Broken Music

( 29 )

Overview

"Broken Music 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. ...
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Overview

"Broken Music 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.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Broken Music isn't smarmy or pompous. Sting is a likable narrator, neither falsely modest nor proud beyond merit, and he writes with a self-deprecation that works. — Sasha Frere-Jones
From the Publisher
“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

“You can’t fault his scrupulous candor.…A natural storyteller.” —London Sunday Times

“Sting mixes tenderness, sadness and humor in his narration, indulging readers with the same style of descriptive, pensive words that characterize his songs….Even readers unfamiliar with Sting’s music will find the book compelling.” —Associated Press “A beautifully styled, elegantly crafted and intelligent portrayal of Sting’s own life…[it] ranks on the highest shelf of literary debuts.” —Toronto Globe and Mail

“A first-rate memoir…Engrossing…With writing that is both witty and refreshingly self-deprecating, this book has pleasures that extend well beyond interest in the man’s music alone.” —People

“An engaging, lucidly written reminiscence…intellectually vigorous…elegant and thoughtful.” —Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641937194
  • Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/27/2003
  • Pages: 337
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Music has always been my refuge from sadness. The guitar I inherited from my uncle John now has decent strings, and I’m no longer making the “broken” music that so upset my grandmother; in fact I’m making a lot of progress, but the limitations of my first instrument are holding me back. There are things that I simply can’t do with this primitive heirloom.

            From the money I earned on the milk rounds I have saved up enough for a new acoustic guitar that I’ve had my eye on. It has been hanging from the wall in Braidford’s Music Shop for three months now. I go and see it after school every evening, praying that no one has bought it. It is a beautiful ­steel-­stringed instrument with a blond finish, an ebony fingerboard, and delicate marquetry inlaid around the sound hole. It costs me sixteen guineas, which is a large amount of money, but I’m in love for the very first time.

            I first heard the Beatles in my final year at junior school. I remember being in the changing rooms of the swimming baths. Mr. Law had just supervised one of our chaotic and impossibly noisy trips to the baths--by “supervised” I mean that no one had actually been drowned. We were drying ourselves off and, as was our custom, flicking towels at each other’s genitals. It was at this point that we heard the first bars of “Love Me Do” from a transistor radio in the corner. The effect was immediate. There was something in the sparseness of the sound that immediately put a stop to the horseplay. John’s lonely harmonica and Paul’s bass played “two to the bar,” and then the vocal harmony moved in modal fifths up to minor thirds and back again to a solo voice on the refrain. Not that I could articulate any of this at the time, but I recognized something significant, even revolutionary, in the spare economy of the sound, and the interesting thing is, so did everyone else.

            By the time “She Loves You” reached number one in the charts I was already at the grammar school, but it wasn’t the confident primitivism of the “yeah yeah yeah” chorus that excited me so much as the G major chord with an added sixth that colored it at the end of the coda. Again, I couldn’t articulate this then, but I knew as the G major chord with an added sixth that colored it at the end of the coda. An old dance band cliché, but when the Beatles used it there seemed to be a subtle irony at work. Again, I couldn’t articulate this then, but I knew instinctively that it was pointing to a level of sophistication that I hadn’t been aware of in pop music until then. The Beatles would succeed in manipulating as many musical forms into their songs, whether classical, folk, rock and roll, the blues, Indian raga, or vaudeville, in a dizzying and seamless pastiche of ideas and cultural references. It was music without frontiers and the ubiquitous soundtrack for a generation that thought it could change the world.

            Jim Berryman, in his otherwise excellent biography, A Sting in the Tale, claims that I was outside the City Hall when the Fab Four played there in 1963, and that I managed to grab a lock of McCartney’s hair. This is of course fantasy, and would have been out of keeping with the budding intellectual pretensions that I was nurturing at the time. But it is impossible to stress too much the influence that the Beatles had on my early life, and the fact that they came from a similar background to my own was fundamental to the vague plans of escape and glory that I was hatching in my imagination. Lennon and McCartney were both grammar school boys from humble roots in Liverpool, a town not dissimilar from Newcastle. From their initial chart successes they went on to conquer the world with songs that they wrote themselves. This gave an entire generation of musicians the confidence and permission to at least attempt the same feat.

