Broken Music by Sting (2003)

The Police were one of my very favorite bands for a long time, and part of the reason I got into the independent/underground music which had a huge effect on my life. I had a big crush on Sting as a teenager (me and 83 million others!). I can’t disagree with the accusations that he’s pretentious, arrogant, etc. (which leads to funny song titles like Allen Clapp’s “Why Sting is Such an Idiot” and Atom and His Package’s “Sting Cannot Possibly Be the Same Guy Who Was in The Police;” I wish they had quotable lyrics too…), but I still think he has moments of brilliance as a songwriter and I love his powerful furry voice. So all that helped me slog through this not-very-good book. Sting’s another candidate for the Wonderful Adjective Cellar, but the most irritating stylistic tic is the verb tenses: some past, some present, and a heck of a lot of that bizarre future perfect (“In the interim I will have become famous,” but speaking from a past POV set as the present) which infects bad memoirs. How did that start? Is there a master switch somewhere where we can turn it off?

A few interesting perspectives and anecdotes, especially about the Copeland brothers (Miles, shown in all his shrewd, cost-cutting glory, didn’t take to Sting at all initially and couldn’t get his name right–“that guy, whatsisname, Smig?”), and a good evocation of the sheer persistence, hard work, and raw ambition that led to the success of the Police. Three very experienced musicians, flexible enough to adapt to the changes that were sweeping through the industry, and willing to do whatever it took–no wonder they thrived when most other bands fell apart. “…The backbone of our legend will be that we would play anywhere, travel any distance, sleep anywhere there was a bed, give 100 percent and never complain.” Our music biz friend Geoff told us years ago that that appetite for touring, and the willingness to keep it up for years, was the main ingredient in “making it.” Best story in the book is about his meeting with Miles Davis:

The great man fixes me with his eye.

“Sting, huh?”

“Yes sir,” I reply.

“Sting,” he says again, savoring the word in his mouth like a gob of spit, “you got the biggest fuckin’ head in the world.” His voice is no more than a malevolent whisper.

I’m not a little shaken by this, to say the least. “What exactly do you mean, er, Miles?”

“Saw ya in a fuckin’ movie, man, and your head filled the whole fuckin’ screen.”

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