Don't Stand So Close to Me

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For the Grey's Anatomy episode, see Don't Stand So Close to Me (Grey's Anatomy).
"Don't Stand So Close to Me"
1980 single cover
Single by The Police
from the album Zenyatta Mondatta
B-side "Friends"
"A Sermon" (U.S. 7")
Released 19 September 1980
January 1981 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7")
Recorded 1980
Genre
Length 4:02[1]
Label A&MAMS 7564
Writer(s) Sting
Producer(s) Nigel Gray, Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers
Certification Gold (BPI)
The Police singles chronology
"The Bed's Too Big Without You"
(1980)
"Don't Stand So Close to Me"
(1980)
"De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da"
(1980)
Alternative cover
U.S. 7-inch cover

"Don't Stand So Close to Me" is a 1980 song and hit single by the British rock band The Police. It concerns a schoolgirl's crush on her young teacher which leads to an affair, which in turn is discovered. The Police won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for this song.

In 1986, a re-recorded version of the song was released as "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86".

Background[edit]

The music and lyrics of the song were written by the lead singer of The Police, Sting. The song deals with the mixed feelings of lust, fear and guilt that a female student has for a school teacher and vice versa, and inappropriateness leading to confrontation which is unraveled later on in the song. The line "Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov" alludes to Vladimir Nabokov's novel, Lolita, which covers somewhat similar issues.[2] After being criticized for rhyming "cough" with "Nabakov," Sting replied, "I've used that terrible, terrible rhyme technique a few times. Technically, it's called a feminine rhyme - where it's so appalling it's almost humorous. You don't normally get those type of rhymes in pop music and I'm glad!"[3]

Before joining The Police, Sting had previously worked as an English teacher. Sting said of the song in 1981:

I wanted to write a song about sexuality in the classroom. I'd done teaching practice at secondary schools and been through the business of having 15-year-old girls fancying me - and me really fancying them! How I kept my hands off them I don't know... Then there was my love for Lolita which I think is a brilliant novel. But I was looking for for the key for eighteen months and suddenly there it was. That opened the gates and out it came: the teacher, the open page, the virgin, the rape in the car, getting the sack, Nabakov, all that.[3]

—Sting, L'Historia Bandido, 1981[3]

In 1993, however, he said of the song's inspiration, "You have to remember we were blond bombshells at the time and most of our fans were young girls so I started role playing a bit. Let's exploit that."[3] in a 2001 interview for the concert DVD ...All This Time, Sting denied that the song is autobiographical.

"Don't Stand So Close to Me" appeared on The Police's album Zenyatta Mondatta (A&M), and became a hit No. 1 UK single[4] along with a corresponding music video. In the US, it reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #10. In the UK, the track was confirmed by the end of 1980 to have been the biggest selling single of that year.

The B-side, "Friends", was written by Andy Summers and is inspired by Stranger in a Strange Land, a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein.[3] Summers described the track as "Very quirky. A touch of Long John Silver on Acid."[3]

Sting was asked to perform on Mark Knopfler's "Money for Nothing" as he was in Montserrat at the time, and reused a melody from "Don't Stand So Close to Me" in the counterpoint lyric "I want my MTV." It was only after this story was related to reporters during promotions for the Brothers in Arms album that lawyers for Sting became involved, and later copies of the album co-credit the song to Sting. The initial pressings list only Mark Knopfler. It is one of only two shared songwriting credits on any Dire Straits album.

Composition[edit]

"Don't Stand So Close to Me" features Sting on lead vocals. Like many Police songs, the verses are more subdued, while the chorus is bolder and louder. The song also bears a reggae style, yet another common trait in Police songs.

