“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is a 1980 song and hit single by the British rock band The Police. It concerns a schoolgirl’s crush on her young teacher and the teacher’s nervousness about the situation. The Police won the 1982 “Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” for this song. A re-recorded version of the song was released in 1986 as “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86″.
The song deals with the mixed feelings of the teacher, his lust on one hand, and the inappropriateness leading to “strong words in the staff room; the accusations fly”, and to the girl being teased. The title expresses the second feeling.
Similar to another Police song (“Every Breath You Take”) “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” may be considered an example of a paranoia song because of the situation of the schoolteacher—trying to avoid temptation with the girl who lusts after him. The music and lyrics of the song were written by the lead singer of The Police, Sting, who had previously worked as an English teacher. In a 2001 interview for the concert DVD …All This Time, Sting denied that the song is autobiographical.
The line “Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov” alludes to Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel Lolita which covers similar issues. However, Sting mispronounces “Nabokov,” and Humbert Humbert is not an “old man.”
Sting was asked to perform on Mark Knopfler’s “Money for Nothing” as he was in Montserrat at the time, and reused the melody from the chorus of “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 Mark Knopfler. It is one of only two shared songwriting credits on any Dire Straits album.
* Sting – Lead vocals, bass guitar
* Andy Summers – Guitars, background vocals, lead vocals on “Friends”
* Stewart Copeland – Drums
* The chorus of the song was featured in the season one Thanksgiving episode of Friends, “The One Where Underdog Gets Away.” Joey Tribbiani accepts what he believes to be a modelling gig for a series of public health posters, but it turns out to be a picture depicting Joey as someone with a sexually transmitted disease. A montage of scenes is shown with city workers putting up the posters all across the city as the song is played.
* On the season two finale episode “Casino Night” of NBC’s The Office, the character Kevin is in a Police cover band Scrantonicity that performs “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” on their audition tape.
* Memphis Rapper Gangsta Boo features the most recent version on her 2001 album, Both Worlds *69.
* In the webcomic Irregular Webcomic! by David Morgan-Mar, the sword of the hobbit Lambert(sting)sings it whenever Orcs are near.
* Name of an episode from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy.
* In the Veronica Mars episode “Mars vs. Mars”, a group of girls tease a classmate who has allegedly had an affair with a teacher by regaling her with the song during a lunch break.
* In the Gym Class Heroes song, “Scandalous Scholastics”, a reference is made to “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” as the song is about a young student who has an affair with his teacher: “This isn’t how it was supposed to be, reminiscent of Don’t Stand So Close to Me”.
* In the sixteenth season episode of The Simpsons, “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister”, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is played during the Lisa/Bart montage.
1980 single release
“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 along with a corresponding music video. It was the single that ‘broke’ The Police in the USA, as it reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, peaking at #10. In the U.K, 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 and sung by Andy Summers and is inspired by Stranger in a Strange Land, a science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein.