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Sting and Robert Downey Jr - Driven to Tears
July 28, 2013 10:28 PM   Subscribe


 
I prefer the heroin-era Downey Jr to anything he's done the past year but it's nice to see him singing again.

To my memory, he does a wonderful version of You Don't Know Me, but I've never been able to find it online.
posted by dobbs at 10:40 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


A man if many talents! He seems to know this too, as you tell from his dramatic entrances. "How much do you love me?" (bashful look)
posted by greenhornet at 10:57 PM on July 28, 2013


Pleasantly surprised with Downey's performance. I'd listen to more of that.
posted by weston at 11:02 PM on July 28, 2013


I'd rather listen to him than Sting, for sure.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:38 PM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Somehow I've avoided discovering that Downey sings, this is a first for me. My strong reaction after the first two lines was "fuck me, this is not dilettante shite, I would listen to this on its merits."
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:54 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


RDJ's smirky acting does little for me, but I'd happily listen to more of his singing. Nice find!
posted by Georgina at 12:08 AM on July 29, 2013


Shouldn't he be singing with Black Sabbath?

Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind?
posted by pracowity at 1:08 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was pretty cool.

I love, love Copeland's drumming on the original.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:36 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Somehow I've avoided discovering that Downey sings, this is a first for me.

Do yourself a favor and track down his cover of Joni Mitchell's "River." I'm serious.

I heard him first do it out of nowhere in the middle of an Allie McBeal episode and it was gorgeous.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:14 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh heck, here's his "River" cover.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 AM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


The slash fiction, it writes itself.
posted by itstheclamsname at 4:58 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


And because I am an obsessive little geek (who still likes Sting, so suck it hataz) -

This happened at Sting's "60th birthday party", which he turned into a benefit concert for the Robin Hood Foundation.

And surprisingly, this was not the first time Sting and Robert Downey Jr. sang together in public.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:03 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. I actually would listen to these on the merits. I wish his singing was just a little less gaspy/grunty/stylized, but what a great surprise!
posted by nevercalm at 5:16 AM on July 29, 2013


One of my top five Police songs (#1: So Lonely). Thanks, SpacemanStix!
posted by Chrysostom at 5:16 AM on July 29, 2013


Gee, that was actually wonderful. Unexpectedly so.
posted by tommasz at 5:24 AM on July 29, 2013


OK, is this (and the rest of the concert) available for commercial purchase?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:33 AM on July 29, 2013


Been impressed by RDJ since seeing A Scanner Darkly. More impressed now. Nice!
posted by flabdablet at 5:38 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I went in expecting not to like it and boy was I wrong. Is that how RDJ's singing voice usually sounds or was he sort of playing up the rock star vibe? It was a little Eddie Vedder-ish.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:16 AM on July 29, 2013


I...Wow. That was great. Thanks!
posted by rtha at 6:23 AM on July 29, 2013


The celebrity club seems like a pretty fun club.
posted by bowline at 7:06 AM on July 29, 2013


Yeah, count me among those who went from "Oh lord, Downey's gonna sing?" to "Holy shit! Downey can fucking SING!" in the first 10 seconds of this.

Thanks for the pointers to his other pieces, EmpressCallipygos. Great stuff.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:56 AM on July 29, 2013


Oh god this was mere blocks from my house.

I should've set up sticky paper traps or something.
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 AM on July 29, 2013


Awfully good. He's not Iron Man, but Rufus Wainwright/Sting Wrapped Around Your Finger from the same concert is worth a listen.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:11 AM on July 29, 2013


Wow - I had NO idea he could sing like that! Awesome post.
posted by leslies at 9:22 AM on July 29, 2013


I just can't get past it. This is one of pop's greatest songs. There was a moment in the early 80s when it really felt like the energy and outrage of punk would be channeled something more meaningful, optimistic, productive, melodic, and accessible. Even more than U2, The Police were that band. Upbeat, diverse influences, outstanding musical chops, and fantastic song writers. I mean, I don't think Sting has been particularly evil or corporate, but he's just been completely uninteresting, uninspiring, for, like a very very long time and it is hard for me to look past that, even when he can still rock the house with the oldies. It makes you really appreciate people like Springsteen or David Byrne. When he plays Once In A Lifetime, you realize he's been An Important Artist for 30 years and maybe Sting was lucky or he stopped caring, or whatever.

Downey can sing, that is for sure, and that much was enjoyable. But come on, Hollywood's most successful actor singing about subject matter like this? How many cameras do you own Robert? I have nothing against him per se, or even against wealth, it just feels like to me, a 29 year old rebel rock star barely gets away with singing this song in 1980. But a movie star? Whatever, it's Sting's song and he can ask anyone to sing it, I don't have to like it.

