The Saddest Song in the World

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January 15, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Sting is a weird guy.  As a person he doesn’t really make sense; his character traits don’t really add up in a way that would make you think a person like him exists.  He wants to save the world, but unlike Bono, he really wants to do it for the sake of the world, and not just for his own ego.  Every time a fish gets caught in a six pack plastic ring, I’m pretty sure a Sting loses a month off his life expectancy.  Practically the closest thing to Captain Planet, Sting is also involved in almost every major charity, as well as some that have yet to be founded.  At the same time though, he spent the past 30 years actively hating the other two members of the Police, and it wasn’t until someone paid him too much money to get back on stage with them.  Despite his saintly aura, there still is a darkness around him.

Some of his other hobbies besides saving the world, and hating Stewart Copeland include, playing chess on a professional level, being a part time farmer, and not paying taxes.  Adhering to a macrobiotic diet, Sting only eats grains and has also become a global activist for chewing food thoroughly enough to promote a healthy digestive system.  Most strikingly, Sting, whose solo music sounds highly spiritual, is actually agnostic.  I don’t know, but I always pictured him being pan-theist or something like that.  But I guess that’s kinda my point, that this guy who seems one way is the exact opposite.

This dichotomy is most easily found in his song writing as a lot of his more popular songs aren’t really the happy go lucky pop tunes that we think they are.  “Every Breathe You Take” is about a stalker, “Don’t Stand so Close to Me” is about a modern day Lolita, “Roxanne” is about a hooker, and “King of Pain” is more existentially unnerving than people give it credit.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that Sting would be the one to write the saddest song in the world.  That song is “Fields of Gold” from his album Ten Summoners Tales.

I’m perusing people’s reaction to the lyrics right now, and for some reason everyone seems to be under the impression that this is a happy song; it is not, it’s the saddest song in the entire word actually.  Thematically it’s about the passing of time over a lost love, and how the narrator is depressingly nostalgic about it.  Not only is this relationship lost, but unlike Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”, here, there is no hope of it ever coming back; it’s gone and there isn’t even any hope of getting back together.

The Sun, acting as the main antagonist of the song, is the linchpin as it is a metaphor for the passing of time.  The Sun, especially “the Sun in his jealous sky” represents the inevitability of time ruining their happiness.  What this does is imply that anything good is intrinsically due to fail and come to an end.  The Sun sits in the sky jealous of the lovers, awaiting eagerly for their love to end as they lie in the fields of gold.  Even though it knows that their love will dissipate, all the Sun can do is quietly observe as “In his arms she fell as her hair came down” and stare enviously as the narrator “feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth”.  The Sun is waiting to move across the sky to signify that their love will eventually become lost beyond all hope of recovery.

Flash forward to the present as the song is being told in flashback, and the narrator, who has been remembering these past encounters with his lost love, watches his children as they are about to embark on the journeys of life and love.  “Many years have passed since those summer days…see the children run as the Sun goes down” means that the days of love are gone for him and that just as the sun fades into the night so does the reality of love become nothing more than a fading bittersweet memory.  His time has faded and it is now time for the younger generation to live out and embrace that which was a reality for him many years ago.

The promise that he makes stating “But I swear in the days still left, we’ll walk in fields of gold” is nothing but a hollow gesture as he knows he’ll never get the chance.  The one glimmering beam of hope is that despite the cruelty of time and the superior jealousy of the Sun, he still has the memory that for one brief moment he and his love were able to defy time and “walk in fields of gold”, a metaphor for perfect love.  Despite the relentless machinations of time and circumstance, they, at one time experienced true love.  However, it’s over and all the narrator can do now is sink into the night with nothing more than memories to comfort him as it is his children who will now lay in the fields of gold.

“Fields of Gold” is a very sad song because it counters the perfection of what you once had with the sting of knowing what it’s like to not have it anymore.  That pun wasn’t intended but, it’s probably the greatest one I’ll ever write.  On the one hand, there was this young idealistic and pure love between this man and this woman, but time, as it does with most good things, ended it.  In the song, the narrator knows he will never recapture what he lost and accepts that as an inevitable truth in life, but he also realizes that if not for but a fleeting moment he had a great love that made the Sun eager enough to jealously want to see it end.  As if something out of a Greek myth, Sting, a master of contradictions, paints a poignant and surreal portrait that rips at your heartstrings in a way that no other song really can.  Apparently, according to the interpretations of others however, I’m completely wrong.

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