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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 202
Wed. Aug 1, 2012

“When We Dance”
Sting

1994

“♫ When we
dance/ Angels will
run and hide their
wings
♫”

One thing you’ll notice wandering around Las Vegas is that the casinos love playing Sting’s music. Unfortunately, “When We Dance” was not one of the songs played in Las Vegas Casinos this weekend. But, I do remember walking down the Casino floor with my wife, my mother-in-law, and our uncles and hearing the words of “Dance” in my head. This has been something of a frequent occurrence since I’ve started Don’t Forget The Songs 365, songs that I hadn’t listened to in years just appear and I just start singing out of nowhere. “Dance” is one of these songs.

“Dance” originally release in 1994 was probably one of my least favorite songs. I was working at a mall record store in Hastings when the Fields of Gold hits collection was released. I recall skipping “Dance” when I would play Fields of Gold in store. I like to think I didn’t understand the infinite complexities of Sting’s dynamic song lyrics. Sting explained his theory on songwriting when he said. “I’ve always been interested in three dimensional love songs. You know, ‘I love you and you love me is pretty bland, boring and very two dimensional. But ‘I love you and you love somebody else,’ you can walk around as a writer is interesting.”

The record store clerk I used to be, naively, couldn’t fathom that level of selfish intimacy as sung by Sting in “When We Dance;” but as I walked in that casino I realized that “Dance” is a prelude to Sting’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying.” The protagonists in both songs are jilted lovers but in the “Crying” he’s mature enough to make peace with his lost love, in “Dance” he’s holding on to the perfect ideal of forbidden romantic love that rarely ever comes to fruition. Sting explained his idea of trying to write a hit song for his Fields of Gold CD in 1994, when he said—“[“When We Dance”] took me a year to write. I had no main idea for the song, so I came up with this love triangle. I love you and you love him. It has a flattened fifth at the end of the first line. It’s an unusual, uncomfortable sound, which suits the situation in the lyrics.”

Far from his best song but there’s something in the longing of the protagonist in “When We Dance” that egotistical notion that just because he longs for this person it’s going to come true. We all, from time to time, have faith that some intangible wishes would come to fruition; whether it be a wager in Vegas or our favorite team winning a crucial game, but this guy in this song is living for this other soul who’s already drifting into some others arms. Sad but poignant; I used to be that guy, that was my modus operandi, falling for women who were attached. It’s immaturity. Luckily, I myself personally saw the light like Sting’s protagonist realized two years later when in 1994’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying—” just because you want something doesn’t make it so. If we would win and all our wishes came true all the time, some of us would take them for granted. That’s what makes the sequel to “Dance” even more important because sometimes in loss we find peace of mind within ourselves.

A great weekend in Vegas and a very poignant Sting song made me very thankful for all the bliss I am experiencing in my life. The speaker in “Dance” cannot see this because he’s trapped in a cycle of self-serving emotions that are leaving him confused and alone. I’ve been there, many times before, like I’ve written before, letting go is probably one of the most liberating things you can do for yourself. The speaker in “When We Dance” needs realize that a dance is the most intimate movement you can share with someone you long to uncover. What I’ve learned is sometimes we must learn to dance, by ourselves, with our own imperfect motions before you make the leap inside the arms of the rhythm called love.

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