Sting released his album Brand New Day in 1999, around the same time I became reacquainted with the woman who would later become my wife. As I was making our bed today, I contemplated this song from that album, one of her personal favorites:
I had heard it myself before we listened to it together but it was her special take on the song that made me reflect on how she has a unique way of viewing things. To me, the song described a lonely man in the heart of winter, stoking a fire and bitterly reflecting on a lost love. But, perhaps because of the tempo shift that occurs in this version right at 2:50, Angie painted an entirely different story, something that went beyond the original lyrical content to paint a tale of redemption and renewal not despair and suffering. When I asked her once, in this time before we were married, how exactly she could view this song that seemed to be drenched in sorrow as a happy song, one that she thinks of as one of “our” songs, she told me that it’s obvious that at the end, once the man admits to himself the truth he’s been denying for so long–that he truly loved this woman who was now gone–he immediately set off to find her and to be with her.
And I’ve never viewed it the same way since. While I still feel there is some validity to my original interpretation of Sting’s intent, Angie’s extratextual view quite frankly better fits the theme of the album on which the song lives, which is indeed about new beginnings. Her story is better than mine.