Broken Music, by Sting
I can’t say that I was surprised b this book at all. I figured that if someone was going to write about their lack of certainty about mystical experiences and begin a memoir by talking about such a mystical experience found through a Brazilian drug, that Sting would be just the person to seek mystical insight from such an exotic source while simultaneously disclaiming to have had a mystical experience even in the process of recounting one. Likewise, if anyone is going to write a book that is called broken music but ends up being an immensely polished account of the first part of someone’s life, until they are just about to become famous, Sting is going to be that person. And if someone is going to set a complicated set of chronology about when they got involved with someone while they may possibly have been married to someone else, then Sting is your man too. This is not only not a surprising book but is exactly the sort of literate, complex narrative that I would expect to read about someone’s life and the sort of privation and domestic tragedies that gave Sting such a negative charisma and inspired his hard working efforts at becoming a famous musician.
This book is 331 pages, and it is quite striking that despite the length of the book that the author never gets into a huge amount of detail about his life as a famous person. It is perhaps true that the author is saving the interesting discussions of life as a famous musician for a later biography, and it is clear that the author reads what others have written about him–there are notes about the author correcting a story that someone had written in a previous book about him that he mostly praised. This story is a familiar one. Sting talks about the life of his parents and what led them together and led to their poisonous existence, as well as his siblings. He talks about his poverty and how his ambition and intellect gave him a ticket out of a rough neighborhood and alienated him from his far less well-educated parents, giving him a sense of culture and a hint of snobbery that shines through in his solo career especially. But here we see Sting as a grinder, going to school, training to be a teacher, working in musicals, touring and performing in all kinds of places to build up his skill all while looking for the main chance to get big in London. And by the time we finish this book, Sting is about to do it, and then it’s “to be continued…”
If this book is not surprising at all, it is by no means a bad book. This book does reveal the sort of information that helps one to understand more about the various issues that drive someone to be famous. A great many of the people who write memoirs about their careers as famous musicians indicate that they do not have any idea what else they would do for a living, and that their jobs in internal revenue or as teaching (as Sting worked in) are merely placeholders that allow for the successful pursuit of one’s desire to play music in the after-work hours. This seems to be a running commentary, so much so that one frequently reads about the life of musicians and their attempts to make it big while making a living first in books about other musicians. So it is that Sting talks about the people he worked with and his feelings about them and his apprenticeship as a bass guitarist with a lower profile than the lead guitar had, and it makes perfect sense. Sting is precisely the sort of man that one would expect, knowing his music, and whether that is a good thing or a bad thing must be left for the reader to judge.