Sting, 1985

What sounds do you hear before the song begins? Why ticking? The bomb is ticking, time is running out.

Who was Oppenheimer and what was his "deadly toy"? Invented atomic bomb. Which countries had the bomb in the 1950s–1970s? Why did the United States view the USSR's possession of nuclear weapons as a threat?

Who was Khrushchev? Soviet premier 1958 to 1964. What important events involving the United States happened during his administration? Berlin Wall, Cuban missile crisis, space race.

What was the "Arms Race"? How did each country try to protect itself? Keeping the same amount of fire power. What is the problem with this method? Able to destroy the world several times over.

What happened to US-Soviet relations in the 1970s? Détente, failed SALT treaty, USSR invasion of Afghanistan.

Who was president in 1985 when this song was written? What was Reagan's policy toward USSR? What was his solution to the "Soviet problem"? Military build-up, defense spending. "Mr. Reagan says he will protect you": How? "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). What did Reagan call the Russians? "Evil Empire."

How does Sting counter this rhetoric? "We share biology." What's the significance of "love their children too"? Common humanity. What does he mean that there is no such thing as a winnable war? Do you agree?

Within five years after this song was written, what happened to relations between the United States and USSR? Glasnost, perestroika. Who was the Soviet leader who brought this about? Gorbachev. What eventually happened? USSR dissolved in 1991.

"Russians" performed by Sting on The Dream of Blue Turtles, Hollywood, CA: A&M Records [CD3750], ©1985. Available on iTunes and Spotify:

For more information on Sting, visit his official website.The official video may be viewed on YouTube.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source

U.S. and Russian arm wrestling political cartoon
U.S. and Russian arm wrestling political cartoon.

Born in Newcastle, a ship-building town in England, Sting (Gordon Sumner) was employed as a teacher, soccer coach, and ditch digger prior to establishing his success with the rock band the Police. Once independent of the Police, Sting brought out several solo albums throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Dream of the Blue Turtles. In addition to his musical successes, earning him more than one Grammy, Sting has also acted in films and appeared on Broadway. He has been awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Disney's film The Emperor's New Groove.

Sting's style is an amalgam or fusion of different sounds, described by one critic as "echoes of Miles Davis and medieval plainsong, of Algerian and American country music—all rendered with the singer composer's signature originality." Sting's music also encompasses influences derived from reggae, jazz, Celtic, and Middle Eastern music. Echoes of the melodic style found in the latter, especially, are heard in this song, in the context of a remarkable instrumentation. "Russians" reflects Sting's concern for human rights. Active in related causes, such as ecology and Amnesty International, Sting regards this involvement as a fundamental responsibility of all.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís


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