Sting: How I started writing songs again


(Music) ♪ It’s all there in gospels ♪ ♪A Magdalene girl comes to pay her respects ♪ ♪ But her mind is awhirl ♪ ♪ When she finds the tomb empty ♪ ♪ Straw had been rolled ♪ ♪ Not a sign of a corpse ♪ ♪ In the dark and the cold ♪ ♪ When she reaches the door ♪ ♪ Sees an unholy sight ♪ ♪ There’s a solitary figure and a halo of light ♪ ♪ He just carries on floating past Calvary Hill ♪ ♪ In an Almighty hurry ♪ ♪ Aye, but she might catch him still ♪ ♪ Tell me where are you gone, Lord ♪ ♪ And why in such haste? ♪ ♪ Oh don’t hinder me, woman ♪ ♪ I’ve no time to waste ♪ ♪ For they’re launching a boat
on the morrow at noon ♪ ♪ And I have to be there before daybreak ♪ ♪ Oh I cannot be missing ♪ ♪ The lads’ll expect me ♪ ♪ Why else would the Good
Lord Himself resurrect me? ♪ ♪ For nothing’ll stop me. I have to prevail ♪ ♪ Through the teeth of this tempest ♪ ♪ In the mouth of a gale ♪ ♪ May the angels protect me ♪ ♪ If all else should fail ♪ ♪ And the last ship sails ♪ ♪ Oh the roar of the chains ♪ ♪ And the cracking of timbers ♪ ♪ The noise at the end of the world in your ears ♪ ♪ As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea ♪ ♪ And the last ship sails ♪ So I was born and raised in the shadow of a shipyard in a little town on the northeast coast of England. Some of my earliest memories are of giant ships blocking the end of my street, as well as the sun, for a lot of the year. Every morning as a child, I’d watch thousands of men walk down that hill to work in the shipyard. I’d watch those same men walking back home every night. It has to be said, the shipyard was not the most pleasant place to live next door to, or indeed work in. The shipyard was noisy, dangerous, highly toxic, with an appalling health and safety record. Despite that, the men and women who worked on those ships were extraordinarily proud of the work they did, and justifiably so. Some of the largest vessels ever constructed on planet Earth were built right at the end of my street. My grandfather had been a shipwright, and as a child, as there were few other jobs in the town, I would wonder with some anxiety whether that would be my destiny too. I was fairly determined that it wouldn’t be. I had other dreams, not necessarily practical ones, but at the age of eight, I was bequeathed a guitar. It was a battered old thing with five rusty strings, and was out of tune, but quickly I learned to play it and realized that I’d found a friend for life, an accomplice, a co-conspirator in my plan to escape from this surreal industrial landscape. Well, they say if you dream something hard enough, it will come to pass. Either that, or I was extremely lucky, but this was my dream. I dreamt I would leave this town, and just like those ships, once they were launched, I’d never come back. I dreamt I’d become a writer of songs, that I would sing those songs to vast numbers of people all over the world, that I would be paid extravagant amounts of money, that I’d become famous, that I’d marry a beautiful woman, have children, raise a family, buy a big house in the country, keep dogs, grow wine, have rooms full of Grammy Awards, platinum discs, and what have you. So far, so good, right? (Laughter) And then one day, the songs stopped coming, and while you’ve suffered from periods of writer’s block before, albeit briefly, this is something chronic. Day after day, you face a blank page, and nothing’s coming. And those days turned to
weeks, and weeks to months, and pretty soon those months have turned into years with very little to show for your efforts. No songs. So you start asking yourself questions. What have I done to offend the gods that they would abandon me so? Is the gift of songwriting taken away as easily as it seems to have been bestowed? Or perhaps there’s a more — a deeper psychological reason. It was always a Faustian pact anyway. You’re rewarded for revealing your innermost thoughts, your private emotions on the page for the entertainment of others, for the analysis, the scrutiny of others, and perhaps you’ve given enough of your privacy away. And yet, if you look at your work, could it be argued that your best work wasn’t about you at all, it was about somebody else? Did your best work occur when you sidestepped your own ego and you stopped telling your story, but told someone else’s story, someone perhaps without a voice, where empathetically, you stood in his shoes for a while or saw the world through his eyes? Well they say, write what you know. If you can’t write about yourself anymore, then who do you write about? So it’s ironic that the landscape I’d worked so hard to escape from, and the community that I’d more or less abandoned and exiled myself from should be the very landscape, the very community I would have to return to to find my missing muse. And as soon as I did that, as soon as I decided to honor the community I came from and tell their story, that the songs started to come thick and fast. I’ve described it as a kind of projectile vomiting, a torrent of ideas, of characters, of voices, of verses, couplets, entire songs almost formed whole, materialized in front of me as if they’d been bottled up inside me for many, many years. One of the first things I wrote was just a list of names of people I’d known, and they become characters in a kind of three-dimensional drama, where they explain who they are, what they do, their hopes and their fears for the future. This is Jackie White. He’s the foreman of the shipyard. My name is Jackie White, and I’m foreman of the yard, and you don’t mess with Jackie on this quayside. I’m as hard as iron plate, woe betide you if you’re late when we have to push a boat out on the spring tide. Now you can die and hope for heaven, but you need to work your shift, and I’d expect you all to back us to the hilt, for if St. Peter at his gate were to ask you why you’re late, why, you tell him that you had to get a ship built. We build battleships and cruisers for Her Majesty the Queen, supertankers for Onassis,
