Annie Lennox, one half of supergroup Eurythmics and a successful solo singer, has earned millions of fans worldwide not just for her peerless vocals but for writing classic songs, many with raw and honest lyrics about sadness and loss. While watching another famous Scot, Andy Murray, try and put into words his recent humiliating loss by Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, I got the sense that Murray, aside from dealing with a lack of confidence, seemed very sad. But why?
Now losing three tennis matches in a row, for which Murray got paid to do so, is hardly a tragedy. But I think Murray’s “muddle” started way back at last year’s 2009 U.S. Open where he lost his fourth round match to Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and called it “the most disappointing loss of his career”. If you remember, Murray played that match like he was in a fog and it looks like that fog has returned for the moment. Of course the UK press and tennis press here in the States started the rumor mill swirling again over what could be the cause of Murray’s slump. Is Murray still mulling over his lost opportunities in Australia in his match versus Roger Federer? Is Murray dealing with getting back together with his ex-girlfriend Kim Sears? The list goes on and on.
So why should Murray put on some Lennox tunes, either from her brilliant album “Diva” or from “Bare” where Lennox really opens up a musical vein so to speak about being sad in almost every song. Because Lennox has used her own bouts with depression and melancholy to fuel some of her greatest work. Like a singer, Murray is a performer too and gets to endure his losses and low points on a public stage. But unlike a singer, Murray has endured hyped-up expectations of almost super-human performance since he turned pro back in 2005.
More than any player in the top 10, Murray has dealt with the added pressure of being proclaimed the next no. 1 player, the next man to win a Grand Slam, the next man to fill in the blank with anything regarding tennis and none of it has happened yet. In his runner-up speech in Australia, Murray broke down as he apologized to everyone for “not doing it” as if the script were written and all he had to was say the lines, but he flubbed it. That pressure won’t end, especially with Wimbledon coming up, but Murray has to find satisfaction in just playing the game again and let the wins and losses be what they are.
One of my favorite Lennox songs, appropriately called “The Hurting Time” ends with these lines.
So tell me what the day brings
Has it lost it’s thrill?
Are you still searching
Hoping for that
Space to fill …
Everything you turn to
Is like a mirror on the shelf
And the only one you’re blaming
A million little deaths you’ve died
The times that you’ve been crucified
The more you’ve loved and lost and tried
And still could not be satisfied
When will you be satisfied?
When will you be satisfied?
Not till the hurtin’ time begins
Doesn’t take a degree in English to get that the last line means satisfaction won’t come until you’ve let the “hurt” in, embrace it, and then let it go. If Murray, and his somewhat turbulent personality, can find solace in whatever he’s dealing with and then channel it into something greater, then his best tennis may be just around the corner.