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

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Roxanne is a prostitute.
The singer is in love with her.
He wants to take her off the street and have her for his own.

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 – the dress she wears to attract clients. He wants her to know that she doesn’t have to be a sex worker anymore.

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

The message is directed at Roxanne, for her soul to receive protection from those who have been seduced by her body, captured her and kept her. Now, she’s his.

Roxanne is a prostitute and Sting has set this story in a night in Paris, watching sensual bodies and melancholic eyes. Roxanne is beautiful, seductive, and for this reason Sting composed a tune with a rhythmic, bossa nova base. It’s like a samba.

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

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

That laughter is The Police.

Born out of a meeting between Copeland (the son of a CIA agent and brother of the future manager and another promoter who managed R.E.M., Simple Minds and The Cure) and Sting, who was in London when Copeland went there looking for music. He had just returned 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 drives the song so seductively, like Roxanne’s own eyes. Listen to the bass, listen to the tango. Let yourself be thrilled by the beat and you will easily think of a woman, beautiful and melancholic, and she will turn her gaze towards you, attracting you irresistibly. Sting lends his scratchy voice to Roxanne, telling her story of drama and salvation. It’s the voice of someone who cannot resist her seduction, but definitely wants to scream out his feelings. He will save her.

This is a rock tango; a powerful, brave, determined seduction. But it’s still rock, and there is something more: there is the torment and the salvation, the depth and the longing which comes to the surface.

This, we 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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