and all the classes in between, We built the greatest ship in tonnage what the world has ever seen ♪ And the only life worth knowing is in the shipyard ♪ ♪ Steel in the stockyard, iron in the soul ♪ ♪ Would conjure up a ship ♪ ♪ Where there used to be a hull ♪ ♪ And we don’t know what we’ll do ♪ ♪ If this yard gets sold ♪ ♪ For the only life worth knowing is in the shipyard ♪ (Applause) So having decided to write about other people instead of myself, a further irony is that sometimes you reveal more about yourself than you’d ever intended. This song is called “Dead Man’s Boots,” which is an expression which describes how difficult it is to get a job; in other words, you’d only get a job in the shipyard if somebody else died. Or perhaps your father could finagle you an apprenticeship at the age of 15. But sometimes a father’s love can be misconstrued as controlling, and conversely, the scope of his son’s ambition can seem like some pie-in-the-sky fantasy. (Music) ♪ You see these work boots in my hands ♪ ♪ They’ll probably fit you now, my son ♪ ♪ Take them, they’re a gift from me ♪ ♪ Why don’t you try them on? ♪ ♪ It would do your old man good to see ♪ ♪ You walking in these boots one day ♪ ♪ And take your place among the men ♪ ♪ Who work upon the slipway ♪ ♪ These dead man’s boots,
though they’re old and curled ♪ ♪ When a fellow needs a job and a place in the world ♪ ♪ And it’s time for a man to put down roots ♪ ♪ And walk to the river in his old man’s boots ♪ ♪ He said, “I’m dying, son, and asking ♪ ♪ That you do one final thing for me ♪ ♪ You’re barely but a sapling,
and you think that you’re a tree ♪ ♪ If you need a seed to prosper ♪ ♪ You must first put down some roots ♪ ♪ Just one foot then the other in ♪ ♪ These dead man’s boots” ♪ ♪ These dead man’s boots,
though they’re old and curled ♪ ♪ When a fellow needs a job and a place in the world ♪ ♪ And it’s time for a man to put down roots ♪ ♪ And walk to the river in his old man’s boots ♪ ♪ I said, “Why in the hell would I do that? ♪ ♪ Why would I agree?” ♪ ♪ When his hand was all that I’d received ♪ ♪ As far as I remember ♪ ♪ It’s not as if he’d spoiled me with his kindness ♪ ♪ Up to then, you see ♪ ♪ I’d a plan of my own and I’d quit this place ♪ ♪ When I came of age September ♪ ♪ These dead man’s boots
know their way down the hill ♪ ♪ They could walk there themselves,
and they probably will ♪ ♪ I’ve plenty of choices, I’ve plenty other routes ♪ ♪ And you’ll never see me walking
in these dead man’s boots ♪ ♪ What was it made him think ♪ ♪ I’d be happy ending up like him ♪ ♪ When he’d hardly got two halfpennies left ♪ ♪ Or a broken pot to piss in? ♪ ♪ He wanted this same thing for me ♪ ♪ Was that his final wish? ♪ ♪ He said, “What the hell are you gonna do?” ♪ ♪ I said, “Anything but this!” ♪ ♪ These dead man’s boots
know their way down the hill ♪ ♪ They can walk there themselves
and they probably will ♪ ♪ But they won’t walk with me
‘cause I’m off the other way ♪ ♪ I’ve had it up to here, I’m gonna have my say ♪ ♪ When all you’ve got left is that cross on the wall ♪ ♪ I want nothing from you, I want nothing at all ♪ ♪ Not a pension, nor a pittance,
when your whole life is through ♪ ♪ Get this through your head, I’m nothing like you ♪ ♪ I’m done with all the arguments,
there’ll be no more disputes ♪ ♪ And you’ll die before you see
me in your dead man’s boots ♪ (Applause) Thank you. So whenever they’d launch a big ship, they would invite some dignitary up from London on the train to make a speech, break a bottle of champagne over the bows, launch it down the slipway into the river and out to sea. Occasionally on a really important ship, they’d get a member of the royal family to come, Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne or somebody. And you have to remember, it wasn’t that long ago that the royal family in England were considered to have magical healing powers. Sick children were held up in crowds to try and touch the cloak of the king or the queen to cure them of some terrible disease. It wasn’t like that in my day,
but we still got very excited. So it’s a launch day, it’s a Saturday, and my mother has dressed
