Police "Don't Stand So Close To Me" interpretation

Who is saying “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and in what context?

Is it the narrator saying it in disgust at the teacher, as in “Don’'t stand close to me, pervert!”

Is it the teacher saying it to the student, as in “Don’t stand so close to me, let’s try to be discreet about this”?

Or is it some other context I hadn’t thought of?

I always assumed it was the teacher talking to the student.

The teacher (Sting used to be a teacher, BTW) is being tempted by a lovely young student even outside the classroom:

“Wet bus stop
She’s waiting
His car is warm and dry”

I always thought it was the teacher telling the sweet young student with the crush on him to keep away from him because he didn’t know how long he could resist.

Remember the line in the song “He starts to shake, he starts to cough…just like that famous book by Nabakov”…

Nabakov wrote a famous novel called “Lolita” about a older man having a love affair with a 13 year old (or so) girl.

I always wondered what the song was about until I finally heard that line and put it all together.

Hope that helps…


Rhiannon’s interpretation matches mine. He’s telling her to keep her distance, because he’s hot for her, he knows it’s wrong/he’ll get in trouble, and he doesn’t want the temptation.

Yeah, that’s my take.

PLEASE, don’t stand so close to me.

It’s definitely teacher to student.

I’d say it’s a combination of both “stay away so I can control myself” and “stay away, be discreet.” The former at the beginning of the song; the latter at the end of the song.

But of course, I’m not Gordon Sumner, so YMMV. :smiley:

Since I’ve never seen the two of you in a room together at the same time, I’ll have to take your word on that.



Well, when Gordon (Sting) Sumner was a young man, he taught literature at an all-girls prep school. So, he had first-hand experience with teenyboppers who thought young Mr. Sumner was a dreamy bloke. He was the first crush for several such girls, who’d stay behnind after class to chat and flirt.

So, I’ve always assumed the lyrics reflect the thoughts of a twenty-something teacher hoping to fend off the advances of a horny teenage girl. He’s thinking, “Yes, honey, you’re gorgeous and part of me would love to shag you, but I could get fired or arrested… so please, back off!”

Then there is the idea that the 1986 remake of the song was Sting talking to Copeland and Summers. At least that was the speculation I read during my Police phase in the early '90s. It was the typical pseudo-perceptive analysis like “Why did he choose to re-do that song with that title?..It had to be a message to the others…”

Well given the writer and the subject matter, the consensus seems to be on Sting’s side. But I don’t see why it has to be an either/ or proposition. Maybe that’s just the easy interpretation. It’s just as likely this song can be seen from the schoolgirl’s POV, too. The first few lyrics give us the insight into the young girl’s mind… I think it’s pretty clear that she’s the instigator f all this longing and lust.

I think that its the story of a young girl struggling with her desire for her young teacher, knowing its wrong, but can’t help wishing/contriving/fantasizing about it.

“Her friends are so jealous…You know how bad girls get.
Sometimes it’s not so easy…To be the teacher’s pet.
Temptation, frustration…So bad it makes him cry.
Wet bus stop, she’s waiting…His car is warm and dry.”

Granted, this song presupposes the young girl knows that Nabakov wrote Lolita.… but it also explains why she’d describe that novel’s narrator as an “old man.”

And in the last bit of the song, you can hear Sting sing “Please don’t stand so close to me”, not just the standard chorus bit.

So yeah, stay away, cause I don’t know how much longer I can control myself.

I gotta vent here.

“Just like the old man in that book by Nabakov”

WTF sort of lyric is this? We all know what books he’s talking about. He knows what book he’s talking about. There is only one famous dirty-old-man book, and I’m sure 99.9990% of the population is more familier with it’s name than it’s author. If it’s a streached rhyme, well, they could do better. If not, it’s just bad writing. Drives me nuts every time I hear it.

“That old man in Lolita” might not make it past the censors. :wink:

First of all, yes it’s possible that the refrain could represent either or both the teacher or the girl’s perspective.

Who cares? Even if it’s meant to be ambiguous, that’s the only ambiguity to be found anywhere in the song. Sting’s lyrics (as usual) lack even trace subtlety (to an amazing degree for a former English teacher, IMHO) and he makes sure you GET IT! over and over again. I guess he fears you’ll miss his point if he doesn’t whack you over the head with a shovel.

Just like that book by Nabakov? Only sting. ONLY STING would put it that way. His idea of an obscure allusion. But God forbid it would go over anyone’s head.

Also reminds me of a quote I heard by another musician re: Sting. (Anyone know who it’s from or can verify it?) “I read too. I just don’t talk about it all the time.”