This was inspired by an American Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, named Ben Linder, who was murdered by Contras.
Sting wrote this during a tropical storm on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in 1987. Since then, it has become the voice of many different causes, including a plea by environmentalists to care for the planet. In 2001, the song resurfaced after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. "'Fragile had found yet another home to work its comforting solace," Sting noted in Lyrics By Sting.
Sting played the guitar on this track, a fact that shocked bass player Dominic Miller. He told Virtual Guitar Magazine in 1999: "We joke about it, because Sting is quite proud of the fact that he played guitar on the recording of 'Fragile'. I remember when I first met him and I saw the video. I said to him, 'I thought someone else played that and you where just miming.' I said to him that I thought that it was pretty uncool of him to mime someone else. I said, 'Who actually played it' And he said, 'That was me! THAT WAS F------ ME!!' I meet a lot of fans who think that I played it. I tell Sting that I say I did. It really pisses him off! I didn't even know Sting back then. So, his comeback is not letting me play it live. It's been like that for years now and I'm delegated to bass. He says I'm delegated to bass, but then I say, 'Delegated means it's not so difficult.' I say, 'Anyone can play bass.'"
Sting performed at the Bataclan in Paris on November 12, 2016, the first concert there almost a year to the day that Islamist terrorists killed 90 people at the venue. He opened the gig with this song. "I think it's an appropriate beginning, I think that song has a lot of uses that we never foresaw," Sting explained to NPR's Michel Martin. "I wrote the song in the '80s, I think. But every time something happens, it seems an appropriate song to play on the radio."