I bought Zenyatta Mondatta with my own money, back when I was a kid, and albums were at thing, and we were that family – openly ‘halfbreed’ and forever under suspicion, building salt enough to resist the constant grinding. I had to have it. It was weird. It fit.
I was embarrassed by these guys, by the lack of melody in their music, that weird drone. But the drive! Stewart Copeland was the wild horse of my heart, the way he hammered and rampaged, with such wicked glee. His lightning speed! His daft expressions! The obvious irony of the man, and that slight edge of knowing that he was both magnificent and ridiculous, and loving and loathing it all at the same time. His rage. His laughter. The slam and intricacy, the awesome spectacle of a man glorying in his deep connection to the engine that drives the whole world.
Years later, I read Copeland’s autobiography with a smile, for of course, he knew it the whole time, that the drum is the shaman’s tool, is the embellishment of the one thing we all carry, the drum inside.
I’ve no urge to meet any of my artistic influences, as a fan.
I only ever want to meet these people on the sacred ground of the work; so if ever Mr. Copeland and I should meet, it will be because we are both working on something that brings us together. Not likely, but my life has been full of frankly unlikely things, so I will walk on, and not rule it out; and, when I need a kick in my inner horse, he’ll always be a go-to guy for me, with that massive attack, that flashing turn from roar and slash to finesse lacing round the beat, forever the beat.
Critics say he speeds up – well, me too, Stewart, me too! How can we not? The world is so simply throbbing with desire, joy, rage. Sometimes the wild horses cannot be stopped. We will not be. We are born running.
Find the One, and there is no speed limit. Join in. (2015)
(2019) Last night, I took my family, and our Québec exchange student guest, to see Stewart Copeland’s Ben Hur, with our own Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. ESO also holds my heart, how could I not be there?
Yeah, that was me, staring like a goon at all the bells, gongs, drums and gadgets, and at the master working them. That was me, laughing at his over the top antics, and breathless to see and hear my own fave band playing his score.
Any guilty twinges for strong-arming the fam into this occasion vanished when I peeked across, to see all three faces turned up, rapt upon the screen, utterly absorbed in the spectacle of film with live, glorious music – every trumpet flourish, every perfectly executed run, rise, fall, turn, slash, embellish, whisper, roar, riding on the anchor of the One.
It was the perfect way to see Mr. Copeland live for the first time.
In ’83, I was too poor to buy a ticket, when they were the mighty Police conquering the world I sat in my sister’s apartment, in town but a world away, spinning their records and getting over it, setting some goals.
In ’07, when they were the mighty Police reunited, I was in my backyard building tomato boxes, listening to their soundcheck, content to be a mom at home, living near enough to hear the music I loved, just over there, a few streets on. I’d made my way around the world, landed and become a mom. My world was big enough.
In 2019, my own modest career, and the life I held on to, lets me choose good seats for the household, whip up my favourite soft pretzels for us all beforehand, haul us downtown and settle in, close enough to talk if talking were what we were here for. But the moment we step inside, I am in that other place, beyond words.
The night is already alight. My heart catches and surges. That old feeling, that enduring magic, sweeps me in. I am here to find The One, and The One is found.
This morning, while magpies gossip through the May green, I’ll transplant flowers, clean up piratical raspberry canes, exhort the beans to grow. Small work, in which the beat rides on. Those magpies, they know. There are chariots. There are horses. The pirate beat thrums on, sunward and obvious as a whale.