Written by Sting, this song is about being under the control of another person. For most of the song, the singer is under the control of the woman who dominates him. At the end however, he figures her out and turns the tables. The chorus changes from "I'll be wrapped around your finger" to "you'll be wrapped around my finger."
The line "Caught between Scylla and Charibdes" is a reference to Greek mythology. Scylla was a nymph who was turned into a six-headed monster by Circe. She lived on the Straits of Messina and destroyed any boats that passed by. Across from Scylla was a whirlpool where the a monster named Charibdes lived. Sailors going between them were usually killed. Odysseus made it, which is described in the book The Odyssey.
"Mephistopheles," as heard in the line, "Mephistopheles is not your name," is another name for the Devil.
The video was directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, who also worked with Police on "King Of Pain" and "Every Breath You Take." In "Wrapped Around Your Finger," the band is inside a labyrinth of candles, which Sting knocks down at the end. It's all in slow motion, but the lip-sync is in time with the music - something that required an unusual performance.
Speaking with Songfacts, Kevin Godley explained the concept and execution: "The song was very graceful and very elegant, and we had the idea of the candles, but just filming them among candles didn't seem enough - there was something lacking in the idea. visually, it would look great, but it was about how it moved.
I had the mad notion that wouldn't it be interesting if somehow the film was exclusively in slow motion, but the lip-sync was somehow in time to the music. We sat down and thought about how this might be possible. You see it quite often nowadays, but I think this was the first time it was ever done. In the studio, we played a sped-up version of the song, so the actual environment we were working in was totally opposite to what it ended up looking like - it was Mickey Mouse. You were listening to Mickey Mouse singing 'Wrapped Around Your Finger' at double speed. We were shooting at 50 frames per second, the idea being when you slowed the film down, they were moving in slow-mo but they were in sync with the track at real time. And it did work. Not perfectly, but it looked amazing - it looked really, really amazing. But on the day, it was insane, because they were rushing around and hitting drums and playing guitars and singing at double speed. It was manic, and by the end of the day, they were exhausted."
The Police guitarist Andy Summers isn't big on this one. He said in the book I Want My MTV: "I've never been much of a fan of that song, actually. Sting got to shoot his part last in that video and made a meal of knocking all the candles out. F--k him."
In 1985, Sting told Musician how this song is connected to "Fortress Around Your Heart," from his solo debut, The Dream of the Blue Turtles: "'Wrapped' was a spiteful song about turning the tables on someone who had been in charge. 'Fortress,' on the other hand, is about appeasement, about trying to bridge the gaps between individuals."
There was no script for the video, and while many viewers thought it had some deep meaning, it just fit the mood of the song. In the book MTV Ruled the World - The Early Years of Music Video, drummer Stewart Copeland talks about the making of the video: "It was shot in A&M, on the soundstage they had there. They deny it, but I constantly hassle both Kevin and Lol about their stealing my idea that I actually did with Klark Kent - the other way around, where I had the music run slowly, so that I mimed in slow motion, and then when they synched it up to the music, I had this herky-jerky, kinda 'fast-mo' movement, that was still in time with the music, only it was sort of jerky and strange body movements. Well, they did it the other way around, where they played the music fast, and we mimed to it fast, and then they slow it down, so we were all in synch with the music, but in slow-mo."
Sting on the song's meaning in Lyrics By Sting: "This song is vaguely alchemical and probably about a friend of mine, a professional psychic and my tutor in tarot, with bits of Doctor Faustus and 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' thrown into the pot for good measure."
The story of Faust is a classic German legend about a scholar who makes a deal with the Devil, a tale that inspired Thomas Mann's 1947 novel Doctor Faustus. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a poem written in 1797 by German poet Goethe, which follows a young apprentice's dubious decision to try his hand at magic while the sorcerer is away. The story was adapted for Disney's Fantasia.
The rock band Underoath did a cover of this song on the 2005 Police tribute album Policia! A Tribute To The Police. The band Brazil also covered this on the Punk Goes '80s CD.
