He owns a palazzo in Tuscany and homes in London, New York, Malibu and the Caribbean – not bad for the son of a milkman. Sting, one-time teacher turned rock god, talks to Susan Chenery about vanity, Trudie and what makes him tick.
When Sting opens the door he has just woken from a deep sleep. His hair is standing up and he is sort of half awake and blurry. It is a strangely intimate moment. In his sleepiness, which lasts for quite a while, he is vulnerable, defenceless, an ordinarily tired man. It might interest you to know that Sting wakes up “chuckly” and sort of cuddly.
He calls me “love” and “darling” and for a brief and shining moment, I get an idea of what it might be like to be Mrs Sting, his wife, Trudie Styler.
From the vast balcony of his luxurious hotel, the landmarks of Rome are lit up far below. In the November gloom, the sky is low, mean and troubled. Sting, 59, loves the northern winter, where everything turns inwards against the insistent cold. “I enjoy that, it is clearer, the air is clearer,” he says. “I like to put a fire on, I like the cold. I look forward to the winter, I like weather like this. It is stimulating, it is creative.”
Shades here of the King Of Pain, whose melancholy mind informed the lyrics of many Police songs of the ’70s and ’80s.
Leaning against a chair is a lute on which he plays Bach every day.
“It is sort of a daily exercise that stands me in good stead,” he says. “I mean, people wouldn’t want to pay money to hear me play Bach. I am not under any illusions about that. For me, it is a kind of spiritual exercise.”
In the days leading up to this interview, I was astonished at how many Sting/The Police songs I heard in an average day – in bars, cafes and shops – explaining easily why he is one of the highest paid musicians in the world. We all want to “walk in fields of gold”, with someone we love and might grow old with.
“I like the idea that they are touchstones for people and their memories,” says Sting. “I would never contradict anyone who said, ‘Oh, this song means this to me.’ Of course, it does, though it may mean something totally different to me. And I always manage to find something new in the songs that takes my interest.”
Read more of this story in the January issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.