Sting: Shape of My Heart Meaning
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Song Released: 1993
Shape of My Heart Lyrics
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn't play for the money he wins
He doesn't play for respect
He deals the crads to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden loaw of a probable...
anonymous Mar 1st, 2016 3:24pm report
Sting is not referring to literal cards or card players. The narrarator of the song is talking about God. God is personified as a "dealer" who casts out "cards"--or life situations--to players, or people. A dealer wins no money, gains no respect, and holds either contempt or reverence. Some wonder how dealers can watch gamblers lose themselves and not be saddened or disgusted--it is by looking at the cards. There is no way to count cards when using multiple decks at a casino--you simply cannot know how many Jacks have gone by before you arrived--dealers focus on the cards, not on the faces and the sacred geometry of chance is the odds of the game played. The hidden law of a probable outcome is the fact that the house always wins:
God is looking for the why in what people do with what their given. Ever since Adam and Eve--nothing is enough, not even the Garden of Eden. (I am going by the Christian lore because that is what is most easily identified with the lyrics.) People want more and more--consumerism is King, Fashion models are crowned Queens, the Jack refers to the everyday "Joe" ("Jack" is also used to mean the average man). Chance has no geometry--it's a mixed metaphor. Geometry can be graphed, chance has no shape--it is not a figure, and the belief in it is a matter of opinion. "He deals the cards to find the answer--the sacred, geometry of chance." This is referring to people who believe or disbelieve in God based upon what happens in their lives--whether it's an athiest who cannot believe in a God when famine exists, or a Priest dedicated to the sacrement with a blind eye and the same answers to everything.
Therefore, God is looking for the hidden law of a probable outcome: that History repeats itself despite new generations, changing times, and multiple variations on world events. The question is: When will they ever learn?
The Spades are the swords of a soldier has a dual meaning. First, calling a spade a spade originally was defined as being direct when speaking one's mind to another. This can often turn into confrontation, so most of society is passive-aggressive, and expects others to "take a hint." A soldier, unafraid of battle, will draw his sword. The Second meaning is a racial slur against black people in this country that was coined in 1928--this too, reflects an aspect of human nature that many Jacks have--whether it's about race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, etc.--that putting others down makes many people feel better about themselves.
The Clubs are weapons of war. "Clubs" in this sense is any group of people who have an agenda that either is elitist, exclusionary, or agressive against others. Whether it be the Ku Klux Klan or MENSA--this is again a way that people derive self esteem through the belief that they are superior.
"I know that Diamonds mean money for this art, but that's not the shape of my heart." Sting is talking about himself. He wrote this song, he is the witness, the listeners make him rich, but he is trying to change the way we view society and each other with this song. He acknowledges his music makes him rich, but his heart is not a stone (diamonds are a gemstone).
Sting then speaks of himself to the audience, the people. He makes the music for the good of mankind--to entertain, to teach, to learn from the feedback on his work. But what happens when a celebrity tells fans he loves them? Most think, "He doesn't even know me, how could he love me? What a phony." Sting then says he has no stage-presence other than the one he has in his life. He is just a man.
The Tough Part: I believe Sting is tying together the types of Jacks mentioned--The soldier (spade), the elitists (clubs) are speaking--always. Preaching, criticizing, condeming, complimenting themselves. But as time moves on, they do not. It is impossible to speak and listen at the same time. And if they don't listen, they learn nothing. Not even their dogma can progress/succeed in their goals--and, just like in WWII, strategy went out the window when the "final solution" began--winning the war took a back seat and the Nazis found out to their cost. "Like those who curse their luck in too many places" refers to people who blame anyone or anything except themselves and their own behavior for their misfortunes. That is all I will say--it's far too broad a topic and this is long as shit already. But the last new line, "those who fear are lost" refers to the fourth card class not mentioned. Sting references his own heart, but not that of a card. This is because the average person who is but a heart--with no motives or malice--often either fall victim to abuse, are overwhelmed with emotion and suffering and develop emotional/mental illness, or plain regular folk who are--out of their upbringings, life experiences, etc.--destined to never go after their dreams because somehow they learned helplessness (neglect is a form of abuse, so Pavlov's experiment fits here, as does those with economic hardship/barriers to life change.
If you got through that, I thank you. I welcome comments--I wrote this in one draft so I may have left things out or misspoken, but I can't read it over--I'm tired.
anonymous Jul 10th, 7:14am report
I loved interpretation used metaphor of God. Real meaning revealed in direct speech of Sting much more flat.
I’d rather stick to the one with God even it’s not the shape of Sting’s heart. It’s so beautiful! :)
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Mar 1st, 2016 3:25pm report
Sting has used good symbolism here when referring to the card games. Like gambling, life too has unpredictable ends it's only what you make it, the verse " know that the spades are 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" illustrates the various selfish and dangerous paths you could pick in life but so long as you stick with your better judgement and have faith in yourself you won't fall victim to these pitfalls.
anonymous Mar 1st, 2016 3:24pm report
Q: 'Shape of My Heart' is one of the album's most tender and revealing songs. Did you start out writing it about yourself or someone else?
[Sting]: A: Actually, I wanted to write a song about a card player - someone who wasn't necessarily interested in winning, but was looking for some kind of mystical logic behind the laws of chance. He had a sort of philosopher streak in him. And part of my interest (in the subject) was the idea of the card player whose job it is never to show emotion, either positive or negative - which makes him a quite difficult person to live with or to have a relationship with because he has a hard time expressing his love.
Q: What part of the song is about you?
[Sting]: A: I think that reticence about being able to express love is probably part of me, but also the idea of the interest of life beyond winning. I'm not sure I need to win anymore. I enjoy to play the game for other reasons.
anonymous Mar 1st, 2016 3:22pm report
My interpretation is that when Sting refers to 'a dealer' I think he means 'god' and when Sting says 'cards' I think Sting means opportunities in life.
anonymous Apr 5th, 2013 4:34pm report
Sting (from a 1993 promotional interview): "I wanted to write about a card player, a gambler who gambles not to win but to try and figure out something; to figure out some kind of mystical logic in luck, or chance; some kind of scientific, almost religious law. So this guy's a philosopher, he's not playing for respect and he's not playing for money, he's just trying to figure out the law - there has to be some logic to it. He's a poker player so it's not easy for him to express his emotions, in fact he doesn't express anything, he has a mask, and it's just one mask and it never changes." (thanks, Monica - London, England)
This is one of the rare songs that is co-written by Sting's longtime guitarist, Dominic Miller.
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