The Police: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (1980)

Is Sting a better songwriter than Stewart and Summers? As this single proves, it’s not even close.

Kronomyth 2.9: The naughty adventures of English bird humberting.

How do you pitch a song about pedophilia? Cover it in a great melody, distract the audience with the impossibly handsome Sting in angel’s wings, move the silly prancing of The Police into a schoolroom and back it up with a song about cannibalism. Don’t Stand So Close to Me reached the top of the charts in the UK despite its reference to Lolita and the merest of hints that Sting’s mind may not have been on Nabokov’s prose as an English teacher. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

In the UK, Andy Summers’ cannibal philosophy of friend fries (Friends) was pressed into the backside. It’s similar to “Be My Girl,” with Andy’s droll voice over a deliberately paced rock song. In the US, Stewart Copeland’s A Sermon got the call-up instead. Sung by Sting, “A Sermon” is a short cautionary tale about fame or something like that. Ironically, it’s far less preachy than most of Sting’s songs. Both B sides are nonalbum tracks that are worth humberting down if you’re a collector or just convinced that Summers and Copeland are complete songwriters.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me (Sting) (4:03)
B1. Friends (Andy Summers) (3:37)

Original 7-inch single version (US)
A1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me (Sting) (4:03)
B1. A Sermon (Stewart Copeland) (2:34)

Original 7-inch shaped picture disc single
A1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me (Sting)
B1. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (Sting)

The Players

Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers. Produced by The Police and Nigel Gray (A1, B1-UK), The Police (B1-US).

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single in September 1980 in the UK (A&M, AMS 7564) and the Netherlands (A&M, AMS 9001) and February 1981 in the US (A&M, AM 2310) with regional picture sleeve (poster picture sleeve in the UK). Reached #1 on the UK charts and #10 on the US charts. Also released on 7-inch shaped picture disc single in 1981 in the US (A&M, PR-4401) with “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”

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