FIVE THINGS STING CAN TEACH AUTHORS
Our eldest son, the creative three-year-old Morgan (whose name was inspired by the black-ops Interpol spy Alex Morgan), has temporarily grown out of his Bond-theme music phase. Instead, obsessed with Sting and The Police, I hear Sending out an SOS blaring from the stereo a dozen times a day. SOS is soon after followed by Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, and De Doo Doo Doo, De Dah Dah Dah.
While Morgan takes us through his rock concert poses, strumming the ukelele atop our coffee table, rhythmically singing Sting's lyrics and tapping his feet, I've had ample opportunity to consider what it is about the iconic British singer's style that has been so enduring.
Here's what Sting can teach the rest of us mere mortals.
1. Be legendary. All the time.
There's no time for anyone - especially an author operating in our attention economy and especially during the publishing revolution - not to be legendary 24-7. I don't mean, writing in your jammies legendary. I mean get out there and do your best work, every damn day. Because if you want to be anything like Sting, people around the world will be listening.
2. Be inspired by history.
A lot of the songs Sting wrote drew inspiration from historical figures and history in general. The hints are in his lyrics - like Englishman in New York, inspired by Quentin Crisp; and Don't Stand So Close to Me references Nabokov's book, Lolita.
3. Let your wardrobe define you.
When Sting was a young muso in a jazz band, he once wore a yellow and black striped jumper to a performance, which prompted the band leader to say that he looked like a bee. The bee reference evolved into Sting and he's been known as nothing else since, including to The Police, his mother and family!
4. Get better with age.
One thing's for sure, Sting's voice just keeps getting smoother and more compelling. And he's still suave at 60. Here's a video of Robert Downey Jnr, one of the coolest guys walking the face of our earth, singing Driven to Tears with Sting for his 60th birthday this year. In my humble opinion, every author can watch and learn from the masters of cool like Sting and RDJ!
5. If in doubt, add Jamaican flair.
During his latest Australian tour it was cool to hear Sting riffing and giving some improv on his usual standard tunes. Just like Ian Fleming, he's fond of the Jamaican way of life, and if it's good enough for Fleming and Sting, it's good enough for me.
What do you think? Can legendary musicians like Sting teach us new tricks?