Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Stewart Copeland's Unapologetic Stance: Embracing Capitalism with Defiance and Confidence

Stewart Copeland's Unapologetic Stance: Embracing Capitalism with Defiance and Confidence
Sunday, 26 November 2023 22:27

"Behind the Masks: Stewart Copeland's Unforgettable Klark Kent Debut"

In the annals of music history, June 1978 marked a peculiar yet pivotal moment for Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, and Gordon "Sting" Sumner. Introduced as "Klark Kent" on Top of the Pops by presenter Tony Blackburn, the trio embarked on a mime performance of the Copeland-penned track, "Don't Care." Deemed unsuitable for their burgeoning band, The Police, the song provided an unexpected launchpad for their masked alter-ego.

On that Thursday night, the trio, determined not to squander their charisma on a part-time endeavor, obscured their faces with masks, sunglasses, and heavy makeup. Copeland reminisces, "The first time any of us had a hit was Klark Kent. It was the first one out of the gate, the first time the three blonde heads were on TV, on Top of the Pops."

The irony wasn't lost on Copeland, especially when Sting, in a gorilla mask, mimed a bass line during the performance. "To see Sting go there was my favorite brag, which I never fail to remind him of, to my great hilarity," Copeland jests.

While "Don't Care" didn't ascend to chart-topping heights, its modest success at number 48 persuaded A&M Records to greenlight The Police's debut album. Released five months later, "Outlandos d'Amour" would become a commercial triumph, selling over two million copies.

Yet, Copeland humorously notes, "[Sting] did get his revenge by writing 20 hits for The Police. The next time I was on national TV, I was in his band."

Fast forward to the present, and a deluxe edition of the eponymous Klark Kent album sees the light of day. Curiously, Copeland refers to the authorship in the third person, as if the work belongs to a stranger. "I'd wake up in the morning… and discover there were these tracks on the tape machine that he'd left behind," he quips, personifying Klark Kent as an uninvited guest with a penchant for new-wave vignettes reminiscent of Devo.

Now 71, Copeland's irrepressible spirit is evident across Zoom, where he appears more like an impeccably preserved pensioner with a taste for mischief than a traditional rock star. From masked debuts to unexpected alter-egos, Copeland's journey remains a fascinating chapter in the eclectic tapestry of musical history.

"Navigating Rhythms and Relationships: Stewart Copeland's Unique Beat"

Rarely does a question find its way to completion before Stewart Copeland's response bursts forth, a dynamic cascade of thoughts that serve not just as answers but as gateways to a web of tangential topics. The fluidity and intelligence in his speech echo a playing style that is both recognizable and widely known. However, as the drummer of The Police, a band known for its disputatious nature, one can easily imagine the clashes between Copeland and the contemplative frontman, Sting.

The long-standing clash of personalities reached a point where physical blows were exchanged, with Copeland reportedly breaking one of Sting's ribs in a bout of frustration. Yet, the reunion tour of 2007 and 2008, a stadium-packing spectacle that earned each member a million dollars a night, saw tensions mitigated with the assistance of a therapist.

Inspired by the Rolling Stones' use of therapy, Copeland sought what he humorously refers to as "band therapy." The sessions unveiled perspectives that left both parties gobsmacked, reshaping their understanding of each other. The root of their discord was traced back to a clash of musical philosophies. Copeland confesses, "I want to burn down the house… I want to bang sh-t," contrasting with Sting's higher motivation. Sting, he elucidates, "runs quiet and deep," treating music as a beautiful escape where he explores ideas from dense literature and deep thoughts native to himself. Describing Sting as a poet, Copeland notes that, "for a poet, those words [he writes] are very important, while the music is in the service of the poetry."

The backdrop of Copeland's journey adds further layers to his narrative. Arriving in England in the sixties from his childhood home in Beirut, Copeland's upbringing is woven with intriguing threads. His Scottish mother worked for the British intelligence services, and his father, a CIA operative in the Middle East, played a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth passage of oil to the United States.

In the enthralling rhythm of Copeland's life, beats of rebellion, collaboration, and self-discovery resound, creating a symphony that extends far beyond the confines of drumsticks and cymbals.

"Harmonizing Fairness in a Rightward Sail: The Complex Political Rhythms of Stewart Copeland"

In the delicate dance between political ideologies, Miles Axe Copeland, while tacking to the Right, maintained a sense of fairness that unfolded in unexpected ways. An intriguing glimpse into this fairness emerges in a revelation from author Seumas Milne's book, "The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners." It details a phone call from Miles Axe Copeland to Arthur Scargill, the president of the National Union of Miners, warning him of unethical conspiracies by secret services. While unverifiable, it aligns with the character of a man who, despite his political leanings, upheld principles of justice.

The political landscape within the Copeland family extended to Stewart Copeland, the youngest son, whose own inclinations raised eyebrows among his bandmates. In 1985, three months after the end of the Miners' Strike, Sting released the pro-coal song "We Work the Black Seam." In contrast, during a January roundtable interview for the Melody Maker, Stewart Copeland expressed opposition to the Red Wedge movement, a 1985 initiative guiding young people toward the Labour Party. His critique of socialism resonated: "The thing about socialism is that it’s great for writing songs about – you have intense emotive issues. Capitalism just doesn’t sound romantic."

Reflecting on his politics today, Stewart Copeland embraces his stance with uncommon vigor. "Yes!" he asserts, unabashedly declaring himself a capitalist. He acknowledges the stark divergence between his political views and those of his bandmate, Sting. "Me and my mate Sting are violently opposed to each other politically," he admits. "Not an inch of shared ground." Copeland's candid declaration extends to his voting preferences, aligning with the Democratic Party, emphasizing a pragmatic stance: "Right now, I don’t care which party is [in office] so long as Trump doesn’t get in. It’s beyond the philosophical difference between Left and Right." In a symphony of political complexity, Stewart Copeland's notes echo a unique harmony of personal conviction, family history, and a willingness to challenge conventional expectations.

"Bridging Divides: Stewart Copeland's Unlikely Alliances and Artistic Epiphany"

In a testament to his refusal to be pigeonholed, Stewart Copeland diverges from his apparent right-leaning stance to commend figures on the left side of the political spectrum. Singling out Ken Livingstone, he praises the former Mayor of London as "a great guy" who did "a great job for London." Going even further left, Copeland finds unexpected common ground with director Ken Loach, known for socially conscious films like "Hidden Agenda," "Riff-Raff," and the acclaimed "Raining Stones."

In a candid recounting, Copeland shares an amusing dialogue with Loach, asking, "'Do you mind working with an arch-capitalist?'". To his surprise, Loach responds, "'No, you’ve got it right. You’re an upside-down pyramid. I do all the work. I create the wealth and I use that wealth to hire people. I’m not just creating the wealth and taking the money… So he forgave me."

The versatile nature of Copeland's career extends beyond political nuances. Despite scoring films for directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone, and George Miller, it was his recent work on "Police Deranged for Orchestra" that brought about a genuine epiphany. While arranging tracks for orchestra, band, and singers, Copeland, who previously saw only the back of Sting's head without contemplating the lyrics, finally grasped the depth of the songs' meanings. He admits to an uncomfortable realization, acknowledging Sting's genius, stating, "Now don’t tell him I said this, but the man is a genius. He really is, and I just have to deal with that."

Stewart Copeland's journey, marked by political twists and artistic revelations, remains a narrative of unexpected alliances and personal growth, transcending the boundaries of both ideology and creative expression.

"Conclusion: Harmony in Diversity — Stewart Copeland's Uncharted Territories"

In the diverse and dynamic symphony of Stewart Copeland's life, the concluding notes resonate with a harmony found in unexpected places. From political alliances that traverse the spectrum to a profound artistic epiphany, Copeland's journey is one of continual evolution and openness to diverse influences.

His refusal to adhere to political typecasting, praising figures across ideological divides, showcases a willingness to bridge gaps and find common ground. From the left-leaning Ken Livingstone to the collaboration with Ken Loach, Copeland's ability to navigate diverse political landscapes is a testament to his nuanced perspective.

The artistic revelation, sparked by the orchestral arrangements of Police tracks, unveils a deeper understanding of Sting's lyrical genius. Copeland's acknowledgment, though delivered with a touch of humor, reflects a humility and openness to growth, even in well-established artistic partnerships.

Stewart Copeland's narrative concludes as an exploration of uncharted territories, where alliances are forged, preconceptions are challenged, and the music of life continues to play in unexpected and harmonious ways.


Maria Almasri
Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Dan Alexa: A Profile in Achievement
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