Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Broken Music by Sting

I don't read a lot of nonfiction. No particular reason, I just don't. But I was in a hurry to read this book, not so much because Sting was a serious crush of mine when I was 16 and Roxanne was on my turntable for hours at a time, but because it was a Christmas present from my brother. Well, in theory it was from my Secret Santa, but my brother is about as much use at keeping a secret as The Sun. And I know next time I see him he will ask if I've read it yet and he will keep on asking, and asking, and asking...because that's what he's like.

So I have discharged my duty and promoted it to the top of my TBR pile.

If you come into this expecting to find a lot about The Police, you will be disappointed. The band that made his name is relegated to 100 pages (if that) at the end of the book. The majority of it covers his teenage years as a milkman's son in Wallsend, his teacher training and short teaching career and his strained relationship with his parents, particularly his mother Audrey. But running through it is the story of his musical career, from playing the piano at his grandmother's to saving up for his first guitar, his conversion to bass guitar and gigging with various jazz and swing ensembles before he moved to London to be with his first wife Frances Tomelty.

I'd have liked more about his transfer of allegiance from jazz to punk (a bit of a leap, on the face of it) which arose through his meeting with Stewart Copeland, the drummer with The Police. I was amused that the first Police sets contained 10 songs but still only lasted 10 minutes, so determined was Copeland to drum as fast and as furiously as he possibly could, leaving Sting and the then-guitarist, Henry, to try to keep up as best they might.

In this book Sting shows himself to be a natural wordsmith (which once again begs the question "why?" about that crime against music, "De Doo Doo Doo De Dah Dah Dah") and I was drawn into his book almost despite myself. He portrays his passion, sadness and love with the same delicate brush strokes with which his lyrics observe the world.

Not one that I will read again, nor even keep on my bookshelf, but worthy of its 4/5 nonetheless.

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