Walking On The Moon

Album: Reggatta de Blanc (1979)
Charted: 1


  • Sting was visiting the German avant-garde composer Eberhard Schoener in early 1979. One night they went out on a schnapps drinking session. Sting returned to his Munich hotel room drunk, slumped on his bed when this song's riff came into his head. He got up and starting walking around the room to try to clear his head muttering to himself, "Walking round the room, walking round the room." The next morning he wrote down the riff and decided that "Walking round the room" was a stupid title so he changed it to an even more stupid one, which was "Walking On The Moon." The song is set in space, but it's an allegory for how Sting felt when he was on the road, confined to hotel rooms and stages as the world kept turning.
  • The song's video was shot at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 23, 1979. Stewart Copeland took the opportunity to drum on a Saturn V rocket that served as backdrop. It was directed by Derek Burbidge, who did all of their early videos.
  • Police drummer Stewart Copeland used a Roland RE-201 Space Echo unit on this track, which allowed him to create another track of delay that accentuates the moon theme. He did it live, triggering the unit with a foot pedal and listening to the delay as he played. He got the idea from reggae dub music an echo.

    "Each repeat is not a repeat of the immediate note preceding it, it's a repeat of the note before that, which gives it this interesting kind of wobbling rhythmic effect," he explained in a Songfacts interview. "I was doing that on the drums, and Andy was doing that on the guitar, and we figured that out. Years later, everybody's doing it - check in with U2 and part of their sound is that delay line effect."

    The Space Echo units were some of the goodies they bought at Manny's Music in New York City when the money came in from their first hit, "Roxanne."
  • "I came up with a melody that felt light and airy - in fact, lighter than air," Sting recalled in Lyrics By Sting. "Nine years before, Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon and said the famous words that everyone misquotes. 'Giant Steps' is also one of my favorite John Coltrane tunes. Songs are built by whimsy, faulty memory, and free association."
  • This was the second #1 UK hit for The Police, reaching the top in December 1979. Their first album was released in 1978 but took a while to catch on. When it did, it was only a few months before their second album, Reggatta De Blanc, was released. The lead single was "Message in a Bottle," which gave them their first UK #1. In America, it was a slower climb: "Message in a Bottle" stalled at #74 and "Walking On The Moon" failed to chart. Their third album, Zenyatta Mondatta, was their US breakthrough.
  • Acknowledging the reggae roots of this song, Sting performed it at the 2013 Grammy Awards in a tribute to Bob Marley that also included Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Damian Marley and Ziggy Marley.
  • The Ohio-based rock group Walk The Moon, best known for their 2014 hit "Shut Up And Dance," took their name from this song.

Comments: 7

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenSting wrote numerous great songs over the decades. This wasn't one of them.
  • Chase Holden from Costa Mesa, Ca UsaMy friend pointed out how this song bears a striking resemblance to Gil Scott-Heron's jazz poem "Whitey on the Moon." Reference: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/gil-scott-herons-poem-whitey-on-the-moon/239622/
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxWorst Police song of all. I always skip it on my Police collection.
  • Jahbra from 19126, PaSting and Jerry Garcia performed a medley of songs Sting wrote during the 93' Dead tour. Sting was the opener. I believe that this was the only time it ever happened. Beautiful! Jerry rocked and still does!
  • Steve from Great Wakering, United Kingdomwhen Andy summers was in zoot money's band they had a pschedelic anthem with 'Madman running through the fields'.He said it featured a ringing 11th chord over the hi hat in the middle, & it was to rise again to great triumph as the intro to 'walking on the moon'.In his excellent book 'One Train Later' he describes it as a big shining d minor 11th chord that acts as a fanfare to the 'get under your skin melody'. He also speaks about being at cape Canaveral to film the video for the single. In 'The police',a visual documentary by Miles, Andy's Nasa pass is stamped as expiring on October 23rd,1979. He remembers looking at the rockets & spaceships from the 1960s and how it reminded him of Dan Dare and the mekon, and journey into space. On march 25th,26th 1980 The police were playing in Bombay. Andy recalls the band being in the tearom at the Taj Mahal continental & playing sitar,tamboura & tablas 'coming up with a warped version of walking on the moon' ! Steve, Great Wakering
  • Thegripester from Wellington, New ZealandIn an interview, Sting said that there came a moment when he knew that the Police had made it as band. He was awoken in his hotel room by the window-washer who was whistling "Walking On The Moon" outside as he did his work, completely unaware that Sting was inside listening.
  • Mark from London, EnglandAs the song began its inevtiable descent down the UK charts from number one, the record company, A&M, tried to halt its decline by reissuing it as a 12" disc, one of the earliest, with no extras. It didn't work...
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