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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Infectious Energy | “Canary In A Coalmine” by The Police

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With December and the winter finally here it’s easy to fall victim to the gloomy days and let it consume us. For that reason, I would like to shine the spotlight on a fun and lighthearted song by one of the most influential British rock bands, The Police. The band is nothing short of legendary, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 along with winning a multitude of awards for their contributions to music. The Police are unique due to their sound that blends jazz, rock and punk seamlessly. Released on Oct. 3, 1980, Zenyatta Mondetta includes classics such as “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.” The standout for me off the album is the fourth track, “Canary In A Coalmine.”

Wasting no time, The Police open with a smooth guitar lick accompanied by a quick shout from lead singer Sting and some drums to help set the tone. Everything in the track has such a groove that listeners can’t help but be enthralled by the magic coming from The Police. After 14 seconds of jamming alongside a jumpy guitar, Sting opens:

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect /

Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect /

You live your life like a canary in a coalmine /

You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line /

You say you want to spend the winter in Firenza /

You’re so afraid to catch a dose of influenza /

You live your life like a canary in a coalmine /

You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line.”

What does any of this mean? Well, after doing some research, the canary bird was often used in coal mines alongside workers to help detect carbon monoxide or any other dangerous toxins. The miners would find that if the canary died or began to fly out, it was time to follow, or they too would fall victim to the toxins. The Police are telling us a story of someone who is too afraid to just live their own life. The person described in this song is someone who is always the first person to leave and always afraid of disaster striking. I believe there is a lot to take away from that. How many times have you held yourself back from doing something because you were anxious something terrible would happen? How long was it until you finally said, “Screw it,” and just did it? Whenever we just dive straight in, we often find these are some of the most fulfilling experiences that we will ever have in life. Instead of being so afraid to do things, strive to do everything you can, and live your life to the fullest because you don’t want to look back and see you were a “Canary In A Coalmine.”

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