Suggestion credit: Chris - Andover, MN
Brazilian band called Skank made a Spanish cover of this song called "Estare Prendido En Tus Dedos." It was released on the tribute album Outlandos D'Americas.
Joe from Santa MariaTommy from Texas has it absolutely right in his interpretation of Sting saying he feels he is caught between a rock and a hard place. I know it's true because Casey Kasem said the exact same thing on American Top Forty sometime early in the eighties.
Tim Stone from VtThe song is obviously about Carl G. Jung and his relationship with Freud. All the historical facts can be plugged into the lyrics.
Sophia from ColombiaI always thought that this song was about falling for one's teacher/tutor/master/whatever, who was older and also married ("staring at the ring around your finger", "I have only come here seeking knowledge, Things they would not teach me of in college, I can see the destiny you sold turned into a shining band of gold"). This meaning I gave to this song made it very special for me, as I have been on that kind of situation.
Tim Stone from VtThis song is actually about Carl Gustav Jung's relationship with Sigmund Freud. Honestly it is. I researched it in college.
Barbara from U.s.a.This is my favorite song written by Sting because for me its personal. If there was a song that described my struggle with certain people who thought they were above me this would be it.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 4th 1984, the Police play the final concert of their 'Synchronicity' world tour*; the concert was at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in Melbourne, Australia... At the time the trio's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" was at #11 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and seven days earlier on February 26th, 1984 it had peaked at #8 for one week... The song was also the final one in their twenty-four song set list... * They would not tour again until May of 2007; the tour was named 'The Police Reunion Tour' and it ended in November 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 26th 1984, "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by the Police peaked at #8 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on January 1st at position #61 and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100... And on July 30th, 1983 it reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on the Irish Top Singles chart... Between 1978 and 1997 the trio had thirteen records on the Top 100; with four making the Top and one peaking at #1, and their #1 record was "Every Breath You Take" for 8 weeks in 1983... Their first entry on the Top 100 was "Roxanne" (it peaked at #32 in 1978) and it was also their last record to make the chart when it re-entered the Top 100 in 1997 (that time it reached #59).
Amanda from Melbourne, AustraliaIt's simple - It's about someone turning the tables in a relationship. Turning one's face to Alabaster (White, Pale from shock) when one finds their servant is now their master. Love this song.
James from Ventura, CaThough I'm probably stating the obvious here, it hasn't been mentioned yet - 'devil and the deep blue sea' is a callback to the first verse with Scylla (A demon) and Charibdes (a whirlpool - the deep blue sea).
Tommy from Texas, TxThe line "Caught between Scylla and Charibdes" while it does relate to mythology, in this case it is how he feels, he is caught between a rock and a hard place in the fact that she is married, but he is hooked on her...
Tommy from Texas, TxThe woman is teaching the young man how to be a good lover, and she is at first just having a fling with a younger man...In the end tho it becomes much more to her...She is the one who ends up being wrapped around his finger..
Jibri from Muskegon, MiReggatta, you almost ruined a great song. I want what you smoke. I agree with the others that Sting is a genius but man( figure of speech), com'on. All I know is that it's a forever classic that young folks today would not appreciate. Just listening to it makes me sad where music today is heading. The only band that barely touched them in songs like this one is the Dave Matthew's Band.
Thegripester from Wellington, New ZealandStudents of German literature will recognize the references to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Goethe. The apprentice meddles with the sorcerer's magic and unleashes destruction, a metaphor for the impending technological age foreseen in the late 18th-century. Frankenstein is another such work.
Miz Lady from Oakland, CaThere is also some T.S. Elliot too! LOL
Miz Lady from Oakland, CaI think we're all right Regatta...lol. Sting is a teacher so Goethe, Marlow and The Illiad and Dark Ages Mythology. Sting is a genius and he makes you do your homework in every line of every song.
