Friday, November 11, 2011

Sting - "Russians"

Russians - The Dream of the Blue Turtles

(Debuted January 18, 1986, Peaked #16, 13 Weeks on the chart)

Today is Veterans' Day here in the United States. It was once called Armistice Day, a time to remember the sacrifices made by soldiers in what we now call World War I. In 1918, it was hoped that lessons would be remembered and that no war on that horrible scale would ever be waged again. Sadly, the next generation was left to conduct another war that was even larger. After the second World War, it appeared there was always going to be a looming threat due to nuclear weapons. That is the driving force behind of Sting's song "Russians."

The song is definitely a relic of the Cold War. For those who weren't around then, there was a long period where the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were locked in a long battle that was more of an ideological war than one that had soldiers shooting at each other, but it was a real concern for more than forty years. At the heart of the threat was the understanding that both nations had nuclear arsenals that could easily ensure mutual destruction once a dispute went from a diplomatic matter to a more military one. The problem was felt around the world, as Sting (who wasn't Russian or American) pointed out.

Using a classical suite from the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, Sting asks the musical question about whether the Russians love their children while musing about how the concept of an "unwinnable war" was false. One line stands out for me, though: "There is no monopoly on common sense...on either side of the political fence." That's advice that still needs to be heeded.

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