The Police Give Back…Everything!

In books, creative commons, creativity, culture, music industry by Michael Tiemann

In Thursday’s USA Today’s Life section (August 6th, 2008), the article Police will bring on the night one last time caught my eye, and not just because I think that Sting’s Bring On The Night is one of the great live albums ever produced. Reporting revenues of $141M for the past year and a total of more than $346M worldwide is pretty eye-catching, too. But beyond the sheer economics of their tour, Stewart Copeland gives us a most astonishing insight. He said

We’re proud of this enormous monster we’ve created. But it owns us. The music doesn’t even belong to us anymore; it belongs to the people into whose lives it’s woven.


Copeland continues: “The only way to get our lives back is to slay this thing.” Sting added “Everything must come to an end at some point, and this is a happy ending for us.”

These statements recontextualize the tour completely, at least for me. They say that the tour is a genuine “Good Bye”, or “God be with ye” in that they are commending their music to the audience, giving as freely the spirit creations as the spirit of God is given to all. Which is amazing in this day and age. But it also comports perfectly with what the community of the Creative Commons has been saying all along. Namely, that there is a time for sowing, a time for reaping, and that there should be a time for giving, a time for freeing, so that the new generation can take nourishment from the cultural creations of the past, and not find themselves buried under six feet of legal concrete.

So, thank you Stewart, for the music, and for acknowledging that culture is ultimately a shared experience. You know, as we should all know, that the only authentic culture is one based on authentic sharing. Your blessing upon us is a true blessing, and we should take heart.

And lest ye think that I am over-interpreting what’s being said, read pages 13-14 in The Rest Is Noise and tell me you don’t find Wagner saying the very same think to Listz in 1850:

I have felt the pulse of modern art and know that it will die! This knowledge, however, fills me
not with despondency but with joy…The monumental character of our art will disappear, we
shall abandon our habit of clinging firmly to the past, our egotistical concern for permanence
and immortality at any price: we shall let the past remain the past, the future—the future, and
we shall live only in the present, in the here and now and create works for the present age alone.