Wednesday, December 2

Every Breath You Take – The Police – Song Form


Every Breath You Take – The Police – Song Form
Listen to the song HERE. Lyrics are printed below.

Obviously, the key rhyme element to this song is all the internal rhymes...take, make, break, you...etc.

Every breath you take every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take I’ll be watching you
Every single day, every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay I’ll be watching you

My favorite rhyme element though, is in the bridge...

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace
I dream at night, I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace
I keep crying, baby, baby please

We have all the “ace” rhymes in a row, but Sting ends up on the word “please”. This word is pretty significant. It is the first time in the song where a line doesn’t end up with a perfect rhyme. What is the song about? The guy being disconnected with the girl he’s watching (stalking! :))...what a great way to show that disconnection. The disconnect is manifest with a word that doesn’t rhyme with anything else in the section (or the song, for that matter!). The line “I keep crying, baby, baby, please” (in my opinion) is the only time the singer shows evidence of not being in control of the situation...all the other lyrics are very domineering, very focused, very controlling.

Notice also the section is unbalanced. It has 5 lines. All the other sections in the song are evenly balanced...either 2 or 4 lines. It’s really deceptive to hear at first, because the line fits so well (part of Sting’s genius), but just like this character is obsessively unbalanced, the section is ALSO unbalanced. Isn’t that cool?

We learn a couple of things from this section. If you want to create a disconnection in your song, pepper your lyrics with tons of perfect rhymes and then hit us suddenly with a line that doesn’t rhyme. Bonus points if that line falls at the end of an unbalanced section.

Verse/refrain
The last thing I want to comment on is the song form is kind of weird. It isn’t the typical, form fitting Sting song we all know and love. He had three different section types...

2-line verse snippets, we’ll call those “A”

2-line prechorus* (the “oh can’t you see, you belong to me...”part). we’ll call that “B”
(I’m using the word “prechorus” here, but it really isn’t functioning as a prechorus)

5-line bridge (“Since you’ve been gone I’ve been lost without a trace...baby, please...”), well call that “C”.


When we put the section letters together we get this...

AABACBA (the last “A” section repeats and repeats for the ending)

I’ve never come across a song with that particular song form. Like I said, it’s a little weird, but it works (It works well enough for Sting to get $2000 a day in royalties from it!).

Thanks for reading. More tomorrow when we tackle the melody.

Now go write something disconnected.

~Shane


PS. Remember, I could evaluate one of your songs this Friday if you submit it HERE.

PPS. Also, please vote in the new poll. (Email me if there is a song you want me to include in the poll!)


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Every Breath You Take – The Police

Every breath you take every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take I’ll be watching you
Every single day, every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay I’ll be watching you

Oh, can’t you see you belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take

Every move you make, every vow you break
Every smile you fake, every claim you stake I’ll be watching you

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace
I dream at night, I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace
I keep crying, baby, baby please

Oh can’t you see you belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take

Every move you make, every vow you break
Every smile you fake, every claim you stake I’ll be watching you
Every move you make, every step you take I’ll be watching you
I’ll be watching you...


4 comments:

Ishita Rungta said...

Shane,

This IS an amazing song {I love everything Sting writes}as always,the bridge emphasizes how prosody can just be so well placed, especially since everything seems to fit a groove in the rest of the song, calling our drifting {if ever} attention to what's most significant in the song- the disconnect.
I love both disconnected rhymes/rhythms and am definitely going to write something and rewrite something that could use a better sense of prosody...feels great to be back in your blog-class.
utmost regards,
Ishita

Anonymous said...

On the surface, this song's lyric is rather simple. But there are quite some inner workings going on, as Shane's analysis revealed. The unbalance in the "baby, baby please" line is quite striking! What a wonderful prosody! Thanks, Shane, for revealing and sharing!

Bing

P.S. Shane, the link to the song on youtube was not working.

Bing

goodmangood said...

Happy New Year~~!!!............................................................

Tyrone Rattle said...

I only wish this blog existed when I first became interested in songwriting. Everything I see here is excellent. Anyway, for what it's worth I'd like to share with you my own blog, which is devoted to songwriting form and the few simple patterns that so many pop songs employ. It's at http://moxnoy.com/aaba
Would love to hear feedback from a songwriter like yourself.