnow had balls, he’d put the Police up front.

Hell, if you’re reading this NARAS, take heed, blow people’s minds, give them what they want at the very beginning.  The Stones make you wait forever, but that’s positively sixties.  The Police were seventies, LATE SEVENTIES, an outgrowth of the punk movement, without artifice, only about the music.  Hell, if you don’t have the Police open could you at least get Elvis Costello?  To play "Welcome To The Working Week"?  The opening cut off his debut album?  Yes, reunite the Attractions, have them come out for the entire 1:22 of the song then RUN OFF!  Get the show started with some REAL energy, pay Elvis back for ignoring him thirty years ago, ignoring his FANS thirty years ago.

That’s the only reason oldsters are going to tune in, to see the Police.

Oh, they might want to ogle Beyonce.  Check out a few TV stars.  But there’s no soul in the Grammys, no essence.  The show in cavernous Staples Center flattens all the performers, lumping them together in a bizarre second-rate talent show that no one remembers except for the faux pas.

How did music lose its way?

As we’re sitting here, beats are dying, they’re becoming marginalized.  It’s overexposure, it’s histrionics, hip-hop is a sideshow and dancing speaks to the genitalia but not the mind, the feet but not the heart.  People now have a choice, and they want something different from the narrow, mainstream pap being fed to them by the machine.  The MACHINE is dead.  Hell, sales are off in double digits, Capitol Records folded, music radio is a joke.  The landscape is ripe for the picking, for a new entrepreneur.  And for new acts who know about melody and hooks.  Like the Police.

I missed the Police’s first American tour.  Oh, I caught Elvis and Joe Jackson at the Whisky, but that weekend I was burned out, I didn’t think a band with dyed hair and a ridiculous name would ultimately amount to anything.

But the second album convinced me.

Oh, believe me, I loved "Roxanne".  Who didn’t??  And I bought "Outlandos d’Amour".  But really, I didn’t need to hear the stuff on the first album until I became enraptured by the second.  THEN "Next To You", "So Lonely", "Can’t Stand Losing You" and "Born In The 50’s" came alive, they suddenly had CONTEXT!  Especially "Hole In My Life".  You see in an era where Bob Marley still hadn’t broken fully through in America, most people got the reggae bug via WHITE reggae, played by the Police.  I loved "Trenchtown Rock" from the Wailers’ ’76 live album, but no more than the Police’s "Walking On The Moon".  That’s what made me go back and play the band’s debut.

Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon

If you were born in the fifties, you remember the space race, the barrage of info about the moon.  On the moon, there was less GRAVITY!  Each step was a BOUNCE!  You LEAPT from location to location.  And, eventually, we watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin do so.

"Walking On The Moon" has got the feel of the space shots.  Andy Summers’ guitar explodes and SPARKLES, like a giant step!  And the groove, it’s got the swagger of someone whose every stride contains a bounce.  And then there’s the vocal…

Some may say
I’m wishing my days away, no way

Back before Reagan got elected, back when the baby boomers were still finding their way, it wasn’t so much about achievement as it was about EXPERIENCE!  You weren’t trying to GET somewhere so much as FEEL ALIVE, TAKE IT ALL IN!  You put a record on the stereo, and you let your mind drift.  You got in your car, fired up the radio, and were ready for ADVENTURE!  "Walking On The Moon" contains that spirit, of life being in front of you, a giant canvas upon which you can throw paint like Jackson Pollock.  "Walking On The Moon" made me a Police fan.

And then there was the joy of "Zenyatta Mondatta", the record that made the band superstars.  Maligned for being lightweight, there’s a joy in the album that cannot be denied.  It still resonates today, it still can lift your day.

That was the final album peak for me.  Oh, I purchased them all, but I didn’t quite cotton to "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and "Ghost In The Machine".  And I liked "Synchronicity" better, but it was too mature, not cutting edge like the early albums, in retrospect Sting was right to go solo.

And I love Sting solo.  "…Nothing Like The Sun" is classic.  "They Dance Alone" cuts to the bone, and his rendition of "Little Wing" is every bit as good as Stevie Ray’s for me.

And how about "Ten Summoner’s Tales".  He’s got a way with a change, a modern day Beatle, come on, you love "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You", right?  And "Fields Of Gold"?  And how about "This Cowboy Song" from the greatest hits album?  Such swagger, such attitude, such ELATION!

But the Police were something different, more raw, more primal.  Not about sophistication so much as feel.

And we can second-guess the reunion, I believe it’s Sting’s need to be in the spotlight, but now it’s finally here…and what’s it gonna be LIKE!

Let’s only hope there aren’t any additional players.  Backup chicks at most.  It was the three piece sound that resonated.  We filled the holes with our minds.  The music BREATHED!

