Man On The Line

19th March 2003 - Helen (22) from St. Petersburg, Russia:

Hello, Chris! Your new album is really nice! My question is about CD's booklet. The first pictures look as if they were taken on Hawaii. But the next I suppose are taken in Russia on the 8th or 9th of March. Summer and winter at the same time? Why? Thanks a lot.

St. Petersburg is part of the world I will be returning to in April as you may have heard. I've got this Russian tour coming up and one of the venues is in St. Petersburg. And I was there last year. What a beautiful city, it is absolutely stunning. Anyway, the question is about CD booklets. The pictures are supposed to be summer and winter, very cold places and very warm places to illustrate the cover of Timing Is Everything. Because if you look on the back you see there is a newspaper saying "Blizzards close all airports - below -50 in Moscow". It's suggesting that whoever this is has arrived on a beach, perhaps in Hawaii, perhaps in Barbados or Mauritius, which I love in particular. They've got out just in time before that really dreadful weather has settled in. And the photographs were taken in different places in the world, but the ones with me in them do include Moscow. And the one in the middle is taken inside the Kremlin. We took quite a few photographs in there and that again is an absolutely beautiful part of the world.

20th March 2003 - Karen Kebby (33) from Wimborne, Dorset, UK:

Hi Chris, Having seen you perform in Bournemouth with your new band - you were all fantastic I just would like to ask how you go about choosing the band members? You seem to have a very good relationship with them and they are very much on your wave length. How did you all meet up and do you make the final decision of who is in the band?

The first band I had came together kind of accidentally. Glenn Morrow, who is now unfortunately dead, and I met up in Toronto years ago when I was out on the road with Supertramp. I was just a little guy with a guitar, and funnily enough I'm still just a little guy with a guitar. But he was able to play keyboards and he played base as well with his feet on a keyboard base. And that sounded good. And then we got a base player. And then he brought another friend of his who played a bit of guitar. And I knew Jeff Phillips who was the drum roadie with Supertramp and he turned to the drums. So we put a band together almost by accident. Similarly with the new band. That started with various people that I had heard about. And of course Peter Oxendale knew some people. We put it together bit by bit. And there are two key things about having a good band. Firstly in my opinion most importantly you have to be able to get on with these people socially, because you are going to spend weeks if not months of your life with them, travelling in close proximity. So people who enjoy good fun, good food, good wine, they are very important to have with you. Somebody who whinges a lot and moans and says "oh, I wanna go home", there's no room for anybody like that. And down the years I've had a few people like that before I settled on the Canadian band and of course the most recent band. And secondly they also have to be extremely good musicians, which they are.

21st March 2003 - John Duvall (35) from Lawton, Oklahoma, USA:

One of my favorite songs is Transmission Ends. Would you mind explaining the story behind the song? Thanks and keep up the great work.

This is what the great Irish writer James Joyce once referred to as stream of consciousness, where one idea leads to another. And in this song I'm sitting on a beach somewhere or maybe high up on the cliffs overlooking the beach with the one I love. And it's dusk and we're watching the stars and then wondering what's out there, listening to the radio. "Brother lead and sister steel" - that refers to a war going on somewhere in the world. And then jumping from that to, for me it's a powerful image of moving away, as a camera would, away from the planet earth and the streams of information coming out as we transmit signals, not just all over the world but all over the universe. And then I suddenly imagine there's a spacecraft sent from mother earth in many years to come. And far far away, you see, hundreds of millions of miles away, they've left the planet unaware that a nuclear holocaust is about to happen. The stupidity of mankind of creating weapons of mass destruction, creating weapons that can kill everybody a thousand times over has finally caught up. And I hope that scenario never happens. But as you hear at the end, when I am almost crying the words "I'm always going to love you until the day comes down and the man is on the radio. This is station planet earth, we're closing down.", what has happened is, there has been a desperate, dreadful war and there's a flash of light in the far far distance, and the people in the spacecraft can see it. And an hour later the transmission comes in, after the planet has exploded, at "this is station planet earth, we're closing down". And it's always with me and war, it's about individuals, the same with Borderline for example or Say Goodbye To It All. This is about a man saying "whatever happens, I'm always going to love you". It's kind of a sad song, but it does offer hope, because if you listen to the beeping in the end, it's indicative of the heartbeat that you get on a heart monitor in a hospital. And when it goes to flat line, which means that the heart has stopped, it stops for quite a long time, if you listen to the record. And then it comes on again, it comes back. The patient has revived, the life is still there. And that is my hope for the future that life will continue.

22nd March 2003 - Anja (32) from Wiesbaden, Germany:

Since I first heard "Lonely Sky" about 18 years ago, I stayed close to your music. Maybe your Albums and your live performing are some kind of guilty for my decision to become an audio engineer. Of course you are the one who's performing on the stage, but most of your concerts I spent close to the FOH-Place (and I've learned much). One question I always had in my mind was: How do you find this great staff and the sound-mixing people who are even able to get a great sound out of the lousy Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg? Do you (or your management) really choose them, or just the company? By the way: Why can't I find any information about the people behind the scenes?

The key factor in the great sound that we get at our concerts is really attributable to Kenny Thomson because he used to be, before I even met him, one of the sound engineers with Supertramp who were acknowledged to be one of the finest bands in the world and certainly one of the greatest sounding bands in the world. So Kenny now chooses the sound engineers and usually the backline people who look after the guitars, keyboards, drums, the sound equipment at the back, our monitor systems, because he obviously has a very good knowledge of the technology involved. Management really chooses these people. And the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg is a difficult place to perform. But there are important parameters when it comes to good sound. And one of them is you cannot bring cheap sound equipment into a difficult hall. You've got to spend the money, as I do, on good sound and good lights and somebody who knows exactly what they are doing. We've had for example light technicians from America, from England, we've head sound engineers from South Africa, from Germany. We just look for the best, and hopefully it comes out that way.

23rd March 2003 - Sebastian Alt (21) from Regensburg, Germany:

Hello Chris! Having been to your concert in Regensburg I was really happy you played Ship To Shore. Now, I wanted to know what inspired you to write this song. It's about being lost calling, for help, still, it's a very upbeat song. Why?

I remember years ago a band that I liked very much supported me, called the "Little River Band". And they started quite a few of their songs a cappella, very punchy, very powerful. And I thought I'd like to try that one day. So I was playing my guitar and I came up with this idea "Ship To Shore", which is a good expression, the "ship to shore radio". And the ship is adrift and the shore is obviously a person that you are trying to get back to. It is upbeat, certainly the tempo is very strong and powerful. The lyric really is about somebody trying to find their way back to somebody they love. And again at the end, if you listen carefully, you find "I cannot believe my eyes, but I think I see a light". He has actually found his way back. And then he says "You are everything that I've always wanted in my life." So that's the story of that.

24th March 2003 - Andrea Lucas (37) from Ludwigsburg, Germany:

Hi Chris, is there a special reason why you don't play "Where peaceful waters flow" at the end of your concerts anymore? It was so nice to go home with the melody and the "lalala" still in mind. I really enjoyed the new shows, thanks for those memorable evenings, Andrea

I felt like a change. I've been doing Peaceful Waters for so many years, and then Hey Jude. I thought, well, we change to Snows Of New York. And I thought that went down extremely well. I was very pleased with the way we ended our concerts.

25th March 2003 - Sharon Ruderham (39) from Edinburgh, Scotland:

Have you ever written songs for other people to perform, and if not why not? And if you have, what were they?

I have written songs for other people to greater or lesser success. Generally what happens though is people, who want to record my songs, listen to my catalogue of material. And I have had a lot of what we call cover versions, where people record my songs.

26th March 2003 - Ralph Mayyar (19) from Beirut, Lebanon:

Your new single, Lebanese Night, is such a beautiful song and it portrays the real feeling of what it's like to be in Lebanon. I would just like to know the kind of relationship you have with Elissa, the Lebanese artist who is featured on this single, and how you two met. Was it during your concert visits here or later on? Keep on adding glow in people's lives .Thanks for answering.

I am sure everybody knows the story behind it by now, because I speak about it on stage quite a bit. About the restaurant I visited in Lebanon, two nights running and it was full of beautiful young men and gorgeous young women and I started reflecting what it must have been like to grow up in the place that had been at war for 20 years. That is how old you are, you know, you are almost 20 years old as well. And I was very impressed by the dignity and the spark, the life in these people that I met and the love that they had for life. You know, there was a real joie de vivre there and a real attempt to get over the catastrophe that they had been going through. That was my impression of Lebanon and Beirut and I know that I have a lot of fans there. It is a place that I really look forward to going back to, not only for those reasons but also for the wonderful foods and of course the terrific wines of Lebanon. Elissa Al-Khoury came as a recommendation through my promoter in Lebanon. She came over with my manager, and we got on extremely well. She is a very attractive young lady and I hope that she has an even more and continuing success and not just in her part of the world, but hopefully in our part as well.

27th March 2003 - Jon-Michael (27) from Georgia, USA:

If you look out your window, do you have a favorite view? Like an ocean view or a meadow?

Well, I am looking out at the moment at an absolutely beautiful scene of hills and trees and fields with animals in them. They are not my animals, they belong to a local farmer. It's a beautiful sunny evening in Ireland. It's where I have moved to and it's gorgeous, whereas before I had much more of a sea view that wasn't an uninterrupted sea view. I like to look out and reflect. And also looking out the view helps me to reflect inwardly as well and that's where hopefully I get some of my ideas.

28th March 2003 - Dennis Muise (47) from Fort Nelson, Canada:

After listening to Timing Is Everything I have to say I enjoy it very much. I agree it's a fun CD, lots of toe tapping along with most of the songs. My question is this, in the song "There's Room In This Heart Tonight" why did you change the line "Turn to me friend" to "Turn to me now"? I thought the original gave it a more personal note to the message.

I felt initially that this song was specifically aimed at a television audience who we were trying to raise money from for a specific reason. You know, I think it was for children in need. And it felt more appropriate to use the expression "Turn to me friend". I felt after a while that even the word "friend" it just didn't sit comfortably in the song for me anymore. And so I changed it. These things do happen from time to time.

29th March 2003 - Marco (26) from Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

When you write a song for one person you love or have loved, and you fall in love with another, are you still able to sing the song wholeheartedly?

Well, this obviously needs a very personal response, but I can't really offer such a personal response because I am not really sure of the answer. But if I look at myself as a singer, when I sing I have to utterly believe what I'm singing. I have to absolutely believe every word of what it is. Even if it means creating a persona, somebody else in my imagination to sing those words. When I sing, for example, that new song on the Timing Is Everything album "The Best That Love Can Be", I sing it with passion, because I have in my imagination created a situation where I actually feel I am that person in the song. So it's a bit like being a chameleon, which can change colour. And similarly I think you'll find that, you know, singers that I admire enormously are able to make a song sound like their own, even if you suspect that they are singing about something maybe they haven't had the experience of.

30th March 2003 - Matthew (17) from New Jersey, USA:

Do you think that some people get too caught up in trying to find the meaning of songs that they lose their appreciation for the songs in themselves?

Well, to a certain extent, yes. I remember in the early days the Beatles used to find it hilarious that other people would read so much into their lyrics. They created situations of complete nonsense and they just found that very funny. With me I do find that people have read far more into lyrics than should have been read into them. For example in Crusader. I have been accused of being anti this race or anti that race. That's just a lot of rubbish. I was just telling a story, and it's a historical story as well. If I do have deeper meanings in songs, it's for other people to have a look at and strip away the top and find the lower meanings. And they may find different things than what I put in there for myself. But I would agree. When you hear a song, enjoy it for what it is, certainly initially without looking for deep meanings. Because with respect to virtually all modern songwriters, very few of them in my opinion are of the intellectual calibre of some of the great thinkers and writers of our time. We're just entertainers and no more.

31st March 2003 - Bonnie Horvath (25) from Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada:

I don't remember a time when I didn't listen to your music, my mother has always loved your songs and passed them on to me and my brother. How do you feel when you see that your music has touched another generation of listeners and fans?

Well, I think it's amazing and wonderful to hear that the music I have made appeals across the generations. In a way that's always been my intention to write music that is regarded more as a book than a magazine or a newspaper that you throw away, that's sort of finished with the moment you have heard it a couple of times. A lot of modern music is designed that way. It's designed for dancing to. But the creators of this kind of music know that. And quite certain they wouldn't expect to be hearing their music around twenty years from now. But I would like to think, because I write songs in the classical way, I think I have referred to this before, of pop song writing, it's like architecture. People refer back to Greek and Roman architecture a lot, because it's the classic stuff. In a way I'm sort of similar in as much as I have learned my craft at the feet of some of the great songwriters of modern times, not the ones of the 30s and 40s, but more the ones of the 60s and 70s. And that way I like to think that the style of that music will be fairly long lived.

1st April 2003 - Kathryn Hayward (32) from Essex, UK:

During your travels around the world, you must taste some pretty fantastic exotic foods. What sort of food do you look for when you are touring the UK and Ireland?!

Well I mentioned the food in Lebanon. And certainly me and my band and friends on tour, we do enjoy food, although we obviously have to look after our health and not get too fat. But food I really enjoy, although I have to say I have a problem with fish, I really do not enjoy fish. Apart from caviar, which I enjoyed in the Grand Hotel in St. Petersburg, beluga caviar, sevruga, that was amazing, I loved that. And oysters, again I like oysters. Now I wish somebody could tell me why I can eat those two things but I hate just about every other kind of fish. I like Japanese food, I love Chinese food, and I have a real love of spicy foods. Although Indian food, when it's very very hot, my head begins to steam and my eyes begin to water, my nose runs, my head erupts like the Vesuvius, so I tend to avoid foods like that. When I'm in UK and Ireland? Well, certainly in the UK there's a pretty wide choice of ethnic foods. French food of course is absolutely stunning and I would probably choose a great French restaurant first of all, if I had the chance. And good English food, yes, I like that, well cooked. I wouldn't say I'm a huge meat eater, but I do like the occasional piece of lamb or beef and chicken. I love Italian food, for example, or Spanish food, if I can get them in the UK. In Ireland we're a bit more limited. The problem here in this country is that the restaurants are expensive. And now that the Euro has come in, I think a lot of people have realized that they are too expensive. There's nothing kind of in the middle. You either get your hamburger joints or you get your expensive restaurants and your super-expensive restaurants. There's really little area that we would find in Europe, like a Brasserie. Or even on some motorways in France and Germany you would find an absolutely superb meal, but you can't really get that kind of thing here in Ireland. It's one of the reasons tourism is falling away because people have become very knowledgeable about the cost of things. Because in their own countries where the Euro is the currency, they realize that they are not getting value for money. If I tour in Ireland, I would just eat what is local and available. I think the key to it, if you're onto it, is have a good breakfast, if you're up early enough for breakfast. Which I am often not, so I just eat bananas then.

2nd April 2003 - Colette Gifford (34) from Whitby, Canada:

Can't resist asking this. You seem to have a bit of a 'devilish side to you from some of the questions you've answered here. Have you ever cheated at poker then?

No, I've never cheated at poker. But I remember when I was in University, there was a poker school going on. And this is quite early in my University career, and I didn't realize until a bit late, that the reason I was asked to join this poker school is that they could take all my money! Which I didn't have much, but anyway. So the first week I went, I lost my money. Second week I went, I lost my money. And the third week I thought 'I can't afford to lose any more money, I've got so little anyway to support myself that I'm gonna have to bluff this.' So the guys I was playing with had seen me losing so much that when I finally said that I have really good cards by raising the stakes, they all folded. It happened three times in a row and I completely bluffed and I got a lot of money and I said "Thank you very much, that's it, I'm leaving now". When I say a lot of money, it was a lot for a student. And they were horrified, they said "You're not gonna come back?" I said "No. That's it. I'm not gonna play any more poker. Thank you." So there is a devilish side. It's not just poker, I can tell you.

3rd April 2003 - Verena Fuchs (24) from Montijo, Portugal:

Boa tarde Chris! I've read in one of the answers you gave here that recently you've been in Portugal. Did you spend your vacations here? Well, I'm curious about what you liked and disliked.

Boa tarde! I absolutely adore Portugal. I have been there a lot. There is a style of life in Portugal, particular I suppose not just of course on the Algarve, but inland that I very much like. I find the Portuguese quite a serious people. And the fact that their famous music, the Fado, is quite melancholy, speaks for itself. But they are also capable of extreme joy and every time I have performed there, I have been amazed by the powerful reaction and the spirited and excitable crowds that have come to the concerts in Lisbon, Estoril and up in the North, Porto. So it's been fun when I've been there. And yes, I did go on holiday last summer to the Vila Vita Parc Hotel in the Algarve. I enjoyed that a lot, and so did my family.

4th April 2003 - Petra (30) from Vienna, Austria:

In a recent reply you mentioned that you have different beliefs than an "organized religion". So many of your songs mention "the Lord" or words to that effect so one has to wonder what ARE your beliefs then? Many thanks for a GREAT concert here in Vienna during your "TIMING IS EVERYTHING"-Tour, what a fantastic show!!!! Lots of luv from Vienna, Petra:))

Let's get back to one basic understanding. As far as I know, apart from where people have come back with for example near-death-experiences and so on, there is no absolute incontrovertible proof of what happens after we die. There's a lot of surmise, supposition, expectation, faith, belief in what happens after death and certainly the millions of stories of ghosts, of spirits in the spiritual world, in which I believe very strongly that it does exist, it tells that something is there, another dimension. But what it is, nobody knows. So to base a religion on it, I think is like building on sand, because there is no foundation to it that can really stand up, in my opinion, to intense scrutiny. The world, in particular in the West but also in the East, is full of those who wish to fight on behalf of their faith. And I suppose if that's how they feel about it, there's not much we can do. Thinking about the principle of going to war for something that actually can't be proved, I find a very strange thing indeed. Organized religion has been with us for centuries. As a Christian I do believe in the former existence of Jesus Christ, and certainly that he was an outstanding person in many many ways. And the fact that people 2000 years after his death still believe in him, speaks volumes. But some of the churches that have come subsequent to his death seem to have been arranged more to keep the poor people down, to keep power in the hands of a small number. I'm not going to name the churches here, but some of them have built up immense wealth, immense power. And they are keen to hold on to that at all cost. Now that's what I am talking about organized religion. I had the misfortune recently, for example, to go to the funeral of a friend. And listening to just the way it was conducted, which unfortunately seemed very little about my friend but more about the church to which he belonged, it missed the point. When you go to a funeral service, you really should be celebrating the life of somebody who has passed away and not keep on harking back to the power of the church in which he had faith. So it's a very lengthy response, and it's a very tricky question. But my beliefs are far more spiritual. Don't forget that religion, in particular organized religion, was created by men and women like you and I who are reading this right now. And what is to say that if for example any of us created a new religion, as the centuries go by, it's suddenly taken as gospel truth. Well, that's incorrect, we are as fallible and we make mistakes as anybody else. So that's the same people who created some of these powerful religions that people believe in today. But I must finish by saying that if we had more tolerance for everybody's belief, whatever it is. If you believe that mice were on the moon before men and we must worship at the feet of cats and dogs, well that's your belief, that's fine with me. I have my own feelings about that, but I am certainly not going to fight you about it. And I think if there was more tolerance for everybody's religion, all over the world, there would be a lot less warfare and misery and unhappiness.

