The following article appeared in a November 2021 issue of USA Today...
Sting has no plans of retiring: 'You’re asking a fish what it’s going to be like without water'...
Don’t tell Sting that turning 70 means slowing down.
The prolific musician is readying the Nov. 19 release of his 15th solo studio album, “The Bridge,” which he says he crafted with his band “as a way to save my mental health” during the pandemic.
On Oct. 29, Sting kicked off his new residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace and the hits-filled production, “My Songs,” has already earned raves for its stylish approach.
He also popped up in an unlikely place: in the Steve Martin/Martin Short Hulu hit “Only Murders in the Building.” The humor threaded throughout his turn as a suspect is on display as he discusses his appearance on the show with USA TODAY.
“They didn’t tell me it was a comedy. I was playing heavy drama,” Sting deadpans and then chuckles. “I’ve worked with both Steve Martin and Martin Short many times over the years and they knew I could say lines at least. I’d never worked with Selena (Gomez), and she was fabulous. It was fun – and it wasn’t me, as Shaggy used to say.”
As he talks from his New York apartment – the Empire State Building is in view, he reports – Sting is both contemplative and engaging.
He observed his milestone October birthday with a pair of performances under the Acropolis in Greece, and later joined his old friend Eric Burdon of The Animals fame for a celebratory dinner.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to find venues older than me, so the Acropolis fits that bill since it’s about 3,000 years old,” Sting jokes.
The fall fete marked the start of a new chapter of activity, starting with his twice-postponed debut in Las Vegas.
Of the myriad superstar residencies that have populated the Strip, Sting says the only one he attended was Elton John’s The Red Piano, which played the Colosseum for five years.
“It’s better than that,” he laughs. “No, no, I love Elton.”
Sting is, though, audibly excited about having his own room to create a multimedia experience.
“Each of the songs lives in its own visual world. The show begins with me in Paris, where I wrote ‘Roxanne’ with an acoustic guitar and then we instantly head to another world,” he says. “It’s a fascinating visual experiment. There isn’t any furniture being moved around – it’s projections and screens, but it’s quite a stunning variety of images and film and geometry.”
The show, which plays through Saturday and returns in June for another run, spotlights gems from a career that has yielded more than 100 million albums sold between solo work and with The Police: “King of Pain,” “Next to You,” “Brand New Day,” “Englishman in New York” and the most-played radio song (according to BMI), “Every Breath You Take,” all make appearances, as well as two new songs from “The Bridge,” including the giddy whistler “If It’s Love.”
The theme of the album came to Sting after he finished recording, which he says was a “mysterious” occurrence.
“I recognized something that connected all of (the songs). They’re all about characters in transition, characters between worlds, between life and death – that’s what connects them. I think the theme of water runs throughout the whole record. Water is a medium that is not comfortable, it’s dangerous and we have to be very careful. But immersing yourself in it does create opportunity,” Sting says.
On the opening track, “Rushing Water,” he sings “what we have here is so easy to solve/just takes a firm purpose and some resolve,” leading one to wonder about Sting’s level of optimism.
He laughs and says, “I think optimism is a good strategy in life. It’s getting more difficult to be optimistic. Let’s be frank, the window of opportunity is closing. But it’s the best strategy we have moving forward.”
On the bonus edition of “The Bridge,” Sting includes a cover of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” a classic he says is “always first on my list of favorite songs.”
He initially recorded it for the Alzheimer’s Association – “Research tells them people remember songs more readily than anything else when they suffer from dementia,” Sting says – and included it on his new album so fans “can see what I get up to for fun.”
But he also discovered something musical about the '60s soul masterwork.
“It’s an intensely sad song, but there are no minor chords in it. It’s all major chords and the only complex chords are in the chorus. You’d think it would be a minor (key) song and it’s not and that’s fascinating,” Sting says.
Along with continuing to be a student of music, Sting is also maintaining a rigorous concert calendar, with a rescheduled European tour launching in March.
So while peers such as Elton John and Genesis have stated farewell intentions, Sting isn’t ready for any proclamations or to slow down.
“You’re asking a fish what it’s going to be like without water,” he says. “I can’t imagine life without working onstage. I love it.”
(c) USA Today by Melissa Ruggieri