Canaries in the Coalmine. It’s a great saying. If you’re not aware it basically means an early warning for something dangerous approaching. Miners used to take canaries down the pit to see if deadly gas was present apparently (i.e.…if the bird keeled over, it wasn’t safe to be down there…). It’s also apparently the name of a song by Sting and co when they pretended to be a law enforcement agency in the 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t know that prior to writing it though.
That feeling of forewarning and imminent doom is really what the whole album and the story behind it was about. This song was kind of the pivotal point of it all I suppose. The lyrics are probably the nastiest I’ve ever written. The protagonist is losing it, becoming a right b’stard and this is him venting on everyone around him. Not me. Well….a bit me.
We played it live only a handful of times but I always loved it when we did…especially the end section. It gave our inner ROCK band a rare chance to come through which was always fun. In fact, I think everyone is bang on it in this…bass, drums, keys….it really comes together to pack a punch. Dave’s guitar on it is especially fearsome. Although I do remember neither of us being able to play the mandolin bit in the chorus very well and cracking up every time we fucked it up. The little piano bit prior to the choruses also came from when we recorded it for an original demo many moons ago. Jack went to play and it was in the wrong place. Turned out to be my fave bit so it stayed in. Happy mistake. Much like the band itself.