So, the question arises, WHAT TO PLAY!

If you lived through the sixties, you know that the medley was the province of has-been oldsters, who didn’t respect the music, who didn’t give the public what it wanted.  Whereas when most rock acts DID get airtime, they played a complete song, they didn’t run their hits together, that would DISRESPECT THEM!

I’m truly fearful the Police will give the public what it thinks it wants.  Not able to come up with ONE song, they’ll play them all, as an advertisement for the tour.  I say fuck that, center on ONE!

Yes, it’s perfectly clear, the Grammy show has to start with a complete Police song.  It’s time for these besuited assholes to take a risk, like the NFL, and let the MUSIC shine, let it eclipse the ceremony.

We’ve got to have Sting front and center, picking the notes on his bass.  Stewart accenting from behind, Andy hitting the trebly notes to the side.  The song must be INSTANTLY recognizable, we must know IMMEDIATELY!

Yes, it’s time to reclaim the number from Puffy/Diddy.  It’s time to bring it all back home.  Yes, the Police must open the Grammys with EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE!!

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Oh, the words don’t do the song justice.  It’s the airy feel, the mystery that enraptures us.  It’s the window into the writer’s psyche, his soul.  Oh, haven’t you BEEN THERE!  It’s over, but your obsession remains.

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Where’s she staying, the new boyfriend’s house?  And is she LYING ABOUT IT?

Oh, can’t you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches
With every step you take

We were together for SO LONG!  How can you leave me, how can you be with somebody new, don’t you know it’s about US??  You can’t DO this to me!

Oh, the change at this point would be enough for most songs, good enough to make them hits.  But really, the above chorus plays second fiddle to the BRIDGE!!

Since you’ve gone I been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby, please…

It’s gone from being sinister to a PLEA!  Sting has thrown off the artifice, now he’s BEGGING!  I’m naked, can’t you see, don’t you need ME??

Oh, it takes YEARS to get them out of your system.  They appear in your dreams.  Even after you’ve found someone new.  But that initial period, when the bed’s too big without them, that’s too much, you think you’re gonna die.

Then Sting regains his composure.  And is dark and controlled again.

And eventually the song fades out…

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
Ill be watching you

Endlessly, with his blank army behind him, his faceless friends who are angry too, for his being dumped, they go on and on.  Just like your memory.  It takes so long to FADE!

"Every Breath You Take" is the Police’s "Yesterday".  A song you only have to hear once to get, and one that never gets tired, one you never push the button on.

So simple, not an endless studio concoction.  Just the essence.  With this incredible FEELING!  That’s music, that’s why everybody remembers, wants to see the band, to get that HIT!

Maybe Sting was right, they couldn’t follow up "Every Breath You Take", maybe they HAD to end on this note.

But they left us high and dry.  Until Sunday night.

"Every Breath You Take" fits both Grammy categories.  It’s an unbelievable SONG, and an incredible RECORD!  It’s indelible, you hear it once and it’s imprinted on your brain forever.

And that’s why it needs to open the show.  To reinforce to the anesthetized public how great music can be, how the industry has not forgotten.  Instead of overpriced CDs with only one good song you’re gonna get EXACTLY what you want.

And when the number is over, and all throughout the show, it’s going to be reinforced AGAIN AND AGAIN, the Police are going to come BACK!

Everyone will call his buddy, or text, IM or e-mail him.  Did you see the POLICE?  God, you’ve got to tune in, there’s going to be MORE!

And the band members can’t be presenters.  But to end the show, not that NARAS is going to say it’s going to transpire then, instead of the usual fade-out clusterfuck, the Police are going to take the stage again and rip into DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME!

Fuck the speeches, fuck the awards, fuck the self-congratulations.  It’s about the MUSIC!

If it’s music’s greatest night, let the music SHINE!  Not the evanescent crap, but the timeless CLASSICS!

And then, just when you think it’s all over, Andy’s gonna play that reggae riff, Sting’s gonna step up to the mic and wail:

ROXANNE!

Hell, have you been to the Grammy show?  It’s still being telecast, but the audience is STREAMING out of the building!

But not if the Police close the show.  The lights will be up, everybody will be on their feet.  Stomping their feet, SINGING!!!

Put on the red light
PUT ON THE RED LIGHT!!

I implore NARAS and the Police to turn on the red light  Sunday night.  To give us what we want, and MORE!  To blow our MINDS!  To show it can be about both the band AND the song.  To impress on the younger generation that there’s greatness in the grooves, and to let the oldsters know they can STILL believe!

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  1. […]

    Ah, the kermudgin-ly Bob Lefsetz does it again. The first line of his most recent email about the appearance of the Police on the […]

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