            I pore over Beatles albums with the same obsessive and forensic scrutiny that I’d applied to Rodgers and Hammerstein, only now I have a guitar. I have an instrument that can reproduce the practical magic of the chord structures and the network of riffs that their songs are built on. And what songs, one after the other, album after album. I learn to play them all, confident that if I persevere, what I can’t play immediately will yield its secret eventually. I will reapply the needle of the record player again and again to the bars of music that seem beyond my analysis, like a safecracker picking a lock, until the prize is mine. No school subject ever occupies as much of my time or energy. I’m not claiming that any kind of prescience about the future is at work here, but there is something in the driven and compulsive nature of this obsession that is unusual, something in the unconscious saying, This is how you escape. This is how you escape.

            It is 1966 and England, having won the World Cup against Germany that summer, is at last enjoying the fruits of the postwar boom and is considered to be, in the quaint argot of the time, “swinging.” In Newcastle, however, the hedonism of social change and cultural revolution is limited to a small enclave surrounding the university. King’s College gives the pubs and clubs and bookshops an air of musty intellectualism and bohemian sophistication. Wittgenstein, of all people, is supposed to have spent some time in the city during the war--I can just see him trying to explain the more difficult passages of Tractatus ­Logico-­Philosophicus to the coves in the Haymarket snug in a blue haze of Woodbines and brown ale.

            The Club A Go-Go is above some shops in Percy Street, behind the Haymarket. It was originally a jazz club catering to the sophisticated tastes that developed in and around the university. The Go-Go is where the Animals had their residency before they hit the big time, and living proof that the Beatles miracle could be repeated, even in Newcastle. When I am fifteen years old, the first live band I ever see is there: the Graham Bond Organisation. It is a fortunate introduction. Graham Bond is a big ­round-­faced man with long greasy hair and a mandarin mustache. He plays Hammond organ and alto sax and sings in a gruff and passionate baritone. His band contains figures who will soon become legends: Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, who will become more famous as members of Cream, on bass and drums respectively, and Dick ­Heckstall-­Smith on tenor. The music is harsh and uncompromising and I’m not sure if I like it, but I have a strong sense that what is being played has a weight and a seriousness that will later be characterized and then caricatured as “heavy.” Graham Bond would later become obsessed with the occult and end his own life under a train in London’s Underground.

            I go to see John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, again at the Go-Go, although I don’t remember which of their subsequently legendary guitarists was on duty that night. It certainly wasn’t Clapton, though it may have been Peter Green. But it wasn’t until December of that year that I really had my mind blown.

            I would watch Top of the Pops with a religious devotion at 7:30 every Thursday evening. I loved this show with a passion. Almost forty years later I can still see a picture of the DJ, Jimmy Savile, standing in front of a large chart of the top twenty, circa 1966, and am able to sing a line from every entry. Such familiarity with the music of the time could not, however, have prepared me for the whirlwind, the tidal wave, the earthquake, the force of nature that was Jimi Hendrix.

            The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared on Top of the Pops in December of 1966 and changed everything. Hendrix had transformed “Hey Joe,” an old folk song, and propelled it by the elegant ferocity of his guitar playing into a sassy, bluesy vehicle of awesome power. His vocal was as sulky and offhand as it was passionate and openly sexual, and as the ­three-­piece band stormed through the ­three-­minute song, I imagined everyone in whole country in front of their tellys sitting bolt upright in their chairs.

            Wow! What the fuck was that?

            It seemed only days later that he would be booked to appear at the Go-Go. The excitement in the town is palpable. I am technically too young to gain admission to a nightclub, but because of my height I can easily pass for eighteen. I have brought a change of clothes in my schoolbag, a pair of Levi’s and a white Ben Sherman shirt with a ­button-­down collar. These are the “coolest” clothes I have, and look fine under my school overcoat. I change out of my uniform in the toilets at the Central Station, trying not to breathe. The lavatory is foul with the pungent stench of urine and sadness. I dress with mesmeric slowness, not wanting to drop any of my clothes on the filthy floor, beneath a faded Ministry of Health poster warning of the dangers of VD. Some hope! I still haven’t come close to having sex. There are no girls at school, and most of my evenings are taken up traveling home on trains and buses. When I do get home, I usually have a punitive amount of work to do, and when on those rare opportunities I do meet girls I am painfully shy and haven’t a clue what to say. But the other reason is music; I already have my passion. I stow my bag in the lockers at the station and set off at a brisk pace for Percy Street, breathing in the crisp air of the evening in grateful gulps and anticipating something extraordinary.

