Sting and J. Ralph composed the song, “The Empty Chair” for the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story. As you see the clip of Sting performing that song at Bataclan, the historic Paris theater, for its opening one year after ISIS terrorists gunned down 89 people there, you cannot help but register that in “The Empty Chair—Live from the Bataclan,” his empathy is so overwhelming, Sting puts himself in the place of the man who was so brutally murdered by ISIS terrorists in 2014, singing, “Keep my place in the empty chair/ Somehow I’ll be There”/ “Vive la Bataclan!”
James Foley, was a photojournalist committed to bringing news from war zones. He was taken captive as he was documenting civilian casualties of war, specifically the Syrian refugees. You may remember him best from a widely seen photo of Jim kneeling beside “Jihadi John,” the man who would behead him. The film was made by his childhood friend, Brian Oakes, and features Foley’s family, friends, fellow journalists in the field, and fellow captives, speaking about the life, integrity of this man, and his final days.
Just before the Grammy’s, I had a chance to speak to Sting, on tour with his new album, 57th and 9th, and J. Ralph about their work on “The Empty Chair,” now nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar.