Sting may have a career spanning decades, but his musical legacy is as appreciated now as it’s ever been.
Contemporary artists like Sam Fender and sitarist Anoushka Shankar (who’s collaborated with him on various tracks) rate his music, and he has recently worked with the likes of Shaggy – on last year’s Grammy Award-winning chart-topping record ‘44/876’ and accompanying world tour.
Reflecting this freshness and relevance, while celebrating his legacy, Sting’s just released a collection of reworked hits – bringing some classics up to 2019.
On ‘My Songs’ – released in May – he gives us a fresh take on cuts including ‘Englishman In New York’, ‘Fields Of Gold’, ‘Shape Of My Heart, ‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘Roxanne’, ‘Message In A Bottle’ and many more.
The album’s also accompanied by new liner notes written by Sting, delving into the personal stories behind each song and providing insight into how some of his most iconic tracks were written.
Here, a few artists talk us through their favourite Sting tracks…
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Chris Baio (Vampire Weekend) – ‘Fields Of Gold’
If you asked me what my favourite album was when I was eight years old, I would have answered ‘Ten Summoner's Tales’. It soundtracked countless family road trips, and in many ways was the sound of my youth.
In the fall of 2017, while on a different sort of trip with a group of friends in Nimes, I revisited this perfect album. The song that most stood out for me during that re-listen was Fields of Gold’.
I have often found that when I figure out a beloved song's chord progression, a bit of the magic gets lost. There are only so many chords, and all songwriters work from the same limited palette. Only a certain extremely special track can retain its magic after I've figured out the chords. ‘Fields of Gold’ is one of them. There is something divine in the harmonic development of that song, and I often feel like I could listen to this song forever.
It also eschews a traditional songwriting structure. With the exception of one lovely bridge, it repeats the same single beautiful melody for the entirety of its 3:42 runtime. In the average song, this would be quite boring; here it is nothing short of thrilling.
What a perfect piece of music!
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Sam Fender – ‘So Lonely’
‘So lonely’ is an absolute banger! I used to take pride in being able to sing it as the high notes are on the moon.
It reminds me of being a kid, playing in my first band, rehearsing down at notes studios in shields.
Marty, the bloke who ran the place, was a massive Sting fan - there was Sting bobble heads and mad old merchandise littered around the studio.
It was a wonderful and exciting time in my life, and those songs were the soundtrack of that time.
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Anoushka Shankar – ‘Desert Rose’
‘Desert Rose’ came out when I was about nineteen, and it was a song that I – and my entire circle of friends – fell in love with. This was in India, and we all really appreciated the gorgeous combination of voices and cultures: there was something very fresh and new about the way this was done.
Several musician friends and myself would discuss how the separate voices came ever closer and closer together without ever leaving their individual styles, to eventually form a gorgeous union at the end of the song.
Although it’s hard to pick a single Sting song to highlight, as I love so many, this is the one that’s inextricably linked to many beautiful memories. It’s also this song that gave me the confidence to say yes when Sting asked me to feature on a song a couple of years later; at that time I’d never done anything like that as a classical sitarist, and was absolutely terrified of working with him! However I knew I’d be in safe hands, and indeed it’s true.
He devoted a whole day to giving me the space and time to find my way through ‘The Book of my Life’ and I was very grateful for his care.
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Photo: Martin Kierszenbaum
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