The track uses a guitar synthesizer in the middle of the song, which was used by guitarist Andy Summers. Summers said, "After Sting had put the vocals on 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' we looked for something to lift the middle of the song. I came up with a guitar synthesiser. It was the first time we'd used it. I felt it worked really well."[3] The verses and choruses do not feature this effect.[3]

Personnel[edit]

Track listing[edit]

7" – A&M / AMS 7564 (UK)
  1. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" – 4:03
  2. "Friends" – 3:37
7" – A&M / AMS 2301 (US)
  1. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" – 4:03
  2. "A Sermon" – 2:34

Charts[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Top 40 3
French Singles Chart 7
German Singles Chart 23
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 40
NZ Singles Chart 2
Spanish Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 10
Canadian Singles Chart 2

"Don't Stand So Close to Me '86"[edit]

"Don't Stand So Close to Me '86"
Single by The Police
from the album Every Breath You Take: The Singles
B-side "Don't Stand So Close To Me" (Live)
Released October 1986 (1986-10)
Format 7"/CD single
Recorded 1986
Genre Rock, new wave
Length 4:51[5]
Label A&M
Writer(s) Sting
Producer(s) Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers, Laurie Latham
The Police singles chronology
"King of Pain"
(UK, 1984)
---
"Wrapped Around Your Finger"
(US, 1984)
"Don't Stand So Close to Me '86"
(1986)
"Can't Stand Losing You (live)"
(1995)

The song was re-recorded in 1986 with a new, brooding arrangement, a different chorus and a more opulent production. The new version appeared as "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" on the album Every Breath You Take: The Singles, and was released as a single, reaching number 24 in the British charts.[4] It also reached number 11 in Ireland, number 14 in New Zealand, number 19 on the Netherlands MegaCharts Singles Chart (number 20 on Dutch Top 40), number 27 in Canada[6] and number 46 on Billboard Hot 100 (number 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks).

Because of the decrease in tempo, a slight lyric change is found in the line "Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov" (the word 'famous' was added). A new music video was produced for the reworked song by Godley and Creme, notable for its early use of animated computer graphics.

Because drummer Stewart Copeland had broken his collarbone and was unable to drum, he opted to use his Fairlight CMI to program the drum track for the single. While singer/bassist Sting pushed to utilize the drums on his Synclavier instead, the group's engineer found the Synclavier's programming interface difficult—and it ended up taking him two days to complete the task. Copeland ultimately finished the drum programming and claimed that the Fairlight's then-legendary "Page R" (the device's sequencing page) saved his life and put him on the map as a composer. In a Qantas inflight radio program named "Reeling in the Years", Copeland was quoted as saying that the argument over Synclavier versus Fairlight drums was "the straw that broke the camel's back," and that this led to the group's unraveling.

As the Police had already disbanded by the time the 1986 single was released, this, aside from the then-unreleased "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da '86," was the last recording before the band's reunion and the most recent studio recording the band has released.

Track listing[edit]

7" – A&M / AM 354 (UK)
  1. "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" – 4:47
  2. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (live) – 3:40
12" – A&M / AMY 354 (UK)
  1. "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" (dance mix) – 6:32
  2. "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" – 4:47
  3. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (original version) – 4:03
  4. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (live) – 3:40

Charts[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 32
Dutch Top 40 19
Irish Singles Chart 11
UK Singles Chart 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 46
Canadian Singles Chart 27

Glee cover[edit]

"Don't Stand So Close to Me"
Single by Glee cast
from the album Glee: The Music, Volume 2
B-side "Young Girl"
Released 2009
Format Digital download
Recorded 2009
Genre Pop
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Sting
Producer(s) Ryan Murphy, Adam Anders
Glee cast singles chronology
"I'll Stand by You"
(2009)
"Don't Stand So Close to Me" / "Young Girl"
(2009)
"Crush"
(2009)

The song was covered in the episode "Ballad" of the American television series Glee in 2009. It was performed by the character Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) as a musical mashup with "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. It was included on the second soundtrack album from the series.

The single version charted at number 67 in Canada, number 64 in the United States and number 50 in Ireland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ amazon.com, "Zenyatta Mondatta [Digipak Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered]". Accesed October 11, 2014.
  2. ^ JR Huffman, JL Huffman (1987), "Sexism and cultural lag: The rise of the jailbait song, 1955–1985", The Journal of Popular Culture, doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1987.2102_65.x 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "'Don't Stand So Close to Me' / 'Friends'". sting.com. 
  4. ^ a b The Police in the UK Charts, The Official Charts.
  5. ^ amazon.com, "Every Breath You Take: The Classics". Accessed October 11, 2014.
  6. ^ Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada – Top Singles – Volume 45, No. 14, December 27 1986
Preceded by
"Feels Like I'm in Love" by Kelly Marie
UK number-one single
27 September 1980 – 18 October 1980
Succeeded by
"Woman in Love" by Barbra Streisand