This post contains independently chosen affiliate links. See full affiliate disclosure.
Album: Synchronicity (A&M)
Writer: Gordon Summer (Sting)
I cringe every time I hear someone covering The Police song (by Sting) Every Breath You Take or using it as part of another song. The reason this is so cringeworthy is that people use this song as if it is a romantic and heartfelt declaration of love. As many people who have actually paid attention to the lyrics have surmised, it’s a song about stalking.
Meaning of Every Breath You Take
Think about the lyrics, as exemplified by ‘every breath your take I’ll be watching you.’ Watching. Not loving. Not thinking about you or missing you. Watching you. Yes, Every Breath You Take is about a stalker.
If it were me, I would have hesitated to write a song about a stalker because, inevitably, people will assume that you are the stalker. This hardly matters since I would have been unable to write such a brilliant song in the first place. But, people will think, once they figure it out, that you are creepy. So, it’s no wonder that this song gets listed as one of the creepiest songs ever and that people, therefore, sometimes think Sting is creepy for writing it. However, this song was not meant to be Sting writing about himself (duh). He was writing about his own imagining of an obsessive lover who is watching everything you do. As he said, it sounds like a comforting love song, but he was thinking more of big brother, of surveillance and control.
Some have claimed that the song telling a true story of Sting’s OWN experience of being stalked by an obsessed former lover. While the song did follow his contentious split with wife France Tomelty after his affair with next-door neighbor and Tomelty’s best friend Trudie Styler, there is no evidence that Sing himself experienced any such thing. One could imagine that he may have been worried about repercussions and freeing himself of the bad feelings and controversy that had occurred, however.
Regardless, Every Breath You Take is probably one of the most misinterpreted songs in history. There is nothing gentle or loving about it. Sting explained his own frustration with people misunderstanding the song by saying:
I think this song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it’s quite the opposite.
Every Breath You Take Release Date
Every Breath You Take has been a staple since pretty much the time it was released. It was recorded between December 1982 and February 1983 and released on May 20, 1983.
It became the band’s signature song and is perhaps the most well-known Police song or Sting song. It reached no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1983 spending 22 weeks on the chart. It was the biggest song of the year, period, and was nominated for three Grammy awards. It was also voted as Rolling Stones Song of the Year. According to BMI, it is the most played song in radio history and sold more records and generated more income than any other Police song.
It is not the only song that explores ‘creepy’ themes. Don’t Stand So Close to Me is about a high school teacher who is tempted by a student. Since Sting had himself been a teacher at a convent school, this may be a little too close to home. As well, I Can’t Stand Losing You speaks of suicide after being rejected by a lover.