Can't Stand Losing You

Album: Outlandos d'Amour (1978)
Charted: 2
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is about a teenager who commits suicide when he loses his girlfriend. It took Sting only a few minutes to write the lyrics - they are not supposed to be deep and meaningful, but more of a joke.
  • A track from the band's first album, this was the second single The Police released, following "Roxanne." Along with "So Lonely," it's one of three tracks on that debut album that drummer Stewart Copeland credits with establishing their signature sound, which incorporated reggae rhythms.
  • This was the first Police song to chart: it hit #42 in the UK when it was released in 1978. A year later, after The Police became widely known, it was re-released and went to #2.
  • The single came with some interesting artwork: a picture of a hooded body hanging from a rope, indicating the boy in the song who killed himself. The hooded boy is the band's drummer, Stewart Copeland. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeff - Kendall Park, NJ
  • For publicity purposes, The Police claimed that this song and "Roxanne" were banned by the BBC. They weren't, but the story got out and helped boost their credibility with the punk crowd.
  • The single was released in a variety of different colors, which have become collector's items.
  • Andy Summers used a processor called an Echoplex on his guitar. The device allowed him to continuously loop his guitar licks, creating a layered sound.
  • At live shows, The Police would improvise the middle section to fill time, since they didn't have a lot of songs. The improvised jam eventually turned into the song "Reggatta de Blanc," which became the title track to their next album.
  • The Police made a music video for this song, notable for Sting's super-goofy look with suspenders and oversized glasses. Long before MTV, the group made videos because various outlets in Europe would often air them. They were typically performance videos directed by Derek Burbidge, as was this one.
  • This was held off the #1 spot in the UK by "I Don't Like Mondays," a Boomtown Rats song with a similarly morose story, but a real one: The song is about a school shooting in San Diego.
  • Stewart Copeland reworked this song for his 2006 film Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, which is based on footage he shot on a Super 8 camera when the band was extant. In a Songfacts interview with Copeland, he talked about the version in the film: "I took live elements and studio elements and carved them all up, and I took some of the jams from 'Roxanne,' which interestingly was the same tempo, and cut it in there."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 14