            There is a long queue stretching around the corner. I tuck myself into the end of the line and wait. I imagine I’m one of the youngest people there, although my height allows me some anonymity in the crowd. They are mainly boys, dressed much the same as me, although a few dandified “exotics” have managed to purchase Afghan coats and are sporting droopy Zapata mustaches and spiffy desert boots. The girls all have the same style, hair parted severely in the middle and falling in lank sheets to the shoulders of black leather coats. There is an atmosphere of seriousness, though, that pervades the crowd, as if we are about to witness an event of high cultural significance. Hendrix will play two sets. I manage to scrape in for the first one, which is fortunate, as I would have had to find some convincing excuse to stay out so late for the second. My parents have no idea where I am, and I have no wish to tell them. One of the dividends of my alienation is that I don’t have much explaining to do and am pretty much left to my own devices.

            The club is tiny and I secure a pitch for myself halfway between the stage and the back wall. I will have no trouble seeing. The band of course are late. The crowd waits patiently.

            They say that “if you remember the sixties, then you weren’t there.”

            Well, much the same could be said of this gig. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an overwhelming, deafening wave of sound that simply obliterated analysis. I think I remember snatches of “Hey Joe” and “Foxy Lady,” but that event remains a blur of noise and breathtaking virtuosity, of Afro’d hair, wild clothes, and towers of Marshall amplifiers. It was also the first time I’d ever seen a black man. I remember Hendrix creating a hole in the plaster ceiling above the stage with the head of his guitar, and then it was over.

            I lay in my bed that night with my ears ringing and my worldview significantly altered.

            I did enough schoolwork to get by, but no more. All I wanted to do was play the guitar and listen to records. I listened exhaustively to Dylan and memorized great tracts of his lyricism, from “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” to “Gates of Eden.” I also learned to like jazz, the hard way.

I developed a number of friendships with older boys in the school who recognized the seriousness of my musical obsessions. One of them lent me two albums by Thelonious Monk, Monk Live at Olympia in Paris and Monk Solo. I was at first baffled by the angular complexity of the melodies and the density of the underlying harmonies, but had an inkling that there was something important here. I persevered, in the same way I persevered with the books my grandmother lent me, or the way I figured out how to play the guitar pragmatically, unschooled but determined. I had no intellectual approach, just sheer ­bloody-­mindedness. I would come home from school, put Monk on, begin my homework, and let the music teach me by osmosis as I struggled with some abstruse geometry proof. When I heard Miles Davis and John Coltrane, I realized that these musicians were exploring the outer reaches of human understanding like physicists in a sound laboratory.

            I wonder if I would have developed even a small understanding of such music if I hadn’t first put the time and effort into listening. I am no jazz musician, but I’ve put in enough work to have some understanding of it and develop a common language with those who do play it.

            By 1967 my parents have saved enough money to move the family to a semidetached house near the coast in Tynemouth, only a few miles downriver from Wallsend. After all these years they’re miraculously still together, or at least nominally so, being under the same roof. Divorce simply isn’t an option for people like us, either financially or socially. It just isn’t done. I’m relieved that we haven’t had to deal with the seismic upheaval of a divorce, but sometimes, exhausted by the constant emotional static that crackles and then festers just below the surface of the house, I wish the whole thing would just blow itself ­sky-high, once and for all.

            I am too awkward and clumsy to be much good at football, but I can run. No one has ever beaten me over one hundred yards at any of the schools I have attended. I am ­big-­boned and strong from all the exercise I get working with my dad and, of course, all the free milk.

            I hold the school record for the hundred yards and have qualified for the Northumberland County championships in Ashington. It is the summer of 1967 and I am sixteen. This is the biggest race of my life. I can recall the nausea of waiting for the starting pistol, the agony of the silences between the instructions: “On your marks…” My spiked feet in their blocks, measuring the distance between my left knee and my fingertips. “Get set…” Now an eternity as I raise my head and push back on my hips and stare down the long tunnel to the finishing line. Bang!

