Englishman in New York
|"Englishman in New York"|
|Single by Sting|
|from the album ...Nothing Like the Sun|
|B-side||"Ghost in the Strand"|
|Released||15 February 1988 |
|Sting singles chronology|
"Englishman in New York" is a song by English singer Sting, from his second studio album ...Nothing Like the Sun, released in October 1987. Branford Marsalis played soprano saxophone on the track, while the drums were played by Manu Katché and the percussion by Mino Cinélu.
The single was released in February 1988 as the third single from the album, but only reached #51 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, "Englishman in New York" peaked at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1988 and reached #32 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart that same month. However, the single was more successful in continental Europe, becoming a hit in several countries, reaching the Top 40 (and sometimes the Top 20) in France, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, etc. "Englishman in New York" was also a Top 20 hit in Ireland. In South Africa, it peaked at no. 9.
In 1990, just prior to the release of his third studio album The Soul Cages, Sting's record label licensed Dutch DJ and producer Ben Liebrand to remix "Englishman in New York" and subsequently released it as a single. The remix played around with the introduction and some of the instrumentation, but the essence of the song remained the same. The new version was commercially successful, reaching number 15 in the UK charts in mid-1990.
In 2010, Sting re-recorded the song in an orchestral version for his album Symphonicities.
"Englishman/African In New York", a reworking of the song recorded with African artist Shirazee was released as a non-album digital-only single on 19 March 2021. Shirazee had previously covered the song as "African in New York" with Sting's approval. Sting and Shirazee released a music video and performed the song on ABC's Good Morning America.
Sting wrote the song about the famous eccentric and gay icon Quentin Crisp, who is the "Englishman" of the title. The song was composed not long after Crisp had moved from London to an apartment in the Bowery in Manhattan. Sting had met him and Crisp remarked jokingly to the musician that he "looked forward to receiving his naturalisation papers so that I can commit a crime and not be deported." When Sting asked him what kind of crime, he answered, "Something glamorous, non-violent, with a dash of style. Crime is so rarely glamorous these days." Sting included this story in the liner notes of his album ...Nothing Like The Sun.
The song is composed in the key of B-minor. It is mainly the same chord progression throughout the song (except in the bridge): Em - A - Bm. The functions in the key of the chords are iv - VII - i. The soprano saxophone that plays over the song mainly plays the minor scale in Bm.
In the bridge the chords change to D - A - Bm - F#, G - A - F# - Bm. This corresponds with III - VII - i - V, VI - VII - V - i.
The video was shot in black-and-white and was directed by David Fincher, and featured scenes of Sting and his band in New York(primarily Branford Marsalis playing sax), as well as the elusive Quentin Crisp. At the end of the video, after the song fades, an elderly male voice says: "If I have an ambition other than a desire to be a chronic invalid, it would be to meet everybody in the world before I die... and I'm not doing badly." In 2011, the official video was replaced with a version without the male voice.
- 12" Single (AMY 431)
- "Englishman in New York" – 4:25
- "Ghost in the Strand" – 2:33
- "Bring on the Night"/"When the World Is Running Down" (Live) – 11:42
- 7" Single (AM 1200)
- "Englishman in New York" – 4:25
- "If You There" – 4:08
- CD Maxi Single (75021 2370 2)
- "Englishman in New York" – 4:03
- "Someone to Watch Over Me" – 4:35
- "Up from the Skies" – 10:07
Charts and certifications
- In 1993, the song was partially remade by Shinehead, re-titled as "Jamaican In New York" (1993). It reached #30 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1993.
- In 1998, Venezuelan band King Chango covered the song as “Venezuelan in New York” for the various artists tribute release “Outlandos d’Americas - Tributo a Police (A Tribute to The Police)”. The instrumental sections in the song were re-worked using latin rhythms such as cumbia and dancehall.
- In 2015, Cris Cab covered it in a release featuring Tefa & Moox, Willy William. This version charted on SNEP, the official French Singles Chart reaching number 16. The song also charted on Ultratip in the Belgian Wallonia Singles Chart.
- In 2015, Japanese singer Majiko released a cover as a bonus track on her single Mirror
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