Sting has successfully established himself as one of the most important singer-songwriters in Western popular music over the past twenty years. His affinity for collaborative work and disparate musical styles has pushed his music into an astonishing array of contexts, but no matter what the style or who the collaborator, Sting’s voice always remains distinct, and this fact has earned him success amongst a correspondingly broad audience. The Words and Music of Sting subdivides Sting’s life and works into rough periods of creative activity and offers a fantastic opportunity to view Sting’s many stylistic changes within a coherent general framework. After analyzing Sting’s musical output album by album and song by song, author Christopher Gable sums up Sting’s accomplishments and places him on the continuum of influential singer-songwriters, showing how he differs and relates to other artists of the same period.
Aside from his commercial success, Sting is also interesting for the use of recurring themes in his lyrics (such as family relationships, love, war, spirituality, and work) and for his use of jazz and world music to illustrate or work against the meaning of a song. Sting’s life also sheds light on his music, as his working-class roots in Newcastle, England are never far removed from his international superstardom. Throughout his life, he has been musically open-minded and inquisitive, always seeking out new styles and often incorporating them into his compositions.