me up in my Sunday best. I’m not very happy with her. All the kids are out in the street, and we have little Union Jacks to wave, and at the top of the hill, there’s a motorcycle cortege appears. In the middle of the motorcycles, there’s a big, black Rolls-Royce. Inside the Rolls-Royce is the Queen Mother. This is a big deal. So the procession is moving at a stately pace down my street, and as it approaches my house, I start to wave my flag vigorously, and there is the Queen Mother. I see her, and she seems to see me. She acknowledges me. She waves, and she smiles. And I wave my flag even more vigorously. We’re having a moment, me and the Queen Mother. She’s acknowledged me. And then she’s gone. Well, I wasn’t cured of anything. It was the opposite, actually. I was infected. I was infected with an idea. I don’t belong in this street. I don’t want to live in that house. I don’t want to end up in that shipyard. I want to be in that car. (Laughter) I want a bigger life. I want a life beyond this town. I want a life that’s out of the ordinary. It’s my right. It’s my right as much as hers. And so here I am at TED, I suppose to tell that story, and I think it’s appropriate to say the obvious that there’s a symbiotic and intrinsic link between storytelling and community, between community and art, between community and science and technology, between community and economics. It’s my belief that abstract economic theory that denies the needs of community or denies the contribution that community makes to economy is shortsighted, cruel and untenable. (Applause) The fact is, whether you’re a rock star or whether you’re a welder in a shipyard, or a tribesman in the upper Amazon, or the queen of England, at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. ♪ Aye, the footmen are frantic in their indignation ♪ ♪ You see the queen’s took
a taxi herself to the station ♪ ♪ Where the porters, surprised
by her lack of royal baggage ♪ ♪ Bustle her and three corgis
to the rear of the carriage ♪ ♪ For the train it is crammed
with all Europe’s nobility ♪ ♪ And there’s none of them
famous for their compatibility ♪ ♪ There’s a fight over seats ♪ ♪ “I beg pardon, Your Grace ♪ ♪ But you’ll find that one’s mine,
so get back in your place!” ♪ ♪ “Aye, but where are they going?” ♪ ♪ All the porters debate ♪ ♪ “Why they’re going to Newcastle
and they daren’t be late ♪ ♪ For they’re launching a boat
on the Tyne at high tide ♪ ♪ And they’ve come from all over,
from far and from wide” ♪ ♪ There’s the old Dalai Lama ♪ ♪ And the pontiff of Rome ♪ ♪ Every palace in Europe, and
there’s nay bugger home ♪ ♪ There’s the Duchess of Cornwall
and the loyal Prince of Wales ♪ ♪ Looking crushed and uncomfortable
in his top hat and tails ♪ ♪ Well, they haven’t got tickets ♪ ♪ Come now, it’s just a detail ♪ ♪ There was no time to purchase
and one simply has to prevail ♪ ♪ For we’ll get to the shipyards
or we’ll end up in jail! ♪ ♪ When the last ship sails ♪ ♪ Oh the roar of the chains ♪ ♪ And the cracking of timbers ♪ ♪ The noise at the end of the world in your ears ♪ ♪ As a mountain of steel
makes its way to the sea ♪ ♪ And the last ship sails ♪ ♪ And whatever you’d promised ♪ ♪ Whatever you’ve done ♪ ♪ And whatever the station in life you’ve become ♪ ♪ In the name of the Father,
in the name of the Son ♪ ♪ And no matter the weave of
this life that you’ve spun ♪ ♪ On the Earth or in Heaven or under the Sun ♪ ♪ When the last ship sails ♪ ♪ Oh the roar of the chains ♪ ♪ And the cracking of timbers ♪ ♪ The noise at the end of the world in your ears ♪ ♪ As a mountain of steel
makes its way to the sea ♪ ♪ And the last ship sails ♪ Thanks very much for listening to my song. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you. Okay, you have to join in if you know it. (Music) (Applause) ♪ Just a castaway ♪ ♪ An island lost at sea, oh ♪ ♪ Another lonely day ♪ ♪ With no one here but me, oh ♪ ♪ More loneliness than any man could bear ♪ ♪ Rescue me before I fall into despair ♪ ♪ I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world ♪ ♪ I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ A year has passed since I wrote my note ♪ ♪ I should have known this right from the start ♪ ♪ Only hope can keep me together ♪ ♪ Love can mend your life ♪ ♪ but love can break your heart ♪ ♪ I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world ♪ ♪ I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Walked out this morning ♪ ♪ I don’t believe what I saw ♪ ♪ A hundred billion bottles ♪ ♪ Washed up on the shore ♪ ♪ Seems I’m not alone in being alone ♪ ♪ A hundred billion castaways ♪ ♪ Looking for a home ♪ ♪ I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world ♪ ♪ I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ I hope that someone gets my ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ ♪ Message in a bottle ♪ So I’m going to ask you to sing after me, okay, the next part. It’s very easy. Sing in unison. Here we go. ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Come on now. Audience: ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Sting: ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Audience: ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Sting: ♪ I’m sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Audience: ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Sting: ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Audience: ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ Sting: ♪ Sending out ♪ ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ ♪ Sending out an S.O.S. ♪ ♪ Yoooooooo ♪ Thank you, TED. Goodnight. (Applause)

