39. The Police - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

When The Police started work on their 1981 album Ghost in the Machine, they were influenced by the non-fiction book by Arthur Koestler of the same name, which deals with the evolution of the brain from more primitive forms to the more advance and evolved brain of today.  The "ghosts in the machine" are the primitive brain functions that can fight their way through the modern brain structure to take over, leading to the impulsive, primitive side to overrule the logical, rational side.  Many songs on Ghost in the Machine deal with those themes, and to a smaller degree, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is one of them.  Love vs. Reality.

The song deals with the common theme that so many of us have dealt with (and probably all of us in our high school years) - unrequited love.  So much of the music on Ghost in the Machine is dark, and as "Every Little Thing..." opens, it seems like the darkness that started with the first track, "Spirits in the Material World", would continue.  After a brief hi-hat intro, there's an ominous string introduction punctuated by a frantic, wavering piano line. Sting plays his stand up bass with a bow to give the low end that brooding quality.  Stewart Copeland's erratic (yet technically wonderful) drumming adds to the overall uneasy feeling.  At first, I thought that guitarist Andy Summers was taking a cigarette break during this part until I realized that he was matching the frantic piano line note for note with some very fast pick work of his own.  Lyrically, the verses also match the dark mood of the music.  Sting sings about a man who yearns to tell a woman how much he loves her, but lacks the resolve to do so.

Though I've tried before to tell her
Of the feelings I have for her in my heart
Every time that I come near her
I just lose my nerve
As I've done from the start

But as the song approaches the chorus, the tempo changes and the mood immediately changes to a light, jovial one as the band plays a much more happy tune.  You don't really have time to think about it, but your subconscious brain is wondering, "What the hell is going on here?"  Then the chorus breaks free in a shining moment of unadulterated joviality compared to the verses of the song.  In our guy's mind, there's nothing this girl can do that isn't perfection and he's just lucky to be near it.  The music and melody of the chorus makes you want to get up and dance, regardless of whether you look like a fool.  When I listen to it alone, I'm dancing in my living room whenever the chorus of this song comes on.  If someone's around, it takes quite a bit of restraint to stop myself from doing just that.  The lyrics match the unbridled enthusiasm of the music:

Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on

There are those moments in a one way relationship that give you hope, even if you're not going to act on it, and the chorus of "Every Little Thing..." does a great job of showing that.  But then reality rears its ugly head and you realize that she doesn't know how you feel.  You want to tell her.  You need to tell her... 

But my silent fears have gripped me
Long before I reach the phone
Long before my tongue has tripped me
Must I always be alone?

The rest of the world sees the futility, and the logical part of our hero's brain does, too.  But the "ghost in the machine" of his primitive, passionate side just can't stop its optimism.  The song finishes upbeat, with the chorus being repeated with some happy "Ee o yo"s thrown in there for good measure.  (And in my living room, the dancing continues...)  The drums seem to match the heart-skips-a-beat freneticism that you feel when you're so infatuated with someone.  I've always been a huge fan of Stewart Copeland's drum play, and the last half of "Ever Little Thing..." is a perfect example.  He plays rock drums with a jazz sensibility where he hits a cymbal or drum at the least likely time and does these great little fills all over the place, but with no real rhyme or reason to them.  I would think that replicating his drumming would be maddening to most drummers, but also an exciting challenge.

The very end of the song, as it fades out, is his subconscious reminding him of his ultimate futility, "It's a big enough umbrella, but it's always me that ends up getting wet."  It's a great way of ending a song that is so bipolar musically as well as lyrically and sums up the manic/depressive nature of unrequited love.

Just a final observation, though.  Are we supposed to believe a guy as good-looking and talented as Sting has EVER been in a position like this?  I didn't think so.  That shows you his true lyrical genius - he completely inhabits the mindset of a situation that would never happen to him.

(Fun Fact #81:  The cover art for Ghost in the Machine features a computer display inspired graphic that depicts the heads of the three band members each with a distinctive hair style (from left to right, Andy Summers, Sting with spiky hair and Stewart Copeland with a fringe.)
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