Song of the Day #3,963: ‘Murder by Numbers’ – The Police

‘Murder by Numbers,’ the final track on The Police’s classic 1983 album Synchronicity, wasn’t originally intended for the album’s lineup. Indeed, it was left off of some LP releases of the album, though it appeared on cassette and CD.

The song started as the B-side of Synchronicity‘s most popular track, ‘Every Breath You Take.’

‘Murder by Numbers’ was co-written by guitarist Andy Summers, whose only other songwriting contribution on the album was ‘Mother,’ by far the record’s worst track. He did just fine here, though, coming up with a seductive jazz-pop arrangement.

Sting’s satirical lyrics lay out the advice of a serial killer on how best to dispatch of people, ultimately landing on the fact that the best way is to become a politician, allowing you to kill multitudes without raising a finger.

Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart missed the point and attacked the song as a product of “the sons of Satan.” Several years later, Swaggart was mired in a sex scandal after he was caught cavorting with prostitutes.

Once that you’ve decided on a killing
First you make a stone of your heart
And if you find that your hands are still willing
Then you can turn a murder into art

There really isn’t any need for bloodshed
You just do it with a little more finesse
If you can slip a tablet into someone’s coffee
Then it avoids an awful lot of mess

[Chorus]
It’s murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABC
Murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABC

Now if you have a taste for this experience
And you’re flushed with your very first success
Then you must try a twosome or a threesome
And you’ll find your conscience bothers you much less

Because murder is like anything you take to
It’s a habit-forming need for more and more
You can bump off every member of your family
And anybody else you find a bore

[Chorus]
Because it’s murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABC
Murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABC

Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious
In history’s great dark hall of fame
All our greatest killers were industrious
At least the ones that we all know by name

But you can reach the top of your profession
If you become the leader of the land
For murder is the sport of the elected
And you don’t need to lift a finger of your hand

[Chorus]
Because it’s murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABC
Murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABCDE

123
ABC
123
ABC
123
ABC

Murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABCDE
Murder by numbers, 1, 2, 3
It’s as easy to learn as your ABCDE

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,963: ‘Murder by Numbers’ – The Police

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I never had listened close enough to the last verse to catch the political reference. I’ve always been a fan of this song though. Not a fan of Swaggert though.😀

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