Passer au contenu

FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $80.00

The Police - Roxanne

The Police - Roxanne

‘Roxanne’ is a song by English rock band The Police, released in April 1978 as the first single from their debut album Outlandos d’Amour. While not taking off initially, the song reached No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart in April 1979, after it was re-released.

Songwriter:   Sting
Producers:   The Police
Label:   A&M

SOME INTERESTING FACTS

The inspiration for the song came to the band’s lead singer and bassist, Sting while they were staying in a run-down hotel close to the red-light district of Paris in October 1977, with the intention of playing a gig with the punk band The Damned. Unfortunately, The Damned had cancelled the gig, but had not been able to contact Sting, Andy and Stewart. Somewhat disgruntled, and needing to cool off, Sting went for a walk, while Andy and Stewart went for a drive.

It was during this time that Sting saw some of the street prostitutes, noting in a 1981 interview, “It was the first time I’d seen prostitution on the streets, and those birds were actually beautiful,” and that “I had a tune going around in my head, and I imagined being in love with one of those girls.” He assumed that some of these girls must have boyfriends and what it would be like to be in love with one of them, being determined to provide her with a much better life than the world of prostitution.

Further inspiration came in the foyer of the band’s hotel in Paris, when Sting noticed an old poster hanging on the wall promoting Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac, giving Sting the idea to call on Cyrano’s object of affection, Roxanne, promising to lift her up above the life that she was living and of his undying love for her.

Remember that opening piano chord where Sting laughs? Well, it turns out that it was actually an accident. The band was in the Surrey Sound Studios, recording a few tracks for their debut album, surrounded by all sorts of instruments, including an upright piano, which Sting accidentally sat on, thinking that the lid was closed. The resulting sound of Sting sitting on the keys and then laughing was captured on tape, as they had already started to record for his vocals. The boys decided to keep the little gaffe and include it at the beginning of the song, even mentioning it in the album’s inner notes, where Sting receives credit for playing “butt piano”.

Although, the band had recorded Roxanne, along with the other album tracks, they were not overly fond of the song, thinking it was more of a “throwaway” track. This was mostly due to the song being much slower and more melodic than their usual punk-inspired material. However, when drummer Stewart Copeland’s brother Miles came to the studios to have a listen, he immediately latched onto Roxanne, even saying that he thought it was amazing.

Miles was so impressed with the song that he took the recording to A&M Records, who released it as the band’s first single. Unfortunately, the single didn’t make into the charts on its initial release, even though reviewers such as Bev Briggs from the Record Mirror were telling rock fans “.... what the hell, go out and buy it immediately". The initial poor reception of Roxanne can also be accredited to the BBC’s refusal to play it, due to it being about a prostitute, prompting the band to promote that their new song had been banned by the BBC, which helped to build up their reputation as revolutionaries in the punk rock world.

The song finally started to take off while The Police were touring in the United States, with a growing number of DJ’s regularly playing Roxanne. This led to the song being re-released in the UK the following year, when it was far more successful, peaking at No. 12.

‘Roxanne’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" has Roxanne listed at No. 388, and VH1 voted the song to No. 85 in its "100 Greatest Rock Songs" list.

Ewan McGregor’s character, Christian sings a reworked version of the song in the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge, where he is singing about the object of his affections, Satine, played by Nicole Kidman.

The song has been played in several TV shows, including:

  • Raising Hope ("The Old Girl" – 2013)
  • Community ("Remedial Chaos Theory" – 2011)
  • Two And A Half Men ("Winky-Dink Time" – 2008)
  • The Office ("Phyllis' Wedding" – 2007)
  • Big Love ("A Barbecue For Betty" – 2006)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ("Random Acts Of Violence" – 2003)

It was also used in a 2001 episode of Friends, when Phoebe and Ross sing the song as “Ross-can”, in an effort to secure tickets to a Sting Concert.

The 1982 movie 48 Hours, includes a scene where Reggie, played by Eddie Murphy, sings along with the song, while listening to his Walkman in his prison cell.
 

SONG LYRICS

[Intro]
[Verse 1]
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
 
[Pre-Chorus]
Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
 
[Chorus]
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light, oh
 
[Verse 2]
I loved you since I knew you
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
Told you once
I won't tell you again it's a bad way
 
[Pre-Chorus]
Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne
You don't have to put on the red light
 
[Outro]
(Roxanne) You don't have
To put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) You don't have
To put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
 

CHECK THIS OUT

Check out some of our latest unique designs below and - just for reading to the end of this page - get an extra 10% off (on top of any current discounts) on all of our gear when you use the code: VIDPAGE10