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Russians by Sting
Album: Dream Of The Blue TurtlesReleased: 1985Charted:
The melody was inspired by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev's Romance melody from the Lieutenant Kije Suite (compiled from the 1933 film Lieutenant Kije).
Sting wrote this during the Cold War, a tense time when Russia and the United States felt threatened by the nuclear missiles they had pointed at each other. Sting's lyrics rhetorically ask if Russians love their children, too, and question why the Russians and the Americans would participate in the Cold War.
"Oppenheimer's deadly toy" refers to the atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer was an American physicist who was considered "The father of the atomic bomb." He later regretted his creation, saying he intended it to be used for energy in peace time.
Sting recalled in Lyrics By Sting: "In this political climate a friend of mine, who was doing research at Columbia University in New York, had a computer system sophisticated enough to intercept the Soviet's TV signal from their satellite above the North Pole. On a Saturday night in New York City we could watch Sunday morning programs for the kids in Russia. The shows seemed thoughtful and sweet, and I suddenly felt the need to state something obvious in the face of all this rhetoric: Russians love their children just as we do."
Sting originally wanted to record this in Russia with the Leningrad State Orchestra, he told Record in 1985: "I feel very strongly that in order to relax East-West tension, you can't leave it to the politicians anymore - they've proved themselves totally inept: lt's up to individuals to make contact with one's counterpart behind the so-called Iron Curtain in order to ascertain and confirm that they are human beings and not demographic sub-robotic morons. So I felt that it was important to go to the Soviet Union and perhaps meet fellow musicians and do something together. Unfortunately I came up against the bureaucracy that politicians put in front of you. It's not easy to get into the Soviet Union to make a record - and it should be. I'd love to take this band to Russia. I think it would freak them out."
He added: "It's not a pro-Soviet song, it's pro-children. It's a very obvious statement to me but one that isn't being made. The wheels were set in motion but it's taken a very long time to do because of the politics of going through the Politburo and having them sanction it. My feeling is that you have to make contact with our potential enemies, people you might be expected to kill or be killed by."
This was referenced on the TV series Peep Show, when Jeremy (Robert Webb) and Mark (David Mitchell) discuss the song:
Jeremy: "Do you think he really wondered, Sting, if the Russians loved their children too?"
Mark: "No, it's a rhetorical question like, 'can you feel the force?' or 'do they know it's Christmas?'"
This was used to promote the second season of the drama The Americans, which is about Soviet spies living in the US during the Cold War.