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Lyrics Hardcover – October 23, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press; First Edition edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385339879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385339872
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sting is an award-winning singer, songwriter and human rights activist. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Publishing my lyrics separately from their musical accompaniment is something that I've studiously avoided until now. The two, lyrics and music, have always been mutually dependent, in much the same way as a mannequin and a set of clothes are dependent on each other; separate them, and what remains is a naked dummy and a pile of cloth. Nevertheless, the exercise has been an interesting one, seeing, perhaps for the first time, how successfully the lyrics survive on their own and inviting the question as to whether song lyrics are in fact poetry or something else entirely. And while I've never seriously described myself as a poet, the book in your hands, devoid as it is of any musical notation, looks suspiciously like a book of poems.

So it seems I am entering, with some trepidation, the unadorned realm of the poet. I have set out my compositions in the sequence they were written and provided a little background when I thought it might be illuminating. My wares have neither been sorted nor dressed in clothes that do not belong to them; indeed, they have been shorn of the very garments that gave them their shape in the first place. No doubt some of them will perish in the cold cruelty of this new environment, and yet others may prove more resilient and become perhaps more beautiful in their naked state. I can't predict the outcome, but I have taken this risk knowingly and, while no one in their right mind should ever attempt to set "The Waste Land" to music, in the hopeful words of T. S. Eliot, “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

—Sting


OUTLANDOS D'AMOUR (1978)

Next to You

So Lonely

Roxanne

Hole in My Life

Peanuts

Can't Stand Losing You

Truth Hits Everybody

Born in the '50s

*

Visions of the Night

Our first album as the Police was recorded piecemeal in a rundown studio above a dairy in Leatherhead. We had been together as a band for roughly a year by then. Some of the songs had been written for my previous band, Last Exit, and adapted for the new one. Others had been composed while touring, and some were created during rehearsals or while recording.

We weren't signed to a record company yet, and none of us had any money, so we used some secondhand tapes that we found in our manager's garage and recorded very late at night, for an even cheaper studio rate: moonlighting only after another band had left.

We'd work until the coffee ran out and we were bleary-eyed and delirious with exhaustion and the absurdity of our arguments.

I'd drive back to London in my battered old Citroën in a kind of euphoria, with these tunes thundering in my head, yelling improvised lyrics at the top of my voice to the empty road and the stars twinkling sceptically above the rooftops.

I'd get back to my flat in Bayswater just as the sun was coming up through the trees in Hyde Park, thinking that these were some of the best days and weeks of my life. I'd try to scribble down whatever I'd been declaiming in the car and then go to sleep for the rest of the morning.

The afternoon would be spent trying to make sense of these fragments and working on them until early evening so that I would have something presentable that night.

I was happy because I'd dreamed about this, this making of an album, for as long as I'd owned a guitar, strummed my first chord, and rhymed my first couplet. It was almost too much to absorb.

There's no grand concept at work in this album, just a loose collection of dreams, fragments and fantasies, low doggerel and high dudgeon, sense and nonsense, anger and romance, all welded together by the bluff and bluster of a new band.

We were insane in our optimism, and we were never happier.


Next to You

I can't stand it for another day
When you live so many miles away
Nothing here is gonna make me stay
You took me over, let me find a way

I sold my house
I sold my motor, too
All I want is to be next to you
I'd rob a bank
Maybe steal a plane
You took me over
Think I'm goin' insane

What can I do
All I want is to be next to you
What can I do
All I want is to be next to you

I've had a thousand girls or maybe more
But I've never felt like this before
But I just don't know what's come over me
You took me over, take a look at me

What can I do
All I want is to be next to you
What can I do
All I want is to be next to you

All I want is to be next to you
All I want is to be next to you
All I want is to be next to you

So many times I used to give a sign
Got this feeling, gonna lose my mind
When all it is is just a love affair
You took me over, baby, take me there
What can I do
All I want is to be next to you
What can I do
All I want is to be next to you
What can I do
All I want is to be next to you
What can I do
All I want is to be next to you

All I want is to be next to you . . .

*****

I wrote these lyrics while I was in Last Exit and then grafted them shamelessly onto the chords from Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." This kind of musical juxtaposition—the lilting rhythm of the verses separated by monolithic slabs of straight rock and roll—pleased the hell out of me. That we could achieve it effortlessly just added to the irony of a song about misery being sung so joyously.

It was something of a coup when someone pointed out to BBC television that, because of my poor diction, I seemed to be singing the name of a popular TV presenter, Sue Lawley, and not "So lonely." It was played on national television as an homage to Sue, but we didn't complain. Blessings are often unexpected.


So Lonely

Well, someone told me yesterday
That when you throw your love away
You act as if you don't care
You look as if you're going somewhere

But I just can't convince myself
I couldn't live with no one else
And I can only play that part
And sit and nurse my broken heart

So lonely
So lonely
So lonely
So lonely

So lonely
So lonely
So lonely
So lonely . . .

Now no one's knocked upon my door
For a thousand years or more
All made up and nowhere to go
Welcome to this one-man show

Just take a seat they're always free
No surprise no mystery
In this theatre that I call my soul
I always play the starring role

So lonely
So lonely
So lonely
So lonely

So lonely
So lonely
So lonely
So lonely . . .

A friend of mine bought a sheet of lyrics for "Roxanne" that had turned up in a collection of memorabilia, and he asked me to verify if it was genuine.

