When I was a kid I used to gladly go along with my mom whenever she went on any kind of errand, especially if it was to one of those now-extinct popcorn and linoleum-type places that Target basically ended up wiping out and replacing. I’m thinking specifically about Caldor, Rich’s, Lechmere, Bradlee’s or even Zayre. I know it will come out as sarcastic, but I sincerely miss the subtle variety between these stores.
This variety was also reflected in the selection of music. Zayre and Rich’s had a ton of ://” target=”_blank”>K-Tel, while the Lechmere nearest to my house specialized in pop. Caldor had a lot of metal, which seemed to somehow fit with their brown rainbow logo.
The section labeled “Records and Tapes” was where I spent all the time that my mom was shopping for whatever sundries she needed, and although I love the modern convenience that iTunes and Spotify and any other number of web-based music platforms offer, there is something to be said for the mystery of staring at an album cover and wondering what the hell that album sounds like.
By the age of 10 I was officially obsessed with music and the main target of my adoration was The Police. I was at an age where I still had “play clothes,” but more and more I would come home from school and dress in second-hand hospital scrubs to try to look like Sting in the “Wrapped Around Your Finger” video, as shown below.
I would lip sync and give imaginary concerts, and since I had no income or allowance, I had to rely solely on the cassettes that I had received as gifts as points of reference. At the time I only had the “Synchronicity” and “Zenyatta Mondatta” tapes.
But since I had spent so much time in the music section of the stores, I knew the titles of other Police songs, but I had no idea how those songs went. So I made up songs with names like “So Lonely” and “One World (Not Three)” that I never would have had the reason or restraint to make up if I had immediate access to the music.
It was under these circumstances that I made up a song called “Do it In the Shower.” Even Police completists may find themselves scratching their heads at this title. But “Do It In the Shower” was a song title on a tape called “Pleasure” that was credited to Sting. Every time I went to Rich’s with my mom, I would head straight to the bargain bin of cassettes where this Sting tape sat. I once brought it to my mother in the checkout line, but when she did a quick line check of the song titles, her 10-year-old son would not be allowed to listen to any tape featuring a song called “Do It In the Shower.”
I did go as far as to liberate this Sting cassette from the bargain bin and I hid it amongst the camping supplies, so that nobody else would buy it, but given my financial predicament and the censorial maternal powers it seemed that I would never get to hear this music.
I did everything I could to absorb whatever else I could of the music though. Upon repeated visits I studied the cover, the song titles and the copyright date, which was 1978. I figured Sting must have tried out a solo career before “Outlandos d’Amour,” the debut by The Police, which also had a copyright date of 1978. The cover art didn’t give away too much either. It was just a woman’s face in the S of Sting who looked trapped underneath ice. Perhaps you noticed the image at the top of this page. No? Well, here it is again.
Up until this point, songs about sex and drugs and even ones that used swears made my stomach sink, because I was disappointed in the loose morals of these artists I admired. Or maybe it was just because if they didn’t pass muster with my mom, I’d never be able to hear these songs. You’d think I would give up on rock ‘n’ roll, given these high standards, but nothing with a purer attitude sounded as good. So I did what any song-starved 10-year-old would do and made up my own version of “Do It In the Shower.”
The song was usually my encore when I gave “concerts” for the pine cones in my backyard. I couldn’t very well throw the song into the middle of a “set” because I had to make sure the coast was clear and that my mother wasn’t around. It was embarrassing enough to get caught rocking out on the patio, but to get caught singing about shower sex would be worse than the pine cones booing at me.
So in my imagined British Sting rasp I sang against an imagined punky reggae beat about what a 10-year-old might think sex was. There was one line that was actually pretty good, if I do say so myself, about “getting dirty in the room where we get clean.” And it drove the pine cones wild!
But as my allegiance switched from Sting to Bono in fifth grade — and I became like a younger version of this guy — I let go of the Sting version of “Do It In the Shower.”
Sure, I looked in record stores from time-to-time but never got up the nerve to ask a clerk, “Do you have the Sting song, ‘Do It In the Shower’ in your store?”
I was disappointed when in 1993, The Police released a box set called, “Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings,” and it didn’t even mention the steamy solo Sting material that pre-dated his trio.
“Pfff, they should have called it ‘The Not Quite Complete Recordings,’” I scoffed.
I remembered “Do It In the Shower” briefly when I was first introduced to the Internet in the mid ’90s, but that didn’t yield any results either.
More than a decade later though, through the magic of YouTube, I was able to find “Do It In the Shower,” just this past week!
If you are a Police fan, then you will no doubt have Stewart Copeland doing a drum roll in your head right now as you read along with anticipation.
Before you click play, however, take a moment to notice the cover. The first thing I noticed upon being reunited with the cover image was that the cassette album artwork must not have shown the shower curtain rod, or else I wouldn’t have thought the woman on the cover wasn’t trapped in ice.
And then I clicked “play,” which I guess you can do now, and the one thing that never occurred to me happened.
With the very first wah-wah guitar and the breezin’ flute just seconds later, I realized that this wasn’t the Sting whose real name is Gordon Sumner and whose birthday is October 2nd and whose father was a milkman! This was a group called Sting!
And to think that I traded in my moral high ground because of the rationale that if Sting was OK to sing about gettin’ busy in the bathroom under the watchful eye of God (or the watchful eye of Lee Healy) then so was I! Oops.
But what is truly delightful about this quest and what might initially seem like an empty reward at its end, given all the years of anticipation, is to imagine the actual Sting that you know singing these lyrics.
Can’t you just picture his earnestness as he delivers the line, “Whatchoo mean you ain’t got no air conditioning?”
Maybe it’s time for me to put on the O.R. scrubs and give it a whirl.