The Police - Roxanne




The Police lead singer Sting wrote the song inspired by the prostitutes he saw near the band's seedy hotel in Paris, France, where the Police were lodged in October 1977 to perform at the Nashville Club. The song's title comes from the name of the character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, an old poster of which was hanging in the hotel foyer.


Sting had originally conceived the song as a bossa nova, although he credits Police drummer Stewart Copeland for suggesting its final rhythmic form as a tango. During recording, Sting accidentally sat down on a piano keyboard in the studio, resulting in the atonal piano chord and laughter preserved at the beginning of the track.


As a nod to the gaffe, Sting is credited in the liner notes for playing "butt piano."The Police were initially diffident about the song, but Miles Copeland III was immediately enthusiastic after hearing it; he became their manager and got them their first record deal with A&M Records.


We went into Surrey Sound Studios and it was working pretty well. We recorded a few tracks, one of which I wrote more or less as a throwaway. That was 'Roxanne', I didn't think much more about it until we played the album to Miles Copeland who is, of course, Stewart's brother and a bit of an entrepreneur, though he'd never been particularly interested in The Police. In fact, he'd kept away from it to say the least.


He did come along to the sessions while we were putting the first album together but more or less just to offer brotherly advice to Stewart. He heard the album and quite liked it. When we got to Roxanne, we were a bit embarrassed because the song was a bit of an anachronism, because compared with our usual material it was slow, quiet and melodic. Far from saying he thought it was a piece of shit, he said it was amazing. I thought, 'He likes this song. This is fantastic!


— Sting, A Visual Documentary, 1978





Lyrics


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 Roxanne You don't have to 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) Roxanne (put on the red light) Rox— I loved you since I knew you I wouldn't talk down to you 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 Roxanne You don't have to put on the red light Roxanne You don't have to 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) 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 (you don't have to put on the red light) Roxanne (put on the red light)