. . .
I saw the Police two times during their initial run, both in situations where it was easier to watch the video screen then actually have a chance to see how the band interacted with each other while playing their songs.
The first time was at the US Festival in 1982, and they had the misfortune to follow an absolutely on fire Talking Heads, who killed me so much that I don’t remember the Police’s set, which came at the end of a very very long and scorchingly hot day.
The second time was at Ratcliffe Stadium in Fresno on the 1983 Synchronicity tour, and while there was a video screen of course, the eternal problem with video screens is that I’m stuck watching what the director wants me to watch (Sting) instead of what I want to watch (Stewart Fucking Copeland). Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it: in my compare-and-contrast-with-Translator-at-KFSR’s-first-anniversary review in the Dead Air Diary I pointed out “Synchronicity II” and “Reggatta de Blanc” as highlights.
The show I’ve always kicked myself for missing was their legendary 1980 show at the Warnor’s Theatre in Fresno. Why didn’t I go? Probably because I didn’t have anybody to go with. At that time, pretty much the only person I knew who liked the Police was Tim, and he had to work that night. And because at was at the Warnors — all seats, no floor — I guess I wasn’t comfortable going by myself, as I started to do just a couple of years later.
None of this has a whole lot to do with today’s song, which is probably my favorite Police song that isn’t on Reggatta de Blanc, the deceptively simple “Secret Journey.”
“Secret Journey” has a weird pedigree: if you listened to the radio in the early 1980s U.S., it was final single from Ghost in the Machine, after the juggernaut of “Every Little Thing Is Magic” and the near juggernaut of “Spirits in the Material World.” But only in the U.S. & Canada, which apparently Andy Summers didn’t know, because he’s quoted in the song’s Wiki page as “I always thought that should have been a single.”
And while you might make a frowny face about Sting being on his mystical shit again, I always loved Stewart Copeland’s fucking around with the beat while driving the song forward, and I loved the simple structure, which alternated a long synth wash with the verses and choruses fading in and out of it, like the song itself was on a secret journey and you were only catching glimpses of it.
Also: I loved the chorus, featuring gorgeously dissonant harmonies floating over swirling keyboards and guitars.
You will see light in the darkness
You will make some sense of this
And when you’ve made your secret journey
You will find this love you miss
There wasn’t a lot of tricksiness going on with “Secret Journey:” outside of the breakdown in the middle, it pretty much came in, said its piece and got the fuck out of the way. And in fact, I think it incorporated the keyboards that dominated some of the other songs incredibly well. That said, I might have been the only one who appreciated it, as it was literally their only U.S. single during their 1980-1984 imperial phase that didn’t crack at least the top 20, stalling out at #46.
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