Interview: OPRAH (2003)

October 07, 2003

Sting and Trudie appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show on October 7 (aired in the US on October 28. The following is a transcript of the interview...

OPRAH: Whoo. Sting is here. Sting is here, sitting in the chair. OK. You know, people are feeling very cool to be able to sit in the audience. Yeah, sort of vibe with you, you know? Sting sold 40 million albums with The Police and another 45 million as a solo artist. He has won 16 Grammys, and 'Every Breath You Take' is one of the most-played songs in the history of radio. He's the son of a milkman and has done pretty well for himself, and now Sting is revealing a side of himself that he's really never shared before. He has a new book. It's a memoir called 'Broken Music'. From discovering his mother's affair when he was a child to his own infidelity, there's a lot of very painful and very private stuff in this book that you wrote. So why share it with the world?

STING: Why now?

OPRAH: Mm-hmm.

STING: I'm 52, and...

OPRAH: Love that. Sell those 50s. That's great.

STING: And I feel I have enough perspective on my early life to be able to see it for what it is and really forgive and honour everyone in my life.

OPRAH: Really?

STING: Everybody.

OPRAH: That's amazing. You know, I read this book, and when I finished reading the book, I thought the whole book is a song. It is so beautifully written. Every word is so well-crafted. I wanted to just start on this page, on page 19, where you talk about - you say - now listen - listen to the words: 'As a child, I could spend all day gazing at a fire. I still can, lost in visions of crumbling towers, ancient glowing kingdoms and cavernous cathedrals, indeed, whole continents of imagining in its embers. My mother taught me this magic, and it is still with me. She also taught me how to iron a shirt, fry an egg, vacuum the floor, all in the spirit of ritual and good order. But it was music and fires that retained an air of secret and arcane knowledge which bound me to her like a sorcerer's apprentice. My mother was the first mistress of my imagination.'

Hello! Hello! How long did it take you to write that?

STING: I'd been thinking about it for a while.

OPRAH: Been thinking about it for a while.

STING: Yeah. My mother died in 1988. She was very young.

OPRAH: Fifty-three, she was.

STING: She was 53. She was 18 when she had me, so I remember her when she was in her early 20s, and as a man in his 50s, it's almost like writing about my own daughter. It felt that way. So in a way, it was - it was a lovely reversal of roles to think about my parents and see why they behaved the way they did. Because of my life experience, my life wisdom, it was nice to be able to reverse the whole thing and understand them and love them and cherish them.

OPRAH: Now I have to say to the audience that yesterday when Sting was here rehearsing, something happened with - with Sting that has never happened in the history of the show. He was an hour and a half early. Nobody is ever, ever, ever early, ever, ever. Everybody was like, running around, going, 'Ohh, he's here. Oh, my God, he's early.' Now did that come from being the son of a milkman having to get up so early? Yeah.

STING: Absolutely. I've never been late in my life. I think it comes from anxiety. I'd rather be early and just wait. I hate being late.

OPRAH: Hate being late.

STING: Hate it.

OPRAH: Except for the one time you missed your son's birth.

STING: I did miss my son's - my first child's - birth. I slept in. But I have a theory about that.

OPRAH: Yeah. What is the theory?

STING: I was 24 and a child myself. I think that the whole enormity of having a baby, being a father was too much for me. I think the child in me fell asleep and refused to wake up.

OPRAH: And refused to wake up. And that's the only time you've ever been late, or missed a...

STING: That's the only time; a pretty significant time, I must admit.

OPRAH: Yeah. But you're always early for everything.


OPRAH: All the time.

STING: I promise you, I am.

OPRAH: I believe it. Sting says that one of the most defining moments of his life happened when, as a boy, he discovered his mother with her lover. Will you read the excerpt from us - for us?

STING: I shall try.

OPRAH: It's on page 50. It's on page 50.

STING: I'm not sure I can get through it.

OPRAH: Right there. 'My father...'

STING: I have to wear my spectacles. Excuse me. I've had these for a few years.

OPRAH: Cute ones. OK. You can take mine. It's all - it's the stuff in yellow, starting there.

