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Sting’s “Russians”: If the Russians Love Their Children

Happy #SongLyricsSunday! Today’s prompt is to find a song about Army, Soldier, and War in either the song lyrics and/or title. One of the songs that really fit this theme is the 1985 song “Russians” by Sting. Even though this song was composed during the tensions of the Cold War in the 1980s, I think you can rewrite the lyrics to fit even current situations like the conflict in Ukraine and also Trump’s presidency. I actually wrote some modern takes on “Russians” and maybe when I have confidence, I can share them on social media.

Let’s explore more about this poignant 80s song that is often overlooked (I feel) in Sting’s discography. (Of course, I think every song off The Dream of the Blue Turtles album is a masterpiece. It is a wonderful album!)

If the Russians Love Their Children

Sting released “Russians” in the summer of 1985 as part of The Dream of the Blue Turtles album. The singer-songwriter was inspired to write the song when he watched Soviet TV one day:

I had a friend at university who invented a way to steal the satellite signal from Russian TV. We’d have a few beers and climb this tiny staircase to watch Russian television… At that time of night, we’d only get children’s Russian television, like their “Sesame Street”. I was impressed with the care and attention they gave to their children’s programmes. I regret our current enemies haven’t got the same ethics.

The song was written as a pro-children plea for all sides of the Cold War conflict in hopes that the Russian would have the compassion and mercy of their enemies as they have for their own children. If Russia loved their children, then why would the Russians and Americans would point missiles at each other. The song also criticizes the then-dominant Cold War foreign policy and doctrine of mutually assured destruction of the United States and the Soviet Union. All of these are sung over the Romance theme from the Lieutenant Kijé Suite by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

James Cameron was inspired by this song when writing the character John Connor for the movie Terminator 2. I remember sitting there once, high on E, writing notes for Terminator, and I was struck by Sting’s song, “I hope the Russians love their children too.” And I thought, “You know what? The idea of a nuclear war is just so antithetical to life itself.” That’s where the kid came from.”[2]

But others didn’t like the song’s presence. ex-The Police bandmate Stewart Copeland, whose father was a CIA agent, didn’t agree with the stance. However, he did comment that no matter what was the argument, Sting could write indefensible lyrics that you couldn’t argue over.[3]

What do you think of “Russians”? Listen to the song below and let me know what you think in the comments!

Sting re-recorded this song a couple of weeks ago due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here is what he had to say about the song:

I’ve only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written because I never thought it would be relevant again,” he said at the beginning of the performance. “But, in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity. For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment – We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war.

The Rules for #SongLyricsSunday

(This challenge is currently hosted by the generous Jim Adams.)

Anyone can participate in #SongLyricsSunday, even if you aren’t a music blogger! If you want to participate, here are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Pingback to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

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Sting's "Russians": If the Russians Love Their Children

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