Invisible Sun

Album: Ghost in the Machine (1981)
Charted: 2


  • Ostensibly about the violence and turmoil in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, this song also takes into account suffering on a much larger scale: "And they're only gonna change this place, by killing everybody in the human race."

    Sting explained in Lyrics By Sting: "'Invisible Sun' is a dark, brooding song about the lurking violence of those streets, patrolled by armored cars, haunted by fear and suspicion, and wounds that would take generations to heal. I'm happy that the glimmer of hope in the song's title was somewhat prophetic and pray that the sectarian violence that destroyed so many lives is well and truly over."
  • Sting's wife Frances Tomelty is from Belfast, where this song takes place.
  • A possible influence on the title: in 1658, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82) wrote in Hydriotaphia (Urn-Burial): "Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Steve - Torrance, CA
  • In the UK, where this song was most relevant, this was the first single released from Ghost in the Machine. Elsewhere, the far more sprightly "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was issued first. In the US, "Invisible Sun" was not released as a single.
  • The music video, directed by Derek Burbidge, shows stark scenes of the war-torn landscape in Northern Ireland. Even though the song was not released as a single in America, MTV gave the video substantial airplay, since The Police were huge and the network (which launched in 1981) didn't have many videos to choose from.
  • This song was performed at The Police's final concert before their split, the "Conspiracy of Hope" performance for Amnesty International on June 15, 1986. U2's Bono helped out on vocals.
  • To boost their credibility with the punk audience, The Police claimed that "Roxanne" and "Can't Stand Losing You" were banned by the BBC. They weren't, but "Invisible Sun" was; songs about prostitutes and suicide didn't rankle the network, but those about "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland did. Paul McCartney's "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" met the same fate.

Comments: 13

  • Rang Bhavan from UsaI remember reading in the music rags of the day that the album The Ghost In The Machine, was inspired by reading a book of the same name, by Arthur C. Koestler.
  • Angus from Ottawa, OnYou're all *still* wrong. The M16 is based on the AR-15, but it wasn't invented by Armalite.
  • Jim from Enid, OkArmalite is an American company famous for their floating 22 caliber utility rifle. Later they became famous for inventing the M-16. My take on the song was that it was a North Ireland working man talking about his day to day existence. He encounters the British soldiers on patrol, street crime like strongarm robbery and coming home exhausted from his factory job. He wants change like any decent person would.
  • Mick from Las Vegas, NvI always thought the invisible sun was the unconquerable human spirit.
  • Xanacore from Daphne, AlInteresting. Few British musicians that I know of have ever spoken of the war in Ireland. Well, the FORMER war in Ireland.

    Oh, and IRA FTW.
  • Drew from Buffalo, NyThis song is one of the the several songs that i smoke up to from The Police. Anyone else agree?
  • Jeff from Liverpool, Englandthis song was originally banned by the bbc in the uk ,due to the content of the song which probably prevented it reaching #1 although without the ban soft cell's tainted love would have still kept it off top spot
  • Paul from Bham, EnglandYou're wrong, folks! The Armalite (a version of the US army's M-16)was the weapon of choice of the IRA, sent by supporters in the USA. Hence the Sinn Fein strategy of pursuing power with 'the ballot box in one hand and the Armalite in the other'.
  • John from Melbourne, Australia, Australiai have been a Police fan since I can remember.
    This is by far my favorite Police song.
    although - Born in the 50s , Bring on the night and regatta de blanc - are right up there too.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesAnnabelle - an Armalite is a type of firearm used by the armed forces in the UK
  • Brian from Washington, DcI always thought it was about living in an greedy, industrial world with no soul, how there is some unseen faith/hope that makes most people keep going and caring about life.

    Annabelle: he doesn't say "THE sun." He says "A sun;" it's a poetic metaphor. Also, there are countless suns in the universe.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrFor one, what in the world is an Armalite? and for two, how can the sun be invisible?
  • John from Levittown, NyThe Armalite mentioned in the song is the Armalite AR 15, the British version of the M-16
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