I was seldom able to negotiate the trip in less than 90 minutes each way. What made the commute almost tolerable in those days was that FM radio in LA (back when FM was still a different format) included maybe a half dozen outstanding music stations in a variety of different genres - a couple classical, one progressive jazz, one older style jazz, one early "roots" station, and a pretty decent country one. The commute was still nearly unbearable, but I sure got to hear some fine music and developed an interest in artists I had only known in passing. It was on during this commute that I first heard Sting"s "Fields of Gold" and was transfixed by it immediately.
I'd always liked Tommy Emmanuel and admired his playing enormously - in taste as well as technique he has few equals and no superiors IMO among post WWII guitarists - and his 1993 LP The Journey remains one of his best.
1993 was also the year of Sting's Ten Summoner's Tales, one of his folkiest and the LP that included "Fields of Gold," which received heavy air play that year and helped to make my commute almost bearable. I was struck by the multitude of ways in which "Fields of Gold" resembled earlier English folk ballads in its sound and structure, pretty much bucking any number of pop music and roots music trends in doing so.
I liked Sting with The Police and loved his early solo work, but it wasn't until this LP that I learned he'd been a lit major in college and taught secondary English for a few years. I think Gordon Sumner (Sting's real name, of course) was consciously trying to create his own modern balladry that wasn't shy about expressing its origins in much older musical styles. I also think that he succeeded brilliantly in doing so, rather more so than most American singer-songwriters who pretty much distanced themselves from the folk roots of their compositions while Sting was building his songwriting around them.
Eva Cassidy of course recorded a deeply moving version of "Fields of Gold," made all the more poignant by her early death shortly afterward, but Sting's original remains the gold standard for me.
Having this song as interpreted by Tommy Emmanuel is an absolute delight. Tommy is a frequent and ebullient performer on TikTok, and watching him perform is not only impressive and disheartening (in 100 years of trying, 99% of us will never approach his command of the guitar), but it's a joy to see how thoroughly he still loves playing, as is clear in this video.
I suppose I just could just have said how much I appreciate all of the SASS, Ken - and I have and do - but this one is a grand slam. As Tommy might say - "Good on ya, mate!"