by now infamous ‘I hope the Russians love their children too‘ lyric sung over a theme ‘borrowed from Prokofiev". Ile admits that ‘the song is open to a lot of misinterpretation. Somebody said it was pro-Russian. It‘s not pro-Soviet. it‘s not pro the West. it‘s not pro governments of any kind. We‘re conditioned to think of the Russians as being sort of subhuman. robotic. living in a grey gulag. and they think ofus in the
‘ same way. We must try and make
some kind ofcontact. It‘s up to us to see Russia differently. maybe
I achieving a greater understanding isn‘t just another dream.‘ How could I miss this golden opportunity?
Dreams crop up constantly in Sting‘s .. work. going back to ‘You Know I Had the Strangest Dream' on the
companion soundtrack album to the movie Brimstone and Treacle ( 1982) and developing through ‘Once upon a Daydream‘. the superior B side of the ‘Synchronicity [1‘ single ( 1983) right up to the eponymous track of The Dream ofthe Blue Turtles.
‘At first the title sounds frivolous. however there is a kind of logic behind it. About three years ago. I underwent lemnian (‘."?'.’) analysis. which is dream analysis. Every morning you write down what you
dreamt and take it to this analyst who tells you what it‘s about. You‘re encouraged to interpret your own dreams eventually and learn to use them creatively. draw pictures of them. paint them. or in mycase. since what I do best is compose music. to translate them into songs‘. Not sure whether he is having me on I press him to elaborate about the actual track.
‘I dreamt I was looking into my garden which is very English. looks very disciplined and ordered. From one of the walls a great gaping hole appears and four enormous blue turtles. kind ofprehistoric-looking. come out and do somersaults. backflips and other athletic things. in the process wrecking my beautiful garden. But in the dream I was laughing at this wonderful spectacle. So I woke up wondering what it was all about and tried to work it out. My interpretation is that the four turtles are the four guys in my new group and what they were doing here was breaking my formularised little life. my safe way of making records. I really wondered why. in my sleepy state. I was so overjoyed and realised that ifyou take this further. to turn over a new piece of land is one way of making it fruitful the following year. The dream was a very positive one. conﬁrmed me in my plan. Ifyou believe that you‘ll believe anything.‘ he finally quips as a wicked grin lights up his face.
Still, after five best selling albums and fifteen hit singles in the UK alone. it was a rather brave move to break away from the safe environment ofThe Police. He disagrees. ‘I don‘t know if it was a brave move.I decided that rather than make a solo album where I play everything. from the drum machine to the guitar. I wanted a band to play with. not necessarily the band I‘d worked with for eight years. I thought it‘d be more interesting to take musicians who were in another area rather than rock musicians. to see what they‘d come up with. I have
brave breakqi'ay a particular affinity with jazz players and thought they‘d be the most likely to make a change. not that I wanted to play jazz. I wanted to play music that was neither jazz nor rock. something that was unclassifiable.‘ Sting had ‘jammed with just about everybody and picked four guys who are all young black musicians. amazing players who all had a rapport with each other.‘ Meet Branford Marsalis (sax). Omar Hakim (drums). Kenny Kirkland (keyboards). Darryl Jones (bass). Sting has made a habit ofaudio cameos since he provided the plaintive opening ‘I Want my M'I‘V‘ to Dire Straits‘ ‘Money for Nothing‘. There are ofcourse more appearances of the celluloid kind in the pipeline after his various parts in Radio On. Quadrophenia. Artemis 81. Brimstone & Treacle. Dune. The Bride. Plenty. Michael Apted has directed Bring on the Night with its subtitle ‘A Band is Born‘ about the current project. and Sting remains
pretty evasive on the subject of the Gormenghast script he‘s rumoured to have written.th adamant that he‘would like more control over films. I write my songs. produce them and can control every stage of the game. But on a film. you go one day to a studio and do your bit. Then they cut you out. turn you upside down and do whatever they like. Dune being a case in point. I agreed to do a cameo role and a year later saw my name in big lights. on giant posters. they were selling the film on my back. which was terribly intelligent. considering I was only in it for five minutes. The actor seems to be the least important member of the crew. a coathanger mouthing somebody else‘s words.‘ A move into full-time acting. much mooted a while back seems unlikely.‘lt‘s not my intention to end up as an actor. Cameo roles I can do in a short time. and I‘m still an apprentice. working with Meryl Streep. I realised how much I have yet to master. It was like playing tennis with Ivan Lendl though she didn‘t tear me apart.‘
