I chose today’s song because it mentions “spirits.” I always believe that spirits visit the earthly plane on days like Friday the 13th (today) and Halloween. Sometimes I can almost feel it, you know what I mean? The feeling that a presence is near but you can’t actually see them? I’ve had a lot of experiences like this, some witnessed by friends who were once cynical but left a believer. (However today’s lyrics have nothing to do with this.)
Spirits in the Material World was released as a single in 1981 from the band’s 4th album, Ghosts in the Machine. Upon recording, Sting didn’t think Andy’s guitar was even needed because of synthesizers. There was a disagreement and eventually both the synthesizer and guitar were used. However, Andy’s part is very drowned out and his presence is much less pronounced than usual.
According to songfacts, the lyrics are based on the writings of Hungarian author and philosopher Arthur Koestler. Sting enjoyed his work, and the album is named after one of his books. Koestler believed that outside influences could destroy our spirit and restrict our thinking. The “spirits” and “ghosts” were the innate higher functions that often get lost in the “machine” created by governments and corporations.
The single went to #11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in early 1982 as well as #7 on Top Tracks. It was also successful in the UK, charting at #12.
Above is the official video and an interview at the end with drummer Stewart Copeland.
Check out Andy’s torn t-shirt and hat. I kinda like it…