Song of the Day #957: ‘Englishman in New York’ – Sting

In the battle of the head vs. the gut, the gut always wins.

Something about Sting rubs me the wrong way. It’s not even something I can articulate, though Sting rubs a lot of people the wrong way and I could probably compile a list of reasons others have given. But those reasons wouldn’t necessarily ring true for me.

For example, here’s a guy who wrote a list of ‘101 Reasons to Hate Sting‘ and I disagree with most of them. For example, he claims Sting murdered Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing,’ while I think Sting’s version of that song is quite lovely.

I like a lot of Sting’s songs. Nothing Like the Sun and Ten Summoner’s Tales are two exceptional albums, and his other solo discs all have at least a couple of special songs apiece. His fusion of pop, rock and jazz is often sublime. I find today’s SOTD just about perfect.

That’s my head talking. But my gut tells me I just don’t like this guy. When I’m skimming my CD collection looking for CDs to play in the car, I skip right by his section. When I read his name in a magazine, I roll my eyes.

How about you, gentle readers? Can you name any artists you dislike for no apparent reason?

I don’t drink coffee I take tea my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I’m an Englishman in New York

See me walking down Fifth Avenue
A walking cane here at my side
I take it everywhere I walk
I’m an Englishman in New York

I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

If, “Manners maketh man” as someone said
Then he’s the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say

I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety
You could end up as the only one
Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society
At night a candle’s brighter than the sun

Takes more than combat gear to make a man
Takes more than a license for a gun
Confront your enemies, avoid them when you can
A gentleman will walk but never run

If, “Manners maketh man” as someone said
Then he’s the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say

I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

13 thoughts on “Song of the Day #957: ‘Englishman in New York’ – Sting

  1. Dana says:

    I understand on some level why you and others dislike Sting–he has that elitist literate persona that can be off putting, particularly in the rock and roll arena. Still, much the same can be said of Elvis Costello and David Byrne–artists you presumably don’t find annoying and don’t skip over in your CD collection. Perhaps it’s the combination of an elitist persona and sexy good looks that you find too much to handle?

    As for me, I generally lean toward really liking to loving much of what Sting does–it probably starts with the voice–but extends to truly wonderful song writing and a style of jazz pop for which I am a sucker.

    As for artists that annoy me, no surprise to those who know me that Bono sits right up there at the top. He has all the elitist trappings of Sting, but gains little upside with me when it comes to his music, which I find to be generally annoying and I also truly do not care for the man’s voice. Morrisey, of course, also annoys the crap out of me for similar reasons.

    More recently, I find myself truly annoyed by Lady Gaga, who I think has been way overrated by critics and the author of this blog:) You take an arrogant, aloof elitist attitude on a Madonna copycat and it spells a recipe for much contempt in my book.

  2. Kerrie Rueda says:

    I’m trying to think of an artist I dislike for no apparent reason. I guess Eminem is the most obvious, although I feel like I have plenty of reasons for disliking him (which I’ve mentioned in other blog posts).
    Okay, wait, I’ve got one – John Mayer. I end up liking a lot of his music, but I generally consider him a total tool. He has that self important air about him that drives me nuts and he’s nearly impossible to watch when he sings. I mean, why does he have to make those horrid faces? I think it’s all affectation – like Madonna’s British accent. 🙂
    I might come up with others, but what I really wanted to say is that I love this song – always have. 🙂

  3. Clay says:

    Bono is a good example… he’s very similar to Sting in that they’re both pretentious sex symbols who have managed to stay relevant over several decades. But I don’t have the same reaction to Bono that I do to Sting, for some reason.

    I wouldn’t classify Lady GaGa as elitist. She’s theatrical to a fault but her underlying message is empowerment for the underdogs. There’s a reason she’s a hero to somebody like Kurt on Glee… she’s a bullied freak who now sits on top of the world. And yes, she’s a Madonna copycat, no argument there.

  4. Clay says:

    Kerrie… John Mayer is a good example. I really like his music (particularly the album Continuum, which I find almost perfect) but he’s a complete ass outside the confines of a CD.

    I don’t know if the guitar faces are an affectation but they’re certainly off-putting. And the jackassery he’s displayed in interviews and on Twitter, etc. is unparalleled.

