October 02, 2006


Centuries before the world came to know a rock star called Sting - or any rock star, for that matter - another English troubadour traveled the globe, playing songs about love and yearning, isolation and despair. "John Dowland was our first alienated singer/songwriter," Sting says. "A totally conflicted man but a genius musician. We're just following in his footsteps..."
October 01, 2006


Jetzt hat auch Sting die Lieder von John Dowland aus der Shakespeare-Zeit eingespielt. Dessen ergreifende und ausschweifende Melodien übertrumpfte damals kein anderer Künstler. Eine Reise rückwärts in ein goldenes Zeitalter mit Trauerrand. Es war einmal ein Musiker, der reiste länger in Europa herum, als er zu Hause war. Er wurde gefeiert, wo immer er hin kam und auftrat. Er wurde mit Geschenken überhäuft. Er war ein Wunder auf seinem Instrument. Er war so etwas wie ein Pop-Star. Er wurde an Höfen, an denen er arbeitete, besser bezahlt als Staatsminister. Er war ein Marketinggenie...
October 01, 2006


The singer's latest album explores the music of a pop balladeer from a distant era, John Dowland. The hard part was learning the lute. On a Warner Bros. Television sound stage, Sting is perched on a stool, singing a plaintive, urgent ballad to an absent lover. No surprises here - except that the song, "Come Again," is more than 400 years old. It was composed by John Dowland, a contemporary of Shakespeare who is considered one of England's greatest songwriters...
September 27, 2006


In 1982 I was performing at the Drury Lane Theatre in Covent Garden, as part of a variety show on behalf of Amnesty International. After the solo performance of one of my songs, the actor John Bird came to pay me a quiet compliment, and asked whether I'd ever heard the songs of John Dowland. I was forced to admit that, while I knew the name, and, vaguely, the fact that Dowland had been an Elizabethan/Jacobean composer, I knew little else. I thanked Mr. Bird for his compliment and was still intrigued enough the next day to seek out a collection of Dowland's songs performed by Peter Pears, with Julian Bream on lute. While I appreciated the melancholy beauty of this music, I couldn't quite see how it could ever be assimilated into the repertoire of an aspiring rock singer...
September 18, 2006


He said light music, she said gritty film... So I visited Sting and Mrs. Sting, Trudie Styler. It's a very simple, basic everyday sort of life. Three homes in three countries. New York one's a Central Park West duplex ("Four or five bedrooms, I don't remember," she says), but moving to an even larger penthouse overlooking the park. And lots of children - his, hers, theirs. And 10 dogs - we're talking palomino-size Irish wolfhounds. And heavy-duty careers. Sting's romantic new album "Songs From the Labyrinth," which is out next month, and producer Trudie's gritty new film "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," which is out next week...
September 04, 2006


Sting says he's fully aware that an album of 16th century lute songs is not exactly a commercial slam-dunk. But he's holding out hope that his 'Songs From the Labyrinth', due Oct. 10 via Deutsche Grammophon, will find an audience. "I keep saying it - you just never know," says Sting, who recorded the album with lute player Edin Karamazov from Sarajevo. "I think this is a longer shot than ['O Brother, Where Art Thou?'] but... why not? The response so far has been very encouraging. People have said, 'Wow, this is totally different. How refreshing.' I don't know - that may translate into mass appeal or it may not...
September 03, 2006


"Pop is dead. Rock music is dying." Harsh words - spoken by somebody who became "filthy-rich" by this music: Sting has discovered classical music and published an album with 400 year old songs. A conversation about the banality of old habits and the thrill of the past. Sting, you were always a trendsetter of Rock. Now you unbury a 16th century composer: John Dowland. He sang to women in the Elizabethan age. Don't you have something new to tell...?
September 02, 2006


There's something a little odd going on. Sting comes off stage after his Bergen concert, hits the hotel bar and opens a bottle of Chablis. And then he talks about 18th century keyboard music. I suppose I started it. There's a song of his I particularly like for its harmonic interest: 'Whenever I Say Your Name', a duet with the American R&B star Mary J Blige from his 2203 album 'Sacred Love'. So I ask him about it. "It's based entirely on Bach," he reveals, not without a little pride in his voice. "Look at the bass line and you'll see it's all him. It's one of his preludes - in C, I think..."