Sunday, February 07, 2010
I nodded in casual agreement with the whole of music-loving, non-Tantric humanity as The Daily Mash recorded a popular wish for Toyota not to fix the brakes on Sting's car.
Still, I rather enjoyed some Police tracks, in particular the robust "Dead End Job", and began to wonder when did Sting change from being just one more puncheable peroxide ponce among many into the most reviled musician, activist and erotic explorer since Arthur Askey.
Are all the bêtes noires of our modern menagerie putrid from their first plunge into the pool of publicity, or does the sewage seep slowly, like water under a picture frame, until an idolised image is washed away?
One of my Russian literature tutors used to set us students the task of trying to spot the moment when the anti-hero Hermann in Pushkin's "Queen of Spades" turns from being your average callous Guardsman into an hallucinating madman.
Hermann becomes obsessed with an elderly nobleman who is said to know a winning gambit at cards. He seduces the countess's ward in order to gain access, then scares the old lady to death. Thereafter he descends steadily into insanity, seeing his victim's ghost everywhere.
We all had our pet theories, and mine set the moment of madness at the point when he started quoting French novels. Mr Williams, however, was right to say it came as Hermann stood outside the countess's house in the early hours, wondering whether he might become the octogenarian's lover.
So subtly has Pushkin lured us into Hermann's hermit mind that we barely register how barking the boy has become.
The same applies to Sting, minus the talent and granny-groping. That first solo album of his was "jazz-influenced" - a 1980s term for anything with a saxophone in it - and heralded the horrors of "Ten Summoners' Tales", "...Nothing Like the Sun" and other hey-nonny nonsense.
(Note to all musicians: just as putting brackets in your song title guarantees quality, ellipsis spells more than a slight pause in your career.)
But the element of crime came much earlier, even before the primary-colour Jungian daubs of "Synchronicity". Incidentally, it's a shame The Police didn't dally with Adler, as I might have bought the LP of "Gesundheitsbuch für das Schneidergewerbe".
But no. It was when young Sting was crafting "Don't Stand So Close To Me" in 1980 - and if any song title needed a pair of brackets, by the way, this was it. The Devil perched on his shoulder and whispered "Need a rhyme for 'cough', Gordon?"
So Nabokov took the former English teacher on a trip of three steps to the Fitzcarraldo folly of his Amazonian adventures, where piranhas, blow-pipes and those tiny fish that burrow up your Jap's eye patiently await.
There's a fine Stanley Kramer film from 1961 called "Judgment at Nuremburg". In it lawyer Burt Lancaster acknowledges that Nazism made him betray everything he had stood for. He said he didn't know it would come to that. Judge Spencer Tracy replies "It came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent".
So, what was Bono's capital crime?