I was also a little disappointed the guitar player didn't go with Andy Summers original solo, the most perfect atonal 12 notes in rock music. In a kick ass upbeat song about something very wrong in the world, the choice of these very wrong distorted notes was genius.

Thanks for the post though, very fun to think about one of my favorite songs and its place in the history of pop music.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:28 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that GE Smith on guitar?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:34 AM on July 29, 2013


* emerges from a back room bedecked with some dust *

Hey, I found some more stuff for the "holy shit, RDJr can sing?" pile.

1. He did the American remake of The Singing Detective. This was one of his first post-rehab things - Mel Gibson apparently had the production rights, and was trying to help him get work - so he cast him in the lead. American critics weren't too sure about the show itself, but they all pretty much said "but Robert Downey Jr. was damn good."

2. The Futurist, his album. Which got mixed reviews - but I suspect that that's because most of the songs he did were ones he'd written; I saw him do one of those songs on Jay Leno at the time of its release, and...yeah, not so much of a songwriter. But the song also included covers of Smile (Though Your Heart Is Breaking) and a medley of Yes and John Lennon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on July 29, 2013


So that Andy Summers solo is more like 29 notes. Still.

But I had to come back to shit a little more on RDJ. It's not like he went to rehab a half dozen times for taking acid in the desert or shooting heroin while living on the street. He was doing piles of coke at Los Angeles rich guy parties. He was the exact guy Sting was singing about.

Is there some conscious irony I am missing here?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:23 AM on July 29, 2013


Is there some rule that people can only sing songs that exactly reflect their lives, and if they sing a song that doesn't actually reflect their life - even if they sing it really well - then....something? I'm not seeing what it is you're not seeing. It's okay for people to sing songs, and it's okay to sing a song that is all about what an awful person a person like you is.
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


If songwriting/singing can be a type of storytelling, I don't see a big problem with it, either. Although I would agree that there's probably a deeper level of storytelling that's available when it has a personal connection, but I don't now that that is required to enjoy music as a medium for conveying a particular message. I want to know if the story is told well, and that's about it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:05 AM on July 29, 2013


Thanks for posting this. I've been a big Police fan since back in the day, and I think "Driven To Tears" is probably the best song Sting ever wrote. And Bobby Jr. does a pretty convincing imitation of 80s Sting.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:07 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


RDJ can sing, but man, Sting plays some smooooth myuuuusic.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2013


So since RDJ and Scarlet Johannson can sing, how far are we from an Avengers album? Can Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner or Chris Hemsworth hold a tune or play any instruments? Can Avengers 3 just be a musical a la Once More with Feeling? THESE ARE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.
posted by yasaman at 1:14 PM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thor can dance.
posted by The Whelk at 1:18 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Haven't seen the vid yet; in rural France now. But you haters: as more than as a few song smiths here can tell you it's just as likely that Mr. Sting wrote the original about himself as it is be wrote it about any (future) RDJ.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:25 PM on July 29, 2013


Is there some conscious irony I am missing here?

Irony? No. But if you want some balm for that chapped hiney, I can look into it....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:54 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Presumably Chris Evans would conduct, Mark Ruffalo would just take care of instrument smashing duties, and Jeremy Renner would be on, I dunno, cowbell or something.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:31 PM on July 29, 2013


2. The Futurist, his album. Which got mixed reviews - but I suspect that that's because most of the songs he did were ones he'd written; I saw him do one of those songs on Jay Leno at the time of its release, and...yeah, not so much of a songwriter. But the song also included covers of Smile (Though Your Heart Is Breaking) yt and a medley of Yes and John Lennon yt .
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:55 PM on July 29


I loved The Futurist. Man Like Me? Yeah pretty much summed up his drug habit. Brilliant writing IMHO. I even made a video for Kimberly Glide back in the day. The brat pack can verify he's always been writing and singing - we are just now learning his talent.
posted by TangerineGurl at 11:09 PM on July 29, 2013


He played a boyfriend of Ally McBeal in one of the later seasons of the show, and sang regularly on the show. He was a piano-bar singer, maybe? I can't remember for sure. It's lost now...like tears in rain...
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:33 AM on July 30, 2013


No, he was another lawyer on Ally McBeal. It's just that they had a habit of everyone on the show all hanging out at that same piano bar that apparently had no problem with its patrons coming up on stage and hijacking the mike and arranging celebrity guest visits.

Yes okay I watched Ally McBeal sometimes back then deal with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Empress! You are correct, of course! And there is no shame in having watched Single Female Lawyer.

Single Female Lawyer,
Fighting for her client,
Wearing sexy miniskirts,
And being self-reliant.

posted by Cookiebastard at 7:18 AM on July 30, 2013


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