When The World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around

Album: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)


  • In this song, which has the longest title of any Police track, Sting and his bandmates observe the declining state of the world. Sting wrote the song.
  • In an online poll of 2,000 music fans to find the most commonly misheard pop lyrics, a line from this song came top of the list. The offending lyric is: "You make the best of what's still around." Fans regularly mishear it as: "You make the best homemade stew around."
  • A re-mixed version, which originally appeared as an illegal bootleg, was picked up by the Pagan record label and released as a single under the moniker "Different Gear Vs The Police." It reached #28 in the UK singles chart and featured in the 2000 film Red Planet. Different Gear are an Anglo Italian production duo made up of Nigel Gray and Luigi Scaetti.
  • "I swear I had my tongue firmly in my cheek when I composed this misanthropic, postapocalyptic vision," Sting wrote in Lyrics By Sting. "I imagined a solitary future eking out my days with canned food, a VCR, and old tapes of James Brown and Otis Redding. How many of us have these Robinson Crusoe fantasies of surviving some sort of holocaust? Whereas our survival can only be a collective effort."
  • The second line references "James Brown on The T.A.M.I. Show." The T.A.M.I. Show was a 1964 concert film that featured performances by popular acts like James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and The Supremes, among others. The acronym stands for "Teenage Awards Music International" or "Teen Age Music International."
  • The video, directed by Derek Burbidge, was shot at Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. In their early years, they favored exotic outdoor locations for their videos.

Comments: 6

  • Timbo from SpainWhat is an M.C.I?? "plug in my M.C.I"
  • Juan Jose Dones Suarez from Puerto RicoI hear this song a thousand times and up, nice song!
  • Joe from Omaha, NeGreat song. Timeless guitar sound. I never understood the "TAMI show" reference until many years later when I bought the show on DVD. The TAMI show was hosted by Jan and Dean and had an amazing lineup. It was serendipitous that all of those great artists were on the same bill. No one knew how large some of the "newer" acts would become... The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, etc. Even the Stones and Beach Boys were new artists. Chuck Berry was the most established "star" on the show. James Brown was at the height of his new popularity. Amazing time.
  • Glenn from Mendham, NjI never understood the "Tammy show" reference with James Brown, but just now saw a tape of it on PBS (T.A.M.I. Show for Teen Awards Music International or something, filmed in Santa Monica in 1964, including the Beach Boys, The Supremes and the Rolling Stones). WOW! If you haven't seen it, James Brown and the Flames put on a performance that has to be ranked as one of the great short rock and roll sets of all time.
  • Thegripester from Wellington, New ZealandI think this is the only top 40 song ever to use the term "VCR."
  • Spence from Brooklyn, NyMisheard Lyrics: "You make he best cup of stew around" That's my opinion.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dan Reed

Dan ReedSongwriter Interviews

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

La La Brooks of The Crystals

La La Brooks of The CrystalsSong Writing

The lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," La La explains how and why Phil Spector replaced The Crystals with Darlene Love on "He's A Rebel."

Music Video Director David Hogan

Music Video Director David HoganSong Writing

David talks about videos he made for Prince, Alabama, Big & Rich, Sheryl Crow, DMB, Melissa Etheridge and Sisters of Mercy.

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillian

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillianSong Writing

A Soul Train dancer takes us through a day on the show, and explains what you had to do to get camera time.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino EditionMusic Quiz

Whether he's splitting ears or burning Nazis, Quentin Tarantino uses memorable music in his films. See if you can match the song to the scene.