So bad it makes him cry
The Police’s hit single Don’t Stand So Close to Me dealt with the subject of teacher-student affairs long before they became common fodder for TV specials and Internet headlines. The song was inspired by Sting’s experience as an English teacher before he became famous (although he denied ever having an affair with a student while he was a teacher) as well as his admiration for Vladimir Nabokov’s classic Lolita. The novel tells the story of a literature professor in his late 30s – “the old man in that book by Nabokov” referred to in the song – who becomes obsessed with a 12-year-old girl.
Don’t Stand So Close to Me was released in 1980 as a single from The Police’s third studio album, Zenyatta Mondatta. It was a No. 1 hit and the best-selling single of 1980 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
This is another one of those songs that I can’t hear without thinking of the video. There’s just something about that image of Sting, Andy, and Stewart dancing around a classroom in graduation gowns that makes you want to get up and dance too. And I love that Sting is sporting a Beat t-shirt. (I read an interesting interview from 2012 with the English Beat’s David Wakeling, in which he speculates why Sting may have been wearing that shirt in the video.)
The 7″ single of Don’t Stand So Close to Me was released in the U.K. with the Andy Summers-penned Friends as the B side. The U.S. release has A Sermon, written by Stewart Copeland, as the B side. The picture sleeves also vary between the U.S. and the U.K. releases.