5th April 2003 - Peter (39) from Calgary, Canada:

What is Separate Tables about (which I think is a particularly terrific song, by the way)? I used to think it was about 2 people separated for no particular reason who missed each other. But now I think (because of a personal experience) it is about 2 people involved in an affair who are separated for reasons not of their own choosing, but miss each other and want to be together. Or am I missing the point entirely?

Separate Tables is a song about two people who are apart and wish they were together. Now the thing about it is, you can put your own idea on it and you can decide for yourself whether it is about two people who have split up, or two people who are for some reason separated for a time. In my opinion, when I wrote it, particular the second verse "At separate tables we sit down to write the separate letters that never see the light", this is people who have probably had some kind of disagreement. And if only one of them or both of them would say sorry, then things would be a lot easier. But people aren't that good at being the first to say sorry.

6th April 2003 - Babak (15) from Iran:

Hi Chris, I'm one of your song lovers from Iran. May I know who is your favorite actor or actress?

Well, I'm a huge fan of Sean Connery. Not only as the James Bond, he was the best of all in my opinion, but also he has become a friend of mine and I have a lot of time for him and I think he is a fantastic actor and a superb human being. As far as actresses are concerned, of the more recent ones I would rate Nicole Kidman very highly. I've also had the opportunity to have dinner with her and Tom Cruise, when they were married.

7th April 2003 - Rebecca (13) from Calgary, Canada:

Where did you get the fantastic idea for the song 'Patricia the Stripper'?

Patricia The Stripper came from a weekend that I'd had away in the Eastern part of England. And it was very much, you know, everybody wears tuxedos and dinner jackets for dinner and goes fishing. And, although I've enjoyed the weekend, I found it very false and ho-ho-ho and "Anyone for tennis?" and all that stuff. And as I returned to my home in Ireland, I have a fairly wicked streak in me, as I referred to earlier, I've had a very wicked streak. And I would be the person at such an event who would be looking to do something far more interesting and unusual. And in my particular story here, it would have been me going downtown to meet up with a stripper. I know it doesn't read like I'm a wild man, but I think we all have wildness inside, and that's what I would have been doing back in 1924.

8th April 2003 - Gunter Kohl (29) from Trier, Germany:

Hi Chris, I'm thinking about the role of a producer in the making of a song. Would the same song produced one time e.g. with Chris Porter and another time produced by Paul Hardiman sound different? And what would be the difference? Maybe some day you could take the time to produce a song two times with different people - just to find out what happens... Thanks very much, Gunter.

Producers are very much people who put their own stamp and sound onto a record. And I'm quite certain, if I had recorded "Don't Pay The Ferryman" with Paul Hardiman, or "Lady In Red" with Chris Porter, they would have sounded different. The core of the song would have been the same, but a good producer brings to a record a fabulous sound, and also his vision along with the artist of course. And I have been coproducer or producer on all my records. His vision of where this particular song sits in modern music, and how it should sound in terms of the spectrum. You know, you think about a lot of things, what radio like to play for example. If you get a producer of a pop act, they have to be very tuned in to what radios are currently playing. For me I'm less interested in that, and I am much more interested, as I said earlier, in creating music that endures. So I'm looking for a very strong and classic style of production that is not full of quirky little sounds that make it sound modern today, but real passé in a year or two from now. But I've also had a very interesting idea of what I'd love to do one day. I'd get together three or four songwriters, give them all the same phrase or line to start a song and just see what they come up with at the end of it.

9th April 2003 - Ed Campbell (27) from Caithness, Scotland:

I think you can tell a lot about a person from what he creates. Art including music has often been called a window to the soul. With this in mind, people who listen to your music get a picture of the type of person you are. What stands out to me most is your spirituality. (Don't worry I'll get to the point soon!) I am in total agreement with you that organized religion causes most if not all the problems in the world. You do, however, say at the start of "Carry Me" that, "There is an answer...." My question is, do you know "the answer"? I personally do know the answer and often wish more people like yourself could come to a knowledge of why we're here, why the world is as it is etc.

Well, this is a very interesting question. The quick answer is no, of course I do not know the answer. I am as mortal and as foolish as any other human on the planet when it comes to the deep questions and the deep answers. I think what I can do is look deeply into myself and in me find things that do apply to other people. I've always had this very strong ability to see another person's point of view, whether I agree with it or not, but put myself into somebody else's shoes. And that is why I think I have such sensitivity to other people's difficulties and situations and I can express this in words and in music. I'm thrilled that Ed Campbell says he does know the answer. As far as I can tell the reason we're here is, because the human race requires a reason for everything, to justify things and the fact that we are so predisposed to clinging on to life creating more life. Maybe there is an answer or maybe just like any other living creature, we have devised methods and means of staying alive and keeping our genetic structure alive through other people, through children for example.

10th April 2003 - Manon Comtois (38) from Montreal, Quebec, Canada:

Hi... I have been an unconditional fan of yours since your first visit way back in the 70's. I have even postponed my honeymoon to be able to attend your show in 1996. I think your voice is one of the greatest musical instruments ever heard. You have been an inspiration for me for all these years. If you had one wish that could be granted for humanity, what would it be ?

You're very kind. I have heard from my manager that in one hour when the tickets for the Montreal concert went on sale we sold one thousand tickets which is a fantastic response from a fantastic city and a place that I love so much. If I had one wish that could be granted for humanity, what would it be? Well, I think I've answered this question in the past, so I'll probably respond to it again but in a slightly different way. I think we all understand love usually as meaning as something that goes on between two people. But if you expand that to loving your neighbours, and even greater loving everybody on the planet in a different kind of a way, for example if this planet was threatened by something from the exterior, we would find that the guy in China is just as keen on staying alive and finding one way or other of doing it that involved everybody in some kind of loving way. That would be an important step and ally to that would be a greater more enlightened understanding of the importance of music, of art, of things to soften life a bit, because it's a hard life and it's becoming harder by the day. A lot of people are finding that the more things are created like computers, the internet, mobile phones, the more they are designed to make life easier, in fact they are having the opposite effect. We are becoming a very stressed out civilization. If you know somebody has got a mobile phone, and they haven't rung you in the last hour, you think the worst. And I think people are getting nervous, they are more nervous than our forefathers were a hundred years ago. You had far less to worry about, you didn't have phones, you had letters. Somebody went away for six months and you got letters, you were happy with that. You didn't spend every minute of the day wondering 'Are they still alive?'. Whereas when you know you can keep in touch with somebody and they are not keeping in touch with you, you think 'Oh my god, something awful has happened'. And I think that is a terrible thing. So anything to reduce that kind of stress would be a very valuable discovery. Allied again to that it would be wonderful for the genetic structure that makes particularly boys growing to men to want to fight, to be physical, just reduce that a few notches, that would be great.

11th April 2003 - Jason P. Goodman (30) from Westport, Connecticut, USA:

I really like one of your early songs entitled "The Key". What inspired this song?

I wrote this song many many years ago. It was about a girl I knew at that time, who seemed to have absolutely everything, except the understanding of when she had what she was looking for, that she should hold on to it and not throw it away. And I wasn't referring to myself in particular, but she was an unusual case, this girl, and I just felt that she was running helter skelter to a situation where in her later years she wouldn't have anybody to love or to be loved by. Because the moment she found something she threw it away.

12th April 2003 - Gabi Liddell (43) from Hamburg, Germany:

Hi Chris, I finally found the courage to put my question on the website. I know that you love to tell stories in your songs and I am wondering whether you could write a real continuation of one story in a second song. I mean particularly the story in "Love of the heart divine". I personally love that song and when I heard it the first , let's say 20 times, I always had tears in my eyes at the end. You described the situation so beautifully that I felt so much sadness when he had to leave. Could you, please, please, please, write another song and let him return safely? This story, to me, needs a happy-end.

I think I have probably spoken about this song before, but what I had in my head was how the music, when I started writing this song, made me feel that it was set in the early part of the 1900s, probably around 1910/11. About two youngsters growing up in the same village, and for me it felt like the Southwest of England. Don't ask me why, I don't know much about that area, but it felt like that sort of area. And growing up in a very rural community, farming people, they probably attended the same primary school as children. And then as they grew into teenagers, they got involved in the local sports and probably didn't like each other much. And then in their 16th or 17th year, one summer they fell in love. And this is their story about how then in 1914, after they got married, he decided to join up because everybody was joining the army then. It was a big thing, you know, they said the war would be over by Christmas, little knowing that the technology of death and the weapons that had been developed would ensure that an entire generation both in Germany and in England would be wiped out. And so when he joins up, for me it's a very vivid film in my head about how he comes in wearing his uniform into the front parlour and she is very excited at one point and terribly unhappy and full of foreboding about what will happen to him. And then it's the scene at the train, as the train leaves the station, I am sure you have seen these kinds of things in films before, there's mothers and fathers and lovers all kissing good-bye and then the train pulls out of the station. And as she calls to him "I love you" and waves a handkerchief, she suddenly feels for the first time the baby kicking in her stomach. And she probably calls to him, saying "We're going to have a baby, I'm gonna have a baby!", and he doesn't hear. So the idea of writing a sequel has appealed to me. I want to make sure it's a happy ending, although that may not be so possible, but who knows. It's a good idea, Gabi, and maybe I'll work on that.

