Arts Desk

Oh Sting, Where Is Thy Death?


Dear Sting,

I am in receipt today of a copy of your book, Lyrics by Sting, which was sent to me via your public-relations proxies at the Bantam Dell Publishing Group. I'm was quite struck by your efforts to not only create an index of first lines to all of your songs ("Free, free, set them free"; "Oh! Demolition, demolition"), but to write explanatory notes for many of them. I'm relieved to know that "So Lonely" is indeed about feeling lonely, that "Brand New Day" is about optimism, that the lyrics to "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" "weren't trying to be coherent," and that "Fields of Gold" is about the "inherently sexy" barley fields that surround the giant castle in which you live.

You tell so much of yourself! "Seeing a wild creature as beautiful as a fox always takes my breath away," you write of one song. You explain that you were laying in a garden with your beloved and watching the skies when you thought of the key lines to "King of Pain":

I turned to Trudie. "There's a little black spot on the sun today."

She waited expectantly, not really indulging the mood but tolerant.

"That's my soul up there," I added gratuitously.

Is there lead in the paint over at Castle Sumner, Sting? Just asking.

I guess I'm not entirely surprised that your book reveals you as a pretentious ass, but I confess I'm disappointed at how much your commentaries ruin your few good songs. "Message in a Bottle," I learn, was helped to fruition by your dog. "He [the dog] would stare at me with that look of hopeless resignation dogs can have when they're waiting for their walk in the park. Was it that hopeless look that provoked the idea of the island castaway and his bottle? I don't know, but the song sounded like a hit the first time we played it."

If you must continue writing songs, could please at least stop writing about how you wrote them? Thanks.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • casey

    I can tell this is a terrible, horrible, gouge-your-eyes-out-with-a-spork kind of book without even having to read the dust jacket.

    It's right up there with Jewel's' "poetry" compilation, I'm sure. And maybe Jeff Tweedy's...

    I'm waiting for the Slayer book, personally. Kerry King: "I came up with the idea for "Angel of Death" while pruning the poinsettias."

    But I do give props to Sting for managing to work Lycia and Charybdis into a top ten song.

    Then there's "Every single meeting with his so-caled superior is a humiliating kick in the crotch," which is fun to sing around the office.

    But yeah, die or something.

  • brick

    Yeah, taking on a popular artist makes you cool and edgy.

    "your few good songs." and Sting is pretentious because he's literate? Dude .. do you think being jaded and cynical for its own sake makes you relevant? At least it takes some talent to produce music. You prove that it takes no talent to critique music, much less write for this tired paper.

    This blog just brings me down. Please, CP managers, bring in someone who grew out of his teenage angst.

  • Chip

    Congratulations! You're the 1,795,833rd critic to use the words "Sting" and "pretentious" in the same sentence. Are you fucking kidding me?! So, how long have you been a member of the "I hate Sting 'cause I think it makes me more hip" club? Sting is 1) shy--he's no ham like Bono, and I love Bono--and that has definitely contributed to his not at all undeserved reputation for arrogance; 2) a serious, though not exceptionally gifted, musican; 3) intelligent--moreso than most pop stars and blogging music critics for small, iconoclastic urban news rags; 4) a truly gifted pop songwriter. He tells three minute stories in musical form better than almost anyone out there today and he's been doing it exceedingly well since 1978. That's what he is above all: a singer/songwriter, and a brilliant one at that. "Every Breath You Take" was the most played song of the 1980s--an entire decade. A day doesn't go by that I can't find The Police or Sting on the radio. They are currently having the most successful tour of any band since U2's last tour. Doesn't that say anything to you about the quality of the music? That he did a book about his songs will be welcomed by his fans and provide fodder for the hipper than thou set. In any case, I chalk this up as another case of someone hating because of everything that Sting is: Smart, successful, talented, tremendously wealthy, and still incredibly good-looking. Bob Simon interviewed him a couple of years ago on 60 Minutes II and Simon commented on Sting's undeniably charmed life, "It's good to be a rockstar, isn't it?" In typical Sting fashion that drives his critics insane, Sting replied cheekily, "It's good to be Sting." The thing is, anyone and everyone know's he's right. But that pisses some people off, and there's also certainly a good bit of jealousy at play. A friend called me the other day to say that while watching some new show on HBO, a guy playing a music teacher was wearing a t-shirt that said "Fuck Sting." My friend was surprised as he wasn't aware of the cult of Sting haters out there. Yeah, I told him. Then I thought of this analogy that, in Sting fashion I must say I think is rather apt: Sting is like the Yankees of the music world. Personally, I'd rather listen to and watch winners than read another cliched article about Sting being pretentious.

    P.S. For the record, I met the man, yes Sting, a few weeks ago, and he was completely charming.

  • scott

    So I clicked on this blog, not really getting what it was. Oops, my bad. The only thing worst than being bitter is being predictable and cliched. Congrats on the hat trick.

    As for your complaints about Sting, gee, that's brave. I think I read that in "Details" about five years ago. You're on the cutting edge there skippy.

    There's nothing more pretentious and annoying than people with no apparent talent who thrive off of dissing successful artists What a waste of my time. Goodbye city paper.

  • Pingback: The Crossed Pond » Sting stung

  • Mike

    To Brick and Scott,
    Thank you/ why did you take absolutely everything I wanted to say. I'll thow a log on the fire here: The only pretentiousness I see in this article is the way Athitakis forms his intro around the fact that Sting's PR sent him the book. Like Joe English, over at the Sting Corporation, was in a very important round table discussion in regards to who were the most important FREE PAPER bloggers to send the book to. Honestly Athitakis, volunteer at an old folks home, not blogging for the 4th most popoular inflight magazine on southwest airlines: The city paper.

  • Sarah

    Oh come on! we all know that Sting is a complacent, smug, self satified cunt who fucks his wife tantrically for 8 hours a day and us up the arse for the rest of it.

    The only reason I discovered this site was because I was searching for a place to buy the 'Fuck Sting' t shirt.

  • really

    Sting is a tantric bore.

  • boya

    When I was in 7th grade, I bought Nothing like the Sun. I thought its jazz inflected rock was brilliant. His lyrics inspired me to find some of his influences. I would say that I owe him for that, but I would have been forced to read Beowulf anyway, and there is more of the spirit of Chaucer in ten seconds of Tom Waits than when Sting drops a pun.

    Point is, by 9th grade, once I learned a little bit more about music and literature, I realized what a pompous ass he is.

    I think he is talented like Kenny G and Celine Dion are talented. He belongs in Vegas seranading tourists. How dare anyone call him rock.

  • Verde

    With so many opinions out there about another person proves two things: Different music and artists are out there because everyone has different styles and appreciation. Also, people who take the time to rip on an artist have alot of time on their hands and very little class as a human being. Grow the fuck up!

  • John Desy

    Wow. There sure are a lot of defensive Sting fans out there. Just because someone sells millions of records doesn't mean they make quality music. The buying public really aren't too bright. Or maybe it's just that their tastes aren't very well informed. Hey, Dave Matthews sells millions too. I think the main argument against Sting should be that it's just so boring. Boring music has got to be the worst crime of any musician. Sting has to be near the top of the list of boring musicians. Give me a group of teenage lunkheads who can barely play their instruments but put a ton of energy and excitement into it and I'll call it good ol' rock 'n roll and worth my time and effort to listen to. Sting, the musician, not the man, is pretty much worthless.