STING: OK, well, my mum is in her mid-20s at the time and she's a woman -a passionate woman in love with music, in love with the movies, desperately needs romance. She needs intimacy. She needs people to love her. My father is a very good man, wonderful man. He does love her, but he can't express it. He can't tell her. She needs it. She looks elsewhere, and this is this is how I find out:

'My father has gone to work. It is a school day, and I have woken early. I get dressed and make my way downstairs to build a fire in the back room. As I turn the corner on the first landing, I hear a noise at the end of the passage that leads to a small porch and the front door. Crouching down, I see the shadows of two people behind the opaque glass of the porch. I can hear soft moans and the quickening of breath from behind the glass door and see the shapes of two heads pressed together against the wall. I move slowly and silently down the long passage, not daring to breathe.'

'The moaning is louder now. It sounds like pain. And as my hand reaches to open the door, I'm terrified and fearless at the same time. As I turn the handle on the door, there's a sudden panic on the other side of the glass. I manage to open the door only a crack before it is violently shut again. "It's all right, it's all right." I hear my mother's voice trying to soothe me with the unconvincing tones of normality. Suddenly we are like a doomed family in a falling airplane, my mother desperate to hide the danger from me and desperate to hide her own fear. I've seen nothing, but I run, and behind me I hear the front door slam. My mother doesn't find me when she comes up to my room. I'm hidden, deep in my cave under the stairs, entrusted with a secret I don't understand.'

OPRAH: Wow. And how long before you did understand what you had seen?

STING: Well, unfortunately, she kept it a secret. She had every right to find love and romance, but she couldn't express that to my dad, just as he couldn't express his love for her. So that is carried on for 30 years, and it - it eventually killed them both, that they couldn't just tell the truth.

OPRAH: Now you say in the book that your mother's affair distorted really all of your future relationships with women, right?

STING: Yeah.

OPRAH: How so?

STING: I think it made me very afraid of intimacy for many, many years. It did colour every relationship I had with women. I'm not sure I trusted women for a long, long time.

OPRAH: Well, how could you if you saw your mother on the stairs? Yeah.

STING: Well, I'm not the first child to have witnessed, you know, parental infidelity or the last. But, you know, my response to it was very internal and then I became a writer - I think I became a songwriter because of that triangle that I witnessed. You know, songwriting for me - you can write two types of songs. I love you, and you love me. Boring. It's a closed loop. But I love you, but you love someone else, that's interesting. That's what 'Roxanne' is about.

OPRAH: Yeah. (Singing) "Roxanne"...

STING: So I owe my career, my art, to my parents. And I'm grateful.

OPRAH: To your past.

STING: To my past. I really am grateful to them.

OPRAH: You know what I love about the book, that it is so introspective and also looking in your life in from where you are now, looking at your whole life, trying to write the whole picture instead of just you as a famous rock star. You talk in the book about your own infidelity. You ended up doing something that you had for so many years resented your own mother for. You fell in love with a woman while you were married and ended up, you know, doing the exact same thing that you had harboured such anger against your mother for. How do you explain that?

STING: Well, it wasn't exactly the same thing, because I was honest about my love for this woman. You know, I met Trudie and instantly recognized who she was, that she was the woman for the rest of my life. And there was a tidal wave of emotion that simply couldn't be stopped. But I didn't tell a lie for the rest of my life. I openly admitted it and, you know, we've lived together for 25 years. So thank God.

OPRAH: So what was it you saw when you saw Trudie?

STING: I just recognized someone that I just knew who she was immediately, and I think she knew who I was.

OPRAH: In terms of your soul mate.

STING: Yeah.

OPRAH: You say it was like I have found you, and no need of lying about this. Yeah. Now you write that infidelity became an engrossing - you say 'an engrossing aphrodisiac and a mentally exhausting game of timing and lies.' I love that description of it, because I think anybody who's ever cheated or ever had an affair, that I'm always sort of on this show when you're talking to guys, you're like, 'Isn't it exhausting just sort of keeping up the facade and the lies?'

STING: Well, I kind of trained myself through all of the relationships I had, from my mother on, you know, I was a serial monogamist, but there were all of these transition periods, when you go through this game, this game of lying and cheating and juggling with chain saws.

OPRAH: Yeah. And then you found Trudie and that was it.

STING: Oh, absolutely.

OPRAH: A serial monogamist you've been.

STING: I am a monogamist.

OPRAH: Yes. And what is it about the relationship that you knew that it was a soul thing?

STING: I love her. It's as simple as that. I adore her.

