#177 This is the sound of a Biblical allusion

Sting. You can recognise his voice anywhere. Even if you’re walking through a shopping centre as I was the other day when an unmistakable timbre resounded through the centre’s PA system.

I knew it was him, but I couldn’t pick the song. Unusually for me, I pulled out my phone and let it do the identifying work for me.

Rushing Water was the song, released in September last year. At this point I stopped chiding my musicologist self for not being able to pick the song and instead began congratulating myself for knowing that it was Sting. Although, it is Sting, so it’s not really an achievement.

As for the song – love it. Musically great, lyrically deep. The man is 70 and he’s still smashing it.

Although, I must add that one look at the lyrics had me saying “what is it with you and the Biblical allusions?” (what is it with me and talking to myself in public, eh?)

I remember the story of Jonah
He was trapped in the belly of a whale

being one such example in the song. Another lyric refers to God’s own daughter.

Whatever exactly Sting is talking about in the song is debatable, as it contains his usual visionary, prophetic style of writing – quite literally, as the song starts by talking about a dream. At some point along the song’s journey the persona ends up on the counsellor’s couch but, being Sting, laughs it off with a bit of rhyme.

With all the talk of Jonah and the whale, should I be interpreting the water as having some connection to baptism? Or is that a bridge too far? (Yes, that was a bad pun on the album title).

Whatever it is and however Sting would describe himself spiritually, I’ve got to say props to the man for remembering Jonah and putting him into a song. Plenty of lyricists out there who wouldn’t remember Jonah or even know him in the first place.

Whatever you think of Christianity, I think being able to reference it (correctly) in any sort of text demonstrates an awareness of more than what’s just in front of your face right now.

We live in such an instant age, increasingly requiring the ‘wows’ of virtual reality and exponential speed. To be able to slow down and reflect on your situation and link it to another text – religious or otherwise – requires focus.

I worry that we’ve lost that focus in the modern western world. We’ve certainly lost our focus on God. Go back, not that many decades ago, and that focus was still there, in part.

Perhaps it’s time to slow down, get back to The Bible and take a read of it. You can’t remember Jonah if you never read about him in the first place. So why not pick up The Bible and inform yourself?

If nothing else, it might help you better understand the lyrics of the next song by Sting you hear.

Yours in identifying songs,


Photo by molochkomolochko on Pexels.com

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