The Police was a British-American new-wave band that blended reggae, jazz, funk, punk, and world music influences into hook-laden pop-rock. Five best-selling albums, a bevy of hits, and aggressive touring—including stops in countries usually overlooked by Western pop musicians—combined to make the Police the world’s most popular band in the early 1980s.
“Ambition is stronger than friendship,” Sting told Phil Sutcliffe, the journalist who introduced him to Stewart Copeland in 1976. Sting was in a group called Last Exit; Copeland was part of a progressive rock outfit called Curved Air. Both groups were on their last legs. Summers, who studied classical guitar, had been on the English music scene for a while, including as a member of Soft Machine. The three had instant social and musical rapport, but when the downforce of fame pushed upon them, there were no childhood bonds to hold them together. “As long as the group is useful for my career I’ll stay,” said Sting. “When it isn’t I’ll drop it like a stone.” Sting and Summers are from England. Copeland was born in America (Alexandria, Virginia) but moved with his family to Beirut, where his father worked for the CIA.
The group formed in 1977 but began to crumble in 1984 when they took time off following their tour for Synchronicity. They returned in 1986 to play three Amnesty International benefit concerts, but plans for an album were scuppered by hard feelings and other commitments. The next time they worked together was 2007, when they reunited for a successful, but contentious tour that lasted over a year.
If we stop to analyze their entire body of work, we can clearly see that each album represented a different growth stage for Sting. Which it makes sense because he had complete creative control of the band. He walks us from his lonely, insecure and jealous streak all the way to his solo song “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” I really appreciate how he can paint a detailed picture with the lyrics.
Below is a list of my top picks. Enjoy!
Don’t Stand So Close to Me
This is a song about a forbidden relationship between a high school teacher and his student. The lyrics are charged with sexual innuendos: ” wet bus stop, she is waiting, his car is warm and dry.” In my opinion this song exposes the weakness of the common lonely man. She is half his age, but he is so lonely at this point, that any kind of female attention is welcomed and even returned. This is the reality of many single men who find themselves not up to the challenge of being the pursuer. I mean, it is a lot of work and most times it does not pay off. Who’d want to be in that position? It sounds exhausting and I imagine that it can eat at a person’s self esteem. It only makes sense that any kind of female attention could drive them mad, at least for a short while even if it is from someone half or double their age.
Message in a Bottle
While modern research claims that our phones are contributing to disconnecting people more than ever; I think that this song proves otherwise. Sting talks about a note he wrote and placed in a bottle that drifted out to sea. He is hoping to be to be rescued from something (“sending out an S.O.S”). Could it be a secret desire, a cry for his most basic needs? Whatever it was, he “woke up to find one hundred billion bottles washed across the shore.” This song was written in the 70’s, so there is no way that cell phones were responsible for the disconnect. Perhaps what we are observing today is an amplification of what was already there. A society that is comfortable talking about everything but incapable of forming deep trusting connections with each other? What are your thoughts?
Every Breath You Take
In this song it seems like he has found that special one in his life. However, after the break up, the feeling resembles more an obsession than love. “My poor heart aches with every step you take.” Another great song describing the feeling of chemical withdrawal experienced by lovers after a break up. This is no joke, love is a drug (dopamine) that we release every time we are with the person we love. Perhaps it is a warning that cuddling, connecting, caring and being kind to each other can become somewhat addictive. You have been warned 🙂 Love is dangerous!
Can’t Stand Losing you
This is a story of self loathing after yet, another break up. Believe it or not, research suggest that breakups are harder for men than for women, because men generally only bond emotionally with their partner. While women maintain emotional bonds with several people including friends and family. This is purely an evolutionary trait. If the male did not bond so strongly with the female, he would leave her after procreating and females need his support during the first few years after giving birth. While women learn to also rely on other females to care for their off spring when leaving the ‘nest’. Despite all advances in technology and gender relations, the most primal instinct of men becoming protective of their source of emotional support has not changed.
We can see a more mature Sting expressed in this song that credits true connection to achieving syncronicity between thought, words, feeling and action. What fascinates me about this song is that I have experienced several times during my life this type of manifestation in the universe. When there is no conflict between your thoughts feelings and actions the universe comes knocking on your door as if asking: “Excuse me, did you order this?” It is a truly remarkable experience. The tricky part is being honest with oneself to achieve that state. 😉
“A connecting principle
Linked to the invisible
Logic so inflexible
Nothing is invincible
Effect without a cause
Sub-atomic laws, scientific pause
What is your favorite song from this band? Leave your comments below.
Other wothy mentions:
- Canary in a Coal Mine
- Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
- Bring on the Night
- Bed is Too Big Without You
- The Do Do
- Murder by Numbers