The Police Song Sting Explored A Nasty Little Revenge Fantasy

The Police‘s music often delves into various themes, from love and heartbreak to social issues. However, there is one song in their catalog that stands out for a particularly intriguing reason. According to Sting, this track allowed him to explore a ‘nasty little revenge fantasy.’ In this article, we will unravel the story behind this unique song, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You.

Sting wrote ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ in his basement flat in Bayswater in 1978. The song reflects the emotions of heartbreak and loss, with lyrics that Sting claimed took him only five minutes to write. Despite taking such a short time for Sting to write, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ is about a rather serious matter: teenage suicide.

Infused with reggae influences, the song features a rock chorus, which goes along with the ironic atmosphere of the song. Over time, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’s interpretation has evolved. Comparing the original 1978 version to the 2019 ‘My Songs’ recording reveals a shift in perspective and emotions, showing how the band’s take on the song has changed over the years.

One aspect of the song that generated controversy was the original single’s cover art. The BBC banned the single due to the provocative image of drummer Stewart Copeland standing on a block of ice with a noose around his neck, waiting for the ice to melt. Despite the ban, or perhaps because of the extra attention from the controversy, the song became one of The Police’s first chart hits.

Speaking to UDiscoverMusic in 2021, Sting looked back on the time he wrote ‘Can’t Stand Losing You.’ He stated that it was his ‘nasty little revenge fantasy‘ which gave him a cathartic release for role-playing the song’s characters. He then implied that the song might be a reflection of his own subconscious, which might have remained hidden if he didn’t write it.

Here is what Sting said about ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’:

“Written in my basement flat in Bayswater in 1978, ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ is a nasty little revenge fantasy inspired by nothing in particular, apart from the deliberately bratty chords. As in ‘Every Breath You Take’ and ‘Demolition Man,’ there is something cathartic, even therapeutic, in role-playing these less than savory characters… or maybe they’re actually parts of my own subconscious that would otherwise remain hidden.”

‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ remains a fan favorite and has held a spot in The Police’s live performances ever since it was written. The song’s intriguing story also makes it a standout track in their catalog. Although Sting didn’t give away what his ‘nasty little revenge fantasy’ was inspired by, we can assume that ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ reveals parts of the singer’s subconscious.