Magazine article The Spectator

Broken Music

Magazine article The Spectator

Broken Music

Article excerpt

Letting it all hang out BROKEN Music by Sting Simon & Schuster, £18.99, pp. 339, ISBN 0743231848

For all of us who are paid to make jokes about pop music, Sting is a bit of a godsend. Earnest to the point of pomposity, visibly self-satisfied and even more serious about his music than George Michael, the former teacher and long-term sex symbol has come to represent a certain sort of middle-aged rock star: one that needs taking down a peg or two. And so we try, but it never makes any difference. Despite his prickly public persona, Sting has sold millions of records around the world and continues to sell them, unlike most of his contemporaries. More astoundingly yet, he has maintained this level of success while only ever making the music he wants to make. He has also been happily married for years to a woman who seems to have forgiven him for saying the words 'tantric sex' in an interview once. No wonder so many people's teeth seem to grind spontaneously at the mention of his name. His is a charmed life, everyone would agree.

Nothing, though, is ever so simple, and Broken Music is proof of that. At the age of 50 Sting says he suddenly felt the need to write a book and explain himself. Maybe he was offered millions of pounds to help him to this decision, I don't know, but, Sting being Sting, it probably wasn't relevant. The muse for him is everything; it leads him to break up the Police at the height of their career, hang out with Amazonian Indians, in recent times grow a ridiculous beard and, now, write his autobiography.

It is, by any standards, a very strange book. Legions of ghost writers do not appear to have been employed. These are Sting's words, and at times there are an awful lot of them. One drummer he knew had reputedly turned down a job with the Beatles. 'I would never probe him about the details of this fabled story for fear of its veracity dissolving in the cold light of scrutiny,' says Sting. The intensity of the prose style seems to match the intensity of the man. On page 13 he is already questioning the foundations of human existence. Two pages later comes the first throwaway mention of fractal geometry. He is obviously clever. More surprisingly, he wants us to know he is clever. …

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