Years ago someone told me that Every Breath You Take by The Police is actually a political song about the Cold War, instead of the you-left-me-but-I-still-love-you-so-I’m-going-to-stalk-you love song that most people take it for. Last week I ordered a Police singles collection and when I listened to it today I remembered what I’d been told about the song. After listening to it a few times, I wasn’t really sure if the interpretation fit or not.

Geek that I am, I turned to Google for answers. Internet what it is, I found a plethora of completely contradictory statements side-by-side. Some claim that it is, indeed, a song about spies during the Cold War. Others, however, claim that Sting wrote it about his first wife leaving him.

So, which one is right? The Cold War interpretation has some lines that fit:

Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you

You can easily imagine this refering to the U.S. and U.S.S.R. spying on each other, but once you get past the chorus the Cold War interpretation breaks down.

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying, “baby, baby please”

The song was written before the war ended, so “since you’ve gone” can’t be in reference to that, and therefore “I look around but it’s you I can’t replace” can’t be seen as a comment on the military-industrial complex. “I feel so cold and I long for your embrace / I keep crying, ‘baby, baby please.’ “ doesn’t fit the war interpretation either; and judging from personal experience, isn’t that exactly how you feel when someone you love leaves you?

So, I’m siding with the traditional interpretation, even if that does hurt my music-snob image. But, I could be wrong. I did read that Sting confirmed the Cold War Interpretation in an interview, but I haven’t been able to authenticate that. Anyone care to set me straight?