The Police “Message in a Bottle” US #74 (1979)
Without a doubt, “Message in a Bottle” by The Police is one of the most legendary songs ever written.
Sting’s tale of isolation and loneliness leading to despair, but then tying into a realization that millions of others are in the same boat which offers the protagonist some sort of relief, is pure lyrical genius.
The poor soul appears to be stranded on an island and sends out a message in a bottle, ostensibly to find love. One year later however, and still no response (perhaps this guy didn’t have a friend like Tom Hanks did with Wilson in Castaway).
But wait…the following day he sees not just one, but “a hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore.” So, he’s not alone after all!
All three members of The Police are in, (ahem), perfect synchronicity on this track musically with Stewart Copeland offering a variety of fantastic percussive choices, Sting’s always creative bass lines keeping the rhythm going and those choice block chords supplied by Andy Summers that stand out in every way.
This track would be the lead single from The Police’s sophomore LP Reggata de Blanc and would go straight to #1 in the UK and #2 in Canada.
Yet, here in the US, the single crapped out at a paltry #74!
How is this possible? The song received and still receives constant FM radio airplay, and good luck finding someone who doesn’t know of it.
Airplay doesn’t always translate to singles success, but in this case it’s pretty damn baffling!