            I return home that evening flushed with pride and victory, having won the race by a good length and blurting out the news of my triumph to my father, who is rousing himself from his afternoon sleep on the sofa. “That’s very nice, son,” is his only response, before he drifts off to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. I am at first deflated and then angry at him. He is too embedded in his own unhappiness to be able to really share in my success or take pride in it as something that he himself helped to create. His pride in me will continue to be ossified in the bones of his sadness, unvoiced. I understand this now, but I didn’t then.

            My running career ends that summer after I am beaten for the first time in the early rounds of a national tournament. I have lost heart in the sport, consoling myself with the knowledge that there is no strategy involved in sprinting, no real tactical training. You are either born with the right musculature to be the fastest, or you are not. Excellence in sports is cruelly definitive, and this is the nausea in the pit of your stomach and in your throat, this is the fear--that you will not be good enough, that you will be beaten, that you will fail.

            I begin to fantasize that I will no longer seek my father’s attention, and yet a lot of my life has been nothing but a vain attempt to find approval, to find acceptance. And no matter how full my belly, I wonder, will I always feel hungry?

            While I despise the new house and its suburban pretensions, it does have a garden, which my dad loves though he has to get up even earlier and drive back to Wallsend to do his round. He builds what he calls a conservatory in the back garden, but in reality it’s a ­jerry-­built shed with windows. He spends most of his days in there with the spiders and some ­sad-­looking cactuses.

            My mother still goes out on a Thursday night to an undisclosed location assumed to be Nancy’s house, but nothing is ever said. The walls are too thin for voices to be raised. We are like a family of Trappists, cloistered in our own silences. I can’t be much of an elder brother to my siblings. I’m sure they’re as confused as I am, because when I’m not actually missing from the house, I’m just emotionally absent, for although I love them dearly, and I think they love me, I can’t really express any interest in them or risk any emotion. They must think I’m a cold fish, but I have no idea what they know or what they can tolerate. I share a back bedroom with my brother and a view of the ocean--that is, it has a view of the ocean if you climb on top of the wardrobe and peer over the rooftops, and there in the distance will be the gray, forbidding horizon of the North Sea. I get out as much as I can. I will use up whole days wandering up and down the beaches from Tynemouth to Whitley Bay, drifting with the tides, aimlessly walking and thinking.

            I begin to spend a lot of my evenings at the YMCA in Whitley Bay, and befriend two brothers, Ken and Pete Brigham. Ken, like me, goes to a grammar school in Newcastle. He is an excellent musician and plays piano and guitar. Pete, who is a couple of years older than we are, is an apprentice chef and plays the bass. Pete has actually built this instrument himself, and I am stunned by his ingenuity. The bass is functional without being crude, utilitarian without being ugly. He explains to me the electronic mysteries of the ­single-­coil pickup, the mathematics of scale length and the crucial distances between the frets on the fingerboard. This will be my first introduction to the cult of the bass guitar. I have not really taken much interest in the instrument, regarding myself exclusively as a lead guitarist because I could now make passable attempts at Hendrix riffs, using this new skill to inveigle my way into the coterie of young musicians who gather in the music room most weeknights. I am the kid who can play “Purple Haze,” and this becomes my calling card. From such small beginnings reputations are made. I probably teach that riff to half the kids in the YM.

One of these kids is Keith Gallagher, who will be the best man at my wedding, as I will be at his. A lifelong friend and an early supporter, it is with his enthusiasm encouragement that I dare to imagine that I have something that sets me apart as a musician, that somehow the dream can be nurtured into reality.

            Keith has a practical nature. He is apprenticed to an engineering firm in Newcastle and attends night school. He also had the ambition and tenacity to get a good degree and eventually become a leading consultant engineer. Although my convoluted route to success will be far less structured, we must have recognized in each other similar traits, similar desires to escape the confined world of our parents. We walk the beaches together, talking and fantasizing, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. Keith is the first person to hear my early songwriting efforts, and although they are probably awful, he shows just enough interest to encourage me to carry on. (He did remind me recently that one of my earliest efforts concerned a flower in the desert. I had long forgotten this before I came to write a song called “Desert Rose,” which would sell over a million copies ­thirty-­five years later. It still seems fantastic to me that something as private as a song can become public property, but maybe all it takes is just one person to believe in what you are doing to give you the confidence to keep trying.)

