The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me


[Verse 1]
Young teacher, the subject
Of schoolgirl fantasy
She wants him so badly
Knows what she wants to be
Inside her there’s longing
This girl’s an open page
Book marking, she’s so close now
This girl is half his age

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

[Verse 2]
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

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

[Verse 3]
Loose talk in the classroom
To hurt they try and try
Strong words in the staffroom
The accusations fly
It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabokov

Don’t stand so close to me
Please don’t stand so close to me

Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is a hit single by the British rock band The Police, released in September 1980 as the lead single from their third album Zenyatta Mondatta. It concerns a schoolgirl’s crush on her teacher which leads to an affair, which in turn is discovered.

The band’s third number one on the UK Singles Chart, it was also the best selling single of 1980 in the UK. The song also charted in the top ten in Australia, Canada and the US. The Police won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for this song.

File:Don't Stand So Close to Me UK.jpg


The music and lyrics of the song were written by the lead singer of The Police, Sting. The song deals with the mixed feelings of lust, fear and guilt that a female student has for a school teacher and vice versa, and inappropriateness leading to confrontation which is unravelled later on in the song. The line “Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov” alludes to Vladimir Nabokov‘s novel Lolita, which covers somewhat similar issues.[2] After being criticised for rhyming “cough” with “Nabokov,” Sting replied, “I’ve used that terrible, terrible rhyme technique a few times. Technically, it’s called a feminine rhyme – where it’s so appalling it’s almost humorous. You don’t normally get those type of rhymes in pop music and I’m glad!”[3]

Before joining The Police, Sting had previously worked as an English teacher. Sting said of the song in 1981:

I wanted to write a song about sexuality in the classroom. I’d done teaching practice at secondary schools and been through the business of having 15-year-old girls fancying me – and me really fancying them! How I kept my hands off them I don’t know… Then there was my love for Lolita which I think is a brilliant novel. But I was looking for the key for eighteen months and suddenly there it was. That opened the gates and out it came: the teacher, the open page, the virgin, the rape in the car, getting the sack, Nabokov, all that.[3]

Sting, L’Historia Bandido, 1981[3]

In 1993, however, he said of the song’s inspiration, “You have to remember we were blond bombshells at the time and most of our fans were young girls so I started role playing a bit. Let’s exploit that.”[3] in a 2001 interview for the concert DVD …All This Time, Sting denied that the song is autobiographical.

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” appeared on The Police’s album Zenyatta Mondatta (A&M), and became a hit No. 1 UK single,[4] along with a corresponding music video. In the US, it reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 10. In the UK, the track was confirmed by the end of 1980 to have been the biggest selling single of that year.

The B-side, “Friends”, was written by Andy Summers and is inspired by Stranger in a Strange Land, a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein.[3] Summers described the track as “Very quirky. A touch of Long John Silver on Acid.”[3]

Sting was asked to perform on Mark Knopfler‘s “Money for Nothing” as he was in Montserrat at the time, and reused a melody from “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” in the counterpoint lyric “I want my MTV.” It was only after this story was related to reporters during promotions for the Brothers in Arms album that lawyers for Sting became involved, and later copies of the album co-credit the song to Sting. The initial pressings list only Knopfler. It is one of only two shared songwriting credits on any Dire Straits album.


“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” features Sting on lead vocals. Like many Police songs, the verses are more subdued, while the chorus is bolder and louder. The song also bears a reggae style, yet another common trait in Police songs. Thematically, the “wet bus stop” idea invites comparison with the 1966 hit song “Bus Stop” by another English group, The Hollies.

The track uses a guitar synthesizer in the middle of the song, which was used by guitarist Andy Summers. Summers said, “After Sting had put the vocals on ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ we looked for something to lift the middle of the song. I came up with a guitar synthesiser. It was the first time we’d used it. I felt it worked really well.”[3] The verses and choruses do not feature this effect.[3]

File:Don't Stand So Close to Me 86.jpg


Track listing

7-inch – A&M / AMS 7564 (UK)
  1. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” – 4:03
  2. “Friends” – 3:37
7-inch – A&M / AMS 2301 (US)
  1. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” – 4:03
  2. “A Sermon” – 2:34


Chart (1980–81) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Top 40 3
French Singles Chart 7
German Singles Chart 23
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 3
NZ Singles Chart 2
Spanish Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 10
Canadian Singles Chart 2

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86”

The song was re-recorded in 1986 with a new, brooding arrangement, a different chorus and a more opulent production. The new version appeared as “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86” on the album Every Breath You Take: The Singles, and was released as a single, reaching number 24 in the British charts.[4] It also reached number 11 in Ireland, number 14 in New Zealand, number 19 on the Netherlands MegaCharts Singles Chart (number 20 on Dutch Top 40), number 27 in Canada[6] and number 46 on Billboard Hot 100 (number 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks).

Because of the decrease in tempo, a slight lyric change is found in the line “Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov” (the word ‘famous’ was added). A new music video was produced for the reworked song by Godley and Creme, notable for its early use of animated computer graphics.

Because drummer Stewart Copeland had broken his collarbone and was unable to drum, he opted to use his Fairlight CMI to program the drum track for the single. While singer/bassist Sting pushed to use the drums on his Synclavier instead, the group’s engineer found the Synclavier’s programming interface difficult—and it ended up taking him two days to complete the task. Copeland ultimately finished the drum programming and claimed that the Fairlight’s then-legendary “Page R” (the device’s sequencing page) saved his life and put him on the map as a composer. In a Qantas inflight radio program named “Reeling in the Years”, Copeland was quoted as saying that the argument over Synclavier versus Fairlight drums was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and that this led to the group’s unravelling.

As the Police had already disbanded by the time the 1986 single was released, this, aside from the then-unreleased “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da ’86,” was the last recording before the band’s reunion and the most recent studio recording the band has released.

Track listing

7-inch – A&M / AM 354 (UK)
  1. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86” – 4:47
  2. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (live) – 3:40
12-inch – A&M / AMY 354 (UK)
  1. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86” (dance mix) – 6:32
  2. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86” – 4:47
  3. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (original version) – 4:03
  4. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (live) – 3:40


Chart (1986) Peak
Spain (Los 40 Principales) 1
Australian Singles Chart 32
Dutch Top 40 19
Irish Singles Chart 11
UK Singles Chart 24
US Billboard Hot 100 46
Canadian Singles Chart 27

Glee cover

The song was covered in the episode “Ballad” of the American television series Glee in 2009. It was performed by the character Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) as a musical mashup with “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. It was included on the second soundtrack album from the series.

The single version charted at number 67 in Canada, number 64 in the United States and number 50 in Ireland.

In other media

The song was featured in “Mars vs. Mars“, an episode of the American television series Veronica Mars.[7]

During several parts of Zoolander 2, Sting calls Hansel (who is established as Hansel’s biological father) on numerous occasions, often quoting songs such as “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, and “Spirits in the Material World“.



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