Friday, October 2, 2015
Friday Night Videos: Happy Birthday Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner
Growing up (and still now) I was a HUGE fan of the Police. In fact my first folder I kept my character sheets in had the symbols from Ghost in the Machine scribbled on them.
When Synchronicity came out it was such a shift in my thinking that I can barley quantify it. From this I read Jung, which would lead to degrees in psychology (undergrad and graduate). I read Lolita (thanks to "Don't Stand So Close to Me") which lead me to read other literary greats.
(Seriously. Read Lolita. It's dark, messed up, and brilliant.)
When I got married the song playing "for me" was Sting's "Fields of Gold".
So yeah. I am a fan.
Plus he went to St Cuthbert's Grammar School, so how could I *not* associate him with D&D?
But there are a lot of good songs I associate with gaming.
Back when I was working on the Buffy RPG we were working on a series of linked adventures about a Djinn. The first few appeared the core books and my adventure "The Dark Druid" was supposed to be Episode 1. It never quite came together for the reasons these things don't but I wrote a lot for it. Some of those adventures later became part of "The Dragon and the Phoenix" and "Season of the Witch".
"Desert Rose" from Mercury Falling was one of many songs I listened to then to get me in the mood. This video represents that crossover. In both the Djinn arc and Season of the Witch the characters have to find their answers in the desert in the adventure Desert Rose. Plus I love the bits from Algerian Raï singer Cheb Mami. Sounds so cool. Plus is that the same driver from the Duran Duran video "The Chauffeur"? (no I know it's not...but I imprinted in the 80s).
Often with me music will inspire some idea, plot or character. Sting's "Shape of my Heart" from Ten Summoner's Tales is not his most upbeat song. I remember listening to it and thinking of a man who was a gambler decided to deal with fate. He became the instrument of fate, loosing his eyes in the process and everyone he loved. He knows that the fortunes he deals for others are just as much about him and one day he will find what he lost. That character became The Dealer and he can be found in Halfway.
The Soul Cages might be Stings best sounding album from a audiophile perspective, though I also like the vinyl version of Dream of the Blue Turtles. It is also (naturally) a dark album. Lots to do with death and transitions and how fathers die and sons become fathers in turn. Nothing lays the pathos bare better than the song of the same name, "The Soul Cages". I always considered this a "Ravenloft" album.
What do Zenyatta Mondatta, Dream of the Blue Turtles and Bring on the Night all have in common? All have a slightly different version of Sting's own "Shadows in the Rain". The later, jazzy versions don't share the darker edge of the 1980 Police version, but all are still good. This song also was the inspiration for a rather pivotal episode in both the Buffy Djinn arc and later in the Dragon and the Phoenix.
Anytime I want to get in the mood for some Celtic-themed gaming you can do worse than listening to the Chieftains. The Chieftains and Sting together is something rather special. Having them sing "Mo Ghile Mear" is fantastic. I swear I can hear Éire herself singing.
Speaking of hearing Éire. Going back to Ghost in the Machine for a bit, the Police's "Invisible Sun" has haunted me for years. I have wanted to use the imagery from this song for years. It was one of the many influences on my Ghosts of Albion adventure Blight. It is a main part of my current D&D 5 game, Come Endless Darkness. I like the Ghost version best, but here is an extremely gratuitous version with Sting and Bono. No one chews up a stage like Bono.
Happy Birthday Sting!