The Cold War Through Music

The Cold War lasted approximately from 1947 to 1991 and it was a period of high tension and political conflict between the USSR and the US. There was not any physical fighting, but there was conflict behind the scenes: military alliances, espionage, propaganda, the nuclear arms race, and a race for technological innovations. 

I came across this song by Sting from his debut solo album, The Dream of Blue Turtles called Russians. In it, he sings of the consequences of the Cold War and of what we could do to save the world from the escalating shows of power. 

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The lyrics are: 

In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Khrushchev said we will bury you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the president
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us me and you
Is if the Russians love their children too 


Please take the time to read the lyrics. Each line is really very meaningful. The song’s lyrics and Sting’s mournful voice really portray the despair of the situation. He wants the everyone to get along to ensure that a future will exist for generations to come.  The last four lines are really poignant. Sting says, we are all human beings; you and I are made of one and the same. Why can’t we just get along and live in peace and harmony?

I think Sting’s debut of this song was very taboo, but I applaud him for being courageous enough to come out with this radical song. People were very frightened by the prospect of another World War and there was a lot of hatred towards foreigners. They were anti-Russian, anti-Communist, and anti-foreigner. Sting tries to soothe people by singing about the innocence of sons and daughters, trying to convince them to unite peacefully for their sake. 

6 thoughts on “The Cold War Through Music

  1. its very interesting how sometimes we see people; such as musicians who are just a form of entertainment have more real sense then political figures who are leading nations. i think this song is as you say bringing out the idea that we are all the same, because when it comes down to it we are all humans, and even if we have different skin colors, or different ideologies it does not mean others are wrong for believing the things that they believe. I love how he brings the idea of children into the song because it shows us a different side then most american anti-communist media showed us. it makes us think of russian children, who like american children and all children around the world, are innocent to what is going on in their environment.

  2. I wonder if there was any indication of an anti-communist movement in the music industry as there was in the movie industry. Were there any blacklists in the music industry?

    I also like how this video and its tone and mood is very noir-like.

  3. Subject Gordon “Sting” Sumner was added to our files in 1983 and was actively investigated by the Bureau from 1983 to 1987.

    His record of subversive behavior began in 1983, with the song “Every Breath You Take,” which was overheard by Director William H. Webster during a coffee break in the main office’s third floor breakroom. Director Webster heard the lyrics “Every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you” which prompted a full-scale investigation into Gordon “Sting” Sumner’s background. A task force was created, using the dormant elements of the group assigned to the Unabomber, to try and decode the lyrics of “Every Breath You Take.” We hypothesized that he was attempting to subliminally convey the Soviet ideal of the worth of the collective over the worth of the individual, by implying that a higher governmental power knew what its citizens were doing at all times.

    Our file on “Gordon” Sting “Sumner” remained open afterwards as we waited for him to make a move. In 1984, the prevailing view within the Bureau was that Gordon “Sting” Sumner was a sleeper KGB agent inserted into Great Britain in order to make extradition harder for the U.S. once his cover was exposed.

    In 1985, Gordon “Sting” Sumner continued his subversive trend with the song you have posted, “Russians,” in which he went as far as to criticize President Reagan, and promote Marxian themes of equality (“We share the same biology”). By this point, his status as a cultural icon for Great Britain made it near-impossible for the Bureau and my Task Force to penetrate his personal life.

    The file on Gordon “Sting” Sumner was closed with the release of the Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” (1987), which was written by Gordon “Sting” Sumner himself. The song was a clear and heavily misguided criticism on the tendency of capitalism to elevate certain individuals to large-scale success with little effort involved on their parts (“Maybe get a blister on your little finger, maybe get a blister on your thumb”).

    After the Dire Straits fiasco, the “Gordon ‘Sting’ Sumner” file was closed to the Bureau and forwarded to our boys at the Pentagon in line with Director Webster’s promotion to Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Director Webster worked for four long years to bring Gordon “Sting” Sumner to justice, but retired from public office in 1991; the fall of the Soviet Union meant that there was not enough to extradite Gordon “Sting” Sumner for his crimes against the United States of America.

    As for me? Well, I went back to my cubicle in the main office, coming out only to see the arrest of another subversive: Theodore Kaczynski. You may know him as the Unabomber. I have long since retired from the Bureau, but I still keep a copy of the “Gordon” “Sting” Sumner file on my mantle. It reminds me of a bygone era, where America was united against a common foe. Where I had purpose.

    The next time you listen to one of Gordon Sting “Sumner’s” songs, think about what twisted ideal he may be trying to push onto you. Do not let his silken voice captivate you.

  4. @Minhaj McCarthyism affected all areas of the entertainment industry and musicians, lyricists and producers were blacklisted as well. Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson, Woodie Guthrie, Josh White, and The Weavers are among the better known blacklisted musicians. There were likely many more lesser known acts as well.

    @Vik Very nice. If that guy didn’t have an FBI file, he should have although Synchronicity may be exoneration enough.

  5. I never heard the song before, but now that I listened to it, it somehow got to the very inside of me. wow must be his voice, like Vik said “silken voice that captivates”, it works!
    Besides all that, I really like the lyrics. If we look at this song as a persuasive type of communication, it is very effective. Mentioning of children is guaranteed to provoke sympathy, because who doesn’t love their children? It makes the listener realize that yes we are all same people, we all have love inside of us, regardless of politics and brainwashing against each other.
    I agree that Sting was very brave to directly mention names of political leaders in his song, also probably having knowledge of the possible consequences.

  6. Every time I listen to Sting, it strikes a chord within me. Not only is it his voice but the deep message in his songs.

    Sting’s ultimate message still lingers today. Rather than fighting, countries should come together to ensure the future of the world. The song’s message is so effective; it puts everything into perspective and makes us think about if we’re at war for all the right reasons.

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