One of Sting’s most famous lyrics — and most adventurous rhymes — took its inspiration from a great literary source. Sting, a former English teacher, told his tale of avoiding student seduction in “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” on The Police’s 1980 album Zenyatta Mondatta. Sting used his teacher credentials not just for the story, but for its stylish telling too. The famous line? When the teacher finds himself in close quarters with the girl who’s half his age, he starts to “shake and cough” just like the old man in that “famous book by Nabokov.” That’s Vladimir Nabokov, of course, and Lolita is the famous, and famously controversial, novel.
Sting is back in the rock and roll saddle for the first time in over a decade as he’s set to release 57th and 9th, a gritty album named after a once gritty corner of New York City. And he returns to his literary inspirations too, this time a Southern writer by way of New York, Carson McCullers — once among the most famous authors in the world. In the first single off the new album, “I’ve Been Thinking of You”, Sting sings “this heart’s a lonely hunter.” McCuller’s signature work was her debut novel called The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It appeared when she was just 23, making her a global star. Long after McCullers’ death, Oprah chose the book for her book club.