“Message in a Bottle” by The Police is a classic rock song, but the lyrics provide thoughts on individualism.


The Police formed in England in 1977 consisting of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.

This three-piece band signed with record company A&M releasing “Message in a Bottle” in 1979 off its second album, Reggatta de Blanc.

The Police debuted the song on BBC’s Rock Goes to College, a live television show and the song hit No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart.

This song is still a popular song in rock circles and radio, and can be heard on St. Louis’ rock radio station KSHE.

The classic sound, guitar riffs, and ’80s vocals contribute to the popularity of the song, but the lyrics provide some interesting conversation and thinking.

The main theme flowing throughout the song is loneliness.

The premise of the track is the narrator is lost on an island all by himself and he starts to become lonely and depressed.

“More loneliness / Than any man could bear / Rescue me before I fall into despair,” Sting sings.

In response to his position, he decided to write an SOS note in a bottle and sends it out to sea.

A year passes and there is no recognition of the note.

“Only hope can keep me together / Love can mend your life / But love can break your heart,” the song continues.

These lines from the song are quoted often and seem haphazardly thrown into the song with no relation to the rest of the lyrics.

Without love and hope the narrator realizes that being alone is a terrible position.

Love easily changes a person’s life and brings hope and joy to life, but missing out on such love can leave a person to be disheartened.

After this rather depressing statement, String relays what a morning brings him.

“Walked out this morning / Don’t believe what I saw / A hundred billion bottles / Washed up on the shore / Seems I’m not alone at being alone / A hundred billion castaways / Looking for a home,” he says.

It is in the reveal of other SOS notes that the narrator realizes that he is not alone.

Individualism is a large aspect of Western culture, yet despite the importance of self-reliance and self-knowledge, community is important to one’s well being  and vital to one’s spiritual life.

We might feel alone at times, but sometimes it’s nice to know that someone out there knows exactly what you feel and is sending out an SOS too.

We all need help and support from other people.

We all have some form of SOS ready to send to sea as soon as something troubling comes into our lives, and “Message in a Bottle” is a great reminder of the importance of community.

By Victoria Scheibe

Victoria Scheibe is a former staff journalist and editor for MBU Timeline. She has graduated and now works in Graduate Admissions at MBU. Her degree is in English, with a minor in journalism and a writing certificate. While a student at MBU, she was the vice president for Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, and spent four months at Oxford University.