For a man who shortened his stage name to Sting, Gordon Sumner sure does seem to have a thing for wordy song titles. With his great New Wave band the Police, he burdened radio DJs with weighty names such as "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," "Don't Stand So Close to Me," and, most brazen, "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around." His solo career, with hits such as "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," showed no more appreciation for brevity.
His love for loquaciousness makes you wonder what kind of English teacher he might have been. Before becoming one of the biggest rock stars of the '70s and '80s, Sting was a high-school teacher. We're guessing he was not of the "less is more" variety. But fortunately for the students of St. Paul's First School in Cramlington, Sting quit his day job before assigning too many 5,000-word essays.
Instead, listeners worldwide were able to enjoy the Police's trailblazing sound. By throwing reggae influences into mainstream rock 'n' roll, the band sounded unlike anything else that was selling millions of records at the time. But though you could take the teacher out of the school, you couldn't take the school out of the teacher. Sting always showed off his extensive vocabulary and even threw in Nabokov references. His solo career has proven no less academic, with lyrics that in earlier decades had listeners pulling out dictionaries and today doing Google searches.
After spending years creating a stage musical, making an album accompanied by a lute, and reinterpreting his pop songs into a classical symphony, Sting last year released his first rock album in 13 years, 57th & 9th.
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"The thrust of it is rock 'n' roll, but all my DNA is in there. There's some folk music, some thoughtful, quiet moments. My whole thing is surprise. If I've been making esoteric albums for the past ten years, then people expect that I'll do that again. But the main thing was, 'Hey, let's have some energy.' It's not a lute album," he told the Telegraph in a recent interview.
He's taking the songs on a tour that will come to the Fillmore this Saturday. The set lists for recent shows have shown off not only the new tracks but also old favorites such as "Message in a Bottle," "So Lonely," and "Every Breath You Take." Fans of the verbose will be happy to know he's been starting sets with the longest title on the new record, "Heading South on the Great North Road."