            While Keith is my Svengali it is Ken, the younger of the Brigham brothers, who will be my mentor. We learn old Freddie King numbers like “The Stumble” and “Hide Away” note for note, and play these tunes ad nauseam. Brother Pete plods away on the bass while Ken and I wheedle and deedle our way through the blues. We go to see Peter Green in Fleetwood Mac, Stan Webb in Chicken Shack, and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, feeding our fantasies that we too can become bluesmen. When we aren’t playing in the YM we are practicing up in Ken’s bedroom, which is in the attic of a Victorian terraced house near the seafront. One night Pete has a date and won’t be able to do the honors on bass, so I nobly volunteer to take up the support role while Ken wheedles and deedles.

            The bass feels strange in your hands when you’ve been used to the smaller instrument with its narrow strings and short neck. The bass has a weight and a heft to it that feels like a weapon, yet there is a quiet beauty to it as well. This instrument is the root of all harmony, the bedrock at the bottom of the stave upon which music is constructed. When I accompanied Ken, I realized that whatever he played was harmonically defined by the notes on the bass. If he were to play the upper partials of a C chord on the guitar, it would only be a C chord if I played C in the bass. So I began to form in my mind what I can only describe as a strategy. A vague one, but nonetheless a strategy that the bass, while being far from flashy, would suit the covert side of my personality much better than the guitar. It would be a quieter heroism I would seek, stoic and grounded like my father’s. My ambitions would become concrete from the ground up, hidden yet effective. I would suppress my desire to shine spectacularly in favor of digging deep and marking time in what I somehow knew would become a lifelong campaign.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best autobiographies - and books, period - I've ever read.

    It is true that I have been a Police fan since 1980, and was a fan of Sting over the years after their break up. I had a crush on him as a pre-teen and teenager. When they recently went on tour a couple of years ago after their 25 + year break-up, I made sure I had my ticket (much to my landlord's chagrin since rent was late due to the amount MSG charged for tickets). However, I have also been, for the last 20 years, a critic of his as well; I blamed his arrogance and egomania on the band's dissolution and thought some of his general public statements were of a man too big for his britches, although I still loved his music (which at times I felt was phoned in). So this review is completely about the book, regardless of my love for the music. However, in reading this autobiography I was carried away to a childhood from across the ocean, with dreams of becoming as good as one can be at their art. Being an "artist" myself, I can identify; the moments he talks about listening to music with a methodical and obsessive way to not only escape life but to become a better person are rich in detail, distinct and beautiful in prose. I can relate; it was to his music with the Police and Hendrix and Zappa and Supertramp that I did the same. For those who say that it is overly fluffy with long words, let's not forget that the man was a schoolteacher, who taught English; perhaps being an English major myself I had no problem with understanding his lyrical and candid writing. If it is picture books you want, go get one of many pop culture biographies out there; if you find the language difficult for some reason, then simply extend your knowledge base and use a dictionary if you must. But I recommend this book to everyone out there who has ever dreamt of becoming something greater than what they are. I do agree and hope that he writes a second book; one that discusses in the same lovely way the second half of his life. But, for now, I will enjoy this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2012

    3.0 stars ¿ good Born to working class parents in the English p

    3.0 stars – good

    Born to working class parents in the English port town of Wallsend, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner was a smart, quiet boy with good grades who would become a teacher, get married and have a couple of children. This is the person we don’t know. The person we do know is a Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, activist, actor and philanthropist – who’s stage name is Sting.

    Broken Music is Sting’s autobiography of his life leading up to the moment of his first real commercial success with The Police in 1978. The book takes us through the loneliness of his youth, the contentious marriage of his parents and the failings of his relationships. Sting is very open about his upbringing as well as his shortcomings, including his propensity to be seen as arrogant. It is a charge he doesn’t try very hard to dispute. What does become apparent is how his upbringing and experiences shaped not just his life, but his music as well. Success was not the product of overwhelming talent, but rather single-minded, dogged determination. And while he was never the best pure musician, Sting’s strength was in storytelling and performance. This probably forms from his love of literature.