Rhonda from Ocala, FlWrapped Around Your Finger lyrics
You consider me the young apprentice Caught between the Scylla and Charibdes. (this is a married couple)(symbolic) Hypnotized by you if I should linger (attracted to a beautiful woman) Staring at the ring around your finger. (she's married) I have only come here seeking knowledge,(lieing to himself) Things they would not teach me of in college. I can see the destiny you sold (the road less traveled) turned into a shining band of gold.(she got married and is dissatified with her life) I'll be wrapped around your finger.(if I stay I'll be sucked in by you) I'll be wrapped around your finger. Mephistopheles is not your name,( I know your not evil) But I know what you're up to just the same.(you are trying to entice me because you are dissatified and lonely seeking relief in the wrong place) I will listen hard to your tuition,(he's going for it.Older woman young man,he doesn't want to resist) And you will see it come to it's fruition.(it's just an affair and sooner or later it will be over) I'll be wrapped around your finger.(young men love sex,what can he say?) I'll be wrapped around your finger. Devil and the deep blue sea behind me (he;s taking a chance her husband won't find out) Vanish in the air you'll never find me.When it's over it's over,for HIM. I will turn your face to alabaster,( you will become a beautiful memory.) Then you'll find your servant is your master, (but you will yearn for me.Your life is stilll juast as sad. You will live in your memorys.) And you'll be wrapped around my finger.( metiforic.) I'll be wrapped around your finger.(we have a history. It happened) You'll be wrapped around my finger.(we have a history. It happened) I'll be wrapped around your finger.....(we have a history. It happened)
Doug from Jenison, MiI have always believed this song was about the writings of Carlos Casteneda
Amanda from Albany, Gaok..let me get the lyrics right...lol....here we go....
"I have only come here seeking knowledge,
Things they would not teach me of in college.
I can see the destiny you sold
turned into a shining band of gold."
"Mephistopheles is not your name,
But I know what you're up to just the same.
I will listen hard to your tuition,
And you will see it come to it's fruition."
Amanda from Albany, GaMephistopheles made a pact with the devil for knowledge....hence the line "mephistopheles is not your name...But I know all about you just the same...I can see the destiny you sold...Turn into a shining band of gold..."
Shauna from Seattle, WaI have loved this song since I was a little girl (I'm 28) I always imagined it was like Rebekah said , about an affair with an older woman and a younger man ... I am fascinated to read all these other ideas and suggestions :)
Chance from Port Washington, WiI submit that to "turn your face to alabaster" is to turn one's face white with fear, an image which dovetails beautifully with the next line, "Then you'll find your servant is your master". I agree with Rebekah above and her take on the song. Wrapped around your finger is a chilling song about a man who has had enough and decisively moves from being under the control of a woman to the one in control.
Christina from Brooklyn, MdMephistopheles is Greek for the Devil-" a demon."
John from Auburn, MaRegatta is right. I don't remember where I heard the same, but I know that I did, and it was when the song originally came out in 1983 or so. I believe "I will turn your face to alabaster" does mean somehow making them into stone, and the line about Mephistopheles is simply saying that the person being talked about in the song is not the Devil, but they know what they're "up to, just the same." And the band of gold - well of course it's a sign of bondage to someone. The ring is referenced earlier in "staring at the ring around your finger." Great explanation RdB!
Tony from Detroit, MiI do know, that police/sting songs are indeed VERY deep, and are NOT to be taken superficially, BUT, Reggatta De Blanc, I think you dug too deep. You're thinking too much on this one. No insults intended. Though, if Sting himself confirmed your story, I probably wouldn't be too suprised. He's a HELL of a song writer.
Cheryl from Hillsboro, Orwhat was on the flip side of rudolph the rednose raindeer by gene autry?
Dave from Cardiff, WalesDuane - the Police's last hit was the 1986 remix of "Don't Stand So Close To Me"
Abc from New York City, NyHmm, interesting theory about WOYF. But I think Sting doesn't always have to have a single source for his references in any song. He has a habit of taking "bits and bobs" if I may paraphrase him. The Merlin bit is interesting, though, I wonder if "Faust" was inspired by Merlin tales(?). Sometimes I wish I could just pull Sting out of the blue like Woody Allen does with Marshall MacLuen in "Annie Hall", just to set the record (no pun intended) straight.
