Former Police bassist Sting has just issued an acoustic rendition of ‘Russians’, a chorus heavy work soaked in the inflexions of The Cold War. The song originally featured on The Dream of the Blue Turtles, and this pastoral arrangement was uploaded onto Instagram.
The bassist recognised the importance of the performance and introduced it accordingly. “I’ve only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written because I never thought it would be relevant again,” Sting explained in his video. “But in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbour, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity”.
The caption in the video also included the shipping address for a warehouse in Poland, which likely explains why the bassist is aiming the tune at an Eastern European audience. This performance strips back the ornamental flourishes of the original recording to show a raw, jagged-edged tune that puts the focus squarely on the lyrics and themes in question.
Guided by the attacks, Sting brings a more empathetic vocal to the proceedings, which is only punctuated by his genuine shock at the mistreatment of the Ukrainian people. In the video, Sting celebrates the virtue of “love” over “hate”. ‘Russians’ was released in 1985, netting Sting a Top 20 hit. Cut within the milieu of the 1980s, the song exhibited his concern at the rise of nuclear weapons around the world. The original tune impressed drummer Stewart Copeland, who singled the composition out in his interview with Far Out.
Sting is not the only rock luminary who has spoken out against the attacks. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney uploaded a photo of himself on stage in Ukraine, while Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. Queen guitarist Brian May, meanwhile, issued a statement on Instagram, declaring his shock and horror towards the conflict. Former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel also wrote a similarly strongly worded riposte against Putin and, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, gave Ukraine permission to use ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, complete with the hashtag ‘#FUCKRUSSIA’.
For now, see Sting’s performance, below.