13th April 2003 - Kathy Hanney (36) from Camberley, Surrey, UK:

Hi Chris, Thanks for writing fantastic songs. The words evoke such strong images and emotions, especially Moonlight & Vodka. What inspired that one pls? Lots of Love, Kathy

The song "Moonlight And Vodka" was just accidental. I just came out with this expression "Moonlight and Vodka" and as a songwriter I often come up with phrases and go "oh, I like the sound of that, let me expand that". Just a few days ago I came up with this expression "Kiss me from a distance". And of course you can't kiss somebody from the distance and therefore I find that interesting. How do you work that one out? So I'm currently working on a song "Kiss Me From A Distance". "Moonlight And Vodka" obviously, this has something to do with Russia or the Eastern part of Europe and moonlight. Moonlight of course is a romantic thing. So what are these two things moonlight and vodka? And then I got this idea of a spy in the cold war, an American spy in Russia. And he is miserable. It was before things got better. And now that I am about to go there for two weeks, in fact by the time you read this question I have already gone back, I enjoy going there a lot, and things have changed there so dramatically. It's a very comfortable place to visit, but I am sure twenty, thirty years ago it wasn't so great. So that song was just my imagination working full time.

14th April 2003 - Nick Abish (33) from Rehoboth, Delaware, USA:

What inspired you to write a song about the Iranian revolution (Eastern Wind) ? I was a teenager in Iran back in 1980 when you wrote this song. A few years later after I fled Iran and was living in Norway I revisited the album and was amazed at how accurately you were describing the chain of events of that time from an Iranian's point of view. I'm still amazed. I also think that it is not a coincidence that such a large percentage of your "Fan Corner" is occupied by Iranians and Iranian immigrants. We love your work. Please don't ever stop making music.

Well, firstly I'd like to say "hi" again to all my friends and fans in Iran and believe me when I say that you are sending me so much love on the website, and indeed from everybody who sends me messages, I read every one of them and I love to read them, thank you very much. And it makes me think about how important my music is to so many people. And I would of course very very strongly wish to visit Iran and perform there, even a solo concert I would be very happy to do that. The song "Eastern Wind" really came out of all that stuff that was happening in the early eighties. And you know, you talk about a wind blowing from the East, well this one was full of menace and threat. And I was writing this from the point of view of a farmer in the Midwest of America, who doesn't understand too much of what's going on. But he puts his own feeling to it and his own thoughts and he doesn't like what's happening. And he knows that this is something that should it come anywhere closer to him like a bad storm to a farmer, he will have to react and protect himself and his family and indeed his country from further threat. And I am obviously delighted that you in Iran understood it the way that I meant it to be understood.

15th April 2003 - Kim Hesbon (48) from Windsor, Ontario, Canada:

Chris, I was curious as to when and why you decided to use your mother's maiden name as a performer? I certainly do like the sound of it, to me , it sounds rather grand and historical.

The name de Burgh comes from my mother's side of the family. It is one that is full of history, rich in tradition and I liked it. I lived with my grandfather for many years, when my parents were in Africa, General Sir Eric de Burgh, and I was surrounded by de Burghs and I liked the whole historical feel of the name. Not that I didn't like my given name, my christian name Christopher Davison, but I liked the name Chris de Burgh because it had a certain ring to it.

16th April 2003 - Adriaan van den Berg (33) from Johannesburg, South Africa:

Dear Chris. One of your songs on an album I've had for many years is called "Classical dilemma". I have listened to it a thousand or more times and it is beautiful. What is the background or inspiration to this song?

The song you are referring to is "The Head And The Heart". And this is a situation that I am sure we have all found ourselves in. In my case it didn't happen to me, but I imagined that it did. When two people go away for the weekend and they try to solve out their differences. And it's almost like there's a courtroom scene going on in the man's head about how he should take this problem forward and on the one hand we have the lawyer speaking on behalf of love and the heart and we have the other lawyer who is speaking on behalf of the head and good sense. And because I am an incurable romantic, thankfully, I chose for the heart. This actually was inspired by some friends of mine who were going through a similar situation. I don't know really whether they thought in the way that I did, but it certainly got me to use my imagination as if it was actually happening to me, which is something I do a lot.

17th April 2003 - Ilka Göpfert (32) from Allmersbach, Germany:

Hello Chris, in your song "She must have known" you sing about a person named Shirley Valentine - who is this?

Shirley Valentine was the name of a movie involving a housewife from Liverpool who found her life to be incredibly dull and boring. And she went off to a Greek island and fell in love with a fisherman, played by Tom Conti. And I think the actress was Pauline Collins, a sensational British actress, as it is an English film. And of course this Greek fisherman is just there for the sort of beautiful girls coming every year. But anyway she just feels like throwing up her life back in Liverpool and moving out and running a restaurant or a cafe in the Greek Islands. Her husband follows her down there finally, and we are not quite sure what happens at the end, but she just finds what she has been looking for which is a different life away from the drudgery and boredom of her own life at home. And it is, as far as I can tell, a dream of an awful lot of people.

18th April 2003 - Brigga Kazmierczak (32) from Germany:

Thank you for a great show in Dortmund! A friend told me about one concert (Unfortunately I have missed it-darn!) where you have played not with the usual band but only with an orchestra. Having in mind your fantastic performance on the "Nokia Night of the Proms" I'd like to know if you are planning some sort of classical concert again. That would be more than great...Thank you!

I've had the opportunity to do something like 80 shows with orchestra and I absolutely love it. And of course, given the opportunity, I will perform with an orchestra again.

19th April 2003 - Chris High (36) from Wirral, Merseyside, UK:

Do you have any plans to write an autobiography or to have an 'official' biography written?

Well, this is a question from Chris High, who incidentally has been writing stories about some of my songs. He has expanded the stories in a way that he felt that they were written or what I had in my mind when I wrote these songs. For example "Don't Pay The Ferryman", he has written a terrific story and quite a number of other ones. I know you, Chris! Thanks for writing these stories because I enjoy reading them. I've had two books written about me. I have a feeling that the real and proper one is yet to be written because thankfully I'm still on the planet and I've got still an awful lot more to say. So I might leave it for a little while, but I think an official biography should be coming at some stage. In fact the last one was about 1995/96, I believe. A lot has changed since then. So we move on, maybe someday soon hopefully.

20th April 2003 - Christiane Pilz (33) from Regensburg, Germany:

Concerning your concert in Regensburg on October 4th (thank you for that wonderful evening), I want to say that I loved the version of "Sailor" very much. Did you ever think of doing an "unplugged" record?

Yes, we were in Beirut rehearsing a few years ago and one of the songs I wanted to try out was "Sailor". Actually it was a young lady down there and some of her friends who came in to listen to our rehearsal, I think she said "Sailor is one of my favourite songs". And we didn't feel like doing it in the way it was on the record, I didn't even have a copy of it. So I said "well let's do it this way, unplugged" as it were. And I am hoping that quite a lot of my next record, which I believe should be coming out either later this year or early next year will be along that particular avenue of more acoustic as well as orchestral, probably less electric and more acoustic.

21st April 2003 - Helen (26) from Perth, Western Australia:

Hi Chris, I am learning the drums and recently jammed for the very first time! What a buzz - it was amazing! Do you remember having a 'moment' like that when you first started playing and singing?

You know, when you jam along with other musicians it's very exciting. I think it started for me when I was in school. I would have been about 13 or 14 and there were guitars around and people played the guitars. Sitting in and playing some of your favourite songs, even playing pretty badly, before I had learned how to play the instrument, that's terrific fun. In fact all my children play instruments and my elder boy Hubie, he has got very good on the electric guitar. That's only after six months too! He will be a lot better than his Dad, because in the short time he has been playing, he has got really exceptionally good.

22nd April 2003 - Chris Raymond (51) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:

Hi Chris, I'd like to know please if you check out this website yourself very often? For example do you read the guestbook, visit related sites that your fans have set up etc? P.S. Congratulations to all involved in this great website!

Hi to Chris Raymond, somebody I have met frequently. Yes, I check out the website almost on a daily basis and I enjoy what people have said. And in particular I like the fact that there are people logging in and sending messages from all over the world. It is a real eye-opener for me to realize and understand how I have touched so many people musically in so many parts of the world. I do visit the related sites and I also check into the chatroom. I haven't left any messages yet, but it is fascinating to read what people say about me. It doesn't all have to be wonderful and flattering because that's not the way of the world, but it's nevertheless most interesting. And yes, I am keeping a good eye on everything that's going on.