Reggatta De Blanc from Salt Lake City, UtYou all are full of crap. I did my homework and found the answer. Incredible. This song is "sung" by Nimue, Merlin's female apprentice. Line by line, if you study the lyrics of "Wrapped around Your Finger", you will find it tells of Merlin and Nimue's relationship brilliantly.
Scylla was beautiful maiden transformed into a monster sometimes described as having six dogs' heads on long necks. Scylla's cave was in a seaside cliff overlooking a strait that also harbored a phenomenal whirlpool called Charybdis. The twin perils are memorialized in the expression "between Scylla and Charybdis". This choice of equally dreadful alternatives was presented to Odysseus on his journey Home from the Trojan war. He chose to avoid Charybdis at the expense of losing six sailors to Scylla's multiple maws.
At first appearing to be about manipulating someone (possibly into marriage), only to later become committed to that person, the lyrics, under closer examination, are actually about death, and its inevitability. References can be found subliminally in many places in the song. Here's the heavy hitter. The song also relates the story of Merlin. The story varies from incarnation to incarnation, but many details are consistent: Merlin takes a female apprentice, Nimue, whom he educates in the ways of magic. She eventually learns enough to capture, imprison, or kill Merlin. Trapping him in an object such as a ring ("turned into a shining band of gold") or turning him to stone (I will turn your face to alabaster) are not unusual in various recountings. Also, the mentioning of Mephistopheles in the song is likely meant to parallel the fact that Merlin is purported to be the son of the devil. The song lyrics all describe the relationship between Nimue and Merlin. There is always a deeper meaning to The Police and Sting songs. Or just stay in your cheery ignorant bliss.
Duane from Wheatfield, InI remember that whole year of Synchronicity, Police could do no wrong. This was kind of the kiss off from the Police for sting. I think it was their last hit. Anyone else want to help out on that.
Steve from Torrance, CaThis song was covered by the instrumental jazz group Blue Sky on their 1987 album, "Wish I were here". Interestingly, the songwriter's credit on this album gives it to "Illegal Songs, Ltd", not to Sting.
Johnny from Los Angeles, CaSting is great with lyrics. What an interesting song...
Jay from Atlanta, GaI always thought they were ahead of their time with the slow-motion-lip-synch. Coldplay used the same technique for the video "Yellow".
Homzd from O-town, NvI know there is a story written by a philosopher about a lowly servant who over time is able to turn the tables on his owner and "tricking" him into believing that he is the servant. What is driving me crazy is that I can't think of the persons name who wrote it.
Susan from Airdrie, CanadaI always think of this song having a mystical, medieval type of setting to it. I picture a young man who comes to a wizard and is apprenticed by him; who is patronizing to the young man, selfishly guarding his greatest secrets to himself, perhaps making the young man needlessly slave for him. However the young man (who also is a bit arrogant and ambitious), learning from the wizard perhaps leaves and then returns to seek vengeance on the selfish wizard, turning his old master into his slave. Actually, the line "vanish in the air, you'll never find me" reminds me of Apparating in the Harry Potter books!
John from Levittown, NyDevil and the deep blue sea behind me is another nautical term. The devil was the center bean of a a wooden ship, and oiling it entailed being literaly suspended between the devil and the deep blue sea, which has since come to be akin to caught between a rock and a hard place.
Rebekah from Fresno County, CaI imagine this song is about a May-December affair between a younger man and married woman. Seems to say that, though she'd distroyed or hurt many before him, he would be differnt. She would eventually be enslaved by him.
Brett from Anchorage, Akthis song reminds me of the movie "the graduate".
Shay from Markham, CanadaMephistopheles is from the famous German play, The Tradgedy of Faust or Urfaust (original) by Goethe. He was the character representing evil, or the devil, luring Faust.
Dave from Cardiff, WalesOnly Queen's video for Who Wants To Live Forever features as many candles as that!
Jessica from Saint Louis, MoIf what I heard was correct, Sting was burned repeatedly by flying drops of wax during the final scene of the video. Not too hard to imagine, I guess.
Darrin from Hilo, HiIf you notice in the video, it's lip sync'd in slow motion. To achieve this effect, the playback was speeded up and they were basically lip syncing to a sped-up version of the song.