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Album: Ghost in the MachineReleased: 1981
Sting wrote this when he was visiting actor Peter O'Toole at his house in Ireland (at the time, O'Toole was dating Sting's soon-to-be girlfriend and future wife, Trudie Styler). He gave it to Grace Jones, who recorded it in 1981, and The Police recorded their version the next year when the band agreed they could do it better than Jones.
This was the first song recorded for the album, which The Police worked on in the Caribbean island of Montserrat. The session went well because the song was easy to play and the band was familiar with Jones' version.
This is one of the few Police songs that Sting occasionally played at his solo shows. It was in the set list for his first solo tour in 1985.
A live version recorded by Sting in Paris on his first solo tour appears on Sting's 1986 album Bring On The Night.
Sting re-recorded this for 1993 movie Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. He laid down the basic tracks, and let the movie producers remix it with a techno beat for the film.
The album title comes from an Arthur Koestler book about the conflicting nature of man. The album cover is three symbols representing the band. Stewart Copeland is on the left, Sting is in the middle, and Andy Summers
is on the right. "We were the ghosts in the machine," Sting explained in Lyrics By Sting
, "and while some of the songs are a plea for sanity, others are an expression of that malevolent darkness that haunts us all."
Sting sings, "I'm a three-line whip, I'm the sort of thing they ban." He explained the origin of the lyric in Lyrics By Sting: "A 'three-line whip' is a parliamentary expression indicating matters of utmost seriousness. When I wrote this song, I quite fancied myself as a national emergency. I, too, at times have occasionally indulged in violent fantasies for unspecified slights to my ego, my masculine pride, my patriotism."