I venture the opinion that some of his more personal songs especially about relationships deteriorating and turning bitter appear to be little vignettes in which he plays the leading part. but the singer only partly agreesz‘l‘m not necessarily the protagonist in all of my songs. I don‘t have to play the part. I can imagine scenarios I don‘t have to experience though I suppose there‘s a part of me in something like ‘Every Breath You Take‘. It seems a very seductive. romantic song at first. but once you get past that sugary coating there are some quite seditious elements. ‘One never ceases to be amazed by the way Sting has blossomed into such a complex wordsmith: a quick retrospective listen to ()utlandos d‘Amour and Reggatta de Blanc shows how simplistic the lyrics of ‘Roxanne‘. ‘(Tan‘t Stand Losing You‘. ‘So Lonely‘ or ‘The Bed‘s Too Big Without You‘ are compared to the exacerbated hurt and bitterness of‘Wrapped Around Your Finger‘and ‘King of Pain‘ from Synchronicity. ‘Fortress Around Your Heart‘. a more recent effort. echoes this preoccupation with relationships turning sour; "I‘hat composition uses the imagery of warfare. When you have a relationship. it‘s very confused. you‘re conditioned to feel that you have to protect that person so much that you end up protecting them against yourself. and the image of a fortress is one that is particularly meaningful to me. It‘s like in ‘Every Breath You Take‘. to protect the person you have to lock that person up. and it was really a way of trying to exorcise that kind ofattitude in myself. I use songs as therapy. I want to try and get rid ofcertain ways of behaving. so I write them in songs.‘
All this talk ofexorcism and guilt bring to mind Sting‘s obsession — religion. and. more precisely. Catholicism. He was educated by Jesuits. whom he credits for his ‘venomous nature‘. and though neither he nor his kids are practising Catholics. he sometimes wonders whether he‘s made the right choice.
since ‘the human psychology is such that we invent gods and demons anyway and the Catholic ones are tried and tested archetypes.‘ Guilt crops up again in ‘Moon over Bourbon Street‘ on the current LP. It was inspired by Interview with a Vampire. a book by Anne Rice about this creature ‘who lives in Ne Orleans in the nineteenth century and is very interesting because he‘s been left with his conscience intact. so although he has to bite necks for a living. he is aware that what he‘s
' doing is bad. and is tormented by the ' knowledge ofevil. yet has to commit 9 these acts and is made all the more
Not that I would compare the singer to a vampire. you understand. though Oscar Wilde‘s Dorian Gray ; did spring to mind more than a few : times during our téte a tete. These ‘ days he is a much more ‘positive‘ person. ‘Love is the Seventh Wave‘ and ‘If You Love Somebody. Set ‘em ; Free‘ are perfect examples ofthe 3 new found ‘faith‘. the latter song an ; antidote to ‘Every Breath You i Take‘. this very sinister song about ownership. quite evil. ‘I needed to write somethingthat had the ; opposite sentiment. in other words
that loving someone isn‘t necessarily ? owning them. or even wanting or needing them. It‘s something where you can allow that person to do and be exactly what they like.‘
Which only left us time to touch lightly on the future ofThe Police. "I‘here‘s no point in just going on and on and being a group. and releasing record after record. Everything we set out to do we achieved. we really did. and unless we can think of a new way ofpresenting the group. a new way ofmaking music. none ofus just want to regurgitate the same formula. This process ofus all going i off and doing our own thing is hopefully a rejuvenating thing where we come up with fresh ideas. and if we want to. there‘s nothing to stop us making records again. On the other hand. there are no contracts to fulfil. nobody saying you have to make this record. so we‘re enjoying the freedom. It‘s a very old fashioned idea that bands have to break up or that they always have to be together though the tabloids love printing POLICE SPLI'I‘ in huge letters and then below. not true. in small characters.‘
You‘d have to ask a hundred ; people from Cherry Vanilla. whom The Police used to back and open for to Henry Padovani (the original frog guitarist in the trio via his present companion. actress-model Trudy Styler). to get a more focused picture of this rather unfathomable man. who now seems content in the words ofhis first solo single (which in hindsight take on a weightier significance) to ‘Spread a Little Happiness‘.
Oh. and I never found out whether the opening lyrics to ‘Don‘t Stand So Close to Me‘ (the teacher. the subject of schoolgirls‘ fantasies) stem from personal experience. That
will teach me! (Pierre Perrone)
The List 10 — 23 January 7