Fortress Around Your Heart

Album: Dream Of The Blue Turtles (1985)
Charted: 49 8
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  • Sting calls this a "song of reconciliation." It uses an abandoned fortress within a walled city as a metaphor for a relationship that has been through a figurative war, with Sting now ready to put the battles behind him and build a new alliance based on what they had - he sings of building a bridge and setting the battlements on fire. It won't be easy, since he has to cross the field where he once planted mines.

    Inspiration came from Sting's divorce from his first wife, Frances Tomelty (the couple were married from 1976-1984). The pain he felt when he couldn't make this marriage work led him to write some of his biggest hits, including "Every Breath You Take" and "King Of Pain."
  • The Dream Of The Blue Turtles album was recorded in Barbados at a studio owned by the musician Eddy Grant. It was Sting's first solo album, and quite a departure from his work with The Police. He hired some of America's best young jazz musicians to play on it and join him for the tour: Omar Hakim on drums, Kenny Kirkland on keyboards, Darryl Jones on bass and Branford Marsalis on saxophone.

    On this track, however, Sting played the bass himself; he worked up the arrangement in the studio and when he put down the bass part as a demo for Jones, he realized what he had done was perfect.

    "Fortress Around Your Heart" was closer to the Police sound than most of the other, more jazz-inflected tracks on the album, and was released as the second single, following "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." American program directors were happy to add the song to their playlists, as Sting was on fire: his last album with The Police, Synchronicity, produced four Top 20 hits, and he could heard on the current Dire Straits #1 "Money For Nothing."
  • Sting hired the director Michael Apted to document the first stretch of the Dream Of The Blue Turtles tour, resulting in the concert film Bring On The Night. By documenting his first tour, Sting flipped the convention of filming a band's farewell concert - he liked the idea of recording the beginning of his solo career.

    Apted masterminded a practical joke during one of Sting's Paris concerts he was filming: he commissioned a two-foot fortress with an aluminum foil heart inside that was to descend to the stage when Sting performed this song. The bit was inspired by a scene in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap where the band gets a miniature version of Stonehenge because of a measurement error, and uses it as a stage prop. The band and crew had been watching the movie when they recorded the album in Barbados, and were keen on pulling off the gag.

    Fortunately, Sting never looked up to see the mini-fortress, and when it was lowered to the stage during the second chorus, it took him by surprise. Sting, however, showed no reaction, remaining earnest and focused on his performance. Without a suitable reaction shot from the star, the footage was deemed unsuitable for the film.
  • The music video was directed by Mick Haggerty, whose credits include the Go-Go's videos for "Vacation" and "Our Lips Are Sealed." The clip did well on VH1, which launched on January 1, 1985.
  • Sting was inspired by this song's "strange, modal" chords. He said on All This Time: "They sounded kind of medieval actually and so I got into a whole line of thinking about medieval sieges, castle walls, siege guns, armies sleeping under tattered flags and thought it was a nice metaphor for love gone wrong. Armies fighting each other, relationships having collapsed and gone from bad to worse, and what starts as love ends in war."
  • Sting says this song is connected to "Wrapped Around Your Finger," from The Police's Synchronicity album. He told Musician in 1985: "It is linked to 'Wrapped'. 'Wrapped' was a spiteful song about turning the tables on someone who had been in charge. 'Fortress,' on the other hand, is about appeasement, about trying to bridge the gaps between individuals."
  • This song doesn't have a bridge but, Sting says, "I suppose that's symbolic itself, saying there is no bridge between these relationships."

Comments: 7

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenIt certainly is closer to the "Police sound" than anything else I ever heard from him. The first time I heard it, I thought he might have *reconciled* with his former bandmates.
  • Barry from Murrieta, CaThis song is about breaking up with a girl and realizing you made a mistake and trying to get back with her. The military terms are a metaphore for the barriers she has erected to keep you out.
  • Madzie from Manila, OtherWhen I first heard this song (during my younger years) I was so impress with the very good blending of the musical instruments and great lyrics.I was not wrong when this song was on top of chart.And the album "The dream of the blue turtle " was my very first Sting Album so I rate the whole album as one of the BEST!!!!!
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrRight before the music starts, there's a sound that sounds somewhat like thunder. I wonder, what could that be? Is it a bomb? Is it a gun?
  • Tom from New York, NyIn military science, minefields are considered a defensive or harassing weapon, used to slow the enemy down, to help deny certain terrain to the enemy, to focus enemy movement into kill zones, or to reduce morale by randomly attacking matÃ?riel and personnel. Sting is making a statement about all interpersonal interaction. He believes one can't go further on the journey of life if one is shackled in a relationship. We need to be unfettered to move on.

  • Ryan from Fort Wayne, InDirect quote from Sting:

    "Fortress Around Your Heart is about appeasement, about trying to bridge the gaps between individuals. The central image is a minefield that you've laid around this other person to try and protect them. Then you realise that you have to walk back through it. I think it's one of the best choruses I've ever written.'
  • Chris from Hull, MaThis song is deeply emotional. Initially I thought it was about a man's inner turmoil - about being his own worst enemy. In essence, I suppose it is about that. I love this song's peaks and valleys. Sting, like Bono, has a very distinctive voice - you know it's him immediately. Another beautiful tune from Sting is "Shape of My Heart".
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