Saturday Night Music, March 19, 2011: Sting, “Sister Moon,” 1987
(Sorry, fell asleep before I could publish this last night, but enjoy.)
I recall seeing Sting at the Oakland Colosseum; he was touring to promote the album that this song comes from, …Nothing Like The Sun, and at one pause in his singing, he danced with one of his black women back-up singers on an elevated stage, with the spotlight on both of them. As if that moon was shining down on them, for them. Yep, that was my Sting phase, but they looked good and glided about very well, as if their bodies were a natural fit and as if they couldn’t make a wrong step, and the audience clapped when they concluded the dance. At times, Sting looked dark and the woman singer appeared light, like a juxtaposition of who they actually were. Of course, that was the point he was trying to make, too. But I’ve grown to like some of former schoolteacher Sting’s literary allusions.
A lot of people still believe that Shakespeare actually meant a dark-skinned or black woman with whom he was enthralled. It may not be true, although it is evident that a few black people were in England by this time as servants, slaves or seafaring (read, exploring) people. The late Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, also published …Nothing Like the Sun in 1964, a book that was required reading for a college English course I took from a newspaper critic at San Jose State, but have kept for sometime in my book collection, and reread. It was a fictional examination of Shakespeare’s possible triangular affair with a black woman named Lucy Negro, said to be a former protegée of Queen Elizabeth I, but who went on to become a notorious prostitute also called the Abbess of Clerkenwell, and with Mr. W.H., who is written as a young, spoiled, bisexual noble.
I was coming home from my birthday dinner and movie (more about that later), and I looked up and saw that moon, the biggest in 18 years, and I thought immediately back to Sting’s “Sister Moon.” It has two lines that touch me the most. The most obvious is the Shakespeare line from Sonnet No. 130, My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun, which is a rejection of all the usual Western attributes of beauty or accomplishments at that time. And then the second is I’d go out of my mind, but for you, which is the only refrain in the song, and which gets my interest. The moon is supposed to make people go mad if they gaze on its features far too much. The moon is supposed to be coldly feminine, the sun warmly masculine. And Medusa with her Greek dreads turned most of her pursuers into cold stone with one look. But here, Sting is saying the opposite. He’s on the verge already, but the woman he addresses keeps him, he says, from going absolutely mad. What can I say? I love it.
It’s a beautiful night, still chill, but the temps are rising with each passing week. This moon was like a gift, something you don’t see everyday like a birthday. It’s a reminder that the Universe is always unpredictable, full of surprises and wonders, but all for you. Even madness has its own phases of lucidity.
- Super Moon (flickr.net)
- ‘Supermoon’ Coming To Your Sky Saturday Night, March 19th (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- “Supermoon 2011 – Full Moon this Saturday is at its Largest” and related posts (bestsyndication.com)
- What a Super Moon Saturday Night! – Patch.com (news.google.com)
- What Makes a ‘Supermoon’ So Super? (space.com)