Song of the Day #4,982: ‘The Book of Numbers’ – Sting

I wrote about Elvis Costello yesterday, and now here’s another old-timer with a new album out. Sting released The Bridge in November, a month after his 70th birthday.

I have not kept up with Sting’s discography over the past 23 years. The last album of his I listened to was 1999’s Brand New Day, a triple Platinum hit in the U.S. that capped off a run of six excellent solo albums.

I never found time for the follow-up, 2003’s Sacred Love, which managed to go Platinum despite not producing a hit. After that came a grab bag of novelty releases, including two collections of alternate releases of his own material, a Christmas album, and an album heavily featuring a lute.

He did sneak in a traditional rock album somewhere, but I missed that. I would have missed The Bridge, too, if I hadn’t seen a giant ad for it on a big screen in Target.

I gave this one a quick spin and it struck a nostalgic nerve. At 70, Sting sounds as good as ever, and he’s tapping into the same sultry jazz rock vibe on these songs that made his early work so rich.

I don’t know if I’ll ever listen to The Bridge again, but I’m glad I stumbled into it.

Bring me a glass of water
To wash the dirt from my throat
I’ve been wandering my whole life out there
Help me out of my coat

This water’s as clear as crystal
We should thank the Lord for that
Sit you down and hear my story
Find somewhere for my hat

A barkeep takes a stranger’s hat
And finds a vacant hook
Turns back towards the traveller
His right hand on an old black book

The holy Book of Numbers
I take it’s something that you’ve read?
The long search in the wilderness
For a place to lay my head

So many parables in the scriptures
But this one I’m doomed to tell
For I stormed the gates of Heaven
To find myself in Hell

This is my lonely mission
To wake the world up to its fate
To dismantle my own invention
For the hour is getting late

This holy Book of Numbers
As we walk through the shadow of death
Tell me, are you listening, boy
Or am I just wasting my breath?

There are fools in the courts of power
While I’ve walked through this vale of bitter tears
At the mercy of recording angels
For three score and twenty-five years

The barkeep gets up from the table
To fill up another glass
He turns around to find an empty chair
All that’s left is the name in his hat

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,982: ‘The Book of Numbers’ – Sting

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Yesterday, I mentioned Sting as one of the artists I listened to regularly through the 90s, but became less interested in his output since then. I did hear him playing new music from time to time on late night shows, but the new stuff didn’t grab me.

    I am, however, intrigued by your positive reaction to his latest offering, so I might give this album a spin.

  2. Peg says:

    I always enjoy Sting’s “sultry jazz vibe” 😊

  3. Russ says:

    Thanks, I missed this release. Will have to check it out.

  4. Amy says:

    I, too, am a fan of jazzy Sting but haven’t been a devoted listener to any but three of his albums. Also want to note that if I were still in the classroom, I’d enjoy explaining to the kids (who have yet to embrace the old technology’s comeback) what it means to give new music “a quick spin.” I noticed you used the phrase the other day, too, and wondered if we’ll ever come up with a more accurate way to describe how most of us now listen to music or if the metaphor will stick because it’s a classic.

    • Dana Gallup says:

      I have thought about other antiquated phrases we still use such as “taping” a show or “writing” an email.

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