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Englishman in New York

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"Englishman in New York"
Single by Sting
from the album ...Nothing Like the Sun
B-side"Ghost in the Strand"
Released5 February 1988[1]
Sting singles chronology
"Be Still My Beating Heart"
"Englishman in New York"

"Englishman in New York" is a song by English singer-songwriter 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 No. 51 on the UK Singles Chart.[2] In the US, "Englishman in New York" peaked at No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1988[3] and reached No. 32 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart that same month.[4] However, the single was more successful in continental Europe, becoming a hit in several countries,[5] reaching the top 40 in France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium. "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[6] "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.[7]

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.[8] Shirazee had previously covered the song as "African in New York" with Sting's approval.[9] Sting and Shirazee released a music video[10] and performed the song on ABC's Good Morning America.[11]


Sting wrote the song about the famous eccentric and gay icon Quentin Crisp, who is the "Englishman" of the title.[12][13][14][15] 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.[16]

Musical content[edit]

The song is in the key of B minor, and uses mainly the same chord progression throughout, Em - A - Bm (except in the bridge). These chords' functions are iv - VII - i. The soprano saxophone that plays over the song uses mainly notes of the B minor scale.

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.[17]

Music video[edit]

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."[18] In 2011, the official video was replaced with a version without the male voice.[19][non-primary source needed][why?]

Track listing[edit]

  • 12" Single (AMY 431)
  1. "Englishman in New York" – 4:25
  2. "Ghost in the Strand" – 2:33
  3. "Bring on the Night"/"When the World Is Running Down" (Live) – 11:42
  • 7" Single (AM 1200)
  1. "Englishman in New York" – 4:25
  2. "If You There" – 4:08
  • CD Maxi Single (75021 2370 2)
  1. "Englishman in New York" – 4:03
  2. "Someone to Watch Over Me" – 4:35
  3. "Up from the Skies" – 10:07



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[33] Platinum 90,000
Germany (BVMI)[34] Gold 250,000
Italy (FIMI)[35]
sales since 2009
Gold 25,000
Japan (RIAJ)[36]
Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[37]
sales since 2004
Gold 400,000

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Cris Cab version[edit]

  • In 2015, American singer Cris Cab covered the song featuring Tefa & Moox, and Willy William. This version charted on the French SNEP Top Singles chart, reaching number 16,[38] and also on the Belgian Wallonia Ultratop singles chart at No. 34.[39]

Other versions[edit]

  • In 1993, the song was partially remade by Shinehead, re-titled as "Jamaican in New York" (1993). It reached No. 30 on the UK Singles Chart in April 1993.
  • In 1993, German musician Otto Waalkes recorded a German-language version entitled "Friesenjung". In 2023, a techno rework of this version (by German rapper Ski Aggu, Dutch rapper Joost Klein and Waalkes) reached No. 1 on the German and Austrian singles charts.
  • 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).[40] The instrumental sections in the song were re-worked using Latin rhythms such as cumbia and dancehall.
  • In 2015, Japanese singer Majiko released a cover as a bonus track on her single "Mirror".[41]


  1. ^ "Sting singles".
  2. ^ "Official Charts Company". OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  3. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs - Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard.com. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Sting - Chart history - Billboard". Billboard.com. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Lescharts.com - Sting - Englishman in New York". Archived from the original on 2012-11-18. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  6. ^ Index Liebrand Productions Liebrand.com Retrieved 2 May 2021
  7. ^ "Official Charts Company". OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  8. ^ Dresdale, Andrea (2 March 2021). "Sting launches new 'Duets' interactive timeline, books 'Good Morning America' appearance". ABC News Radio. Archived from the original on 3 September 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Sting launches interactive website ahead of Duets album release". Celebretainment. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Sting, Shirazee - Englishman / African In New York". 18 March 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 3 September 2021 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Sting, Shirazee - Englishman/African in New York (Live From Good Morning America/2021)". 29 March 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 3 September 2021 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Crisp, Quentin. The Last Word. MB Books LLC, 2018 https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/11/21/quentin-crisp-reflects-on-trans-identity-in-exclusive-final-autobiography/
  13. ^ "Sting on Quentin Crisp and the song "Englishman in New York"". Crisperanto.org. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Quentin Crisp". Biography. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  15. ^ "McWilliams -- do It". Archived from the original on 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  16. ^ "THE TITANIC LAWS". Sky.org. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  17. ^ Sting - Englishman In New York (Chords), retrieved 2021-02-01
  18. ^ Rutledge, Stephen (30 May 2018). "#QueerQuote: "Be Yourself No Matter What They Say." – Gordon Sumner". World of Wonder. Archived from the original on 23 June 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  19. ^ Sting - Englishman In New York (Official Music Video). Sting. 11 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Sting – Englishman in New York" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  21. ^ "Sting – Englishman in New York" (in French). Les classement single.
  22. ^ Canadian Top Singles Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine RPM
  23. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sting" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  24. ^ "Sting – Englishman in New York" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  28. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 1990-09-01. Retrieved 2021-06-20.
  29. ^ "[The+Ben+Liebrand+Mix&cat=s Sting – Englishman In New York [The Ben Liebrand Mix]"] (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  30. ^ "Sting – Englishman In New York [The Ben Liebrand Mix"] (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Englishman In New York". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  32. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  33. ^ "Danish single certifications – Sting – Englishman in New York". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  34. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Sting & The Police; 'Englishman in New York')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 29 April 2023.
  35. ^ "Italian single certifications – Sting – Englishman in New York" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  36. ^ "Japanese digital single certifications – Sting – Englishman in New York" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 6 January 2021. Select 2014年1月 on the drop-down menu
  37. ^ "British single certifications – Sting – Englishman in New York". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  38. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Les charts français". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Cris Cab feat. Tefa & Moox & Willy William - Englishman In New York". ultratop.be. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  40. ^ "Various – Outlandos D'Americas - Tributo A Police (A Tribute To The Police)". Discogs. 1998.
  41. ^ "Mirror / まじ娘 | EXIT TUNES". Archived from the original on 2015-11-01. Retrieved 2016-04-21.

External links[edit]