This is a song by the English rock band the ‘Police’ from their album ‘Synchronicity’ (1983). Written by Sting, the single was the biggest US and UK hit of 1983, topping the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ singles chart for eight weeks (the band's only No. 1 hit on that chart), and the ‘UK Singles Chart’ for four weeks. It also topped the ‘Billboard Top Track’ for nine weeks.
At the ‘26th Annual Grammy Awards’ the song was nominated for three ‘Grammy Awards’, including ‘Song of The Year’, ‘Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals’ and ‘Record of the Year’; winning in the first two categories. For the song, Sting received the 1983 British Academy's ‘Ivor Novella Award’ for ‘Best Song Musically and Lyrically’.
The song is both the Police's and Sting's signature song and in 2010 was estimated to generate between a quarter and a third of Sting's music publishing income. In the 1983 Rolling Stone critics' and readers' poll, it was voted ‘Song of the Year’. In the US, it was the best-selling single of 1983 and fifth-best-selling single of the decade. Billboard Hot 100’ ranked it as the Number 1 song for 1983 The song ranked Number 84 on the Rolling Stone list of the ‘500 Greatest Sons of All Time’.
The background to the song provided reams of copy for the world’s press. Sting wrote the song in 1982 in the aftermath of his separation from Frances Tomelty and the beginning of his relationship with Trudie Tyler. Their split was controversial. As ‘The Independent’ reported in 2006, "The problem was, he was already married, to actress Frances Tomelty, who just happened to be Trudie's best friend (Sting and Frances lived next door to Trudie in Bayswater, West London, for several years before the two of them became lovers). The affair was widely condemned." In order to escape from the public eye, Sting retreated in the Caribbean. He started writing the song at Ian Fleming’s writing desk on the ‘Goldeneye Estate’ in Oracabessa, Jamaica. The lyrics are the words of a possessive lover who is watching "every breath you take; every move you make".
Sting later said of the song, “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realise at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of ‘Big Brother’, surveillance and control.”
As a fitting legacy, in 1999, ‘Every Breath You Take’ was listed as one of the ‘Top 100 Songs of the Century’ by BMI. In 2003, VH1 ranked the song the ‘Number 2 Greatest Break-up Song of All Time’. As of 2003, Sting was still taking in an average of $2000 per day in royalties for the then 20-year-old song.
I strongly suspect that when my son Adam was growing teenager, like many other teenagers of his day, many hours would have been spent in the privacy of his bedroom doing and getting up to all the things that teenagers get up to when they haven’t got the prying eyes of their parents on them. And if ever a parent deigns to enter their room (even after knocking on their door before they enter and not as they enter) the eyes of their untrusting child will always betray the words of their inner soul, “What are you wanting now. I’m almost 14 years old and you’re always watching me!”
When my son, Adam was growing up, he would play this song repeatedly in his bedroom; so much that initially, I got fed up of the song. I wasn’t sure at the time whether he just loved the song to bits or whether he was making the usual teenage protest to parents that all teenagers make as they accuse them of ‘always watching them’. Because it is a part of my own experience, I decided to learn this song that I have never sung before, and which I dedicate to my son Adam.
Love and peace Bill xxx