Sting the Dream of the Blue Turtles

Inherently Sexy Barley Fields – Quotes By Sting

I’ve been covering Sting on this website this week: I generally find that his solo career is under-rated – while The Police have great singles, their albums all have filler, and the terrific 1992 Greatest Hits is most of what I need from them. But Sting has a couple of albums that I enjoy right through – 1987’s …Nothing Like The Sun and 1991’s The Soul Cages.

One possible reason that Sting is underrated is that he often comes across as a little pompous; he has issues with self-filtering. Here are some examples:

I asked my dog what he thought the best in man
He said, “The love you dispense to me twice daily from a can.”
Lyrics from ‘Conversation With A Dog’

Success always necessitates a degree of ruthlessness. Given the choice of friendship or success, I’d probably choose success.
– Sting

“I don’t give a fuck about rock & roll,” Sting declared unequivocally in 1987. There was, he complained, “no new fuel in rock music.” Instead, he said, musicians should be looking outside of rock to African, jazz and even classical music: “Anything! Anything will do.”

The outcome was predictable
Our banditos were despicable
Of blood we lost a dozen litres
A small price to pay for los senoritas
Lyrics from ‘Love Is Stronger Than Justice’

In England, our house is surrounded by barley fields, and in the summer it’s fascinating to watch the wind moving over the shimmering surface, like waves on an ocean of gold. There’s something inherently sexy about the sight, something primal, as if the wind were making love to the barley.
– Sting

The title comes from Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”), which Sting used in the song “Sister Moon”. He added that his inspiration for this was a close encounter with a drunk, in which Sting quoted the sonnet in response to the drunk’s importunate query, “How beautiful is the moon?”
– Wikipedia

It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabokov
Lyrics from ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Do you have any favourite clunky Sting lyrics? Can you stomach his solo career?

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Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande.
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  1. Love this post, even though I have a different perspective on his career. I love all five Police albums and think there’s very little filler. Listening to them in my teems as they were released, every song was essential, even the sillier “lesser” ones. I always knew Sting’s lyrics were pretentious but it never bothered me. I immediately took to his solo career, and continued until Mercury Falling. Since then I’ve had very little interest in his new releases, which is a shame considering how big a fan I had been for at least a decade. Back in the day, a line like “Mephistopheles is not your name, I know what you’re up to just the same” seemed deep & pretentious at the same time. After having enough dysfunctional relationships I can appreciate the sentiment more than ever. I’ll leave you with this, which is the opposite of pretentious:
    I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing, I can’t , I can’t, I can’t stand losing, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing YOU.

  2. I covered Sting through to Mercury Falling – that’s the cutoff for me as well, as I thought Brand New Day was pretty weak. I do like each of his first five solo albums, but the two I mentioned are the ones that I think are strong right through.

    I’ve never heard Regatta de Blanc, but otherwise I’ve found that the amazing singles overshadow everything else. I don’t really like Copeland and Summers’ songs, and I generally get the sense that Sting wasn’t a prolific enough writer to handle an album a year. His solo career is more spread out, and the albums are more satisfying for me, even if they’re missing the musical spark of his former band mates. I’m aware that I’m probably in the minority with all of this though.

    • For me there are just as many incredible Police album tracks as there are hit singles, but maybe it’s a matter of “you had to be there.” I was in my teens when those albums came out and they were one of the most exciting bands in the world. Even the lesser songs were worth hearing for the musicianship. I love Copeland not just as a drummer but also for his songwriting, but I understand his songs are not for everyone.

      • What are your favourite album tracks? The only song that’s not on the 1992 greatest hits, that I’ve really loved is ‘Omegaman’ with a weird Summers riff.

        • Here are some of my favorite Police album tracks (some might have appeared on a GH collection but most are lesser-known songs that I love as much as the hits):
          Next To You
          Hole In My Life
          Truth Hits Everybody
          It’s Alright For You
          The Bed’s Too Big Without You
          Canary In A Coalmine
          Man In A Suitcase
          Shadows In The Rain
          Hungry For You
          Too Much Information
          Rehumanize Yourself
          O My God
          Miss Gradenko
          Tea In The Sahara
          Murder By Numbers
          I Burn For You (from the Brimstone & Treacle soundtrack)

  3. I’ve never much liked Sting. Always been put off his music by the man, really. That said, I’ve been slowly delving into the Police and enjoying what I’m hearing… but I don’t think I’ll explore his solo stuff at all.

  4. I like the early years of Sting’s solo career. Dream Of The Blue Turtles, Nothing Like The Sun, Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales… After that I haven’t found much essential (probably because I stopped buying them). I never found his lyrics clunky, so much as just a dude with a head full of words trying (sometimes too hard) to jam them into lyrics. Lots of artists have that problem – look at Jewel (she’s easy on the eyes 🙂 ).

    Actually I prefer someone somewhat literate to all the ooh baby’s and girl oh oh ohhhs of pop music.

    • That is a good point – his lyrics are often awkward because he’s trying to do interesting things with them. I feel the same about Geddy Lee from Rush, although I find him even more awkward.

      • Well, Wiki says “After being a bus conductor, building labourer and tax officer, he attended Northern Counties College of Education (now Northumbria University) from 1971 to 1974 and qualified as a teacher. He taught at St Paul’s First School in Cramlington for two years.” And what did he teach? Google says: “Before he became a star with The Police, Sting taught English, music, and soccer at St. Catherine’s Convent School. Sting later said of working at a convent school, “I was the only man on the faculty. In fact, I was the only teacher not in a habit.”” So maybe a part of him still wants to be an English teacher, so he uses his love of words in his lyrics. Or maybe he’s pompous like that guy in the Matrix, the Architect. Oy…

        Actually I think Peart writes Rush’s lyrics, doesn’t he? If that’s the case, maybe it sounds forced ‘cos Geddy’s trying to make it all fit haha!

  5. I followed as far as Ten Summoner’s then discarded all but Blue Turtles, which I do enjoy (despite its earnestness). Liked the live album too – the playing was outstanding.

  6. Sting is an outstanding artist and musician, both as part of The Police and solo!

    I think my favorite solo albums are “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”, “The Soul Cages”, “Ten Summoner’s Tales” and his first live album “Bring On the Night.” I’m also pretty excited about his last album “57th & 9th,” which I also reviewed on my blog – a welcome return to Sting ca. 1991 (The Soul Cages) after a detour to lute music and a musical. While I totally respect an artist wants to explore new territory, I generally think this detour didn’t work out well for Sting.

    • So there’s obviously some self awareness there…. I’m a little surprised how many Sting fans are out there – I was kind of assuming that most people would have passed on his solo career.

      • Indeed, many have followed his full film and recording career, including that album he did playing a Lute, and his appearance in the movie “Dune”. He has always said that his fan base love him because they understand his tough personal dilemmas. He once quoted “I do my best work when I’m in pain and turmoil”.

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