Roxanne: behind the meanings of The Police’s tormented song

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Roxanne is a prostitute.
A man is in love with her.
He wants to take her off the street.

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne, you don’t have to wear that dress tonight.
You don’t have to sell your body.

Roxanne
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

Let, Roxanne, your soul be protected by who has been seduced by your body, captured by you, conquered.
You’re his.

Roxanne is a prostitute and Sting has imagined this story in a night in Paris, watching sensual bodies and melancholic eyes. Roxanne is beautiful, seductive, and for this reason Sting conceived a bossa nova as a rhythmic base. Like a samba.

But if we talk about seduction, then we must think to a tango. And that’s what the drummer, Copeland, suggested to do.
This is her tango. Roxanne’s tango.

In the intro of the song you hear the laughter of Police, because Sting leaned on the keyboard of the piano, playing random notes by mistake.

That laughter is The Police.

Born from the meeting of Copeland (son of an agent of C.I.A., brother of the future manager of the group and brother of another promoter who managed R.E.M., Simple Minds, The Cure) and Sting, who was in London after Copeland went there looking for music, returning from a trip to Beirut where he learned a lot about percussion. Henry Padovani, the guitarist, arrived later and that was it, The Police were born. And just two years later, Roxanne arrived in their lives.

This is Roxanne’s tango, with that 4/4 beat that looks almost like her eyes, seductive. Listen to the base, listen to the tango. Let yourself be thrilled by the beat and you will easily imagine a woman, beautiful and melancholic, and she will turn her gaze towards you, magnetizing you. Sting’s gives his scratched voice to Roxanne, he tells her drama and her salvation at the same time. It’s the voice of someone who cannot resist her seduction, but definitely wants to scream his feelings. He will save her.

A rock tango means powerful, brave, determinate seduction. But it’s still rock, and there is something more: there is the torment and the salvation, the depth and the wish to come to the surface.

This, I hope, is Roxanne’s story.

Roxanne
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over, you don’t have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money, you don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

I loved you since I knew ya
I wouldn’t talk down to ya
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy

I know my mind is made up
So put away your make-up
I told you once I won’t tell you again it’s a bad way

Roxanne (you don’t have to put on the red light)
Roxanne (put on the red light)

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