23rd April 2003 - Sabrina Schmidt (27) from Lüneburg, Germany:

Hi Chris! First of all, the concert in Hamburg was just grand. I enjoyed it very much. "Sailor" was my "personal highlight" of the show. It is great that you play old songs in a new style, please go on. And the band did a great job, playing your songs in a "rocky" way. And to cheer you up: I really like the new CD. My question: My aupair-mother Fiona gave me a recipe book from the Rotunda hospital. And there is a recipe from you "spaghetti with spicy meat balls". It's very delicious. Is it from you or from your wife? Do you like cooking? I'm the girl, who stood the first line with the painted cloth: A woman's heart is High on emotion and you are the reason! The girl with April in her eyes (Maybe you remember?)

The concert in Hamburg was great, I always love playing concerts up in Hamburg because the audience is very giving and it's always very exciting to be there. This recipe "Spaghetti with spicy meat balls", yes that's my recipe. I don't cook so often. I suppose I should cook more often. I just seem to be busy a lot. My wife is an extremely good cook. But that particular recipe was put into the Rotunda hospital cook book as a charity raising idea. If you try my spicy meat balls with spaghetti, you'll probably realize just how fantastically good they are. Ha-ha! And yes, I remember the girl who held up the cloth that said "A woman's heart is high one emotion and you are the reason". That was great, thank you very much for that.

24th April 2003 - Steve Fitton (38) from Surrey, England:

On "Timing is Everything" the female backing vocalists really add depth to the songs. Is there any reason why you didn't have them touring with you? (I thought Shelley was great when she joined you at Knebworth)

You know, on records, it's great to have female backing vocalists, because it adds tremendous depth and changes the sounds of songs. I started using them a lot more on Quiet Revolution and Timing Is Everything. But touring is a different problem completely. Certainly we've never felt the need or indeed the desire to take extra backing singers on the road. We're pretty happy with the crew that we have. It's the old saying "if it's not broken, don't fix it". And of course Shelley Nelson was great on stage, but I am not sure she would want to come on tour with us, a bunch of guys. Maybe she would!

25th April 2003 - Coleen Palmisano (37) from Blue Mountains, Sydney, NSW, Australia:

The designs and concepts for album or CD covers, play an integral part in attracting an audience. Do you ever design any covers for your CD's or do you completely leave the design concept to marketing people? Thank you for the music Chris!

The cover designs on all my albums have been partly or completely from my own idea. It's really important to know that if it's got my name on it that I am involved. To the point where I check my lyrics to make sure there is not even one spelling mistake. If it gets printed that way it's not because I made a mistake. It's happened subsequently for me to check everything. It's painstaking work. Coming up with a title is always a very tricky thing as well. But the cover, for example for Timing Is Everything, I described what I felt that the mood of the record was. Walking out on the beach, you've just made a long journey, and you've left somewhere really cold and the weather was filthy. And just before the storm has hit and the airports close down, you got out on the last flight out, that kind of thing. And that's where the expression "Timing Is Everything" comes from. It does take a lot of work, but on the other hand I am always very interested to be involved.

26th April 2003 - Huw Ewans (32) from Aberystwyth, Wales, UK:

Having seen you perform at various locations around the world including Ephesus - Turkey, Cologne - Germany, Dublin - Ireland as well as in the UK, am I right in saying that you performed a version of Billy Joel's song 'Pianoman' at the Manchester G-Mex in 1992, or is my memory playing tricks with me and it was a support artist????

Congratulations for having been at the concert in Ephesus, Turkey. It was one of my most outstanding memories of my entire career. I know the song by Billy Joel "Pianoman", but I have never played it. It must have been a support act.

27th April 2003 - Jos de Wilde (17) from Heinkenszand, Zeeland, The Netherlands:

Dear Chris, I've been to your concert in Ahoy Rotterdam recently and want to ask you this: When you came from the stage, didn't you become nervous of the crowd? It is somehow a risk to come down from the stage and shake peoples' hands, and what was the funniest thing a fan ever did to you during a concert like this one?

Coming down into the crowd can be a bit hair-raising sometimes because I have been known to run through the audience as well as just walk along the front. And sometimes people are so astonished that they give you a hug that is a very powerful hug. I always have somebody close by, somebody like Chris Andrews, my assistant, or one or two of the security people close by. I have never felt nervous about it, I've always felt very good about it. Because it's again creating that contact with the audience, that is very important to break down the bridge and the barriers to make the whole event involving all of us, not just the performers on stage. I don't know about the funniest thing fans did, but they certainly give you kisses and hugs. And I arrive back on stage covered in lipstick, not necessarily on my lips, but on my cheeks.

28th April 2003 - Gillianne (28) from Rouen, France:

First of all, your concert at the Paris Olympia was great, you were wonderful. My question is what do you do with all the present you fans give you on tour (teddy bears and flowers) ?

Most of the gifts I take with me. The flowers, depends on where I am going the next day. Quite often, if there are a lot of flowers, we give them to the promoter or representative of the concert promoter to take to the local hospital. And that same thing applies to teddy bears and so on. If I can't bring all those gifts home, I promise you they do go to very happy people who are delighted to receive them. But I have what is called a flight case with all my clothes and stuff in it, and all the really nice ones like chocolate etc I keep in there. And thank you very much everybody for the gifts. It means a lot.

29th April 2003 - Elke Klapdohr (44) from Ratingen, Germany:

Dear Chris, I've been enthusiastic about your concert in Cologne, especially as you sang "Borderline" and "Revolution" again. But I got a little panic when a lot of people jumped over the seats and ran to the stage. Does "Revolution" always produce such a response? Did you expect this reaction, because after that you continued with very appeasing songs? P.S.: I love "Quiet Revolution" as well as you do and I am looking forward to your new album next year.

That happens when, I think, usually there is a crowd of people who have been before to the concerts and know the point of which they can come to the front without being told to go back by the security. So it tends to be a bit of a mad rush at a point of the concert which they are familiar with. The concert tends to produce a response like that. I love to see people jumping to their feet and dancing. And I have been known in the past to actually jump off the stage and encourage people to get up if they are being told to sit down by the security.

30th April 2003 - Negin (18) from Iran, living in the USA:

I heard that you have played in a film and I was wondering if I could have the name of it..your fan forever..

There were a group of students in Dublin at college, who were making a film called "How to cheat in the leaving certificate". The leaving certificate is an exam that all 17 and 18 year olds sit when they leave their secondary school. It's like in France the baccalaureat. It covers usually about seven or eight subjects. And I funded this film, I paid for it, most of it anyway. They used a bit of my music in it and I played a petrol pump attendant in a garage. "How to cheat in the leaving certificate" is what it was called.

1st May 2003 - Ursula Fankhauser (25) from Niederrohrdorf, Switzerland:

Dear Mr de Burgh. Even I know, you must hear this all the time, as a big fan of your songs I'd like to thank you for your terrific music. But let's come to my question. You must know, that in my occupation I have the opportunity to join people in marriage. Not in church but in front of the law. So as you might know, I need to give a little speech to the couple and I try to make every speech individual like the people are. So at this occasion I tried something new the last time: I took your song "In a country churchyard" as theme. It was a very special atmosphere when your song was playing. So you see, there are many different ways how you make people happy. At the end the couple was very excited and I thought, I might do that again. So for my speech it might be helpful if you can tell me a few things about this song. What was your inspiration to write it? Thanks a lot for your answer and all the best to you. Yours Ursula

I wrote the song "In A Country Churchyard" having a visited an old churchyard in the West of England. And I was looking at the gravestones and reflecting, as I do in my imagination, on a time say three or four hundred years ago when a young couple got married and perhaps in that churchyard, in that church, they got married in spring. And that's me visiting the churchyard in November, when it is very cold and all the leaves have fallen from the trees. And the church is in ruins, the roof has fallen in. And it's just me walking around. A lot of the gravestones have fallen over as they tend to do over the years. And maybe I find just one standing and it refers to the couple who got married. Of course we all know those who were born, they have hopefully a happy life and then we pass away to the next world and it's just an imagination about how love endures, in my opinion, forever. It is the bond that keeps us together as human beings and as individuals. And it is a kind of sad and happy song about enduring love. It is almost again in my head like a film. And it is very appropriate that you are using it when people get married. A lot of people get married to that song.

2nd May 2003 - Geir Jaegersen (28) from Boston, MA, USA:

Chris - Where were you on September 11, 2001 when you heard of the terrorist attacks on New York? And in the aftermath, did you speak to your children at all about it? If so, what did you say to them?

On September 11, 2001 in the late morning I was driving in my car, listening to one of my favourite radio stations called Radio Five Live, which is sport and news and current affairs from England. And I was in Ireland driving. And I heard that an aeroplane had smashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. And I was absolutely appalled, but I remember a few moments later hearing a second one had gone in. And I immediately turned back from where I was driving into the city, I turned back and went home, because I wanted to be near the family, near a television. I knew that something absolutely catastrophic had happened. And my children were as appalled as the rest of the world. And I remember, earlier that afternoon, I was doing a press conference by telephone to announce my night on the proms visit. And I was asked about it, and I just said "I cannot believe that I can call myself a human being in the same breath as the people who actually did that appalling massacre to other human beings". And I am still disgusted that I belong to a race of people that can actually do that kind of thing. To cause such pain and grief and misery to thousands, if not millions of people. And in particular my younger boy, Michael, he would have been ten at the time, he was really shook and very very shocked by what happened and couldn't sleep for weeks. None of us could, I think we all had nightmares. It was like being in a fog, an absolutely horrible thing to have happened. What we talked about subsequently was the reality of why, with the knowledge that we had of why this happened, of why people did that, and why, as I said earlier, it is absolutely crazy to wage at war about something that none of us really have much clue about, what happens in the next world, whether there is more than one God, or whether there is a God at all, you know. That's something that we talked about. And then the reality of flying and the other dangerous things there are in the world, I think it woke people up in a way that I wish that the innocence had not been shattered.

