History of Sting's song "Russians" (1985)

“It was another escalation of the Cold War. I wanted to say something that goes against these feelings…”, – said Sting. About how the singer realized his idea - in our article.

British singer's anti-war manifesto

There is no doubt that music intertwines with other areas of our lives often and in many forms. In particular, communication music with politics - another incredible combination that musicians often use to express their inner feelings on issues of the political agenda, to show their active citizenship. One of the songs of this kind was a single from Sting's debut album Russianswhich will be discussed in our article.

Decay The Police

Sting - a world-famous musician, a star of Great Britain. We know him as a bass player and vocalist in a rock band. The Police and as a solo artist. However, how exactly Gordon Sumner came to start performing separately from his comrades, although their popularity was at its peak - this is a different story.

Young Sting
Young Sting

Already at the stage of the release of the last album of the group Synchronicity Sting thought it was time to leave. In a documentary about the history of the stadium Shay Stadium, it was pointed out that it was during the concert, which was then held in New York in 1983 Sumner realized what's next The Police there is nowhere to grow - he called this performance "Everest Group" and decided to stand apart and become an independent artist. Just after the end of the tour in support of the last album, the group ceased to exist, and all members began their own creative path. At Sting, he turned out to be a little more successful than the others.

Sting in his youth
Sting in his youth

"The Dream of the Blue Turtles"

Being an accomplished singer and performer, Sting was, of course, aware of all the processes involved in making an album. It was released a year after the disbandment of The Police, in 1985, and received a rather interesting name, which in English means "Dream of the Blue Turtles". What are these blue turtles?

The musician answered this question in an interview: “The title of the album was inspired by a dream that woke me up on the first night of my stay in Barbados. I dreamed that I was sitting in a brick walled garden behind my house, under a lilac tree, surrounded by beautiful rose bushes. Suddenly the wall began to crumble, I turned around and saw the head of a huge tortoise crawling out of the darkness, followed by four or five others. Not only were they about the size of a human being, they were very blue and seemed to be as unflappable as hipsters, carefree and fearless." 


One of the songs on side 1 of the disc was the song Russians, which caused a public outcry both in the singer's homeland and in other European countries and even in Russia.

First solo album cover
First solo album cover

And what about the Russians?

1985. The Cold War is still going on, comes to power in the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, promising for its completion. Perestroika begins in the country, fundamental changes in the whole society accompany it. Not empty promises, confidence in the future and anticipation of improving the level and quality of life… As soon as Soviet Union and its citizens spun in this endless whirlpool of events, Sting, Being in New York, decided to write a song about the consequences of the Cold War if it suddenly became "hot", because even in the early years of Gorbachev's rule, major scandals arose between the blocs of countries and continued to wage active propaganda.

 The inspiration that served as the impetus for the creation of this composition, according to Sting's own admission, was watching children's Soviet television programs: “I had a friend who worked at Columbia University, he was a research scientist. He had a device capable of intercepting the signal from Soviet satellites over the North Pole. And we decided to watch Russian TV with him. I have never seen Russian television. It was a Sunday morning, and there were children's programs in Moscow and St. Petersburg, your version of Sesame Street and the like. And I was struck by how much warmth, attention and love was invested in these programs ... "


Interesting facts about "Russians"

Sting really tried and put his whole soul into the creation of this composition. It turned out to be multifaceted and deep, not only in terms of music, but also in terms of meaning. At the same time, it should be noted that Sumner clearly drew inspiration from the rich Russian culture and, in particular, music. So, the melody of the composition was taken from the suite "Lieutenant Kizhe" famous Russian composer, who even spent some time in exile, Sergei Prokofiev. This highlights Sting's desire to show the closeness of nations and reject the split into two camps - we can say that this step of the singer reminds us that music unites. In addition, initially the artist wanted to fly to the USSR and record the song there, asking for accompaniment from Leningrad State Orchestra, however, it was not possible to get into the country for recording - the political bureaucracy did not allow.

Sting at the show
Sting at the show

The way it's done introduction in the song, deserves special attention. The fact is that Sting decided to rely on historicity and used two such iconic sound fragments as a kind of intro, placing them in two stereo channelsso that a fuller sound is produced. When listening to the song in the left channel, we hear an excerpt from the Soviet program "Time" 1984, where the announcer covers the news in the field of foreign relations and notes that "the British Prime Minister described the negotiations with the head of the delegation M. Gorbachev as a constructive, realistic, businesslike and friendly exchange of views…”. In the right channel, part of the broadcast of the docking of ships sounds Soyuz-19 and "Apollo" in 1975, which marked the beginning convergence USA and USSR.

Young Sting during the recording of the first album
Young Sting during the recording of the first album

What did Sting mean?

The whole composition is concept song was a huge set of quotes and references, deciphering which one could understand the idea. In general, in the song the musician warns about consequences of the cold war, talking about what "There is no such thing as a victorious war". In lines that raised a lot of questions from Russians, he sings about the hopes that “Russians also love their children”, and, as a consequence, the fact that the future generation is growing up should not have allowed the superpowers to destroy each other.

“All of us - both the West and the Soviet Union - had the future of our children at stake, that's what I'm talking about. I say that we love our children and therefore we will not blow up the world ... ”, the singer admitted.

Sting in 1985
Sting in 1985

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