Driven To Tears

Album: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • Sting wrote this in 1979 after seeing television reports of starving children. By this time, he had traveled extensively with The Police and experienced many cultures. The images he saw of people living in extreme poverty led him to write the song.
  • The Police were on their second American tour when Sting wrote this song in a motel room. Sting thinks it's the only song he ever wrote on the road.
  • The song asks how we react when confronted with uncomfortable truths. Sting explained: "What are you left with when you're faced with atrocities? All you can do is cry."
  • The Police played this when they toured Australia in 1980, a few months before they recorded it.
  • Sting played this at Live Aid in 1985. The concert was a benefit organized by Bob Geldof to help starving children in Africa. This was a very appropriate song for the occasion.
  • A version from Sting's first solo tour is on his 1986 album Bring On The Night. It was recorded in Paris.
  • A live version by The Police is on their compilation album Message In A Box.
  • A 1980 performance by The Police was used in the British documentary Urgh! A Music War, which featured Punk and New Wave bands like Wall Of Voodoo, XTC and Devo.
  • Sting performed this on the charity telethon, Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, which was held on January 22, 2010. He was backed by American hip-hop band the Roots, and trumpeter Chris Botti.
  • Sting performed this at the Live 8 concert in London in 2005. He recalled in Lyrics By Sting: "It seemed as relevant to me then as it was a quarter of a century ago. Biafra, Darfur ... the issues surrounding genocide are the same, and I wonder if we are making any progress at all, or are we now totally immune to the images of horror that appear daily, everywhere we turn?"

Comments: 7

  • Mike From Greenville, Sc from Greenville, ScLook for a video of Robert Downey Jr. singing Driven To Tears live with Sting. RD Jr. does a commendable rendition.
  • Barbara from U.s.a.I consider this song to be one of Sting's best. I love the beat and the lyrics are timeless. I was living in a country that had crushing poverty and I always listened to this song and think of the things I saw while living in this country. Riveting is the best word I can use.
  • Dave from Lawrenceville, NjI've been listening to Zenyatta Mondatta alot recently, and it strikes me how relevant many of the songs have remained. Sure, Driven To Tears in in your face - it's not exactly like Sting is obscuring his lyrics - but as media coverage becomes more and more pervasive more and more atrocities are made public. Considering my comfortable existence, I'm as much a hypocrite as Sting was (and is). It's a paradox that you can make a difference on a small scale, but you can't really change anything.
  • John from Wilmington, NcThat bonehead Mark Goodman of MTV said the same thing about adding the line "too many cameras..."
  • Tommy from Flanders, NjIn an interview during Live Aid in 1985, Ben Orr from the Cars incorrectly stated that Sting added the line "Too many cameras and not enough food" just for Live Aid. The fact is it was recorded that way on the album.
  • Pepper from Virginia Beach, Vafantastic drumming by Copeland!!!
  • Paulo from New York, NyPearl Jam plays this one live occassionally. It can be found on a couple of their Bootleg CDs.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Motley CrueFact or Fiction

Was Dr. Feelgood a dentist? Did the "Crüecifixion" really happen?

Harry ShearerSongwriter Interviews

Harry is Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, Mark Shubb in The Folksmen, and Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

Eagles Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

Lots of life lessons in these Eagles lyrics - can you match them to the correct song?

Michael BoltonSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for this talk with Bolton from the '80s when he was a focused on writing songs for other artists.

Dan ReedSongwriter Interviews

Dan cracked the Top 40 with "Ritual," then went to India and spent 2 hours with the Dalai Lama.

Richard MarxSongwriter Interviews

Richard explains how Joe Walsh kickstarted his career, and why he chose Hazard, Nebraska for a hit.