OPRAH: Let's meet the woman Sting calls his soul mate. Come on out, Trudie. Come on out, Trudie Styler. Hi, sweetie. Hi, honey. Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, have been together for 23 years now. Sting has six children, four with Trudie and two with his first wife. When he was just describing to us that moment when he first met you, that you both knew? What was that?

TRUDIE: Oh it's so indescribable, really. It's a feeling that you've come home. That's it, you've come home.

OPRAH: That is very eloquent, that you've come home, and you knew. Yeah. In that instant?

TRUDIE: It was kind of growing on us - well, particularly on me, and you know, in a way that was not really ideal. Sting was married and had a family and, you know, so it was an act of betrayal at the same time.

OPRAH: Where were you guys? Describe where you were when you first saw him.

TRUDIE: Well, we were neighbours. We lived next door to each other.

OPRAH: That's very convenient. Very convenient.

TRUDIE: But, it's this thing called love. It's bigger than us, isn't it?

OPRAH: It is. Oftentimes, it really is. Now everybody wants to know. I mean, just hearing him say 'I want to die with this woman loving me,' I mean, I don't know anything more romantic than that, but it's like - not even romantic, that's you know, at a much deeper level. And so everybody's heard about this wild sex life you all supposedly have. Is it as wild and wonderful as we hear, because...

TRUDIE: Oh, yeah.

OPRAH: ...we can't even imagine. OK. I know that there are all kinds of other wonderful things going on and just hearing him say that 'I want to die with this woman loving me,' you know that there's a whole lot more to it than sex, but we do want to talk about the sex, OK?

TRUDIE: Yes. We don't want to talk about the dying with each other. We'll just fast-forward to the sex, shall we?

OPRAH: No, what is tantric - you've been known for something called tantric sex. What is that?

STING: Well, it's been said that we make love for eight hours.

OPRAH: Yeah. It's been said.

TRUDIE: Five, I think.

STING: Was it?

TRUDIE: Let's not get carried away.

STING: I know eight. Eight.

OPRAH: No, eight, eight. I read eight.

STING: But it's not just having sex for eight hours. I mean, that would be ridiculous. No, there are deeper levels of connection you can have. You...

TRUDIE: Well, I'll handle this one.


TRUDIE: You've got us into enough trouble in the past over this.


TRUDIE: He's right. It's not five hours or seven hours of sex. It's five or six or seven hours of lovemaking. Now lovemaking to me is like a renewal of ourselves. So he'll maybe run a bath for me, and we'll have beautiful - the bathroom will be set with candles and essential oils and then he'll give me a massage.Then we'll look at each other in the eyes for a very long time, because don't forget, he travels a lot. He's away a lot. So when we come together, it's really a renewal of the day that we started our love affair. And I feel that very much. And so the connection that we have, the beingness that we have from being together, is as important as the sex act. So making love can go on for hours because we can be kissing each other still, after all these years, for hours. I love him still kissing me, and so I...

OPRAH: I'm getting just a little tingly hearing about it.

STING: So am I.

TRUDIE: Me, too.

OPRAH: No, no, really. I think, you know, something you said is really key, because over the years, I've watched couples like on this show and back a couple years ago when Phil was on, there are so many people who never look each other in the eye. They don't look each other in the eye. So you all make a conscious effort to do that, where you're just spending time looking into each other's eyes.

TRUDIE: To get out of the mind, to drop down into the heart space and be in each other's space. Yeah.

OPRAH: And so that's the first hour. We got seven hours to go.

TRUDIE: OK. So where were we?

STING: Then there's the movie, and the dinner.

TRUDIE: Were we kissing each other when I left off?

OPRAH: Yeah, you were kissing each other.


OPRAH: So you still kiss a lot.

TRUDIE: Oh, for hours, yes.

OPRAH: You kiss for hours.

TRUDIE: We make out for hours in all the rooms in the house.

OPRAH: You do.

TRUDIE: Yeah. Many hours.

OPRAH: And where are the children?

STING: Running away.

TRUDIE: Oh, they're shouting, 'Oh, get a room!'

OPRAH: Yeah, really. OK. So you make out for hours still. That is amazing, after 23 years.

TRUDIE: Yeah, he's a great kisser.

OPRAH: I bet he is. I bet he is. And so what is the greatest thing about being together? I know I love that line, I'll be quoting you for a long time, about I want to grow old with this woman loving me. But what is the greatest thing?

