Sade, a Smooth Operator, sings of No Ordinary Love, and Is That A Crime?
“Pearls,” written by Adu and Hale, from Love Deluxe and the last song on The Best Of Sade, is one the band’s masterful songs: it’s a drama featuring a Somalian woman “scraping for pearls on the roadside”; and the lyrics compare the Somalian woman’s state (“she cries to the heaven above, there is a stone in my heart”) to the pain of new shoes, an intentionally inadequate contrast, a way of saying there’s little in a comfortable western life, and in Sade Adu’s life, that compares to such fundamental need. The “pearls” the woman searches for on a roadside for her little girl seem to be fallen grains of rice. (The year before Love Deluxe ’s release, in 1991, Angelique Kidjo’s album Logozo, on Mango/Island Records, had a song on it, “Kaleta,” that presaged “Pearls.” Written by Kidjo and Jean Hebrail, “Kaleta,” said, “You who watch me from above, you who remain indifferent before the children who are killed, remember that you are not immortal. For he who remains silent before the misery of our children should not forget that suffering and death spare no one.”) In “Pearls” the Somalian woman “lives in a world she didn’t choose and it hurts like brand new shoes.” Isn’t choice the essence of freedom? Some of us work hard to have choices; and we convince ourselves we have choices even when circumstances deny them. We insist on the ability to choose our own attitudes to dire circumstances if all other choices are gone. Most importantly, with this song, as with others, it is easy to see that Sade Adu extends to people very different from herself a friendship, love, and sympathy similar to that she feels for her intimate acquaintances, making inequality of wealth, making politics, deeply humane, intelligent, and a fit subject for art. Of course, it was Auden who noted in his “Musee des Beaux Arts” that artists have long known that suffering takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; many may know, but not all show. Sade Adu, Andrew Hale, Stuart Matthewman, and Paul S. Denman, and the musicians and producers who have helped to produce their songs, have been creative and more: they have been transformative, transforming passions into believable stories and also the facts of common lives into ideas and images that are hard to forget, something requiring no ordinary love.
Daniel Garrett is a writer whose work has appeared in The African, AllAboutJazz.com, American Book Review, Art & Antiques, The Audubon Activist, The City Sun, CompulsiveReader.com, IdentityTheory.com, Option, Review of Contemporary Fiction, 24FramesPerSecond.com, WaxPoetics.com, and World Literature Today. ( Muse-Apprentice-Guild.com, an online magazine, is scheduled to publish some of his creative work.)