And every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take,
I'll be watching you.”—“Every Breath You Take,” written by Sting, performed on the Synchronicity LP by The Police (1983)
Repeated playing of this song on the radio starting this month 30 years ago—when it first went to #1 in the U.K.—along with its soft, seductive minor chords—led me—and, I suspect, more than a few others—to mistake its meaning. It took composer Sting, in interviews, to point me toward what he called variously the “obsession,” “jealousy” and “surveillance” at its heart.
Sting wrote the piece after the breakup of his first marriage, and it’s easy to think of it as a classic torch song of lost love, especially with that desolate outcry in the middle (“Since you've gone I've been lost without a trace”). But the first stanza should be a hint enough of its true nature, in the insistence of that word “every,” concluding with a line that becomes all the more chilling the more you let its implications sink in: “I’ll be watching you.”
In other words, folks, the 1983 Grammy-winning Song of the Year, embraced all over the world, was all about stalking.