STORY OF SONG
“Desert Rose” is the 1999 track from British singer and musician Sting (Gordon Matthew Thomas Summer) that also featured Cheb Mami – an Algerian singer and songwriter. Released on Sting’s sixth studio album “Brand New Way” released in September 1999 through A&M Records. As with all songs by Sting, the track was written as well as produced by him, with Kipper producing and Cheb Mami credited for song writing on his version with Sting.
“Desert Rose” is a pop-rock song about a lover that Sting and Mami are so transfixed with and compare the woman with the resilience and beauty of a rose growing in a desert. On sting.com, Sting spoke about working with Mami and the process of working with him:
“All last summer I lived with Cheb Mami’s album. Eating, walking, all the time. His voice is an incredible instrument. He does whatever he wants with it, it really impressed me, as did his talent as a musician. I hadn’t got any idea of what he could sing, I didn’t know rai music. Then I saw him in Bercy with Khaled, Rachid Taha and this great orchestra… and Steve Hillage. Very impressed, I began to write a song on this experience and we met. I asked him if he’d like to sing for me, in a way to ‘authenticate’ my experience (ironic smile). He’s a lovely man. He sung without knowing what I was singing. As it happens, it’s about desire, craving. I asked him: just improvise, in arab, on my melody. Later I asked him what he was talking about, he answered that he sang about desire, craving of a loved person. I told him that it was exactly the song’s theme! So the music suggested those words. It was a sort of unconscious and automatic process. I always considered that it was the music which wrote the text. For this album, more than all the others, I began by writing the music, then I went walking and this music suggested a character, a story. Like a sculptor who kneads his material, then notices a nose, a leg. It’s longer, but more organic.”
The music video for “Desert Rose” was directed by Paul Boyd in 1999. The video features Sting taking a trip through the Mojave Desert driven in a Jaguar by a masked female chauffeur, while recording himself until he reaches a nightclub where he performs the song live with Cheb Mami. Uploaded to Sting’s YouTube channel in June 2009, the video currently has 232.5 million views and over 1.1 million likes.
Release Date: September 1999
Producer/s: Sting & Kipper
Music Video Release Date: 1999
Music Video Director: Paul Boyd
Chart Rankings: “Desert Rose” charted well after its release, reaching:
– #67 in Australia
– #6 in Austria
– #7 & #11 on various charts in Belgium
– #2 & #23 in Canada
– #3 in Europe
– #6 in France
– #7 in Germany
– #1 in Greece
– #7 in Hungary
– #27 in Ireland
– #4 in Italy
– #29 in the Netherlands
– #1 in Portugal
– #19 in Scotland
– #3 in Switzerland
– #15 in the UK
– #17 on the US Billboard Hot 100
– #1 on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs
– #22 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary
– #3 on the US Billboard Adult Top 40
– #5 on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs
– #1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales (Victor Calerone remix)
– #19 on the US Billboard Top 40
The lyrics to “Desert Rose” can be read here.
Listen to “Desert Rose” on Apple Music.
Listen to “Desert Rose” on Spotify.