Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
[SB 193] Fighting cognitive decline, That's My Soul Up There ...
Hi, I’m Matt. Welcome to Steady Beats, a newsletter about chasing the good life at midlife: be healthy, keep learning, and listen to 80s music.
How did Sting swirl personal turmoil, his powers of observation, and a rhythmic twist into one of the most haunting songs of the 80s? Find out below …
Strength training experiment, Week 5
I’ve moved from three to two upper-body sessions per week, and continue to pick up weight and reps here and there each week:
This pace of improvement can’t continue. I’d been plateaued for months, and clearly dumping that third weekly session is giving my muscles more time to recover and grow.
But still. I’m 49, been at this a long time, and it will level off. But for now it’s fun to see the progress.
Promising medication to delay cognitive decline
New research is emerging on how to treat early-stage cognitive impairment and delay its growth into more serious dementia or Alzheimer’s. A common drug seems to make a difference: exercise.
Over and over we see how exercise fends off the effects of aging on the body—and the brain:
A more recent trial, called EXERT, showed the importance of exercise for those diagnosed with mild cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s. Three-hundred sedentary older people with the condition were divided into two groups, one that performed aerobic exercise several times a week and another that did balance and stretching exercises.
Over 12 months, the study showed, both groups remained stable and did not experience cognitive declines. A comparison group that did not take part in the program deteriorated significantly, according to results released last year.
Exercise: is there anything it can’t do?
“King of Pain” wasn’t the biggest hit from The Police’s final album, 1983’s “Synchronicity.” It peaked at #3 in the US in October 1983, overshadowed by its predecessor in release, “Every Breath You Take.”
(Posting this album cover for just one reason: I have always liked it.)
But King of Pain may have been Sting’s most personal song on the album. As he reached an artistic peak, his personal life descended into turmoil.
He was in regular–sometimes physical–conflict with his bandmates. He was newly separated from his wife. And yet, on vacation in Jamaica, he stuck to his creative habits and found the inspiration for King of Pain.
Sting noticed a laborer in a field, saddled with a bundle of sticks on his back. He was moved by the man’s focus and steadiness in challenging conditions.
He mixed that observation with his own pain, and a comment he made during the vacation to his now-wife:
“I was looking at the sun one day. I was with Trudie who is now my current wife and said 'Look, there's a little black spot on the sun today'. And there's a pause. I said, 'That's my soul up there'. I was full of hyperbole. I said that! I went back in and wrote it down.”
With lyrics anchored in his personal emotion and tethered to rich metaphors, Sting added a final twist to King of Pain:
The song is written in 7/4 time. This is more common in classical music, less so in pop. Music in 7/4 time has an irregular count and can be thought of as a '2, 2, 3 count' or a '3, 2, 2 count'.
It all blended into the somber elixir poured out in “King of Pain.” A song that soldiers on through spikes of emotions, echoed in the uneven progress of that 7/4 time.
“King of Pain,” with its haunting message and memorable cadence, has stood the test of time.
Thank you for reading.
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