    “For to sit in a room full of books, and remember the stories they told you, and to know precisely where each one is located and what was happening in your life at time or where you were when you first read it is the languid and distilled pleasure of the connoisseur.”

    I found Sting’s story very interesting in and of itself. The writing is solid, if not great. There are also a lot of distractive asides and jumps back and forth in time that make it difficult to follow the narrative. However, the biggest letdown is the incomplete nature of the autobiography. While Sting wrote Broken Music in 2003, he essentially ends the narrative at the end of the 1970’s just as The Police were hitting it big. Knowing that there are so many fascinating parts of his life left unmentioned – his break with the Police, his role in the movie Dune, his solo career, the 9/11 concert in Tuscany, and many more – it is a letdown to not get to experience his personal take on these watershed moments in his life.

    So while I enjoyed what I did get to read in Broken Music, I was disappointed in what I didn’t get to read. It is a good, but incomplete look at a fascinating individual in popular culture. I just wish there could have been more.

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  • Posted November 26, 2009

    Excellent Read

    I had this book on my shelf for ages. I finally decided to read it and could not put it down. Then it was my husband's turn. We are not huge fans of Sting or his music but I will now pay closer attention. His story is worth reading and I have a new found respect for how he climbed to the top. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves a success story. Sting has our respect and we'll be urging our friends to read "Broken Music" too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2009

    I've been 'stung' by Sting!!! (in a good way!)

    Sting is a wonderful writer. I loved how the book made me feel we were in a conversation together. I only wish he went into more detail about his life after the Police. The ending was superb and I enjoyed the symbolism of the lake on his property.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    Could this book be filled with any more extensive and unusual words? It felt like I was reading a dictionary without the definitions. At first this was a turn off for the book but then I realized that this was one of the best songwriters of all time. Also, it tended to drag on longer than it should have. Other than that, a fantastic book that is guaranteed to satisfy any hardcore Sting fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2006

    Execeptional writing

    At first I had hard time believing this was really written by Sting, given that most celebrities hire a ghost writers to write the stories of theirs lives. The writing is truly exceptional, and far better than the writing of some classical writers I have attempted to read (i.e. Capote). The language is often poetic and the images described are therefore vivid. It is one of the best written books I have ever read, and have read my fair share. Despite the outstanding writing, however, the book could use some editing. For example, I did not need to read an entire chapter about a cruise Sting was working on. The chapter did not draw any meaningful conclusion that pertained to his life other than perhaps the illustration of his dislike towards pompous social elite. I Highly recommend this tale of struggle toward stardom

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    break the heart

    Just like his music, Sting seems to have mellowed with age. Mellowed to a dangerous state in which he may get near to being bland or boring. On these exquisite stories of his life, the reader (as well as the avid Police fan like me)welcomes the inroads we get into his secret self. They arouse interest and, at times, they touch you, like when you can feel his tears as he tells the story of his first girlfriend. However, I still feel that Sting has kept too much hidden, and has been too polite. It is commendable to be autocritical, and he probably feared a backlash such as the review given by Uncut, a fine magazine that clearly hates him as a whole, but, like with his best songs, we are ready to have our heart broken. To be stung, in fact. We need the release and the emotion that he has produced in the past. Since, like most writers, he will not revise this book and it will be all we get, I would like to express my wish that he lets go of all reserve when he deals with the next part of his life, that period in which he made with Andy and Stewart the album that changed my life: Reggatta de Blanc. Love, Ramón.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2005

    A most eloguent read

    Sting is not only a master songwriter, he is a brilliant author. I could not put this book down. I enjoy reading books that pique my interest and challenge my intellegence, and this book is no exception. I am always intrigued by anyone who accomplishes greatness; Sting is exceptional not only as a muscian, but as a great author. Get your dictionary ready.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2004

    Insight for Sting Fans

    If you've loved his music, you'll enjoy seeing how Sting came to be. There's nothing here that amazes the reader, but rather leads you to understand his path to becoming a musician. Much of the story is generic, but it's always fascinating to observe an artist's determination and commitment needed over so many years, and the evolution of talent, that all leads to success.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2004

    Very disappointing!

