Schizophrenia is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a group of serious brain disorders in which reality is interpreted abnormally. [It] results in hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior. People with schizophrenia withdraw from the people and activities in the world around them, retreating into an inner world marked by psychosis.” Little wonder that it’s rarely been the subject of pop songs, but one tune that captures something of the strange world of the schizophrenic is ‘Voices Inside My Head’ by The Police.
It opens with a jangling guitar lick from Andy Summers, before Sting launches into a menacing, repetitive (and totally catchy) bassline that sets a foreboding mood. Sting’s vocals have a slight echo, and are set back in the mix to approximate the sound of a voice lodged deep inside the skull. “Voices inside my head/Echoes of things that you said” are the only lyrics, repeated over and over. The song is punctuated by the occasion “CHA!” that’s higher in the mix, off rhythm, and startling.
Two lines of lyrics, a strong bassline, and what sounds like part of a soccer chant shouldn’t be enough to carry a song and this ought to be a throwaway – but it’s one of The Police’s finest tunes. That’s partly because, unlike many of their more popular songs, it isn’t rooted in airy Jungian philosophy or intellectual mumbo-jumbo. This group often touched on the insanity of the modern world (‘Shadows In The Rain’ and ‘Synchronicity II’ being prime examples), but this is where they best spun madness into art.
Listen: Voices Inside My Head