I picked up this memoir several years ago at a used bookstore, not knowing if I would ever get around to reading it. I thought it would probably be pretentious and pompous, which is kind of how Sting strikes me, even though I'm a long-time fan of much of his music. Jon brought it up from our library a couple of weeks ago, because I was revisiting some of his albums after seeing The Last Ship in New York in October, and I thought I'd better give it a try so I could decide if we should keep it.
It starts with a religious hallucinogenic drug experience that Sting and his wife Trudie had in Brazil, which might be off-putting to some, but it leads into his memories of his childhood and family in Wallsend, England, where he grew up. I loved this part. His childhood was more like something my grandparents would recognize than what my parents experienced, even though he's a few years younger than my parents. Lighting fires in the early morning, delivering milk with his dad in the early mornings, being caned at school -- it was a tough life in Wallsend.
The memoir covers Sting's childhood and then the years after school when he was working all kinds of jobs while he played music with various bands, trying to get to the point where he could make a living with music. There's very little after the initial success of The Police, but I liked reading about the struggles. There are great funny stories that are a bit self-deprecating, like the time he accidentally sprayed metallic-colored hairspray directly into his eyes right before the first TV appearance of The Police. You can watch the video of that appearance here, and now you know why he was wearing the huge sunglasses!
The book was not at all what I expected. I suspect there are other sides to the stories therein, but I found it entertaining and delightful and fun to read. I did have to ignore an inexplicable switching between past and present tense, but I decided I wasn't going to let it bother me, and it mostly didn't. Besides that, it's well-written and engaging. I liked it a lot.