3rd May 2003 - George (35) from Newfoundland, Canada:

I was just wondering how your big hit "The Lady In Red" ended up being featured in a TV commercial for low calorie frozen foods here in North America?

I am looking forward to visiting Newfoundland on my Canadian tour, having been there a few times before and really loved it. After a song is released, having been recorded, the publishers then have the right to obviously earn an income with the song. And as long as it is not involved with something that is demeaning or makes fun of the song or of the lyrics, they go ahead and do it. And I don't often hear much about it.

4th May 2003 - Claudia Gerike (35) from Marburg, Germany:

Hi Chris, you know about the tribute CD project of the Mailing List. Fans sing your songs on a CD. The 3rd one just came out, and I am proud to say I am a part of it. I know you received the CD's and I would like to know what you think of the latest one and if you are sometimes listening to the tribute CD's?

Yes, I've listened to all three and I am absolutely amazed at how professional they are sounding. They are better and better, each one is better than the one before. And I am also delighted about the amount of time people spend on recording their particular songs from all over the world. I have enjoyed listening to them, and I enjoy listening to the next one hopefully, so you out there on the mailing list involved in the tribute CD, make sure you go out and record another one, because I really like them!
Editor's Note:
The Chris de Burgh Tribute CD is an online project that allows singers and musicians worldwide to share their common love for one of the world's most extraordinary songwriters. The project is designed for all Chris de Burgh fans, who love to sing and play the songs of their favourite artist. It is a non-profit project, by Chris de Burgh fans for Chris de Burgh fans. The fourth project is going to start soon, you can find all information (including links to the first three projects) on the Chris de Burgh Tribute CD 2003 website.

5th May 2003 - Kathryn Hayward (32) from Cheshire, England:

Hi Chris! Thank you for such a wonderful concert in Manchester - my 7yr-old daughter and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! I was intrigued to hear you say that Russell Watson is going to be recording 'The Best That Love Can Be', and just wondered if there are any plans for the two of you to record something together? Thanks, again, for such a wonderful show and we're both very much looking forward to seeing you again in your next tour! Hugs, Kathryn & Carol PS Very glad you ignored your doctor's advice!

Russell Watson is a fine singer and he recorded "The Best That Love Can Be" as a duet. I enjoyed hearing that and, you know, he's a fantastic opera singer and perhaps his voice and mine might blend together in the future, because I know he is a bit of a fan of my music and I am certainly a fan of his.

6th May 2003 - Babak (16) from Rasht, Iran:

Hi Chris!! I love you and your songs. I have a lot of questions, but I'll ask just one. In the song "Don't look back" you say "Jimmy Pellin was a friend of mine, but he went out there one too many times" - who is Jimmy Pellin, and where is "there"??? Thanks a lot.

In the song "Don't Look Back" I tried to come up with a name that sounded like it actually meant something, but it isn't anybody I've ever met, the name Jimmy Pellin. It just felt like a good name to throw in at that particular point. And often words that sound good don't necessarily mean too much in terms of, I suppose, making sense. The place that he went to too many times is probably like a lap dancing club or a brothel or something like that on the outskirts of town. But it's a bit like the ships of old in Greek mythology, where if you went too close to the sirens, they sang so beautifully that you crashed on the rocks. And these women are kind of similar, they are very tempting. And indeed many women are very tempting for an awful lot of people.

7th May 2003 - Gill Howlett (42) from Horsham, West Sussex, England:

Just seen you in concert at Brighton excellent as usual. Thanks! You said the reason you wrote The Tower was because you dislike killing animals and birds for no reason. Are you or would you ever consider being a vegetarian? Look forward to next tour. X

I wrote the song "The Tower" because I was brought up on a farm and in the summertime, particularly around the harvest, the birds like the crows and pigeons tend to flatten the corn. They arrive in flocks and flatten the corn. And certainly, when I was growing up, there was no way of lifting the corn to harvest it with a combined harvester. So what farmers did was to shoot a couple of birds and hang them in the fields which would put off the rest. And I went out to do this one day, but I shot far too many birds. And I have to say I felt disgusted at myself. So some time later, remembering this, I wrote the song "The Tower" about a great Lord who really had everything he needed, but he enjoyed killing. And I think those two words "killing" and "sport" do not fit together, and I feel very uncomfortable about blood sports of any kind. And particularly involving guns, shooting just for fun. It doesn't seem right to me. I am not a vegetarian because I believe human beings are in fact carnivores. People can make the choice obviously, but I don't eat a lot of meat. My preference would be either a pasta or chicken. Unfortunately I don't like fish at all, as I said earlier. But red meat not very often.

8th May 2003 - Deb Louden (38) from Poole, Dorset, UK:

Great Concert at BIC Bournemouth, Chris. One thing I've always wondered is when you have such a repertoire of songs, and sing so many in one concert, how do you remember which one comes next? Do you have some kind of reminder, or is it all done from memory?

Every night when I am on stage, I am singing anything up to 34, 36 songs, and yes, there are a lot of words. Sometimes the words come out automatically, sometimes I really have to work out to remember them, and from time to time I forget. As I am sure many people who have been to my concerts have discovered I do make up words occasionally. Because they look at me with great surprise when they are expecting to hear a certain series of words and I just go blank. It does happen, I am sure, to everybody, actors and anybody in daily life. And it certainly happens to me. But if I forget, I just make something up. But in terms of reminders, I use that method of a few seconds before, I have trigger words that bring on the next line or the next verse. And it helps to put those kind of trigger words into your head and you can then remember to come up with the next line. So it's not often that I forget words. Particularly with the new album when I toured with Timing Is Everything, I did tend to forget some of the words initially, but I think I've got them down by now.

9th May 2003 - Deborah Madge (34) from St. Helens, England:

Why was the tribute song to Princess Diana, 'There's a new star in Heaven Tonight' not released in the U.K as it's such a beautiful song?

The tribute song to Princess Diana was written very much as a personal song, only a hundred CDs were made. And in fact, at the time Elton John or his partner Bernie Taupin had written new words for "Candle In The Wind" and that was a huge selling record at the time. And I had no intention of going head to head with somebody like Elton and his terrific version of "Candle In The Wind". The song was by request put on a Best Of Chris de Burgh album in America. And I have still a few of the signed and numbered CDs (1 to 100) left and I'd be interested if anybody out there would perhaps like to acquire, get ahold of one of these.

10th May 2003 - Michael Wischnewski (42) from Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo:

Chris when I was watching "Wetten Dass" a couple of years ago, I heard David Coulthard say that you were a silent partner for Eddie Jordan Racing? Is it true and how did this come about?

The "Wetten Dass" you are referring to, I think it was not David Coulthard, if I recall, it was Heinz Harald Frentzen who mentioned that I was involved with Eddie Jordan. But that was really purely from a friendship point of view. Eddie is a good friend and I certainly love formula one racing. And I think it's such a vastly expensive area to get involved with that it would be beyond me. But I am still somebody who enjoys going to the races as often as possible.

11th May 2003 - Ian McDonald (38) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:

Hi Chris. I'm partial to chicken and caramelized onions with barbecue sauce on a pizza. What do you like on your pizza???

Well, I like the standard cheese and tomato. I also like salami, particularly if it's a bit hot and piquant. And artichokes, maybe occasionally an egg up there. You know, I like to try anything, a bit of garlic and spinach. I am not mad about pineapple chunks that we get sometimes. There's a great pizza place in Düsseldorf, called Don Camillo. They do stunning pizzas. For those who order the four seasons pizza, that comes with just about every excitement that you can imagine.

12th May 2003 - Chris Williams (50) from Essex, England:

Hiya Chris, can I ask why you dropped the songs 'If Beds Could Talk' and 'Timing Is Everything' from the latter part of your 'Timing Is Everything' tour ? Did you just want to shorten the concert slightly or was there some other reason ? Thanks!!

This is from Chris Williams and her husband Stewart, great fans and they come to a lot of my concerts. And they very kindly sent me a formula one book on the new season for the last few years. I am very grateful for that. I dropped the songs "If Beds Could Talk" and "Timing Is Everything" because the concert was getting too long and we had to trim the set a bit. It's a tremendous amount of effort for me to be up there on stage for nearly three hours a night and it's tough on my voice. So we chose these two songs, because they were particularly difficult for me to sing and, you know, putting together a concert programme takes a lot of shows and we think we trimmed it right back at the end to what felt right. And also by putting the song "Missing You" towards the end, it gave it a kick that we felt it required.

13th May 2003 - Joan Smith (46) from Exeter, England:

Thank you Chris for the time you gave me in Cardiff, for me it was a really magic moment.. I really like the track 'If you really love her let her go' It was really relevant a while ago. Do you think you will feel the same way when it's you daughter? Your lyrics confirmed that I had to let go if I wanted to hang on to my daughter. It worked!!!!! What was your inspiration for this song????