"Well, that's my handwriting," I said, "and those are my doodles": three clocks–one at five to four, another at ten past six, and one sidelong that looks to be showing eight o'clock–a sundial, an hourglass, five sets of five-bar gates that prisoners use to mark the passing of the days, some kind of whirlwind vortex spinning in the top right-hand corner, and a spear or an arrowhead. I imagine I was drawing these as I was listening back to various takes of the vocals, but I don't know what they mean.

I wrote "Roxanne" in Paris in 1977. The band was staying in a seedy hotel near the Gare Saint-Lazare. I had a set of descending chords starting in G minor and a melancholy frame of mind. Inspired by the romance and sadness of Edmond Rostand's great play Cyrano de Bergerac and the prostitutes on the street below my window, "Roxanne" came to life.

I've sung this song on most of the nights of my life since then, and it's my job to sing it with the same freshness and enthusiasm as if I'd written it that afternoon and not thirty years previously. I always manage to find something new in it and I'm still grateful.


Roxanne

Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don't have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne
You don't have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don't care if it's wrong or if it's right

Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light

Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne

I loved you since I knew you
I wouldn't talk down to you
I have you to tell just how I feel
I won't share you with another boy

I know my mind is made up
So put away your makeup
Told you once I won't tell you again
It's a bad way

Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light

Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)

*****
Copyright © 2007 by Steerpike (Overseas) Limited. ((etc))

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Customer Reviews

Lyrics is a good read for die-hard Sting fans.
Valerie Smith
It is, of course, very handy to have Sting's own version of the lyrics to songs one has wondered about for perhaps years.
David J. Kunz
The vellum-like wrap, the gentle coloring to the photos and text...it's a pleasure to read.
M J Heilbron Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By jeffthemarshall on October 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Upon reading this book, i found the explanations and stories behind the songs very interesting. Sting has always been a prolific songwriter... especially during the years following The Police.

I guess I would have enjoyed more/deeper insights. But as a long-time Sting fan, I found this book very enjoyable.

It also serves as a great coffee-table book, since it's easy for guests to pick up & put down (ie- no real plot-line).

To those negative reviewers:
1) Read the actual book
2) Yes Sting is a bit narcissistic, but at least he can back it up. What's your problem?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M J Heilbron Jr. VINE VOICE on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a Christmas present, and I've already devoured it.
This is a handsomely produced book containing all of Sting's lyrics from the five Police albums, and his solo output up to his last disc, "Sacred Love".

The actual physical construction of the book is gorgeous. The vellum-like wrap, the gentle coloring to the photos and text...it's a pleasure to read.

The book is loosely structured according to each album. He prefaces each album with a page or so of comments and thoughts, and then about 75% of the time makes individual notes for a single song. Not every song gets a comment, but all the "big ones" do.

Being a HUGE Police (and Sting) fan, I knew about half of the stuff he says from previous interviews, but there's a lot of new stuff here, and having it collated in one place is very nice.

I am a poetry hater. I have never understood nor liked poetry, and as you can imagine, reading song lyrics can either come across as decent poetry or puerile gibberish.

As I'm so familiar with these songs, I found it, for the most part, quite pleasurable reading through some of his songs. Most interesting is the progression from his punky-pop beginnings to his literate, complex tales as a solo artist.

For fans, this not only is a no-brainer, it's essential.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is difficult for me to admit this, since I am a big fan of Sting and his work, but this book is a real disappointment.

Granted, I'm happy enough to have it on my shelf. It's nice to have all Sting's lyrics collected in one place. It's interesting to see how I've misinterpreted some things over the years; particularly, some of the harder rocking songs of the early era of The Police, when it was more difficult to make out the words. Still, I was hoping for much more.

The biggest problem, I think, is that there's so little here beyond the lyrics themselves. I guess of was hoping for much more in terms of background, interpretation and self-criticism of the work. That would have made this volume must-have interesting. But most of the songs have nothing extra in the way of commentary by Sting and those that do are little helped by what he does have to say.

For some reason, Sting still wants to cast darkness over his years as a successful musician. His autobiography, Broken Music, is wonderful--insightful and reflective--but he stops his tale as The Police are forming. In this book he once again had an opportunity to shed some light through the lens of his lyrics and he passed it by. Hopefully, someday he'll be willing to settle down and give us his impressions of his life since the late 1970's. For now, his fans will still have to wait.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Laudat on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sting is one of the few artists of our time that still produces fresh music after 30 years in the business. Having been a avid fan for nearly 20 of those years, I'm grateful that he has pulled this book together.
Many times I have wondered what inspired songs like Spirits in the Material World, Fields of Gold, Inside, Shape of my Heart, etc. Many of his songs represent a certain time in my life, so its good to understand his creative process, simple or complexed. As far as Sting being a narissist, well what artist isn't? Some a little more than others, but that's okay because that's why we buy their music and go to their concerts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. T. Strickland on January 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is what song writing used to be. This is also what song writing needs to get back to! If you listen to "Shape of My Heart" and then read the lyrics and are still not moved...well, my friend, you have no soul and don't know real music when you hear it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By V. Clay on November 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really love this book. Sting's lyrics are pure poetry. To read the lyrics alone without the music deepens it's meaning and i found my self later adding the music in my head and thinking of how the music stands alone as well. At times i would be singing out loud embarrassing my husband in borders.LOL
And it is interesting to hear how some of the songs were created or brought to life.
I am buying one book for myself and one for a friend.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Wendell on December 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the book. Sting's music has been around for a big chunk of my adult life, and I enjoyed the insight into the thought process that lies behind each of these songs.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Stang on November 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am really glad I purchased this book. I love Sting's music and like to sing along. Having the lyrics and some history of his process is interesting to me. If you really like his music, this is a nice accompaniment to your collection.
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