Nothing Like the Sun, ©1987
Words and music by Sting
This musical critique of America's Foreign Policy in Latin America during the 1980's pays tribute to American, Ben
Linder who was killed by the Contras, a rebel group in Nicaragua that was supported and funded by the United States.
Joan Kruckewitt's book, The Death of Ben
Linder includes an account of Linder's funeral procession, "In the
coffin lay Benjamin Ernest Linder, a twenty-seven-year-old American engineer.
While working on a small hydroelectric dam that eventually brought electricity
and running water to a village in the middle of Nicaragua's war zone, he was ambushed by a group of Contras,
anti-Sandinista rebels financed by the U.S. government. Ben Linder's death made front-page
headlines around the world. His life and death were bitterly debated in the United States, on radio and television, in newspapers, and in
Congress. Opponents of Washington's
policy in Nicaragua called him a "national hero" and a martyr
of the left, while supporters of Washington's policy justified him as a "legitimate
target" and asked, "was he a Communist?" President Ronald
Reagan, who had earlier proclaimed "I'm a Contra too," made no
comment, but Vice President George Bush stated that Linder was on "the
The liner notes for Nothing Like the Sun
includes the following statement by Sting, "In the current climate it's
becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish "Democratic Freedom
Fighters" from drug dealing apolitical gangsters or Peace Corp workers
from Marxist Revolutionaries. Ben Linder, an American engineer was killed in
1987 by the "Contras" as a result of this confusion."
Sometimes events taking place long after a
song is written can serve to modify it's meaning. Bruce Springsteen's song
"My City of Ruins" was the first song performed on the "Tribute
To Heroes" 9/11 benefit telethon. This song was written before 9/11 and
was actually about the decline of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The song "Superman" by Five for Fighting
was performed during the Concert For New York City in tribute to the heroism
and sacrifice of New
firefighters. Prior to 9/11, John Ondrasik, Five for Fighting lead singer and
song writer explained, "Even a guy like Superman wants to be human once in
a while. We all try to be supermen in our jobs, everybody's aspiring to be
Superman, but sometimes that's very hard, very disappointing, and we tend to
lose the humanity in ourselves. Superman is looking down inside yourself
and trying to touch what you have. And that can be tough, and that can be
scary, and that can be sad."
14 years later, the tragic events of
September 11th would cast Sting's song "Fragile" in a much different
light. Learning of the horrific events earlier in the day Sting canceled his
evening concert in Tuscany, Italy. The September 11th concert was to be webcast live on
Yahoo! The following message from Sting appeared on Yahoo! prior to his live
webcast: "We are performing the song "Fragile" as a prayer and a
mark of respect for those people who have died or are suffering as a result of
this morning's tragedy. We are shutting down the webcast following this
Reference(s): Kruckewitt, Joan. The Death of Ben Linder.
Stories Press, May, 2001.
Sting Music and Lyric
Official Web Site
and the Police Lyrics Library
Referenced and Related
Ben Linder Mural and
Human Rights Watch
Dan Rather Quote
Jose Marti's "I
Cultivate a White Rose"
"After the War on the Land"
BBC News / Americas
"They Couldn't Kill His Songs"
Five For Fighting's
Ben Linder (
external page )
Mystery ( external page )
Linder: The death of a dreamer ( external page )
YouTube – “My
City of Ruins” ( external link
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