The following interview with Sting & Annie Lennox by Steve Morse appeared in a June 2004 issue of The Boston Globe ...
Two strong voices share one stage - Annie Lennox and Sting discuss their tour together...
Sting and Annie Lennox, besides sharing British roots, are two of the most enduring artists of their generation. Each started in a band that sold millions of records - Sting with the Police, Lennox with Eurythmics - then both left for solo careers that soared as well. Each became beloved stars on MTV as Sting sang "I want my MTV" while Lennox became a synth-pop queen. Each later developed a social conscience that made other performers understand that record sales and video exposure need not be the only goals of the music business.
They're together in one of the best double bills of the summer. The tour started this week and is at the Tweeter Center tomorrow and Tuesday. To preview it, the dry-witted Sting and more ebullient Lennox agreed to a joint phone interview last week - she from London and he from Cologne, Germany.
Q. Who originated the idea for the summer tour?
Sting: It was me. It was my idea. I'm a genius.
Q. You're also neighbours in London, right?
Lennox: The thing is, we were, but we never saw each other because he's never there and I'm always there. Then he says he likes to live there, but it's too late because I'm going out of town.
Sting: You'll be sick to death of me in about six weeks.
Lennox: Likewise, darling. But we'll have separate dressing rooms on opposite ends of the stadium.
Q. So this is going to be like Luther Vandross and Anita Baker when they avoided each other on tour?
Lennox: Yes, tempers and tantrums and tiaras. No, we're going to be very lovey-dovey, aren't we?
Sting: We really are. And we're going to sing together. People would be very disappointed if we didn't sing together. People like to come and see some fireworks.
Q. Have you sung together before?
Lennox: Never. It's exciting. I'm really thrilled and honoured to be part of it.
Q. Annie, I saw you at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston last year before your record ('Bare') came out. Did you think of going out again on your own - or was this tour with Sting too good to pass up?
Lennox: When the invitation came through, I just thought that it sounded right.
Sting: Good girl.
Lennox: Really, I don't understand how Sting does so many dates. I'm only going to do 50 or so dates with him - I'm a very small part of his five-year tour.
Sting: I figure that your fans will be immensely grateful to me for getting you out.
Lennox: That's true, because I really do have to be winkled out of my shell. I really am quite a homebody, and it's hard to keep doing it because I have my kids. I've only actually been out on tour twice in the last 13 years - once with Dave [Stewart in Eurythmics].
Q: Any favourite songs of each other's through the years?
Lennox: Honestly, I'm not being sycophantic, I'm just being frank when I say that Sting's catalogue is just so outstanding. I'd be glad to take any of his songs.
Sting: My opinion of Annie is that she's become a timeless artist. An album like 'Diva' will be considered one of the great albums of all time. And she has continued to progress as an entertainer who is an adult.
Q: On your last albums, for both of you, you shared a lot of personal insights.
Lennox: You share your innermost feelings and thoughts and you know that you're not alone that way. Some people say, "Oh, how can you sing such personal things?" Well, I've always sung personal things.
Sting: You don't have a choice, really, do you?
Q: Sting, your record also had a lot of political commentary after 9/11. There was a lot of uncertainty that you expressed. Any thoughts about the political climate right now? It's an election year in America.
Sting: I think it's an election year in the world. I think with America being the predominant power in the world, it's really that the power in America affects all of us, whether you live there or not. Personally, I think foreign policy at the moment is a complete mess. I'd like to see that dealt with in a much more inclusive way than it has been, and that's being polite.
Q: On your new song 'This War' from the 'Sacred Love' album, you talk about "a war on our compassion." That's a powerful phrase. Can you elaborate on that?
Sting: Well, I think the term "liberal" has become a kind of pejorative, but I wear it with pride. I feel that I am a liberal and that we shouldn't hide. We should come out there and say, 'This is what we are, we're proud.'"
Q: Annie, how about your political sense? You continue to help out Amnesty International and Greenpeace.
Lennox: We donated our income on our last [Eurythmics] tour to Amnesty and to Greenpeace. These are two incredibly important causes, and it was an opportunity to do that and to bring awareness to them. I was very concerned when I came to America the last time because I felt that everything was becoming increasingly censorial in the media. And that was very interesting because I thought, 'Wow, America is supposed to be the land of the free'. But I felt that was no longer the case when certain artists spoke out and gave their views and were absolutely lambasted for it.
Q: Are you talking about the Dixie Chicks, for example?
Lennox: Yes, I am. It was interesting to watch, but it made you realize that it was no longer a place where one can really speak one's mind.
Q: Both of you had a tremendous push from MTV at one time and were video pioneers. What do you think of MTV today?
Lennox: We also pushed MTV. Don't forget that they played our videos and made lots of money. Artists like us created MTV.
Sting: She's feisty, isn't she? But I don't think we're on MTV anymore. We don't really watch it.
Lennox: My kids watch it.
Q: Any thoughts about where the record industry is right now?
Lennox: I think it's good for people who don't have record contracts and can maybe make their own thing. I don't know exactly. I'm not in the position where I'm a struggling artist anymore. I've been through every hurdle and now I'm in a different place.
Sting: I don't think music is in trouble. I think music is fine and healthy. The marketing plan is what has gone a little awry.
Q: Annie, you won an Oscar this year for a track from 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (called 'Into the West') and you beat out Sting's tune ('You Will Be My Ain True Love' from 'Cold Mountain'). What was that like?
Lennox: Oh, well, I was just a singer on the song. I was just a little contributor. But it was fun. I never expected to win an Oscar. It's ridiculous because I'm a musician. But it was a great time. I got to wear a dress.
Sting: Any disappointment I had was completely obliterated by Annie's wonderful smile when she won it.
Q: Is there a future to Eurythmics?
Lennox: Well, I never know the answer to that question because I only do what I feel like doing at the time. But it's always something that's possible as long as Dave and I are on the planet. I never put that out of the realm of possibility.
Q: Sting, you did a reunion with the Police last year when you were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Was that just a one-shot thing? Should people think of a future for the Police?
Sting: I think there's more chance of me joining Eurythmics than the Police, to be honest.
Lennox: Oh really? I always thought that was sad because I was a huge Police fan. I really loved that trio. But hey, therein lies a tale, I guess.
Sting: A long, involved tale.
Lennox: You'll tell me on the tour, no doubt.
© The Boston Globe