Happy Birthday, Ghost in the Machine!

The original (Christmas?) gift. Note the Invisible Sun in the upper right.

The Police released their fourth studio album, Ghost in the Machine, 38 years ago today. October 2, 1981.

I happened across this fun fact last weekend, when I had a yen to hear “Spirits in the Material World.” Spotify obliged, and even gave me the opportunity to listen to a few more favorite songs from The Police.

And then I got to thinking about when I first heard this music…the time in my life (and the world). Both Spotify and Google pegged the release date at October 2, 1981. I was in my final pre-teen year, and beginning to develop my own particular ear and tastes. But too young and unfunded to go shopping on my own. My guess is that I asked for (and received) the album as a Christmas gift that year.

While I occasionally post about music in this space, I feel like Pink Floyd makes the cut more often than most. But The Police were definitely my first favorite, and their music still holds significant resonance with me. I was pleased to discover I’ve referenced this album at least once before, waaaay back in the early days of this blog. (Frogs, Lizards, and the Ghost in the Machine)

I’ll conclude with a couple more fun facts:

  • The term “ghost in the machine” dates back to 1949, when philosopher Gilbert Ryle coined it to describe RenĂ© Descartes’s concept of human consciousness existing separate from the human body, or brain.
  • It’s taken on additional meaning with computer programmers, to describe when a program appears to run independent of the commands it was designed with.
Vinyl. One of roughly a dozen I’ve hung onto through the years, even though I no longer own a record player.

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