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100 thoughts on “Sting: How I started writing songs again”

  1. Nathan Duke says:

    Me: Stung.

  2. Zatocrew says:

    15:00 as an economist, those 12 seconds were unnecessary.

  3. Anast Kats says:

    Does anyone knows what kind of guitars does he uses? brand? model?…I mean.. they look like martins… but certainly smaller size than O guitars

  4. William Suicide says:

    Jesus… Dead man's shoes hit me in the spine! Saw him this week, blew my mind apart.

  5. Adrian Hull - Mountain Zoon says:

    True artist, has always been inspiring. Thanks for this.

  6. kuldar86 says:

    Amazing speech, I just love Sting!

  7. Roy Howard says: BEST HAVA NAGILA

  8. antigen4 says:

    Sometimes one shouldn’t if it has to be forced … just saying

  9. Elly Winterquist says:

    Fantastic!!!!, I loved this little taste of his concert!! I loved his story on how he overcame his writers block. It's like you don't want to do what your parents done, as work was so hard, but what you wanted to get away from is what got you out of that being stuck on writing songs. I don't know if that makes any sense or not. Oh well I loved this video!!!!!!

  10. Mike M. says:

    Everytime I hear stong with that guitar, I barely can hear the guitar. Damn

  11. Sosang Lkr says:

    Someone should make a movie on him.

  12. Eric Sandoval says:

    Stewart Copeland needs to do a TedTalks. He is infinitely entertaining lol

  13. Jon-Nolan Music says:

    The performance just moved me speak-less. Well done sir!

  14. David Andrews says:

    Sting, the folk singer. 👍👍👍

  15. DJ Gels says:

    What an ego maniacal loon…

  16. Anthony Hall says:

    Sting has written some truly fantastic songs… Many years ago. He was once in danger of becoming Bono, but he has proper talent so never did.

  17. networkdeath1 says:

    99.999% of the commenters disparaging this icon are fat, can’t carry a tune and couldn’t write a decent lyric to save their cretinous lives.

  18. Phase says:

    Whey aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaye!

  19. Noctumus says:

    What an extraordinary human being!

  20. MissTwix says:

    He knows how to tell a story, he does

  21. summyb says:

    I believe that this took more courage than any performance that Sting has ever done. I don't know about you, but I could feel him shaking in his boots, sharing his life in such a personal and vulnerable way. Absolutely beautiful. He's a human being, for God's sake. I can't fathom what life would be like to be under such scrutiny for every word spoken (or not spoken) in public.

