This song was written for Sting’s only Broadway musical, The Last Ship, and was actually included on the Sting concept album of the same title. It was intended to be proposal from the ‘older man’, Arthur, to the show’s heroine Meg. And while The Last Ship was essentially one long series of misguided decisions, had they actually kept this song, it would have been the most disastrous of all. This is a ‘proposal’ that wallows in its own miserable lack of love or any kind of conceivable appeal. It’s a heartbreaking song, which I think was the intention, and is actually quite effective when heard out of context, but no-one would ever hear this proposal and say ‘yes’, no matter how desperate they were. In the finished show, Sting replaced it with one of the score’s highlights, the much more positive and persuasive “What Say You, Meg?”. While “Practical Arrangement” is the polar opposite of love song, “What Say You, Meg?” is a genuine love song…just down-to-earth, comfortable, share-our-life-together love rather than wild, passionate romance. Some other shows…The Baker’s Wife, for instance…would argue that that is real love, rather than the Romeo-and-Juliet romanticism of the show’s central couple. In any case, “What Say You, Meg?” is not only a ravishing song, but a vastly more appropriate choice for this moment in the story…and indeed, one of the few dramatic moments in The Last Ship to be completely satisfying.
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