Sting Endears Himself to True Country Crowd on Nashville Trip

Sting and Brennen Leigh (photo via Brennen Leigh)

World famous Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sting was in Nashville on Wednesday, May 18th to perform at the city’s Ascend Amphitheater, just a short walk down from Lower Broadway. And along with being one of the most famous bass players to ever ply the craft, and one of the few folks along with Slash and Seal who can successfully rock the single word name, apparently Sting is also a country music fan.

And when I say “country music,” I don’t mean that stuff they play on the radio these days, but the real stuff, like what you can hear at the “Home of Traditional Country Music” on Lower Broadway, the one and only Robert’s Western World. The day before Sting’s big show, he had some free time and decided to take in some of the local culture. And as anyone who knows what’s up will tell you in Nashville or beyond, if you’re on Lower Broadway, your best option is Robert’s.

According to numerous reports, Sting didn’t just stick his head in the door to pose for a few selfies, he was hanging out at Robert’s all night as the amazing Brennen Leigh played her regular Tuesday night residency, and he was still there when Chris Casello showed up to play the closing set.

“[Sting] graciously hung at the bar with the rest of us country folk and listened to the band all night,” reports Brennen Leigh, who just released an excellent new Western Swing album called Obsessed With The West with Asleep at the Wheel. “I felt a little sheepish asking him for a photo but he was very complimentary and sweet. Thanks Mister Sting. Class act.”

Oh but that’s not all. According to attendees at the Ascend Amphitheater show the next day, Sting told a story about how when he was growing up, he discovered country and Western music by watching shows like Maverick and Bonanza, which led him to the songs of Hank Williams and Buck Owens. Then when he became a songwriter himself, Sting would dabble with writing country songs, but he couldn’t bring himself to perform them. Why?

“There’s a problem of authenticity, because I’m not from Nashville. I’m from the north of England,” Sting told the crowd. Of course, folks from England can and have written and sung country music too. Think of Barry Gibb, or from the new crop of country artists, Ags Connolly. But that Sting quote does show you the kind of respect the now 70-year-old rock legend has for the country genre.

But Sting actually does have a country song or two in his arsenal. On his 1996 album Mercury Falling was the track “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying.” Just the title sounds like a country song, doesn’t it? But the song sounds country too, both in the writing, and since it features fiddle and steel guitar. The video also has a very country setting. It basically is Sting’s country song, and that was affirmed when Toby Keith covered it in 1997 and had a #2 hit with it.

Not only did Sting perform “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” in Nashville, he performed “I Hung My Head” that’s also from his Mercury Falling album, which Johnny Cash covered masterfully on his release in 2002, American IV: The Man Comes Around.

Anyway, you probably didn’t think that Sting’s stop in Nashville would have so many country music tie-ins. But during his 48 hours in town, he endeared himself quite well to the local population, and to country fans in general. It’s always fun to verify when one of your musical heroes also seems to be a good dude as well.

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