Synchronicity II

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"Synchronicity II"
Single by The Police
from the album Synchronicity
B-side "Once Upon a Daydream"
Released October 1983 (1983-10)
Format vinyl record (7")
Recorded Late 1982 at AIR Montserrat for basic tracks, then January 1983 at Le Studio in Quebec for overdubs and mixing[1]
Genre New wave, post-punk[2]
Label A&M - AM 153
Writer(s) Sting
Producer(s) The Police, Hugh Padgham
The Police singles chronology
"Wrapped Around Your Finger"
(UK, 1983)
---
"King of Pain"
(US, 1983)
"Synchronicity II"
(1983)
"King of Pain"
(UK, 1984)
---
"Wrapped Around Your Finger"
(US, 1984)
Alternative cover
Brazil 7-inch single cover

"Synchronicity II" is a song by The Police, and the third single from their album Synchronicity. Released as a single in the UK and the U.S. by A&M Records, it reached number 17 in the UK Singles Chart[3] and number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1983.[4] It featured the non-album track "Once Upon a Daydream" on the b-side. The song was described by People Weekly as "aggressive" and "steely."[5]

Background[edit]

The song, which refers to Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity, nominally tells the story of an emasculated husband and harried father whose home, work life, and environment are dispiriting and depressing. In an early stretch of lyrics we find "Grandmother screaming at the wall" (family trouble/mental illness), as well as "mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration, but we know all her suicides are fake" (nagging, unhappy spouse). Later, we hear about humiliation by his boss ("and every single meeting with his so-called superior/is a humiliating kick in the crotch"), all the while he "knows that something somewhere has to break". Meanwhile something monstrous is emerging from a "dark Scottish lake/loch", a reference to the Loch Ness Monster—a parallel to the father's own inner anguish.

There's a domestic situation where there's a man who's on the edge of paranoia, and as his paranoia increases a monster takes shape in a Scottish lake, the monster being a symbol of the man's anxiety. That's a synchronistic situation.

—Sting, 'A Visual Documentary', 1984[6]

Interpretations of the lyrical content vary widely.[7][8] Writing in Entertainment Weekly about a 1996 Sting tour, Chris Willman said:

"The late-inning number that really gets [the crowd] galvanized is the edgy old Police staple that has the most old-fashioned unresolved rock tension in it, 'Synchronicity II'—which, after all, is a song about a domestic crisis so anxiety producing that it wakes up the Loch Ness monster."[9]

Sting explained the theme of the song to Time magazine:

"Jung believed there was a large pattern to life, that it wasn't just chaos. Our song Synchronicity II is about two parallel events that aren't connected logically or causally, but symbolically."[10]

"Synchronicity II" also may have taken inspiration from the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats.[11] The theme of "The Second Coming" is similar to that of "Synchronicity II"—a civilization beginning to collapse, and the rise of something new, something perhaps savage, to take its place.

In "Synchronicity II" guitarist Andy Summers "forgoes the pretty clean sounds for post-apocalyptic squeals and crashing power chords", writes Matt Blackett in Guitar Player magazine.[12] Summers claims that the feedback apparent on the track was a mistake, saying, "I blasted and wailed for six minutes, the tape was rolling, but I couldn't hear anything through the cans. I was messing about, doing all this shit and waiting for them to start."

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was directed by Godley & Creme, filmed at a sound stage on the outskirts of London. In it the band are seen performing on top of giant piles of guitars, drums, junk, car parts, wires, with debris and papers flying about, punctuated by footage of Loch Ness for each chorus. The band members stood apart from each other on separate towers made of scaffolding, wearing dystopian outfits. A misty and stormy appearance was created with air blowers and lots of dry ice. During the filming Copeland's tower caught fire and the crew started to leave the building. Creme told the director of photography to keep the cameras rolling despite the danger.[13]

Track listing[edit]

12" UK Single AMX 153
No. Title Length
1. "Synchronicity II"   5:04
2. "Once Upon A Daydream"   3:28

Charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
Irish Singles Chart 12
UK Singles Chart 17
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 16
Canadian Singles Chart 21

Video games[edit]

"Synchronicity II" is covered and appears as a playable track on the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. The master track of the song also appears as downloadable content for the music video game series Rock Band and Rocksmith.

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Buskin, Richard (March 2004). "Classic Tracks: The Police's 'Every Breath You Take'". Sound On Sound. 
  2. ^ "Classic Tracks: The Police's 'Synchronicity II'". 
  3. ^ The Police in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.
  4. ^ "Synchronicity II" in the Billboard Charts, Billboard.com.
  5. ^ "Synchronicity." People Weekly v20.(July 25, 1983): pp14(1).
  6. ^ "'Synchronicity II' / 'Once Upon a Daydream'". sting.com. 
  7. ^ Interpretations of the content of "Synchronicity II" on www.songfacts.com
  8. ^ Interpretations of the content of "Synchronicity II" on www.songmeanings.net
  9. ^ "King of painlessness" (rock star Sting). Chris Willman. Entertainment Weekly n339 (August 9, 1996 n339): pp30(4).
  10. ^ "Official Police business" (music group Police). Jay Cocks. Time v122.(August 15, 1983): pp50(1).
  11. ^ Jones, Chris (2007). "The Police Synchronicity Review". BBC Music. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The 50 greatest tones of all time." (Critical Essay). Matt Blackett. Guitar Player 38.10 (Oct 2004): p44(17).
  13. ^ Tannenbaum, Rob; Marks, Craig (2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. Penguin. p. 9. ISBN 9781101526415.