Sting: Broken Music, a Memoir

Sting: Broken Music, a Memoir February 11, 2024


“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

“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.

I had no interest in writing a traditional autobiographical recitation of everything that’s ever happened to me. Instead I found myself drawn to exploring specific moments, certain people and relationships, and particular events which still resonate powerfully for me as I try to understand the child I was, and the man I became.”— Sting

This memoir was completed in 2003, and appeared in print shortly thereafter.  It is clearly not your usual auto-biopic written by someone who has no writing eloquence. I’ve worked through the biographies of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Bruce Springsteen and others, and none had the gift of writing Sting has. And he never got beyond grammar school, however, he was a big time reader, and presumably by osmosis, he picked up an English style, not just indebted to his Geordie accent.   Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner  (hence 10 Summoner’s Tales for an lp title) has not only a gift of song, he has a way with words and this memoir was a joy to read, even though it’s content was sometimes disturbing.  Sting, if nothing else is honest about himself and his relational failures and well as his successes in life, about his dysfunctional family, and much more. He grew up in Wallsend, so called because it’s where Hadrian’s wall did end, near the North Sea. It was a ship building town when Sting was young, and I can identify with him, as he was born 2 months before me in 1951, in a region near from where my ancestors came from in Northumberland, and even nearer from my alma mater— the University of Durham with its stunning Norman Cathedral.   The biography only takes up to the period when his band the Police begin to have remarkable success, including the mention of the Police’s first tour of America in the early 80s (the band disbanded in 1983). As it turns out, while Sting is perfectly capable of writing songs of a quasi-punk or even reggae nature like Roxanne, it was not really his cup of tea.  If you compare a CD of Sting’s solo greatest hits compared to the Police’s greatest hits, the differences leap out at you.  Sting prefers to be a hopeless romantic, with every breath he takes.  Many of his most effective songs are ballads like—- the haunting. ‘Fragile’. And yes he is happily married to his second wife, Trudy Styles.  He has four children, and houses in NY, a sort of castle in the south of England, and a villa in Italy.   On his 60th birthday a whole bunch of A list musicians assembled to fete the man, with some remarkable results…. here’s a sample…

If you have to read only one rock star, read this one.  It’s winsome, both sad and beautiful, like Sting’s life, his songs, his ministry of music and search for God and redemption

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