    I have been a fan of Sting way back from his days with the Police and was very excited when his book came out. But the story is so long and drawn out with fancy english phrases, so much name dropping and what's up with no pictures?? I have never read an autobiograhy that didn't have pics of the subject. Very disappointed, would not recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2004

    Simply outstanding

    This by far has been one my most enjoyable readings of the summer. I would have to agree with some of the reviewers here that this book makes the reader enjoy the story of an English boy who would become Sting. To be honest, I don't think that I would want to have this memoir written in any other way, there has been already enough written about the Police and Sting from a mass-culture viewpoint. It was nice to read the story written with the same wit, emotional intelligence and romance as his songs that we have all come to love. The narration flows, and the use of British English did not bother me at all. The book is not written at a 4th grade reading level, so if you can't read even such an enjoyable piece, then obviously such literary masterpieces as 'War and Piece' and 'Crime and Punishment' will always remain a mystery for you. My suggestion: work on your reading skills and don't hesitate to use a dictionary if you run into trouble understanding your native English. Thank you Sting for telling us your life story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2004

    Not just for fans, it´s for everyone

    Sting & The Police are legends of the contemporary music. That IS a fact. So this book for starters relates the history of such legends. But Sting has also taken the narrative humoristic style of writers like David Sedaris or Anthony Bourdain and makes a funny paragraph out of every anectdote. Also, this book has very serious and moving moments. If I have a bad critic about this book it would be that it leaves out some details that fans would love to have at hand, but as I wrote before, this is a book intended for the general public. The biography of a man with a big talent who achieved great success. Thanks Mr. Sumner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2004

    Did I read the same book???

    This has to be the most boring music autobiography I have ever read. There were some poignant moments,but for the most part it seemed like he was trying to paint such a facade for himself (philisophical, cultured, etc.) that it seemed like there were a lot of things that he didn't want to talk about that were probably more revealing than he wanted to show. Also, he used the word 'detante' WAY too many times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2004

    LITERARY MUSIC

    Sting fans will need a dictionary to read this book, literary people won't bother, so I gave the book to literary friend, who now wants to borrow my Sting CDs, I told her 'To buy her own'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2004

    Great Book!

    What an interesting life! And this is only 1/2 of it! Very intelligent, compassionate, and talented musician who never gave up on his dreams...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2003

    The best, most enjoyable autobiography I've ever read

    Sting seems to pick the perfect word or phrase time after time when describing his experiences. His writing has an honest, lyrical quality that feels natural and not forced or labored. A real treat to read; I'm hoping he'll write some more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2003

    Wonderful

    Okay.. so it's like Sting has listened to Dr. Phil and outlined his life moments. He does it so well that you will not be disappointed. I have been a fan of Sting since 1982.. We've all seen him construct himself as some sort of god..however, this story only proves he is human...(aren't we all) Sting removes himself from any pedestal and puts himself in the shoes of 'anyman.' He has taken a long hard path in life.. Us true fans will be here this time to really enjoy it.. Great read! (ps.. I cried and laughed hysterically at the Bingo incident and the commentary on electrocution.. thank you, Sting!)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2003

    Eloquently Written

    This book is written as beautifully as one of Sting's songs. I have a new appreciation for Sting and the never-ending tenacity he put into his career. He is obiously well-read and a wonderful wordsmith. This is not a tell-all book. Sting focuses on the events and time lines. He finds good in everything, particularly in his relationships and the ups and downs therein. His deprecating and wry humor puts a smile on your face.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2003

    Very Interesting!

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I actually finished the book in 2 days. I could have read it in 1 but I have 4 kids...I thought it was very interesting to read into the life of a man who is(besides insights through his music)a pretty private person. I thought his honesty and reflections were profound. I have been recommending it to my friends. When I give them the highlights of the book they all say they are going to buy it. I finished reading it wanting more and thinking that he still has a great deal more to write. I could have done without some of the profanity...otherwise very interesting for an old Police fan and always a Sting fan. I am a fan not only of the image but the person.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2003

    Sting...as creative a writer as he is a musician...

    Could this man be any sexier? Even as a child you can tell by that face he is going to achieve greatness. I recommend this book to all Sting fans, but also to those that want to explore someone's life that they never considered before.

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