The Police – “Roxanne” – The 45 Single (1978)

In the continuing sage of the vinyl filled box I found another 45 single and this one was by The Police.  It was for the song “Roxanne” which is one of their signature songs.  Sadly, I don’t have a cover jacket for it.  The sleeve it was in was for Columbia Records; however, the single was released by A&M so I know it is not the right sleeve.  No matter, the single still plays regardless.  Below are the Original UK cover (left) and the alternate cover in the UK (right – is Stewart picking his nose???).

And here is mine…

IMG_0091

Let us get in to the history of the song.  Per Sting’s book “Broken Music”, He wrote “Roxanne” when the band was in Paris in October 1977.  There were a bunch of prostitutes next to their not so glamorous hotel and it inspired Sting to write the song.  The name “Roxanne” came from character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac for which there was a poster in the hotel where they were staying.  If you listen to the song, you will see it is about a man who falls in love with a prostitute.

“Roxanne” was the first single off their debut album ‘Outlandos d’Amour’.  The song didn’t chart on its original release in 1978 which is so surprising to me.  They decided to re-release it in 1979 and this time it charted.  It hit #12 in the UK and made it to #32 in the US.

The song itself is a much slower song than the band was used to performing.  Their usual fast paced, punk styling was quite different from the slow groove of “Roxanne”.  Thanks to wikipedia for this nugget, but Sting had intended the song to have a more of a samba and jazz feel to it (Bossa Nova) and thanks to Stewart Copeland, they went with a more of a tango as its rhythmic form.

Another cool fact I found was from Peter Hodgson article ‘Oops! 10 Great Rock and Roll Bloopers’.  Here is the quote on a mistake in the song that turned out wonderfully.

“Roxanne” is a classic for its melody, its vocal performance, its orchestration and the instrumental timbres, but it’s also unique for a different reason. The mysterious piano chord heard at 0:04 is an unusual, atonal cluster that has nothing to do with the rest of the song. So what gives? Well it turns out Sting slinked back to relax on a nearby piano but didn’t realize the lid was up, so he unwittingly played that gloriously dissonant chord with his butt. This also explains his laugh at 0:06.

I had never noticed that before, but it is there.  I always thought it was meant as part of the song.

IMG_0089

The B-Side of the single was “Dead End Job”.  What is great about this song is that it is an unreleased song and was not on any of their albums until they released it on “Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings”.  The song is pure punk for me.  Fast-paced and rough around the edges.  I completely love it as it is such a contrast to “Roxanne”.

I hope you enjoyed the single. Here are the lyrics to “Roxanne”.

“Roxanne”

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the nightRoxanne
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s rightRoxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light

Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Rox—

I loved you since I knew you
I wouldn’t talk down to you
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy

I know my mind is made up
So put away your make-up
Told you once, I won’t tell you again
It’s a bad way

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light

Roxanne (you don’t have to put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (you don’t have to put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)
Roxanne (you don’t have to put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)

Written by Sting

21 thoughts on “The Police – “Roxanne” – The 45 Single (1978)

  1. This was one of only three Police tracks I actually knew until fairly recently (when I picked up a copy of Ghost In The Machine for Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic). I do quite like it and I’ve been telling myself I need to buy the rest of the Police records. If I see a copy of this cheap, I’ll pick it up and send you it, so you can at least have the UK cover (and yeah, that looks like he was caught picking his nose!).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of my favourite songs – it has good memories 🙂
    Back story for Me is that my Uncle (committed sideways when I was a kid) was a drummer and singer in a band back in the day … and this song was one of his favourites to sing too.

    I didn’t know half of the history of the song/band, so thank you 🙂 And btw … I’m liking your vinyl collection … I have one of my own too … but it’s definitely not as robust as yours!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL … I’ve done the same thing …
        I’ve been collecting vinyl for about 20 years. I used to turntable DJ in a previous life 😉 And I ended up moving my collection to my ‘lady shed’ so the partner wouldn’t play them … he seemed to think dropping the needle onto a priceless piece of vinyl was ‘sweet as’ lol.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I wasn’t a good one lol … I just played what I liked! And theres nothing quite like vinyl! I look forward to seeing more of your collection! I have The Police album you featured … I got it in a 2nd hand book store for $2 I think it was! The joy of vinyl hunting 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for bringing back my memories of the perfect Sting/Police concert set opening:
    -Stage lights go dark, save for the glow of one red light
    -Unseen, Sting walks onto the stage
    -There is no sound, no intro, (no random piano!)
    -Then a scream: “Roxxxxxanne!” ala 0:49 into the video above
    -Held for 5 seconds, it comes from Sting’s more mature voice

    I don’t know what happened next. That’s all I needed. However, it only occurred that way in my head, not in the actual concerts I saw, once on each U.S. coast. Yet someday I’m going to be convinced that was the scenario because the sensation is so very real … and you brought it to life again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad I brought back great memories. I have some many things that take place only in my head, I probably should be committed. I think your version of concert opening would be totally awesome.

      Like

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