Every breath you take - The Police - 80sneverend - A misinterpreted song

A misinterpreted song

The Police – Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
#EveryBreathYouTake #ThePolice #Police

There are many songs, as we have been telling for some time, that hide little-known stories or hidden meanings. However, a misunderstanding of outstanding proportions has rarely been seen in the interpretation of a song, as in the case of the hit we are introducing. In May 1983 (in some countries on the 13th, in others on the 20th) a song was released that has truly become a symbol of the 80s, and perhaps the most famous of a group that really characterized the early 80s, The Police. Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland had reached their fifth album, Synchronicity, and were certainly one of the most beloved and appreciated bands of the period. More mature and sophisticated than Duran Duran, more solid and experienced than the emerging bands like Culture Club or Spandau Ballet. Yet the balances in The Police were at risk: Sting was taking a predominant role in the group and making many decisions on his own, which had brought him into open conflict with drummer Stewart Copeland. It just doesn’t look like the atmosphere in which a group can create their most famous song!

Sting was going through a very complicated period also from a personal point of view: he had just left his wife to get together with her best friend, who was also their neighbor, and who is still Sting’s wife. The story had become public knowledge and clearly annoyed Sting who for a while decided to go to the Caribbean. And it was in Jamaica, at the same desk where the writer Ian Fleming composed some of the James Bond stories, that this song was born, with its colossal misunderstanding.

Every Breath You Take is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful love songs of the 80’s. An all-round statement, in no uncertain terms. It is also often played at weddings (especially at 80s dinosaurs’ weddings by now), the rhythm is catchy and sweet, the words are simple. Actually the song is about the exact opposite, that is, the obsession of controlling the life of a person who is now outside of our small world. In modern terms, we could certainly speak of monitoring and stalking.

And in fact, reading the text over, the words are anything but ambiguous: every step you take, every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you, because you belong to me. Words that we have unfortunately heard many times in the chronicles of crimes related to the inability to accept the end of a story. Of course, in this case it still remains unclear why Sting had this obsession, since he was the one who started the affair with his wife’s friend.

We find more clues about the true nature of the song in the video, which was directed by the great producers Godley and Creme. The video is quite dark, in black and white. The directors were inspired by a 1944 film called Jammin’ the Blues in which jazz musicians were seen playing in a club in black and white. And so the directors Godley and Creme rented a similar venue where other videos had already been shot. And the passion for black and white also inspired the video for their greatest success as singers, the famous Cry. In the video, Sting plays the upright bass, not exactly a love trigger instrument. Stewart Copeland also appears in the video, but when the song was recorded he played his drum part separately due to the tensions between him and Sting, who had even proposed to replace him with a drum machine. Actually Sting had been generic in terms of arrangements, but it was Andy Summers who realized that the song needed a guitar backbone, and in essence his contribution was fundamental to the enormous success of the song.

Looking at the video, in fact, Sting’s expressions are very different from those of a lover: his face is tense, his eyebrows express rage, his gaze is hard and fixed. In the video then there is a rather disturbing detail. In addition to The Police and to the musicians accompanying them, there is only one more figure appearing. A man on a platform washes the window of the room from the outside looking inwards. At first glance it seems just a little strange, but as confirmed by both Sting and Godley and Creme, his presence has a meaning, and represents the very person who in the grip of obsession finds a way to observe us and look at our life, and we probably don’t even notice him.

Every Breath You Take was a smash hit. It stayed at the top of the charts for months in many countries, sold millions of copies and was considered the best song of 1983. Having come out at the moment of greatest popularity of The Police, it became far more famous than other big hits like Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic or Message in a Bottle. And with The Police close to breaking up due to tensions between the members, it is considered the last and greatest song of the group. Moreover, the song had a new life in 1997 when it was widely sampled by Puff Daddy (later to become P. Diddy and Diddy) in I’ll be Missing You, dedicated to the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Sting didn’t know about the sampling, but after the song was released all legal issues were settled, and Sting correctly received hefty royalties, to the point that he also sang the song along with Puff Daddy at the MTV awards.

In the end, after so many years, one last doubt remains: how could we think this was really a love song?

The Police on Wikipedia

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