TRUDIE: It's really being together, just in like the one space that you connect with. And what's happening is that as we're both getting older - Sting's 52 and I'm 49 - and you look ahead and you see sort of less years ahead than you've had behind, so you want to expand time in a sense, so the moment really counts. And so I've stopped sort of projecting I used to get very angry about him being away so much and, you know, leaving me and the kids and complaining a lot. And now I've realized that I'm never going to change him. He is a consummate musician, and...

OPRAH: And a workaholic, are you not?

TRUDIE: Yeah, he is. But the world needs and loves his music and I've realized that.

OPRAH: Sting is here, and his beautiful wife, Trudie. They have eight homes around the world. Is eight too many, really? I ask that because I think it's hard to get to eight?

STING: I never thought I'd own any homes. I always thought I'd be living on floors. But I've spent so much of my life in hotels, 25 years in hotels, that to have a home in Los Angeles, and a home in New York, and a home in London, a home in Italy, means we can base out of there. We use the homes. It's not as if we don't use them.

OPRAH: OK. So then do you have to manage your time so you can actually even get to them all?

TRUDIE: Oh, I'm very unfussed about them really. They're just buildings, and they house people. I mean, he travels so much, when I had two kiddies in quick succession, rather than us being in hotels with him, I persuaded Sting to buy a home in New York and LA because he was always there. And then for me, Italy has been - I gave birth in Italy to our daughter, Coco, and so one day I want it to be her home if she chooses to go and spend some time there. So that's how it kind of evolved. And we're citizens of the world, you know. We like to travel a lot and to be in other countries. I don't feel that I'm just English or British. I feel that I'm just part of the world.

OPRAH: A citizen of the world. The other day we caught up with Sting and Trudie at their New York duplex. Take a look.

Video of Sting and Trudie at home...

STING: Good morning, Oprah.

TRUDIE: Good morning, Oprah. Well, we love New York City, and we'd like to show you a little bit of our apartment, so come through.

STING: This is how we spend most mornings. We were both athletes when we were young, and we can do things with our bodies now that we couldn't when we were 18. It's inspiring to watch her work. We're kind of competitive as well. You're not supposed to be, but we are.

TRUDIE: We don't get to have breakfast together very often. We have such busy schedules, and that tends to keep us apart. We drink carrot and apple juice, and it's a very good combination.

STING: This is far too healthy. I love coffee, I love ice cream and chocolate.

This is our rogues' gallery of snapshots that have been taken over...

TRUDIE: Twenty years.

STING: ...20 years.

TRUDIE: This is our honeymoon. We took our kids on our honeymoon. You and Bruce¬Ö

STING: That's me and the Boss.

TRUDIE: Let's show Oprah some pictures of the kids, because they're not here, sadly, so we've just got pictures of them. So here they are. Help me out with order of age, so Joe, 26. He has his own band and he's on the road, and...

STING: Kate, 21. Just acted in a play in Los Angeles, her first professional role, was brilliant. Mickey...

TRUDIE: Nineteen...

STING: ...19...

TRUDIE: ...Jake...

STING: ...Jake, 18...

TRUDIE: ...18, Coco 13...

STING: ...Coco, 13, Giacomo, 7. He feels as if he has the right to the spotlight at all times, and when he sees his dad in the spotlight, he thinks that I'm not quite right so he wants to replace me.

TRUDIE: So these are Sting's birthday flowers that I sent him the other day before I flew in and surprised him.

STING: One hundred red roses. I've counted them. So this is our library room in New York. Something about this room is very safe and comfortable. Thanks for coming, and I hope you enjoyed it.


STING: Come back any time.

Back in the studio...

OPRAH: Thanks, Sting and Trudie. Thank you. Thanks for letting us in. So we read that you fixed up Guy and Madonna.

TRUDIE: I did actually.

OPRAH: Tell us about that.

TRUDIE: Well, I produced Guy's film 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' that hadn't been released, and I've known Madonna for a long time, and I like her very much. We practice yoga together and all that stuff, and she was between boyfriends. And I said to her, 'Why don't you come and see this film that I've produced?' So she did, you know. And then I had this sort of little idea that they would be very good together, because Guy needs a little bit of straightening out, you know. He's a big tough boy and just needs some boundaries, and there's no one better than her to give someone their boundaries. And she at the same time needs somebody who's very confident and I just thought they would be good together. So I invited them both to lunch at our house, and, hey, presto, it seems to have worked.

