Two nights ago, I was coming from a work-related team building event (it involved karaoke, so it was fine), walking towards the 23rd Street subway in Chelsea. As I was walking, I met the eyes of a tall, older gentleman. Grey hair, glasses. He looked very familiar, and my face must have done the “are you…?” thing. Because he smiled and nodded at me as we crossed paths.
Now, I was born and raised in New York City. A native New Yorker does not smile or nod at you unless a) they know you from somewhere, b) they are cruising you (I mean, this was Chelsea) or c) they’re famous and they are acknowledging the “are you…?” look on your face with a silent “yes…yes, I am.” This is why I’m reasonably sure the gentleman that I locked eyes with was Stewart Copeland, the multi-instrumentalist most famous for being the drummer of The Police. Or some guy who looked a lot like Stewart was cruising me. Or Stewart Copeland was cruising me. Who the hell knows?
Anyhow, Stewart Copeland is my second favorite drummer of all time (John Bonham will always be #1). “Driven To Tears” might be the Police song that best captures what a good drummer he is. I don’t know a lot about drumming from a technical standpoint, but in three minutes and 21 seconds, Stewart displays a stunning virtuosity. He starts off by pummeling his kit Bonham style, then slides into a jazzy thing before rolling into the reggae-influenced chorus.
The Police, as musicians, were pretty far ahead of their new wave/punk brethren, and “Driven To Tears” is an example of their superior musicianship. Copeland’s masterful drumming on this track overshadows Andy & Sting’s great work on guitar and bass, respectively. And even Sting’s lyrics take a backseat (the fact that his vocals are mixed low on the track might also be a factor).