Monday 19 April 2021

Englishman in New York

 If I had to choose a song that describes my life better than any other, it would have to be Sting’s “Englishman in New York”.

It’s not even half 4 in the morning, I’m up, after a terrible night (or... part of a night), and I’m watching a YouTube video my brother sent me earlier... Sting, singing live, recently, this song that he knows I hold very dear to my heart. And how could I not?! It’s a gem! The soft, caressing music, the exquisite sounds of Bradford Marsalis, the simple yet always recognisable melody, the intensity of the drums there almost at the end, the singing voice, soft as velvet and unlike any other... and those lyrics... a simple poem about life itself...  this song is just beautiful! I was 14 years old when I heard it for the first time and it made an impression like nothing ever had until then! Being different?! Not following the norm?! How preposterous!! But... how exciting at the same time! “Be yourself, no matter what they say” became my mantra. I was the only fan of Sting’s in my high school (except for my chemistry teacher, Mr M, lovely man!) and I got bullied a lot about my queer tastes... couldn’t care less! Even at that so very young age, I knew... I was going to go my own way, I was most probably going to be an alien my whole life (I felt I had been thus far already...), I was going to drink tea...

Years have passed... so many years... I have seen Sting singing this song live over again and I have sang it with him, I have listened to it alone more times than I can count, I have seen the music video (David Fincher, so you know...) so many times and every time I discover something new, I have spoken about it, joked about it, got misty eyed thinking about it... And, yes, for more than two decades, I too am a legal alien, I too drink tea and not coffee, I too have found myself walking alone down Fifth Avenue, thinking a walking cane would come in handy... and I too have always been myself no matter what they said. 

It’s been a challenging few weeks, maybe you have guessed it, my silence is never a good thing... I’m not going to talk about it... I’m choosing to smile in the middle of the night and share with you this warm and fuzzy feeling “Englishman in New York” has always given me... a song that is definitely “better than shoes”, a song that will always be special to me! And I will always be myself, no matter what they say...

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