Although there are some songwriting techniques, it can be said that the process is more organic than technical. While the tune and lyrics might simply appear in the songwriter’s mind, there are also songs that have tormented their creators for years. Songwriting is closely related to storytelling as the writer either narrates a story after a particular incident inspires them or imagines how they would feel in a hypothetical situation.
However, there are particular methods artists use to transform their inspirations into songs, and this process, which requires competence, may not be that easy for everyone. As he revealed in an interview in 2016, Sting also had these predicaments. Although he has released fifteen albums and become an icon in the rock scene, writing a song has been a source of anxiety for most of his life.
The Biggest Challenge In Sting’s Long Music Career
Sting has written over one hundred songs so far, and he is known to use music as a medium to narrate the ups and downs of his life. He sometimes recalls childhood memories, explores the passing of his father or other loved ones, or tells a love story he has imagined. As an artist who has been in the music industry for five decades, the musician revealed in an interview with Ultimate Guitar in 2016 that writing lyrics was the most challenging aspect of being a musician for him.
“That’s not the way it works for me,” replied Sting when he was asked whether his songs just come to him. “I wish I could just walk in the garden, and a song would occur to me. Sometimes a fragment of a song can just come to me while making breakfast. Just a fragment. But really the business of songwriting is building from these fragments, and that just takes getting down to work at 9:00 in the morning and tinkering.”
He continued, “Using that fragment with that fragment, and trying to join them together, either lyrically or harmonically or chromatically, trying to add things up to make something of substance. It’s not. I never see the whole thing. I wish. That takes genius, but no, I have to work hard. Songwriting is the hardest intellectual pursuit in my life. It’s the hardest thing, the most painful thing, the thing I avoid like the plague. I’d rather be on tour. I’d rather be a sportsman. I’d rather be a gardener.”
It seems like Sting has always envied the music geniuses who can easily combine the fragments of tunes and lyrics that come to them unexpectedly. Thus, writing a song has become a source of both pleasure and anxiety for him since it is an effort that requires a lot of work. However, considering the success of ‘Every Breath You Take,’ ‘Englishman in New York,’ ‘Roxanne,’ and several other hits, he seems to be doing a good job.