Invisible Sun

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"Invisible Sun"
Single by the Police
from the album Ghost in the Machine
Released25 September 1981
LabelA&MAMS 8164
The Police singles chronology
"De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da"
"Invisible Sun"
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
Alternative cover
Dutch 7-inch cover
Dutch 7-inch cover
Music video
"Invisible Sun" on YouTube

"Invisible Sun" is a song by rock group the Police, released as a single in Europe in September 1981.[1] It was the first single to be released in the United Kingdom from the album Ghost in the Machine and it reached No. 2 on the official chart. The song also reached No. 5 in Ireland and No. 27 in the Netherlands. It was not released as a single in the U.S. In most other territories, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was chosen as the lead single from the LP.


Sting said of writing "Invisible Sun":

"I actually wrote the song in Ireland, where I was living at the time. It was during the hunger strikes in Belfast. I wanted to write about that but I wanted to show some light at the end of the tunnel. I do think there has to be an 'invisible sun'. You can't always see it, but there has to be something radiating light into our lives."[2]

— Sting, Revolver, 2000

The song's lyrics stem from songwriter Sting's pondering how people living in war-torn and/or impoverished countries find the will to go on living, and despite the dark music and often morbid lyrical statements, the song carries an intensely uplifting and optimistic message. The song was deeply personal for drummer Stewart Copeland, whose hometown of Beirut was being heavily bombed at the time of the song's recording:[2]

"For me, the song was about Beirut, where I'd grown up, which at that point was going up in flames. My hometown was being vilified by the media as a terrorist stronghold, and it was being blasted by bombs and napalm. Twenty thousand Lebanese were killed that year. And the Lebanese must have been feeling some heat from the invisible sun, because they were keeping their peckers up."

— Stewart Copeland, Revolver, 2000

Bono from rock group U2 performed duets of it with Sting when U2 and The Police appeared at the same concerts: the first such instance was in 1982 at a festival in Gateshead, England, and two subsequent instances occurred at the last two shows of Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986.[3]

The song is a departure from Police songs before it; "Invisible Sun" contains a dark, looping synthesizer beat, and powerful, haunting lyrics. Among other things, the lyrics refer to the ArmaLite rifle used by paramilitary organisations, but mainly by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[4] The music video for "Invisible Sun" features a collection of video clips taken from the conflict in Northern Ireland. Owing to its subject matter, it was banned by the BBC.[2] "Invisible Sun" was also used as the opening music to the BBC 'Play for Today' film The Long March (1981), written by Belfast writer Anne Devlin.


"Invisible Sun" is composed in the key of E-flat major/C minor with the verses alternating between these keys. The verses give off an ominous and desperate feeling. The chorus is in G major and is heavier and more bombastic.[5]

Track listings[edit]

7": A&M / AMS 8164 (UK)

  1. "Invisible Sun" – 3:35
  2. "Shambelle" – 5:42

7": A&M / AMS 8164 (NL)

  1. "Invisible Sun" – 3:35
  2. "Flexible Strategies" – 3:42



Chart (1981–82) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 89
Ireland (IRMA)[7] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[8] 27
UK Singles (OCC)[9] 2


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Silver 250,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil (1993). "A Police Discography". In Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings (pp.60–61) [Boxed set booklet]. A&M Records Ltd.
  2. ^ a b c Garbarini, Vic (Spring 2000). "I think if we came back..." Archived 30 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Revolver.
  3. ^ U2 Tour History: Invisible Sun,
  4. ^ Boyne, Sean (24 October 2001). "Analysing the IRA's historic decommissioning move". Jane's Information Group. Archived from the original on 8 December 2004. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  5. ^ "The Police "Invisible Sun" Sheet Music in Eb Major (transposable) - Download & Print - SKU: MN0068318". 13 October 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 235. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Invisible Sun". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  8. ^ "The Police – Invisible Sun" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  10. ^ "British single certifications – Police – Invisible Sun". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 30 November 2018.