on 13 November 2003
Long awaited and full of expectation, this book is Sting taking you through his early memories, explaining and revealing much of himself along the way. It is everything you hope it to be in many ways: touching, often very insightful, beautifully written, and (as with the cameo for Miles Davis' album) full of entertaining and funny tales!
It's been Sting's misfortune that his honesty has often counted against him, but Broken Music shows just how much we should treasure that quality. I recommend this book for any and all who wish to understand the man behind the name, and why he is who he is.
on 24 January 2005
This engaging memoir comes from a natural storyteller, whose selection of discourse is first-rate. Each page becomes ever more engrosing as it gives an exquisitely detailed account of the singer songwritters life; from his childhood in Wallsend to his success in the police and beyond.
The lack of pictures in the book is more than made up for by his gifted use of prose, as he builds up visual images like a poet, as each page goes by.
This book extends well beyond the interest of a man's music alone. An essential read!
on 26 November 2003
Sting has been my favourite artiste for many years now, but nothing could have prepared me for his biography. It is beautifully written, on par with his lyrics. More importantly, it is brutally honest, both in his own frailties and his turbulent relationship with his parents. It does not deal with the giddy heights of his Police and solo careers, but with his memories of growing up and his struggle to make it as a musician. After reading the book, his songs took on even greater meaning to me. An excellent book for all, particularly those who 'dislike' him. He is human just like the rest of us.
on 13 December 2004
A beautifully crafted book where Sting searches his often bittersweet childhood and early years, to understand how he became the man he is today.
This book is proof, is any were needed, of his immense and formidable talent - not only as a singer-songwriter, but also as a writer.
Inclusion of photos would be the only change I would make to this excellent memoir.
on 10 October 2004
A really good book, not only can Sting write excellent songs, he knows how to write a book as well. He talks openly about his childhood and describes things very well, so the reader can really get involved. I found it difficult to put this book down!
on 25 January 2004
I asked my brother to buy me this book for Christmas after seeing Sting on Parkinson last year, even then when pressed by Parky you could see the emotion of the memories in his eyes. Reading the book brings those alive, I could read them and see them at the same time. Broken Music is so vividly and beautifully written; no less than you would expect from someone with the phenonmenal song-writing talent like Sting. A thoroughly enjoyable read, I couldn't put it down, and in fact I read it again straightaway, to take it all in. Parts of it are sad, some funny, all moving. I'm glad he chose to share it.
I am a fan of Sting's music, but not so great a fan as to see him live or join his fan club. So I come to this book with hopefully a little more objectivity. I was in my teens when he made his breakthrough with The Police, and I have always admired him for his intellectual and philosophical points of view as much as for the cleverness of his melodies and lyrics. What other 70s/80s pop-rock star would refer to Jungian psychology in their choice of album title? Having recently relistened to his music, I decided to read this autobiography to learn more about the man behind the music.
The book turned out to be a pleasant surprise, and Sting clearly could have been a writer if he had not become a musician. The title refers to the words his grandmother used to describe his pounding away as a child on the family's piano. "Without the piano as an outlet for my aggression, I may well have become delinquent, vandalizing bus shelters, stealing junk from Woolworth's, and other petty crimes. God knows I had the contacts."
The book is written throughout in an interesting mixture of tenses, whereby the past is always in the present. For instance, he tells us that, "I love walking to school", rather than he loved walking to school; or how "Mr McGough will teach us English literature"; or "It is Easter of 1962 ...". This brings a sense of immediacy to what he has to say about his past, as if he is reliving his life as he writes it down. In addition, he has a keen eye for detail and a definite felicity with words. As an example, I quote this paragraph (from page nineteen): -
"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."
Sting's literary bent is revealed in his passion for books that started at school. At home there was only the Bible and some engineering textbooks from his father's apprenticeship, "but soon books will become for me an acquisitive passion filling up rooms and rooms with their dusty and inert bodies ... I will never throw a book away," stacking them "like hunting trophies on makeshift shelves in my rooms", and revelling in remembrances of their contents and what was happening in his life at the time they were acquired or read.
Of course it was music rather than literature that would become the centre of Sting's life, and his account of his early years provides the basis for what would come later. "No school subject ever occupies as much as my time or energy [as playing the guitar]. I'm not claiming that any kind of prescience is at work here, but there is something in the driven and compulsive nature of this obsession that is unusual, something in the unconsciousness saying, `This is how you escape.' " It is a shame that his commitment to remaining in teaching was not as strong, for he clearly was viewed by both his superiors and the children he taught as a man who is loved for his work and has the ability to motivate.
From reading these memoirs, Sting exhibits some of the classic symptoms of being an Outsider: "Perhaps I should have made a living as a spy. I say this because in my life ... I would often feel that I was some kind of impostor, showing all the outward signs of conformity but ... inside, I simply didn't belong." In this regard, it is interesting to hear how he loses his fear when he sings, how this makes him feel invincible.
But the story he tells has its funny moments too, such as the delicate cucumber sandwiches his mother prepared for his lunchbox that Sting opened with acute embarrassment sat amongst his fellow construction workers. Or the amusing attempts to keep playing whilst on board a cruise ship in a heavy swell. He is often witty too with his characterisations: "Miles Axe Copeland III is the eldest of the Copeland brothers. Intimidating, intelligent, opinionated, and utterly serious, Miles had a reputation even then for being sharp, arrogant, and ruthless. I liked him immediately ..."
The story told over fifteen chapters and three-hundred-plus pages is honest and sometimes moving. The bulk of it covers the period up to when The Police would become phenomenally successful. One only hopes that at some point Sting will again find the time and the inclination to put pen to paper and tell us the story of his middle years, for on the evidence of this volume, not only will the tale be interesting, but the manner of its telling will again be worth the waiting.
Alas there are no illustrations beyond the young lad on the cover, and there is no index (which is really quite inexcusable).
on 23 June 2010
I was very impressed with this book and was very interested in everything having been a fan for a few years of Sting. This is a must have for any Sting fan where we get an insight to Sting and understanding of the man like with nothing ever before. Broken music is a book of memoirs, where instead of writing a biography of his whole life he has chosen to focus on important events of his life. He warns us about this on the sleeve note and although when he does talk about these important main events of his life they are really detailed and well spoken, with some things I wish he would have talked about more. I think quite a disappointment for me is that he only talks about the early days of The Police and how the band was created to the end of 1978. He then goes on to explain what had happened to the band in the next 5 years in his view. Then the next page talks about nine years passing since the break-up.
Sting is a fantastic writer and I'm sure is something that can be appreciated by many readers whether they have a keen interest in Sting or not. He is very good with language and he has a way of telling stories which captivated me and keeps you interested throughout. If you don't really know much about Sting as a person and are only aware of what you see in the media and the press then you're in for a shock but if you're a keener fan like myself then this book really takes you deeply into Sting the man, as well as the artist. I definitely enjoyed this book and would read it again and I've been let into a much deeper understanding of Sting as a person. I believe that if it had not focused on what he believed was important and had talked more about subjects which he seems to skim past it would have been even better. He tends to write incredibly detailed information on some events and then on others there is just not enough. Nevertheless it's a great book and well worth purchasing. Sting is an artist like no other and it certainly shows in this book.