OPRAH: Is there anything better than being a rock-star legend? I mean, is there anything?

STING: Frankly, yes.

OPRAH: There is?

STING: She's saying 'being Oprah.'

OPRAH: That's good. That's good. That's eloquent. No, but I just love being me now. If I had to come back, I would come back as myself. But I'm just thinking, you know, to be on stage, first to see you perform - there's the audience and then you get the immediate gratification and you're singing and it's your voice in the world, where I think on some level, even those of us who don't sing and don't have a television show, most people just want to be heard, to have a voice in the world, so to be up on a stage whether it's, you know, in Rio, you know, with thousands. What was it, 80,000 people that...

STING: No, 250,000.

OPRAH: Two hundred and fifty thousand people -pardon me -250,000 people, or singing at the Super Bowl where there are millions of people around the world hearing you, your voice is being heard. I can't imagine anything...

STING: It's an odd feeling for me. I'm a quite shy person. I'm quite introverted, so to walk out in front of 250,000 people who are all pleased to see you is amazing. It's like why? Why me?

OPRAH: They like you.

STING: They like me. But it's a fantastic feeling. But just before you go on, you're in this dark room, you walk through the door and it's like being reborn every time. It's a very hard thing to explain and also it would be a hard thing to give up, I would imagine.

OPRAH: Well, how do you write your music? For example, we're going to hear 'Send Your Love'. I love the lyrics to that song so much. You say 'Finding the world the smallness of a grain of sand and holding infinities in the palm of your hand, and heaven's realms in the seedlings of this tiny flower and eternities in the space of a single hour. Send your love into the future, send your love into the distant dawn. This ain't no' - this is my favourite stanza - 'This ain't no time for doubting your power. This ain't no time for hiding your care. You're climbing down from an ivory tower. You've got a stake in the world, we ought to share. This is the time for the worlds colliding. This is the time of kingdoms falling. This is the time of worlds dividing. Time to heed your call.'

Now what were you thinking when you wrote that? You just thought you'd just sit up - it's like an anthem for - to me it's like an anthem for personal movement in the world.

STING: I think the world is in crisis. I don't think we should pretend that it isn't, but I think it's an opportunity for us all to evolve, for us all to take responsibility for the world we have and actually play a part in making it better. I think the world is made better incrementally by small gestures, you know, an affectionate gesture, a kiss, a hug or act of kindness, an act of generosity. Equally, you can make the world a negative place that it can be by small acts of meanness and greed and unkindness. So I believe we are responsible for making the world.

OPRAH: Yeah, and you also talk in the song about what is your real religion and Mariane Pearl, whose husband, Daniel Pearl, was murdered by the terrorists, asks in her book, on the morning that her husband died, she asked him, 'What is your true religion? I don't mean the religion of your parents, but what is your true religion?' And he answered, 'Truth and integrity.' So what is your true religion?

STING: Well, religion is an interesting word. It comes from Latin. It means to reconnect, reconnect with the world of the spirit, and there are many ways to reconnect with the world of the spirit, not just by going to church or praying. You can reconnect through music. You can reconnect through the woman you love or the man you love, and these are my roots to the sacred. And so this record is really about approaching the sacred through very normal things.

OPRAH: You say sex and music, the only religion. Dancing and...

STING: Everything.

OPRAH: Thank you so much, Sting.

STING: Thank you, Oprah.

© Oprah


Oct 6, 2003

It's Sting thing - Rocker hopes his 'love' will heal wounds: New York is a couple of years past Sept. 11, 2001, but that grim day still haunts rock icon Sting - so much so that it spurred him to return to writing much sooner than he'd planned. The prolific songwriter turns his talents to two new efforts - a record, 'Sacred Love', released last week, and his autobiography, 'Broken Music', to be published by Simon & Schuster next month...

Oct 4, 2003

The man who would be Sting: He's handsome. He's talented. He's rich. Perhaps it's no wonder so many people love to hate him. Is it time to think again? Because I asked him to, Sting is talking me through his jewellery. The wide silver cuff on his right wrist was a gift from a yogi. It features an inscription in Sanskrit: "I bow to thee Lord Shiva" - Shiva being the deity of yoga. The thinner bracelet on his left wrist was given to him on a recent trip to Tibet. "Actually I was in a part of Nepal," he clarifies, "so politically it wasn't Tibet, but culturally it was..."