I wrote the song "If You Really Love Her Let Her Go" from the viewpoint of a young man, madly in love with a girl. And the parents have not recognized the fact that sooner or later they have to let go of their child. You know, when a child grows into their teen years, they are no longer babies. They are beginning to realize they should fly unaided. And it's the hardest thing in the world to acknowledge that you have to start stepping back and let them make their own mistakes. It's tough for a parent. In fact one of the songs on my next album is called "Here For You" and that describes a scene at the airport, when you are saying goodbye to a child who is about to go off, you know, in their late teens, early twenties, they are about to go off to Australia perhaps for two or three years or to America, Canada, somewhere across the other side of the world. And that moment of high emotion when all the friends are there to say good-bye. Many many tears are going to be cried and it's a tough time for people who love each other so much. They obviously want to hold on but they have to remember that they have to let go as well. I wrote "If You Really Love Her Let Her Go" before I had any children and also I wrote that song in 1982 "I'm Counting On You" which was from the viewpoint of a father observing his child sleeping and imagining what it would be like in future years. And Tom Jones recorded this song, he made a lovely job of it too.

14th May 2003 - Dermot Carberry (33) from Wexford, Ireland:

Chris, Congrats on the show in the Wembley arena the other night. Interested to see the move away from A&M. What will you call the new record label? And will you now set up a recording studio in Bargy?

I think maybe you meant the Albert Hall, or if it was on television, the Birmingham show. My new record label is called "Ferryman Productions" and the recording studio is going to be set up in my home just out of Dublin, in Wicklow.

15th May 2003 - Daniel Imhof (16) from Hannover, Germany:

Hi Chris, I have visited your "Timing is everything"-tour and I'm wondering if the notes will be published in a songbook so I can play them on my guitar too. Greets. Daniel.

After album releases we always try to put out the songbook, and I have no doubt at some stage there will be a Timing Is Everything songbook. Now a word of caution on these: Sometimes the people who are writing out the chords and the top line musical notes, the melodies, do not get it right. And quite often I've looked in songbooks of mine to find that the chords were completely different to what I actually wrote. Unfortunately I can't read or write music, so I can't actually check the musical notes that are written. But I can see that the chords are sometimes incorrect. So you should trust your own judgement when it comes to playing some of my songs from a songbook. Always check against the recorded version to see if it sounds right, or indeed even if it's in the correct key.

16th May 2003 - Danny (33) from Germany:

Dear Chris, if you could live your life again, would you do it the same way?

I am happy with the person I am today. I feel very fortunate and very blessed to have been able to live the life I have. I have been around the world several times, I've had a fantastic time in my chosen career. And we are all made up of the strands of life, of background, of culture of things that have happened to us, to bring us to where we are today. And perhaps there's the occasional regret, things have gone wrong or perhaps I didn't do something the right way, but it doesn't cause too much of a problem. Similar to when I finish making an album, I close the door and say "That's finished, I'm not going to go back and change anything, I am happy with it this day. In two years from now I might say Oh, why didn't I do so and so. But it's not relevant anymore." So as long as I stay healthy and remain happy and focussed on what I love to do with the people I love to be with then I'm perfectly happy with my life as it has been in the past and hopefully will continue to be in the future.

17th May 2003 - Caleigh Davis (14) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Do you ever find music theory frustrating? Like {pardon the grammar} do you ever have a tune stuck in your head that you can't get down on paper?

Let me say right upfront that I am a huge fan of Halifax. I've been there many times and I love the town and I am extremely aware of the extraordinary history of Halifax. And recently I read a book called "Burden of desire" which really focuses on the massive explosion that hit Halifax in the beginning of the 1900s. It was a munition ship that blew up in the bay in the harbour of Halifax. It's a fascinating insight on life back then in the early 1900s. Anyway, back to your question. I have never studied music theory, so I am sure you are quite right, it is very frustrating. I think what I should perhaps have done is what my children have done. They have learned to read and write music and then they have used that ability to help them understand parts of the music they like which is mainly pop music, particular some of the classics that they are interested in. If you have a tune stuck in your head that you can't get down on paper, simple answer: use a tape recorder! If you've got some kind of melody in your head, just get it down onto a tape recorder and then, if you want to write the musical notation, do it that way. But don't forget, musical theory is not the bible, as far as I am concerned of music. If you feel something emotionally, then you should use that. Many times in my career I have come up with strange and quirky, a lot of devices or changes of key, or rhythmic patterns. And "real musicians", and I use this word in the way it's meant, would tell me "You can't have a 5/6 bar after a 4/4 bar", and I say "Well, it feels right, and that's all I care about". And that for me is the point of music. If it feels right, then it is okay.

18th May 2003 - Caroline Allen (22) from Henley on Thames, UK:

I recently went to you concert at the Albert Hall, you sang a song about the view of a child in a divorced family - it was fantastic! When will it be released and what is it called?

The song I sang at the Albert Hall last year was called "Once Upon A Time" which is quite probably the title of my next album. And it's the child's viewpoint of the break-up of a marriage. I am sure I'll be talking about this song again, but with so many children growing up in separated families, it's a huge number, I think something like forty percent of marriages break up. I've often wondered what it must be like to be the child of such a marriage. And so many children think it's their fault when their parents get divorced. And of course usually it's got nothing to do with the children, they are just innocent victims. I'm not sure when this song will be released, but we are looking probably early in 2004.

19th May 2003 - Scott Hartlieb (35) from Ohio, USA:

Back in the infancy of MTV you did a video for Don't Pay the Ferryman. (studio / concept version with the people in the church). In it during a period of no vocals (right before the YEAEAEAEA! don't pay the ferryman) there was someone faintly saying something in the background. Sounds like about 3 sentences and something like "?and all the planets?" This was in the early 1980's. I listened for it when I heard the video again during MTV2's A to Z and that background speech is NOT there. I remember playing it again and again on my old reel to reel trying to decipher it. What are those lines?

In the album version of "Don't Pay The Ferryman" from the album "The Getaway" (1982) I asked an actor called Anthony Head to read out the lines from a Shakespeare play called "The Tempest". I think it started "We were all at sea", it describes part of the tempest. I wanted this vocal rendering to sound sort of odd and in the background, not really sure what's going on. The reason it's not on the video is because we tightened up the song for a single. That video was shot in a church on the River Thames on the South bank near Battersea Park. When I stay at the Conrad Hotel in London, Chelsea, I look across and I can see the same church across the other side of the river. I'm afraid you are going to have to go and have a read of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and have another listen to the lyrics that we used in "Don't Pay The Ferryman" to find out exactly what it was, because I can't point you at it anymore. I can't remember which particular act it came from, but it is the description of the storm.

20th May 2003 - Deborah Madge (34) from St.Helens, Merseyside, England:

Hi Chris, are there any plans to bring out a compilation of the videos to your singles as it's something that I would like to see as, I'm sure, would other fans of yours?

We have spoken about putting a video collection together on DVD and video of all the videos I've done. And hopefully sooner rather than later this will happen.

21st May 2003 - Muhammad Sabet (21) from Tehran, Iran:

Hi Chris, I'd like to know if except of the "Beatles" and "Eagles" you're interested in any other Hard Rock and Rock n Roll music. ("Pink Floyd" and "Queen" in Particular)?

Of course I like the Beatles and the Eagles, but I love loads and loads of other kind of music. Particularly good songwriters like Sting and the Police. Queen were such a fantastic band. I remember at the time when the Irish band U2 were being titled as the greatest rock band in the world, I'm afraid Queen were and still are one of the greatest for me. In terms of singing and song writing ability, they are massively ahead of just about any other band out there. I have the ability now through my children who love to listen to Led Zeppelin, Queen, and so on of hearing these songs again. And the skill, the recording technique and the outstanding talent in bands like Queen and Pink Floyd is amazing.

22nd May 2003 - Chris Williams (50) from Essex, England:

Hi Chris !! I'm going ask a couple of strange questions hope you will answer them!!! I've noticed several times before, and especially when you sit on the edge of the stage while singing 'The Best That Love Can Be'...that your feet are really the first question I wanna ask is , and no it's not that ;-) !! but what size shoes do you actually take? The second question is you never appear to 'sweat' that much on stage.......we in the audience sweat like mad, especially at the end of the show, where you still appear to be as 'dry as a bone'......what deodorant do you use ?.....coz I want some of it !!!! Take care and best wishes to you, and I'm really looking forward to the shows in the Churches and Cathedrals next year. Should be something different !!

European shoe size, depending if it's a tight shoe or quite a generous shoe, is 39 or 40, which English would be 6 1/2 or 7. I love to have plenty of room in a shoe because I love walking and also I love running and playing football. And I don't like clumpy, solid shoes, I much prefer something light. As far as sweating on stage is concerned, well I do sometimes get very very hot, particularly in hot venues. In the past I've come off stage just wringing wet and I am sure I will again in the future. Always have to replace all that lost fluid by drinking litres of water, not only during the day. I would drink 2 or 3 litres before the concert during the day and also afterwards certainly another litre of water. And I do sweat a lot on stage, but it all totally depends on the venue. Of course, those of you who are in the crowd, there's a lot of body heat generated by being so close to other people jumping up and down, so that will make you much hotter than me. But for me, on the stage, if the lights are close to my head, they can be burning hot. And we get very very hot on stage sometimes.

23rd May 2003 - Monica Ganguly (28) from Wuppertal, Germany:

In the newspaper I've read that you played some of your new songs in the Phantasialand in Brühl. Do you have tried some of the attractions and which one is your favourite in those fun parks?

