Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by The Police, released in UK on June 17th, 1983. The album is sold over 8 million copies in the US, making it definitively the band’s most popular release to date. Other achievements, including the number one on both UK Albums Chart and US Billboard 200, made Synchronicity widely acclaimed by critics. In this article, the stories behind six out of eleven songs in the album will be unraveled. The tracks are Synchronicity I, Walking In Your Footsteps, Synchronicity II, Every Breath You Take, King Of Pain, and Wrapped Around Your Finger.
The album’s opening track, Synchronicity I, starts with a funky yet curious upbeat synthesizer riff that sets up the mood perfectly for the rest of the album. The song is inspired by Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity. The Swiss psychologist explained synchronicity as meaningful coincidental events that occur with no causal relationship, but is related regardless. The theory can be heard in Synchronicity I’s chorus: “Something inexpressible/Science insusceptible/Logic so inflexible/Causally connectable/Nothing is invincible”.
The second track called Walking In Your Footsteps still has the electronic tunes the album offers, just more groovy and tribal than the other tracks. The pre-chorus reads as: “Hey Mr. Dinosaur/You really couldn’t ask for more/You were God’s favorite creature/But you didn’t have a future”. Although at first it seems like the song is about the extinction of dinosaurs, it actually is an analogy towards humanity’s doom “if we explode the atom bomb”, as the lyrics suggests.
Synchronicity II, as the sixth song of the album, further talks about Jung’s theory of synchronicity along with the action-like beats. Unlike its first counterpart, Synchronicity II actually tells a story about a frustrated suburban Scottish man while a monster emerges from a lake “many miles away”. The protagonist’s depression finally took a toll on his sanity caused by his family and work, leading him to drive off far away and leave his family. The lyrics goes like this: “Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance/He knows that something somewhere has to break”.
Up next, there is Every Breath You Take, The Police’s most successful hit to date. This track is claimed to be inspired by the Sting’s ex wife, Frances Tomelty, who began an affair with her friend slash neighbor just months after they got divorced. Sting insisted that the song is about the obsession and jealousy with a lost lover, but many misinterpret it as a love song because of the gentle and soft tunes. We are all familiar to the intro of the song: “Every breath you take/Every move you make/Every bond you break/Every step you take/I’ll be watching you”.
King Of Pain starts with chilling tunes as if the song was a soundtrack in a thriller movie. The tunes are later more relaxing as it conveys Sting’s dreary post-divorce experience. The singer explained in an interview, “I conjured up symbols of pain and related them to my soul. A black spot on the sun struck me as being a very painful image, and I felt that was my soul up there on there on the sun,” which explains his longing to end his sorrow in the lyrics: “I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign/But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain”.
Like two of the previous songs, Wrapped Around Your Finger is a personal song for Sting. It has a slow, seducing feel in the beginning verses, but turn into faster triumphant-like in the chorus part. The Scottish lead vocal describes Wrapped Around Your Finger as “a spiteful song about turning the tables on someone who had been in charge.” It also features mythological and literary references which are the monsters Scylla and Charybdis of Greek mythology, and Faust the German legend.
Now you know the untold stories behind some of the lyrics and tunes of The Police’s Synchronicity. It is a colorful album that without any doubt will please the ears of late 70’s or early 80’s music fans. Even after almost 35 years later, Synchronicity remains relevant as it is everlasting. Go give the album a full listen and have a glimpse of The Police’s most glorious days!
By Arumsekar Abimanyu
Staff of External Division