Shape of My Heart

The British artist Sting (aka Gordon Sumner) released “Shape of My Heart” as the fifth single from his wildly successful fourth solo album, Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993).

Like “Wild Is the Wind,” “Sultans of Swing,” and many other songs, today’s selection sounds perfect for the ending credits of a film. And, in fact, Sting’s song did end up in two films, 1994’s Léon (with Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and the film debut of Natalie Portman) where it plays in the ending credits, and it also plays during 1993’s Three of Hearts (with William Baldwin, Kelly Lynch and Sherilyn Fenn).

In 1993, I turned away from working at the railway just when my career potential was rising dramatically but also threatened by job cuts from rationalization to make the company more profitable. Profits over people. Anyway, I had more important work to do: I stayed home full-time to care for my infant son and, later, sons.

To deal with social isolation at the time, since the Internet was not yet widely available for social connection and interaction for home-bound folks (primitive bulletin board systems were only just emerging here, as far as I knew, anyway), I took up more volunteering and learned to run. From 1992 to 1996, I increased my fitness significantly, and though I let that falter when rejoining the workforce in late 1996, I remained somewhat active. But now, at 61, I am much more active and probably in as good physical condition as I was in my late 30s (though time and gravity have made their imprints, too).

I remember listening to Ten Summoner’s Tales a lot back then. An album about love and morality, it contains a wide variety of sounds and overall, I would say is very ballad-based. In “Shape of My Heart,” Sting is talking about a card player who is so deeply invested in his world that he considers the luck of the game to be a religion. The song has a contemplative quality to it, along with a melancholic undertone that seems to say the card player does not know fulfilling love.

He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn’t play for the money he wins
He doesn’t play for respect

He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart

He may play the Jack of diamonds
He may lay the Queen of spades
He may conceal a King in his hand
While the memory of it fades

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape, the shape of my heart

And if I told you that I loved you
You’d maybe think there’s something wrong
I’m not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one

But those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who fear are lost

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape of my heart
That’s not the shape, the shape of my heart

(“Shape of My Heart,” by Sting, Dominic Miller.
Unofficial Lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

The album was well-recognized by the music industry’s awards programs, including the GRAMMY for Best Long Form Video being awarded in 1994 to the video of a performance of the whole album. And while I mention above that the Internet we know now was still in its infancy, the New York Times reported the August 1994 sale of a copy of the Ten Summoner’s Tales CD to be the first secure transaction made over the Worldwide Web.

We’ve come a long way since then, though as I’ve stated here before, the shadow parts of the Internet have brought much discord, hate and harm to the world. All it takes is choosing to make it a safe place for sharing like early technological developers envisioned, much like any place in the physical world. And love. It takes love.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Sting’s YouTube channel:

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