    That hasn’t kept me from enjoying his music, though.

  5. peg says:

    I tend to enjoy Sting’s music and his style. I like that he is eager to try new things like his move into classical music; so he is not someone who annoys me at all. As far as artists who bother me, probably anyone who does rap music would fit the bill and those loud huge voices like Celine Dion and I can’t stand Barry Manilow. But you’re talking about dislike for no apparent reason, aren’t you. I have to think about it and get back to you. Oh, and I love this song.

  6. Dana says:

    Kerrie, Mayer is a great example. He annoys the crap out of me, not just him, but a fair number of his songs. Say What You Mean to Say Say What You Mean to Say Say What You Mean to Say Say What You Mean to Say Say What You Mean to Say Say What You Mean to Say. THat song alone is reason to hate him (though there are others)

    As for Gaga, Clay, one can be arroganty and elitist even if she were bullied in the past or has a good message–I stand by my criticism. She’s an annoying toad.

  7. Clay says:

    I get you not liking her (though I’m still cloudy on your reasons) but I think “elitist” doesn’t really fit at all.

  8. Kerrie Rueda says:

    “Elitist” may not fit, but “annoying toad” is pretty damn funny!

  9. Jeanne Miller says:

    Dana, why don’t you say what you mean to say?
    Sting has never annoyed me. Not for a minute, so I offer no explanation, Clay. And every annoying artist that comes to mind brings several good reasons along with him. Country music on the whole annoys me. I try to listen but for any one song that I actually like, there are 20 others that I reject.

  10. Dana says:

    Ah, Jeanie, thank you for your comments on country music–I couldn’t agree more:)

  11. Amy says:

    Sorry I’m coming to this conversation a day late, but I must defend Sting’s honor. I have exactly the opposite reaction – I have a greater affection for this man than I can possibly explain (though it certainly can be traced back to attending his Dream of the Blue Turtle concert in Gainesville, many, many years ago – where he wore a white linen suit and a little blue turtle pin on his lapel. Heather and I were beside ourselves with joy!) Whether he’s performing in concert, the star of an artsy video, or just signing through my speakers, Sting always causes me to feel unbridled happiness 🙂

    Now… as for those artists who don’t…. I agree with Jeanne that I have reasons to go along with my dislike for most of them, but I would say that I have a greater than normal dislike for Fiona Apple. She annoys the hell out of me with her crazy intensity even when singing “You are my Sunshine” or some such equally bright tune. The fact that my niece is named after her tempers my dislike as much as the fact that his nephew was named after James Taylor tempers this blog host’s dismissal of that fine artist!

    I also am left cold by Bono (except when he’s introducing someone at the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame!) , John Mayer and David Byrne. Though I don’t hate any of them, I do actively avoid their music. OH! And that Coldplay dude who married Gwynnie (and agreed to name their children Moses and Apple!!!) I really hate him. Chris something or other – Blech!

    I guess that’s a pretty good start. But did I mention that I really, truly love Sting? Cause I do 🙂

  12. Clay says:

    It’s interesting that our dislikes are so consistently each other’s likes, isn’t it? I mean, there are few artists I adore more than Fiona Apple, just as you’re so enamored of Sting. David Byrne and Morrissey are other favorites of mine. I’m a fan of U2 and John Mayer (musically, at least, though I don’t care for the personalities).

    I’ve listed only Sting as one of my turn-off artists, so I’ll have to see if I have others who happen to be favorites of yours. I wouldn’t include James Taylor because I don’t dislike him at all… he just doesn’t move me much in any particular direction.

    I’ll add Madonna and Tori Amos to my list, though neither of them is among your favorites. Barbra Streisand… there you go! Perfect example.

    I do find it funny that you own all of Fiona Apple’s albums because I’ve given them to you as gifts. I wish you’d confessed your hatred sooner! I’ll expect Sting’s new lute album on my next birthday. 🙂

  13. Amy says:

    I don’t hate her voice or her songs, any more than you hate Sting’s. You’re not selling back Ten Summoner’s Tales or Nothing but the Sun, are you? Still, I’m sure I pass over the Apple albums, just as you pass over the Sting albums, largely because of my distaste for her as a person rather than for my appreciation, or lack thereof, for her her music.

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