Sting Endears Himself to True Country Crowd on Nashville Trip
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.
May 21, 2022 @ 8:49 am
That song, I’m so Happy I can’t stop Crying, is a great song. And it helped get me through some hard times. To me that’s what makes a country song
Just for Fun
May 21, 2022 @ 9:08 am
Remember Sting was also on Waylon’s album “Closing In On The Fire” along with Sheryl Crow.
May 21, 2022 @ 9:11 am
Funny that he doesn’t feel comfortable due to being from northern England, even though that’s where so many of the old folk tunes that evolved into country music originated.
Also embarrassed to admit I didn’t realize ‘I’m so happy’ was a Sting cover. Probably the best song Toby Keith ever released.
May 21, 2022 @ 7:09 pm
The Mrs and I are having a grand time in Nashville right now. Missed ol Sting on account of we were at The Opry seeing Mo Pitney , Larry Gatlin , Bellamy Brothers and Rhonda Vincent. Had our own fun siting after the Opry at Music City Bar
We were checking out a band featuring Hags drummer, when in walked Rhonda! She jumped onstage and sang with the band! Another Nashville moment
It happens, ya just gotta be in the right place.
May 21, 2022 @ 9:45 am
@Trig to totally hijack the comments with an unrelated topic, have you checked out the show Reservation Dogs? It’s pretty incredible and has a hell of a soundtrack. Link Wray, Lee Hazlewood, Jimmie Rodgers, Sturgill, Turnpike, and JD McPherson have all been heard so far, in addition to a bunch of other great non-country-adjacent music. It sure beats the hell out of that soapy Yellowstone trash haha
May 21, 2022 @ 3:30 pm
Yes, I wrote about this a while back, though admittedly I haven’t been keeping up with it:
May 21, 2022 @ 9:45 am
Good songs are good songs. They transcend genres. Sting did show(on CMT) with Vince Gill several years ago. It was excellent.
May 21, 2022 @ 9:54 am
He also performed with Vince Gill on CMT crossroads. Countrys gained a fair ammount of popularity over here in the UK over the last few years, its not mainstream but has a solid following now. Its great that Stings a fan. It can show non country fans what good Country is.
May 21, 2022 @ 10:27 am
Brits can’t make country records? Tumbleweed Connection is here to tell the opposite.
i’m pretty sure Sting is playing in bass in a song on the Waylon’s album “Closing in to the fire”
May 21, 2022 @ 12:00 pm
I will always find it funny that the very large city of Nashville is considered “country” by any stretch, or maybe the authenticity things is not such a big deal because the genre is broad enough to allow for all kinds of authenticity. One good example is Honky Tonkin, during which the narrator basically wants to go to the city and get trashed on some married (maybe) ladies dime. It is rightly considered a classic but the writer forgot to include anything about how country he was, or how living in a small town is more morally correct than living in a city (something anyone who has spent any length of time living in a small town knows is untrue). All that to say, go ahead and write country songs Sting, nobody will be mad! It’s worth mentioning again that the greatest of all time Harlan Howard is from Detroit.
May 21, 2022 @ 1:26 pm
He is amazing! His voice is as strong and in tune as it was decades ago. I can’t believe at 70 my dream to see him came true thanks to my daughters. Thanks Sting you looked awesome in those black leather pants.
May 21, 2022 @ 1:56 pm
The best traditional country radio show right now is The Ameripolitan Music Show… From London. He plays a mix of the artists you see here this blog, a few classics, and quite a few UK and European country artists who are giving the best of honky tonk a run for its money. You can hear it worldwide on Mixcloud, I think it airs every other week.
May 21, 2022 @ 3:41 pm
Sting is a musical genius, with the police, his solo stuff, his Dream of the Blue Turtles and working with guys like Branford Marsalis, I highly respect him,one must realize that many English musicians idolized American Roots, Blues, Jazz and Country, and tried to emulate the artists that sadly we took for granted. The Stones, the Beatles worshiped people like Buddy Holly, Buck Owens, etc. and were shocked when they came here that they weren’t icons.
It took them to take their songs and styles and show us what we were missing right in our own backyard!
So, Hail to Sting,and nice to see him out with the common folk and especially Brennan Leigh, whose new album is wonderful, long live Western Swing and Asleep at the Wheel!
May 22, 2022 @ 5:28 pm
I’m the biggest Sting fan, but authenticity didn’t stop him when he and the fellas rode the reggae train 40 years ago. Or the jazz train he boarded to start his solo career. A good songwriter can write a song about the phone book. And he’s the best. Surprised no one mentioned “Love Is Stronger Than Justice” as another great country song written by Mr. Sumner. Check out his interview with Rick Beato on You Tube
May 22, 2022 @ 6:38 pm
You can’t talk Sting and country without giving props to “Fill Her Up” from Brand New Day. First time I heard it immediately took me back to the square dances in Lebanon back when I was a kid in the 70s/80s. Pure Country vibe with a lil Southern gospel in the bridge and even has James Taylor bringing in some back up vocals with a twang. That track is also a tribute to his incredible storytelling skills as a songwriter. Great song and definite evidence of his love for old school country!
May 22, 2022 @ 8:18 pm
Sting’s, “Desert Rose” with Cheb Mami, is one of the greatest collaborations in music history.
“Those dreams are tied to a horse that will never tire”
Know dual meaning here, but no cowboy wants their horse to tire.
(i mean that in a very sweet, respectful way)
Sting is amazing.
May 23, 2022 @ 4:43 am
yet Luke Bryan feels too comfortable making country music…
More Country Than You
May 23, 2022 @ 3:20 pm
Johnny Cash recorded a great version of “I Hung My Heat” also a Sting penned song.
May 25, 2022 @ 7:02 am
Okay, I can understand him not feeling comfortable as a north Englander singing American country songs… but what’s with the fake Jamaican accent he used on some of those Police songs?