  22. Jay Arsenault says:


  23. pata nack says:

    a get more bored for every song i hear, and i was a big fan…..

  24. Paul Summerside says:

    Its nice to hear singing sung in the natural accent and colloquialisms of the area he was born, a likely lad made good.
    I get a gentle ribbing when I fall into my natural North Eastern accent for certain songs with a certain amount of appreciation.

  25. Chijioke Onunkwo says:

    Man is as alive as ever.

    Sting still got the sting.

  26. Fee Johnson says:

    It was an absolute great talk show I learnt enough by just listening to wat Sting was saying n also the songs say do much thank you for sharing.

  27. Alan Scott says:

    He can't even sing in his own accent because he's denied his heritage most of his life, until it's convenient for him.

  28. hifive says:

    Does anyone know what guitars is he using? They are absolutely lovely.

  29. Neo says:

    What strucks me the most is that nobody could sing along message in a bottle with him.. Like what were you even doing there?

  30. Lineke L says:

    The world needs Sting now more than ever, to tell the world about what is going on!

  31. Brüder Meyers says:

    Here something of Bahá'u'llah in the Hidden words (arabic 68):

    Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

  32. Martin Walsh says:

    This is what I've always liked about Sting, his lyrics are true/authentic, and tell a story.

  33. tome57a says:

    This is quite possibly the best TED "talk" ever recorded. I already loved Sting from his years in The Police and on his own, but to hear him go back to his roots and create such powerful songs from them – well, we are witnessing yet another aspect of his brilliance. Tell a compelling story, and people will listen. Put it to music, add your amazing voice to it, and you'll have the world at your feet.

  34. Zibbe Zabba says:

    That was a jolly nice tune about the ship sailing but why bash out message in a bottle?

  35. nickdryad says:

    He’s appropriating sea shanties like he appropriated Reggae. I grew up down the road from a lumber yard and my dad was a wharfie but that don’t make me who I am because I had a different path.

  36. Leon Wallace says:


  37. smitty werbanyeagurmanjackson says:

    My man lived on water 7

  38. kindface says:

    Sting is unquestionably a commercial success par excellence. Still, he goes out of his way to make his songs suck, decade by decade, in a vain attempt to be taken seriously, to grasp that elusive affirmation that he’s the genius he’s not. Incorrigibly conceited and pretentious.

  39. pinkyfloydyfan1 says:

    A fabulous variation of A message in a bottle. Sting is a great artist!

  40. Mark Roberts says:

    I thought I knew Sting a little… this is amazing.

  41. Daniel Sinclair says:

    The first two songs were whack but dead mans boots was pretty poignant

  42. Lyrics Logic And Lullabies says:

    He poetically and aptly puts words to many things about songwriting which elude many who listen to and even many who create songs. Kudos and gratitude

  43. CSMedia says:

    Just do what you do for the love and enjoyment, if anything comes of it, so be it, but that is not the point of doing it!

  44. Rebel Lemo Ermin says:

    That was pretty cool !!!

  45. brikrantz1 says:

    Does Mr. Sumner have a bit 'O Scot in his past? Has he ever bonded with Tony Iommi? Excellent to see him on stage again!

  46. Chris Pellegrino says:

    And he treats everyone to one of the best songs from The Police at the end that follows the ship theme…

  47. Pauline Follett says:

    A marvelous speaker. He is so talented and deserves his success.

  48. P. Nick Brunson says:

    He should have sent out an S.O.S.

  49. LaNisha Danielle says:


  50. Valentin Bonnarde says:

    Incredible sense of rhythm from this crowd

  51. linc thomas says:

    the man's still got it!!!

  52. Dino Pappous says:


  53. CollabArtists says:

    This is a beautiful story! Anyone know what kind of guitar that is in the beginning?

  54. andy pacino says:

    Whaddayamean, again?

  55. Doctor Mu says:

    Who cares? Sting should have recorded with the Police again after their 2007-2008 tour. Nothing of lasting interest since Brand New Day.

  56. Aleksandar Vrhovec says:

    how the f*ck can anyone press dislike on this!!

