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Broken Music: A Memoir Paperback – January 25, 2005
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“Sting’s gift for prose and reverence for language, nearly the equal of his musical gifts, shine on every page. Even when Broken Music addresses the quixotic life of an aspiring rock & roller, it reads like literature from a more rarified time when adults didn’t condescend to the vulgarities of pop culture.” —Rolling Stone
“You can’t fault his scrupulous candor.…A natural storyteller.” —London Sunday Times
“Sting mixes tenderness, sadness and humor in his narration, indulging readers with the same style of descriptive, pensive words that characterize his songs….Even readers unfamiliar with Sting’s music will find the book compelling.” —Associated Press “A beautifully styled, elegantly crafted and intelligent portrayal of Sting’s own life…[it] ranks on the highest shelf of literary debuts.” —Toronto Globe and Mail
“A first-rate memoir…Engrossing…With writing that is both witty and refreshingly self-deprecating, this book has pleasures that extend well beyond interest in the man’s music alone.” —People
“An engaging, lucidly written reminiscence…intellectually vigorous…elegant and thoughtful.” —Entertainment Weekly
From the Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
Having been a songwriter most of my life, condensing my ideas and emotions into short rhyming couplets and setting them to music, I had never really considered writing a book. But upon arriving at the reflective age of fifty, I found myself drawn, for the first time, to write long passages that were as stimulating and intriguing to me as any songwriting I had ever done.
And so "Broken Music began to take shape. It is a book about the early part of my life, from childhood through adolescence, right up to the eve of my success with the Police. It is a story very few people know. "From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
I consider myself a passionate fan but my fandom is not rabid. I focus mainly on the work and generally have little interest in a star's private life. You can't help but pick up things in the midst of the media storm in which we live today but I do my best to keep my attitudes about a person's private life separate from my feelings about the work. My rare exception to this is when someone writes an autobiography. I rarely read biographies about living persons but I will often read an autobiography from someone whom I admire. Keeping in mind that no one is willing to reveal everything about themselves, it is often interesting to see what a person chooses to reveal. Such is the case with this book.
I am in no position to judge the factual content of Sting's story. On the other hand, I was surprised at how well Broken Music reflected what I would have expected from what appears to be Sting's personality. For fans, the most obvious thing that stands out is Sting's continued conflicted feelings about his success with the Police. Most obviously, this can be seen in the fact that this book covers Sting's life only up until the time of the formation of the Police. He still seems unwilling to really confront the meaning and experience of those years publicly. On the other hand, it is interesting in the final pages of the book to hear Sting tell of his first encounters with, in particular, Stewart Copeland and, later, Andy Summers.
The other big thing that stood out for me is how this book reflected a man's obsession with music and unrepentant drive for success. Granted, we do learn a lot about the simple facts of Sting's early life and relationships, his developing musical interest; however, underscoring it all is his need to do whatever it takes to win in the music world. As we've seen in his music, we also have Sting trying to self-analyze in this book and come to grips with his relationships with his mother, father, and a couple of early girlfriends but this stands in stark contrast to the ambition that underlies everything. It goes to show how even as writers try to present themselves in the best light, a certain amount of truth can't help but sneak through.
As a writer, Sting is quite good, as one might expect. Even if his experience centers mainly around 3 minute pop songs, he shows that he can write excellent extended prose as well. I was worried at first because the prose in his recollection of the ayahuasca experience is a little flowery but he quickly settles down into serious story-telling. Broken Music is certainly an appropriate title to this memoir as it is generally a linear story punctuated by the occasional flash forward and omniscient comment. (Not to mention the title's origin: as I recall from the book, the boy Gordon would sometimes pound atonally on his grandmother's piano and she would ask him to "stop playing that broken music.")
All in all, Sting has written a wonderful little book here. Anyone remotely a fan of his or anyone simply interested in music history will find a lot worth reading here. Still, I have to admit to a desire to see a sequel to this book someday, covering his years with the Police and his solo career. As the years go by, facts get clouded by the darkening shroud of memory; however, as this book shows, apart from the facts there is a lot of truth to be mined. I hope we see more of this from Sting.
It's a heartfelt makeshift autobio of an intensely introspective singer/songwriter evolving in study of life's intellectual meaning and not about to make his legacy all about the spoils of fame and fortune. He's much too deep or modest for that.
In this book the ego of Sting gave way to the humble humanity of Gordon Sumner. It's a fascinating read that reveals a soft rock legend who has realized his dreams yet is haunted by the sentimentalist mortality of life's uncertainty.
His 25 years on the road first as a blossoming musician, then as the iconic front man for The Police as well as a prolific soloist are covered herein almost as an impromptu coda after saging spirit over aspiration to soul search what really matters.
About those who helped make him who he is and of the fate that blessed his ambition, this memoir salutes his mercurial journey and not the epic destination of having become someone, which lends insight into why his music is so enlighteningly mystical.
Most of all, Broken Music is a tribute to those dear to him whom he has survived, old friends and family in the estranged late parents of a distant broken home. So much so, that he often identifies himself more by loved ones lost than success found.
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