50,000

Album: 57th and 9th (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • Sting wrote this ballad in the week after Prince's death. He came up with the melody after reading the pop star's obituary and recalling the times they played stadiums together. "Mortality does sort of rear its head, particularly at my age - I'm 64," he told Rolling Stone. "It's really a comment on how shocked we all are when one of our cultural icons dies: Prince, David [Bowie], Glenn Frey, Lemmy. They are our gods, in a way. So when they die, we have to question our own immortality. Even I, as a rock star, have to question my own. And the sort of bittersweet realization that hubris doesn't mean anything in the end."
  • The year 2016 saw the world lose far too many cultural legends and this song features lyrics about the death of rock stars. Sting told Entertainment Weekly: "David Bowie went first, and then Lemmy, and then my friend Alan Rickman died, and then Prince. It all seemed to topple on top of each other. It was a strange time because you think that these people are immortal, but then suddenly they're like the rest of us, they die."

    "It intrigues me that great success is this brilliant light, but also every brilliant light creates a dark shadow," he continued. "I think wisdom only comes when you can navigate both. I'm getting philosophical."
  • Sting added to his thoughts about the loss of so many music legends in 2016, during an interview with John Wilson on BBC Radio 4's Front Row:

    "It was a tough year - we lost some colleagues and some cultural icons. There's a little child in all of us that looks at our culture icons and thinks well they're immortal how can they possibly die. But they're sadly mortal like the rest of us So there's a sadness there and there's also a reflection of our own mortality - every moment is precious. So it's a celebration in many ways it's not a morbid song - it's a complex song."
  • Mojo asked Sting about a dark line in the song referring to "this prison I've made of myself." He replied:

    "Yes, it is a common human trait to build a cage... and perhaps rock stars are more prone to this than others, trapped in self - regard and hubris as we are, but my... attempt at a solution has been to use songwriting as a therapy... attempt to see the world through the eyes of others and get outside myself."

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