  57. Catherine S. Todd says:

    The Last Ship [lyrics]
    It's all there in the gospels, the Magdalene girl
    Comes to pay her respects, but her mind is awhirl
    When she finds the tomb empty, the stone had been rolled
    Not a sign of a corpse in the dark and the cold
    When she reaches the door, sees an unholy sight
    There's this solitary figure in a halo of light
    He just carries on floating past Calvary Hill
    In an almighty hurry, aye but she might catch him still
    "Tell me where are you going Lord, and why in such haste?"
    Now don't hinder me woman, I've no time to waste!
    For they're launching a boat on the morrow at noon
    And I have to be there before daybreak
    Oh, I can not be missing, the lads will expect me
    Why else would the good Lord himself resurrect me?
    For nothing will stop me, I have to prevail
    Through the teeth of this tempest, in the mouth of a gale
    May the angels protect me if all else should fail

    And the last ship sails

    [Verse 2]
    Oh, the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers
    The noise at the end of the world in your ears
    As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea

    And the last ship sails

    [Verse 3]
    It's a strange kind of beauty
    It's cold and austere
    And whatever it was that you've done to be here
    It's the sum of your hopes, your despairs and your fears

    And the last ship sails

    [Verse 4]
    Well the first to arrive saw these signs in the east
    Like that strange moving finger at Balthazar's Feast
    Where they asked the advice of some wandering priest
    And the sad ghosts of men whom they'd thought long deceased
    And whatever got said, they'd be counted at least

    And the last ship sails

    [Verse 5]
    Oh, the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers
    The noise at the end of the world in your ears
    As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea
    And the last ship sails
    And whatever you'd promised, whatever you've done
    And whatever the station in life you've become
    In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son
    And whatever the weave of this life that you've spun
    On the Earth or in Heaven or under the Sun

    And the last ship sails

  58. Chuck Itall says:

    He does not struggle for anything in this life except that bizzar longing has never left..
    No matter what fame and fortune comes ,
    can it ever satisfy that existential longing that seems to be the very nature of existence.
    My only sadness in all his brilliance is his decision to ignore the cultural boycott of israeli apartheid and abuse of the palestinians.
    How some people can be such visionaries and yet so incredibly blind is shocking.
    but i guess when you have "arrived" in the status quo you have the privilege of ignoring the longings of people under the boots of real tyranny.

  59. Marcus says:

    The Last Ship musical was amazing, I saw it a few months ago at Mirvish in Toronto

  60. I S R A says:

    The thumbnail got me. I thought he’s the guy from Mr. Clean.

  61. Doug Tarnopol says:

    Sting is always intelligent and soulful–whether you like this or that song much or not. He's got a brain, a heart, and he's a real musician and lyricist. Kudos. I'm glad he got over the blockage. Very insightful and wise comments: something about returning to his childhood, maybe even more than the environment thereof, seems to be at work here. Impressive stuff; and I like the acting as well. He knows how to do that kind of thing, too. I like how Sting has always taken chances over his career–goddamn, good for him.

  62. Rich Rich says:

    A snot-nosed kid playing with slime gets 6 zillion views and this musical guru gets 700k. Something is surely Topsy turvy in this world.

  63. Dylan S says:

    This talk should be titled “Why I should only sing songs I wrote 40 years ago”

  64. Pepper daily says:

    Mr. clean is that you?

  65. Mark Crane says:

    What kind of guitar is that?

  66. Cheryl Holmes says:

    What a man Sing is… He is awesome to the core!

  67. WILDASLIFE NATURE FILMS: Simon Littlejohn says:

    So talented

  68. Jan Scott says:

    Sting surprised me with this. A lot of his earlier stuff seems contrived but commercial, full of ersatz poetry. This is not commercial. I love it when people surprise me.

  69. Kevin Messer says:

    As a young teen in the 80s, I was enamored with Sting. He was my idol and favorite musician. I even yelled out in class one day "Sting is king!". As the years went on, Sting became more and more political. I never liked when entertainers thought it was okay to turn so political, i.e. Sting, Bono, etc. i just preferred their music. I no longer had the same respect for him as i once did. However, he is an extraordinary musician and person. I'm sad to have lost the love i once had for him.

  70. The Light Warrior says:

    Nice. Sting is the greatest lyricist since Bob Dylan. Saw The Police about 4 times – what a time to be alive. Audience is a bunch of staid whiteys who won't sing. He had to command the audience. Problem w/ TED – audiences…

  71. Cycledelic 44 says:

    Consider your progressive anti-Christian virtue signalled Mr. Sting. Western civilization and Christian morality conceived and nurtured you but you adolescently spit in its fatherly face by defacing a gospel story that brings only hope. Your voice is but a clanging gong.

