Every Breath You Take of the Air Tonight

What were Phil Collins and Sting really singing about?

It happened just a few weeks after I was born, then again exactly two years later in May of 1983. A man living out the final months of a dying marriage releases a song that goes on to become one of the biggest hits of the ‘80’s and most replayed songs on syndicated radio stations like Jack FM. Both of these men’s songs were destined to be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Songs that were sad realizations from a man watching the love of his life slip away from him, though she shared his bed every night. I’m referring to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and Sting of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”.

Known for its memorable drum introduction over two minutes into the recording, its ghostly atmosphere, and its refrain of “oh Lord” that allows the song to exist not only has a premonition of his soon divorce and confrontation with his then-wife, but also as a desperate acknowledgement that God is overwatching the nightmare unfold, “In the Air Tonight” remains the perfect song for a drive on the interstate on an overcast day in October.

However, to many fans of the song (who wouldn’t be?), the meaning has always been vague and abstract.  Obviously some mysterious big event is about to happen and the accusing tone reveals anger, distrust, and sadness. So it only makes sense that a believable urban legend was born: A man watched Phil Collins’ brother drown and didn’t try to save him. Phil Collins years later invited the man to his concert and gave him a front row seat and sang the song to the man to drench him in guilt. The man later died of a heart attack. I believed this story for three years, until I did some research myself (on Wikipedia) to find out the truth. The Drowning Man Theory makes sense and it’s easy to want to believe it. But once I found out it’s a song about Phil Collins’ fading first marriage, the depth and weight of the song became so much clearer to me.

In a strange parallel, Sting woke up in the middle of the night and wrote “Every Breath You Take” as he watched his first marriage disintegrate. It went on to become the #1 single of 1983, surprisingly beating out all of Michael Jackson’s mega-hits that year (Thriller, Billy Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Human Nature, The Girl is Mine, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’). While the song comes across as a vow of undying love to many, with its promise to keep watch over his object of affection, it’s actually the opposite. It actually described Sting’s feeling of deep loss, knowing he would never fully get over losing his first wife. He didn’t want to let her go, but the marriage was ended regardless. Therefore, the “stalkerish” feel of the song is completely intentional.

Two British men who fronted successful pop rock bands in the 1980’s both wrote a song at the end of their marriage that went on to be a classic and unforgettable hit. And many people will never know the truth about the background of the writing other than what is written here. That’s often the case though: Some of the biggest legendary things in life are surrounded by mystery, only adding to the intrigue.

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Why Betty White Doesn’t Look 88 Years Old (Yes, She’s a Vegan)

Thank you for being a host.

For me, no episode of SNL could ever be funnier than when Justin Timberlake hosted his first time in 2003.  But finally, thanks to Danish-Greek American actress Betty White, someone has come pretty close.  In fact, her hosting job earned Saturday Night Live its highest number of viewers since November 2008 when John McCain hosted and Tina Fey snuck off the set of 30 Rock to parody Sarah Palin.

It’s not necessarily easy to keep me laughing with TV shows and movies that are supposed to be funny.  But watching sweet little Betty White for nearly 90 minutes was the most consistent “LOLing” I’ve done since the first time I saw I Love You, Man.

Every skit was hilarious: “Delicious Dish”, “MacGruber”, “She’s a Lesbian”, “Scared Straight”, “Thank You for Being a Friend”, “CSI: Sarasota”, “Census”.  Which means all the hype leading up to Betty White’s hosting gig, including the facebook petition and the countless Internet articles speculating her success at hosting, actually were worth it.  Betty White as host of SNL will be right up there with Christopher Walken’s “VH1’s Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult” (“more cowbell”) in the SNL Hall of Fame of our minds.

And I was so amazed to find out that Betty White is 88 years old.  It’s natural to say, “But she doesn’t look 88 years old…”

Betty White at the 1988 Emmy's, age 66

I know that’s what I always think of people I see on TV who are celebrating their 100th birthday.  No one who is 100 looks 100.  But what does 88 years old look like?  What does 100 years old look like?

 

Eighty-eight looks like a 68 year-old who hasn’t taken very good care of themselves.  For example, perhaps a regular smoker who after their retirement doesn’t continue to live an active lifestyle both physically and mentally, nor do they take deliberate notice of what they eat and drink.

It involves some circular reasoning: People who look young for their age are usually in shape- and because they are in shape, they look healthier and younger than most people their age- and because choose to stay in shape as they get older, they tend to be the ones who live to be the longest- and they tend to become the longest-living and youngest-looking people.

Enter Betty White, a vegan.  While I could never be that disciplined, I do recognize it’s no coincidence that she’s still so full of life.  And spunk.

On top of that, I’ve learned that people who continue to look younger than their actual age in their younger years, continue to look younger in their older age.  Like Dick Clark (80), Chuck Norris (70), Harrison Ford (67), or Johnny Depp (46).  So of course, genetics is a big part of it.

It’s sort of like a man’s receding hairline.  I’ve noticed that by observing the hairline of 21 year-old man, it is easy to predict how much hair he will have at age 40, 60, and 80.

Looking back at pictures of a young James Taylor, he already had a receding hairline going on.  By his 40’s, he was pretty much completely bald on top.

Robin Williams, who I would say best represents the average American man’s rate of hair loss, showed very minimal signs of balding when he made it big with his sitcom Mork and Mindy back in 1978 at age 27.  But by the time he did One Hour Photo in 2002 at age 50 (one of my favorite “scary” movies, though most people I talk to don’t feel the same way), it was clear he was losing some hair, but that he would not be going completely bald in his adulthood.

In other words, whether it’s a general youthful appearance or an extremely slow rate of hair loss, these “signs of youth” are obvious when a person is a young adult and they stay that way throughout the rest of their lives, given they take care physical and mental care of themselves.

So that’s why 88 year-old Betty White looks like she’s 68.  And why so many 68 year-olds we know look 88.  And most 100 year-olds look 70.

But most important isn’t how old or person looks on the outside, or even how young they feel on the inside.  What’s most important is how young a person’s body thinks it is- which is largely controlled by how well they take care of their own body.

Sure he's bald and 57, but LOST's Terry O'Quinn is one bad arse!

Because what good is it too look younger than your actual age your whole life only to die at age 60 (while “feeling 30”) because of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure?  All of which could have been prevented or severely slowed down by carefully limiting sodium (meats and packaged/processed foods), sugar (other than from whole fruits), and saturated fats (animal fats, not fats from nuts and oils).  And replacing them with fresh produce, high fiber, plenty of water, and regular exercise.

 

I want to be like Betty.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on Betty White, why not read my perspective on: being a dad.  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog”:

dad from day one