Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Non-Sense: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

The Police: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

Would it surprise you to find out that Sting believes that this song, with its nonsense title and refrain, is actually a very serious song? Look, we all know that Sting can be very pretentious, but he knows that—even embraces it—and I think that you have to give him credit. And as I’ve mentioned before, I have no problem with pretentious music. It’s just that you wouldn’t expect that from a song with that title. But here’s what Sting said about the song in a New Musical Express interview in 1981:

I think my songs are fairly literate - they're not rubbish. 'De Do Do Do', for example, was grossly misunderstood: the lyrics are about banality, about the abuse of words. Almost everyone who reviewed it said, Oh, this is baby talk. They were just listening to the chorus alone, obviously. But they're the same people who would probably never get through the first paragraph of Finnegan's Wake, because that's 'baby talk', too. I know that sounds pretentious, but in that song I was trying to say something which was really quite difficult - that people like politicians, like myself even use words to manipulate people, and that you should be very careful. It's quite a serious song, but because it's by The Police it was just written off as being garbage.

In 1993, in Q, Sting said about the song:

God, I got flak for that one. I always thought it was an articulate song about being inarticulate. The first thing you have to consider is that this was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. I was intrigued with why songs like that worked. Why 'Da Doo Ron Ron', why 'Doo Wah Diddy Diddy', why 'Be Bop A Lula', why 'Tutti Frutti' worked. I came up with the idea that they worked because they were totally innocent. They weren't trying to tell you anything or distort your vision - it was just a sound. So in the song I try to intellectualise and analyse why that works so effectively which is self-defeating in a way but it was still a massive hit. Some people might think that the man who wrote 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' is a stupid twat but...I'm living here. 

And, according to Wikipedia, Joni Mitchell, a pretty fair songwriter, loved it. 

It is hard not to listen to the song, and Sting’s explanation, without thinking of our remarkably inarticulate president, who nevertheless uses his simple (minded) words (and his lies and insults), to manipulate people—somehow getting millions of people to vote for him for a job that he is profoundly unqualified for. And to maintain their blind loyalty despite his consistent lies, corruption and failures. His actions in response to the current coronavirus emergency—for which the Police song “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” comes to mind, although the subject of the song, about an affair between a school girl and an older man is more fitting for the social lives of Trump and his friends—have been dangerous and incoherent, but hasn’t yet seemed to erode the support of his base. Sadly, though, in this era or hyperpartisanship, he could stand in front of a podium, say “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” and walk away, and his sycophants would somehow declare it brilliant.

Eventually, though, I’m hoping that another Police song, “Truth Hits Everybody,” becomes appropriate—hopefully, before November 3, 2020.

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