  72. Frank Stoeffler says:

    My Dad served in the U.S. Navy and most of our years as a family was in Mayport, Florida. Unlike Sting, I didn't have to look at a ship being built. I looked at 10 to 30 ships every day already built. Every week the base offered a tour of a ship in port. Over ten years, I toured them all along with British ships who still gave a daily allotment of Grog…lol I have toured ships most will never see like the USS Saratoga and USS Forrestal. (sp?) Aircraft carriers in WWII…. I don't look on ships as Sting does…yet, I understand his point of view. F. Gordon Stoeffler Jr.

  73. Antoinette Capasso says:


  74. Martin Liu says:

    No one sang along?

  75. William Richard says:

    Yawn yawn. Sting used to be exciting in the Police.

  76. Sonny Moon says:

    One of the best TED talks I ever saw and heard. Here are a couple other of my faves: …AND…

  77. Totalavulsion says:

    Samona stema stena stine hemo no hemo libo la polayl stabbe noba brand new day

  78. Frank Mccormick says:

    Went to the doctors last week with a sore bottom, hoping to get some cream, he said Ring sting? And i said why? What will he know?

  79. phil norris says:

    I got just as much emotion from these songs he wrote from anything else in stings career, you can tell he has found something dear to him to create music for so I'm happy for him.

  80. Dana Adalaide says:

    I feel you. Its just the fact your creation is pushed in another direction.

  81. Maurice Alcorn says:

    I'm probably not the only one who got a glimpse of what a musical stage production based around these songs, that community and maybe his life might look like. (by all means include "Message in a Bottle!"

  82. PokaDeJoka says:

    No one cares about how he started again, since we are 5 years after this video and still nothing new and substantial from him

  83. Kawakeb Astra says:

    Bravo Sting .. Heart touching is “dead man’s boots “ heartbreaking poetry ..had to turn his back on father & attachments to be free .. a heroic journey fm humble 💫birth to Rock Star ⭐️ to great Poet singer composer Bard 😎💛♥️🙏Thank U Sting Love U 💛Bravo✨

  84. Millennium Corp says:

    18:35 a raw and rustic version of ''Message In A Bottle''.

  85. Pete Hill says:

    Great exposure/PR for him

  86. Girl From Mars says:

    No matter how far you go away from your true you will always have to come back to the beginning to keep foward

  87. Mighty Mouse says:

    I respect very much what he’s doing on stage.

  88. callyharley says:

    I went into the shipyard on the banks of the River Mersey, Cammell Laird Ship Yard when I was 16 years old I enjoyed working there.

  89. Mighty Mouse says:

    This is actually genius performing.

  90. Mighty Mouse says:

    Gordon why would you play SOS with different tuning on the bass?

  91. Mighty Mouse says:

    Oh wait, now is ok-

  92. Mighty Mouse says:

    Oh, bc he had different tuning from the start- of course.

  93. robert rambaldi says:

    Sting celebrates all different styles of music from a place of love and respect for all music and people around the world. He is the artistic definition of ‘globalisation’.

  94. John Glen says:

    He is the best….end of story…he is a successfull artist and so what…he deserves it…he worked hard…thank him for sharing with us his story and success…thank you STING…Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner…

  95. Mike Greenwood says:

    Is that Paul McCartney sitting in front?

  96. Guisamopa 101 says:

    Omg he looks like Mr Clean with a guitar in the thumbnail

  97. coin blatter says:

    Something very pretentious and unlikeable about this guy. Can't put my finger on it. This just came across as an exercise in self indulgence. Some people got real problems. And to top it off the songs aren't any good.

  98. TewSlo says:

    Make him a Sea of Thieves character, thx.

  99. dj haven m says:

    I clicked on this hoping that I could better appreciate the work he did after leaving the Police, but I found more reasons to not like his solo work. I think he wrote more relatable songs with the Police, and they may have been less poetic and sophisticated, but they could just grab the listener in a way that I haven't seen since. I don't think it was just being part of an incredibly talented band like the Police–I think his Police songs also involved themes that a lot more of us could relate to.

  100. palmtemple says:

    Obscurity isn't just for famous musicians.
    For the man in the street, no one notices his obscurity,but we all become obscure at some point.

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