Sting wrote his moving, contemplative song "Russians" in the early 1980's. It was included in his award-winning album "Dream of the Blue Turtles" and was released in 1985, at a time when Ronald Reagan was president, and he and his administration viewed Russia as "The Evil Empire." The Cold War between the two superpowers Russia and the United States was still intense, and both sides continued to build up their nuclear armaments. Sting's composition compares and contrasts two warring cultures, Russia and the United States, through his lyrics and musical expression. He subtly demonstrates that the two cultures have more in common than they are willing to believe, and if they focus on these shared goals and values, and renounce their stubborn warrior stances, they can achieve a far more peaceful coexistence.
Prior to the composition of this song, Sting had gotten into an angry debate with one of his band members about the nuclear arms race. Sting believed both Russia and the United States should deescalate their build-ups and destroy their nuclear holdings. The band member, Stewart Copeland, whose father was a former CIA employee who had been stationed in Beirut, argued that nuclear weapons were a necessary evil and both sides needed them for a "checks and balances system."
Sting remained angry about the exchange and chose to further express his sentiments in a song. The result was "Russians." The melody of "Russians" is a direct adaptation of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev's "Romance Melody" from the Lieutenant Kije Suite. In the background, as the song begins, listeners hear a rapid, insistent ticking as though time is running out, and a bomb could explode soon.
Sting begins his song, "In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria ." Twenty years later, this line remains apt, though today the public's fears have turned away from Russia to another "foreign" culture, Middle Easterners. But Sting... [continues]
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