Stewart Copeland Can’t Remember Playing Part of a Huge Police Hit
Stewart Copeland's ongoing Deranged for Orchestra tour led him to break down old Police tapes, track by track. This helped the drummer and his onstage collaborators reconfigure the songs for strings.
Along the way, many of the Police's most famous songs were completely reinvented, while others like "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" went largely untouched. "That's one that I didn't 'derange,'" Copeland admits in an exclusive UCR interview. "I just earballed it and did a takedown and then I orchestrated it, pretty much intact."
Still, he adds, one part of his performance from this Top 5 1981 smash single remained elusive:
Going through the multi-tracks had to be a trip. What was the favorite thing that you found?
There’s this one drum fill, towards the end [on "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"]. Everyone says, “Oh man, nice drum fill; you gotta play that!” And of course, since I never play anything the same way twice, I just thought, “You know what, I’m going to find that drum fill and put it in the score.” Well, I searched high and low in the multi-track for that drum fill. I thought, “Wait a minute, let me play the record.” “Whoa, wait a minute: The record is an entirely different recording!” Different tempo, different everything.
Now, I cannot remember recording “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” more than once. I remember the day we made the record. It was all grumpy. We tried the reggae version, we tried [a lot of different things]. Finally, “Okay, Sting-o, play me your demo and I’ll just lay the drums down on the demo.” I’m there all grumpy in the morning, Sting standing over me waiting – and that’s the record.
But the one that I’ve got, my multi-track, is not that. It’s some other fleshed out version of the song. So I have no idea where that came from. Anyway, the "derangement" is the other version. Same form, just there’s a few details, a different tempo for one thing.
Watch the Police's Video for 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'
You guys came from that age where you made records that they weren’t perfect. Before you discovered the stuff in the multi-tracks that you’re talking about, I’m sure there were elements that were mistakes that were left in that just add to the fabric of the songs.
Well yeah, the mistakes were left in – because they had not yet invented Pro Tools. [Laughs.] We had to play the damn song our gosh darn selves, from beginning to end. The most we could do was maybe take the first part of this take and the second half of that take. That’s about as much as we could do. Everything else was analog. We had to actually play it on the spot. We couldn’t just grab the waveform, and take it from here and put it over there. We couldn’t AutoTune it. We had to do it with our bare hands.
Are you happy ultimately that that’s the magic you had to work with? I don’t think it would be the same if you guys would have had Pro Tools.
I can think of 10 different ways that modern technology and other factors – such as, after we played those songs out on the road, you really figure out the best way to get from the chorus back down into the verse. All of these little details that you work out. I think the record would have been so cool if I would have known this when I was in the studio. However, the records sort of seemed to work!
That’s always the thing. You record them and very often, you’re crunched for time, because they want you to get back out on the road. I know that’s something that artists struggle with a lot.
Well, the other thing, a lot of artists – not the Police, but other bands – ask themselves: “Well, how are we going to play this live?” We never gave that a moment’s thought. We just filled up whatever space was available on the multi-tracks. We’d fill it up with something and let live take care of itself.