Englishman / African In New York

02021-03-25 | Uncategorized | 8 comments

Sting, Shirazee – Englishman / African In New York – YouTube

Why does Sting wear a big hat and carry a cane in this video? Is the song about him or about someone else?

Don’t look it up on the interwebs because that’s no fun.

Woah, I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien, I’m a German in Santa Fe… dum di dum

The song, from the 1987 album “Nothing Like the Sun”, is about Quentin Crisp, an Englishman who lived in New York for a number of years. A 2009 biographical film about Crisp was named Englishman In New York after Sting’s song.


  1. Will

    Sting is a metaphorical “pimp” or Gandalf? No telling with him…lol

    One of my favorite Sting songs though!

    • ottmar

      5 points for originality!!

  2. MTCallahan

    I remember that answer from the original release.

  3. Marc Reynolds

    I remember from when the song originally came out it was about an eccentric English writer that was living in NYC. Perhaps that writer wore a big hat and had a cane?

  4. JaneParhamKatz

    Oh, I really like this. It made me homesick for New York! I accept Sting – don’t have to know why. When a teenager, I was an Okie in New York – which is sort of an alien. Now I feel like an alien wherever I am.

    Ottmar, you not old! If you jump rope every morning and walk miles, you not old. Just because you can remember X years ago. It’s wonderful to span a long history!

  5. Luna

    “Be yourself, no matter what they say. Be yourself no matter what they say. Be yourself no matter what they say.” “Oh oo i.m an alien. I’m a legal alien. I’m an ____ from_____.”

    Great video! Interesting style of hat Sting wears–almost like a pilgrim…and all shot in black and white too. Hmmm…also one of my favorite of his songs. My guess is that he/they are making a statement via a remix of this song, using the black and white film and the song’s lyrics to stand up for diversity and BLM in this country. Both hats are black, just different styles, like different people. Most people from this country (respectfully except the Indigenous people of this land) are or came from “aliens” from other lands, by choice or by force. So my guess is they are beautifully echoing the merging of diversity thru song and film…for more Acceptance…or maybe for Acceptance to become a smoother transition.

  6. Steve

    If memory serves ( which is a crap-shoot these days) Quentin Crisp, the protagonist of the song and subsequent film wore a hat similar to the one in the video.

    I don’t recall a walking stick in the film (I saw the film 11-ish years ago) … although … it is mentioned in the lyrics.

    John Hurt was pretty good in this role as I recall. I do have to say that the movie didn’t really make a strong impression on me. It was an excellent film, but I don’t have as “non-volatile” of memories of it as I do other films from the same era.


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