I was and am a pretty massive Police fan. I did a series on them a while back and said this: “The Police are number ten on my all-time list of favorite bands. Can’t believe I never saw ’em. Well, saw Sting a couple of years ago. But still. What the hell was I thinking? Well, I guess I was thinking $225 USD to see Police and Elvis Costello is beaucoup bucks. Shoulda caught them in their heyday. C’est, as the French say, la vie…
How I came to this particular post is because I was watching a video deconstructing one of Sting’s songs on YouTube and I had that “ah-ha” moment of inspiration we bloggers sometimes get. Sting’s solo career has lasted quite a bit longer than the Police ever did and while I don’t follow him that closely anymore, he’s got a lot of great stuff. (The Spotify list has the six-pack and then some).
Wikipedia: “According to Sting, appearing in the documentary Last Play at Shea, he decided to leave the Police while onstage during a concert of 18 August 1983 at Shea Stadium in New York City because he felt that playing that venue was “[Mount] Everest.” While never formally breaking up, after Synchronicity, the group agreed to concentrate on solo projects. As the years went by, the band members, especially Sting, dismissed the possibility of reforming.”
I won’t necessarily go chronologically here but I will mention that Sting’s first solo album (1985) was The Dream of the Blue Turtles. It was pretty successful and other than that reunion tour with his mates, he’s never looked back. Interestingly, with few exceptions, he never really rocked out as much as he did in the Police having become more of a soft rocker.
In 1999, Sting released an album called Brand New Day. The album earned Sting a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album and his third Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the title track.
I’ll get back to that tune but I’m instead gonna jump here to a song I really dig called “Desert Rose.” On this one, Sting duetted with an Algerian singer named Cheb Mami. It’s got a great, light, airy world music feel.
I used to have the cassette of ...Nothing Like the Sun and both my wife and I spent quite a lot of time listening to it back in the day. Of this album, Rolling Stone wrote: “…Nothing Like the Sun represents [an] impressive growth for Sting. His voice is rich, grainy, and more mature; his ideas are gaining in complexity, and musically he is stretching without straining.”
From that album, “Fragile.” I think about these lyrics a fair amount, especially lately:
On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are
So just to prove that you never know where a really good song is gonna come from, the song “It’s Probably Me” comes from the soundtrack of a movie called Lethal Weapon 3 made back when Mel Gibson could actually get hired. Sting co-wrote this tune with Eric Clapton and keyboardist Michael Kamen. Those guys play on it as does ubiquitous drummer Steve Gadd and saxman David Sanborn.
By now you’re probably saying to yourself, what the fuck happened to Sting the rocker? Didn’t he make great stuff like “So Lonely” and “Demolition Man?” Sure, same guy, right. But he admitted that as he got older it became harder to sing about his adolescent concerns.
But in 2016, der Stinglehoffer decided to put his rock and roll boots back on with an album called 57th and 9th. Wikipedia advises that the album title is a reference to the New York intersection Sting crossed every day to get to Avatar Studios in Hell’s Kitchen where much of the album was recorded.
This is called “Petrol Head.” Some good shit here:
From the album Ten Summoner’s Tales (real name: Gordon Sumner) comes “Shape of My Heart.” Of it, Sting says he, ‘wanted to tell the story of a card player, a gambler who gambles not to win but to try to figure out something; to figure out some kind of mystical logic in luck, or chance; some kind of scientific, almost religious law.’
Beautiful song and I love the guitar figure in this:
To close this six-pack out, let’s go back to the album Brand New Day for the title track:
Sting is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has so many awards he has an entire Wikipedia page devoted to that topic alone.