  • Steve from Great Wakering, United KingdomOn September 19th,1978, Annie Nightingale began presenting the 8th series of 'The Old Grey Whistle Test', taking over from Bob Harris. The Police came up on the wave of punk bands in the uk, & it was Jill Sinclair from the Whistle Test production team that got them on the show. The Police appeared on October 2nd,1978, & they performed 'Can't Stand Losing You' & 'Next to you'. Particularly during 'Can't Stand Losing you' Sting makes some facial twitches. During make up for the show an aerosol can exploded, almost blinding him (or he got hairspray in his eyes, depending on your source), & he had to wear dark glasses. They were a bit big for him, hence the facial twitches trying to keep them on! Both of the Whistle Test songs are available on the DVD The Police 'Every Breath You Take', along with the original video for 'Can't Stand Losing You'.- Steve, Great Wakering, UK
  • Michael from Deridder, LaI sang this (and all his other Police tapes) in the car all the time with my dad when i was little...i also had NO idea that's what this song was about!
  • Rick from Boston, MaI love this song. For anyone who thinks it is treating suicide as a joke, it's not. It's treating the overblown end-of-the-world attitude of teenage angst and melodrama as the joke. I think we can all relate to this on some level. Elton John did a similar take on the subject with "I Think I'm Going to Kill Myself", which sounds like it would be depressing, but it's actually a humorous vaudeville-style song.
  • Andy from Lake City, Flobvious homage to john lennon's "no reply" sting would revisit this theme many many times. i don't believe the narrator actually does it...sting makes it so melodramatic that you figure it's a plea for attention. i am fascinated how the jilted lover theme never gets boring. when such dark material is combined with upbeat, fun, sophisticated music...the effect is chilling. sting is truly a genius.
  • Jodie from Adelaide, Australiai don't know how you people can consider suicide funny .........this song is about a guy that is obsessed with a girl that he was going out with, hence the line "I CANT STAND LOSING YOU" and is stalking her calling her all the time and asking her friends about her and when she dosent want anything to do with him he threatens to kill himself so she feels guilty and goes back, you sick minded people might think its funny but ill tell you this........my x was like this ...told me he was going to kill himself if i didnt go back to him..........i didnt.......and now he is dead.....leaving behind children to be explained too...not so funny now is it.
  • Chuck from Houston, TxMore of a joke about Stewart hanging himself when the song lyrics were made in less than an hour by Sting, yet by 1984-85, I'm sure Sting was ready to lynch Stewart... and vise virsa.
  • Troy from London, EnglandI love this song so much having recently re-visited it I can't stop playing it. It is tongue in cheek, but the lyrics become increasingly darker as the story unfolds. I also love the line 'your brother wants to kill me and he's 6'10". But the final verse with 'you'll be sorry when I'm dead and all this guilt will be on your head' is pretty bleak. As for the fianl line 'I guess you can call it suicide, but I'm too full to swallow my pride' simply means that he's had enough. If he was going to swallow his pride then he would back down, but he can't so he's gonna go ahead and do it. They say, after-all, that suicide is the cowards way out.
  • Nick from Auckland, New ZealandFirst off, love the song, as to the 'did he commit suicide or not debate', I always took the line "I guess you'd call it suicide, but I'm too fool to swallow my pride." as in he's too foolish to swallow his pride and move on with his life.
  • Justin from Albany, NyThat's exactly what i thought jay
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaI always thought the line "That you don't ever want to see me again
    And your brother's gonna kill me and he's six feet ten" was a classic.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanTheir best song. Great key changes at the end.
  • Helen from York, EnglandMy friend was waiting to see a counsellor and this came on the radio. Fortunately, in spite of her depression at the time, she has a great sense of humour and found the situation very funny. I find the song amusing too, suicide is like that... Another friend of mine once asked, in all seriousness, of a friend how many paracetamol would kill someone. He waxed lyrical about how painful and terrible dying from an overdose would be, and totally put her off the idea. She came to her senses later and realised he'd saved her life. Suicide is awful but that's probably why it makes such great stuff for comedy. This song reminds me of teenage angst poems I've read (and written)!
  • Nicoletta from Bronx, Ny"But to carry on living doesn't make no sense." - that says it right there that he's killing himself as he gives reasons for his suicide. But in the quote about swallowing his pride, he's probably referring to how he will die with pride knowing she'll feel guilty, and this is his revenge.
  • Roger from Seattle, WaThe song is very funny in a dry sort of way. And I disagree that it is about "a teanager who commits suicide." Read the lyrics: "I guess you'd call it suicide, but I'm too full to swallow my pride." To me, this means that even when he threatens suicide to get sympathy from his ex-girlfriend, he is too unable to follow through with it! Sting is a genius and this song is hilarious.
see more comments

Strange MagneticsSong Writing

How Bing Crosby, Les Paul, a US Army Signal Corps Officer, and the Nazis helped shape rock and Roll.

Concert DisastersFact or Fiction

Ozzy biting a dove? Alice Cooper causing mayhem with a chicken? Creed so bad they were sued? See if you can spot the real concert mishaps.

Adam Duritz of Counting CrowsSongwriter Interviews

"Mr. Jones" took on new meaning when the song about a misguided view of fame made Adam famous.

Eric ClaptonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really write "Cocaine" while on cocaine? This question and more in the Clapton edition of Fact or Fiction.

Mick Jones of ForeignerSongwriter Interviews

Foreigner's songwriter/guitarist tells the stories behind the songs "Juke Box Hero," "I Want To Know What Love Is," and many more.

Sending Out An SOS - Distress Signals In SongsSong Writing

Songs where something goes horribly wrong (literally or metaphorically), and help is needed right away.