I never had any time to really have a good look at Phantasialand in Brühl. It looked wonderful. I've been to Euro Disney several times with my family and I love Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain. I'm not particularly good at being thrown up and down and round and round, because my balance isn't the best and I don't like coming off these rides with wobbly legs and feeling ill. But some people absolutely adore those kinds of things. There's one seat that goes up several hundred of feet into the air and plummets to the ground. That's not for me. I love to fly in helicopters and I get that sensation often enough in a helicopter, I don't need it in one of those theme parks.

24th May 2003 - Mike Bird (50) from Toronto, Canada:

Chris, many of your songs have references to spaceships and angels and other off planet concepts like heaven, and "I know where we will be going", etc... Where does this inspiration come from? Just your own creativity or have you seen a UFO?

No, I have never seen a UFO unfortunately, but I am firmly of the belief that they exist. You see, we are making a very arrogant assumption. Just because human beings in our visual and aural spectrum of what we can see and what we can hear, we assume we can see and hear everything. This is absolute nonsense. We are able to see physical objects, but we have no ability to see the time-space-concept, where for example a slug has no idea we exist until something happens to it, like we stood on it or something, because we are moving in a totally faster world than the slug, although we may be occupied in the same physical world. So I am quite certain that there are some things out there far beyond our knowledge that perhaps will be revealed to us in the future. My inspiration about angels is realistic as well. I am of the opinion that we all have guardian angels, and all we have to do is listen. Can you imagine the frustration of being an angel and trying to communicate with humans, when they are about to make some disastrous choice or mistake and the human is just not listening. The thing is, like a radio, you have to turn on your radio to hear what is being said in that extra dimension.

25th May 2003 - Ian McDonald (38) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:

I have a Senegal Parrot, 12 finches and a dog. Do you have any pets? What are their names?

We have a black Labrador and her name is Milly and she is 7 years old. She is gorgeous and she loves living in the country. And we are planning to get another little puppy for her for company quite shortly.

26th May 2003 - Alissa Fraser (13) from Douglas, Canada:

I really love your music and have been listening to it for as long as I can remember, but one thing is puzzling me. In your song The Hurricane, is that actually about a hurricane? Or is it an analogy of some sort?

I am sure you are referring to "Waiting For The Hurricane" and there is no deeper meaning here, but it was one of those stories that emerged from an idea. What would it be like to be stranded on an island, say, in the Caribbean, and a hurricane is about to hit and everything is closing down, all the telecommunications, the airports, and you just have to sit and wait for the hurricane to hit. It's just a bit like "Don't Pay The Ferryman", you are not quite sure what is going on, but you know something is going on. In the song I am creating some kind of drama.

27th May 2003 - Emma Crew (19) from Nottingham, UK:

Hi Chris, i was just wondering which countries you have had the most success in? It's a shame you have only had one number one single in the UK, you deserve loads more. You truly have a beautiful talent in your musical abilities, i thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing it with us all. Best Wishes for you and your family!

I've had a lot of success in Germany, Canada, Russia, and the smaller countries like Lebanon, South Africa and of course I had a number one record in the United States. I'm just lucky to have an international career. Thank you for your kind words about my talent.

28th May 2003 - Louis Picotte (40) from Granby, Quebec, Canada:

You have done a lot of tours since the beginning of your singing career ,do you recall what was the largest and the smallest audience that you have played for. Does size matter to you ( size of the audience of course !! )?

I love playing to any audience, but I get particularly excited when they are big like ten thousand, twelve thousand. The biggest I think I have ever performed in front of was at the Hockenheim Ring and also up near Hamburg in Lüneburg, both times we think it was about 120,000 to 130,000 . And earlier on in my career I've often had to play in pubs and bars, even with a band, for thirty or forty people. And it's very humiliating, but you know that getting up that ladder is a tough, tough ride. So those people who are lucky enough to be spotted in these TV shows and taken to the top of the tree can be sure of one thing, that they will go down as quickly as they came up.

29th May 2003 - Adrian McGowan (55) from Hayes, Middlesex, UK:

Hi Chris, Early Christmas greetings to you and your family. My wife and I love the new album, which grows and grows the more we play it. As usual the ballads are brilliant!, but I also love "Bal Masque". I would like to know where the idea for this song originated.

The song "Bal Masqué" originated just from a little idea of perhaps there is a soul mate out there that you will always be attracted to. It starts off in the Court of Versailles where there is a bal masqué (masked ball) and what I am saying in this is there's somebody, it doesn't matter what she wears and how she dresses up or whatever mask she has on, I will always know her just from the attraction that we have between us. And then going forward hundreds of years, that same person in a different physical body will always be attracted again to you, because you have this spiritual joining as soul mates.

30th May 2003 - Brian Hunt (26) from County Wicklow, Ireland:

Hi Chris, Thank you for such wonderful songs. Do you think that your new home and new surroundings will act as a greater source of inspiration for your music, or how do you feel it will impact on your future music.

I am actually looking out the window at the Sugarloaf Mountain. This place is so beautiful, and I am quite certain that this is a perfect place to be to carry on for the next phase of my career, which for my next album, I think, will be deep and inspired. And certainly the countryside is going to help in that respect.

31st May 2003 - Susan (38) from Madison, Ohio, USA:

I heard it said that, in your chosen profession, you never forget your first public appearance. What do you remember about your first public appearance?

My first public appearance would have been when I was a boy of about 13 or 14 years old, at my Dad's castle hotel. And I had written a song called "A Waste Of Love" which was pretty dreadful, but you gotta start somewhere. And some friends came round and I actually was so embarrassed it about singing it that I stood in another room and sang it rather badly with a guitar. But since then I've got a bit better and now I can actually be in the same room when I want to sing to some people. :)

1st June 2003 - Emilia Galarowicz (20) from Czêstochowa, Poland:

If you were to summarise your life philosophy and give the essence of it, what would you say? Could you articulate the recipe for happiness that you believe to work? I'm very much fascinated by your music and I admire you as a man on the basis of what I can read about you on the Internet because of course I don't know you personally. Thank you for your inspiring influence!

There is no recipe of success, but I think there is one key factor that I certainly would come back to again and again, which is if you are happy with yourself, if you can stand tall and exude a feeling of joy and happiness and a feeling that you have something to offer other people, this is the stepping stone to giving out happiness to all around you. Obviously things will go wrong in everybody's life, but it's funny when you walk into a room there is always those people who give out the feeling of kind of being solid within themselves, of self-sufficient and happy. And that is the chore of bringing happiness into your life on a regular basis.

2nd June 2003 - Jackie Madeley (37) from Manchester, UK:

Will you ever do a karaoke spot on one of your shows again like you did at the outdoor concerts in England? I was at the concert at Hampton Court when someone sang "Spaceman Came Travelling", it was fab!

Yes, I think the karaoke spot gave a lot of people a chance to see how difficult or perhaps easy it is to stand up and sing live in a big concert hall in front of people. It's something I'll probably bring back to my shows in the future.

3rd June 2003 - Sarah (15) from England:

Why is your album, Power of Ten, called that?

It's quite simple why I called it that. It's because it was my tenth studio album. And I hope you enjoy it.

4th June 2003 - Becki (36) from Isle of Man, UK:

Hi Chris. I loved the two songs you wrote for your two eldest children, but did you write anything when Hubie was born? Did these songs come from the heart, or were they quite difficult to pen. I ask this because a few years ago, a tragedy occurred on the coast of the isle of man, with the loss of 7 young lives and I couldn't sleep until I had written what I felt. It was like the pen had a mind of its own, and I wondered whether it was like this for you. I hope we will see you perform on the Isle of Man one day. Thank you for your time.

I wrote a song for Rosanna which was called "For Rosanna" when she was born. The one for my second child Hubie was called "Just A Word Away". And my third child, Michael, "The Son And The Father". It's difficult to articulate the way I feel but I have to go deep into my heart and find the true meanings of what I am trying to say. And as for you writing songs about the tragedy and the loss of life that you mentioned, I can completely understand that. I recently wrote a song for the two little girls in England who were murdered, that was called "Little Angel". And the song for Princess Diana, these things kind of erupt from inside, that you really have to get out, and you feel more comfortable when you've done that. So it's very important to let your emotions go in that respect.

5th June 2003 - Nicole Kriegers (34) from Niederkrüchten, Germany:

Chris, I've read about your plans to create, promote and release all your future recordings for your own label. Can you tell us more about your plans? With Love from Germany, Nicole

My next record will go out on "Ferryman Productions" and in fact there's a very good chance that other people who are frustrated with working with record companies might even release their own product through my new label. So it's going to be an exciting time in the future. Things have changed so much, and record companies have spent so little time or indeed money investing in the future of good music and good musicians. It's a real shame that this doesn't happen because there are plenty of good songwriters out there, not only current ones but future ones, who are in my opinion not being given the encouragement they require. So hopefully maybe I'll be in that situation myself.

6th June 2003 - Colette Gifford (34) from Whitby, Canada:

Can't resist asking... Boxers or Briefs? (There's at least 5 people on the mailing list who are curious!)

When I was much younger, the tradition for boys was what we called Y-fronts which were briefs. And they may look interesting on a man, but in fact they are not at all good for your health. Quite a lot of testicular cancer has been narrowed down to coming from wearing tight underwear. And I think the companies that make boxer shorts have recognized this, so men don't have to be vain anymore and wear tight underwear, they can wear attractive boxers, all sorts of colours and shapes. And yes, for many years now, I have been wearing boxers. It's nice to have that free feeling, if you know what I mean.

7th June 2003 - Lore Müller (51) from Lohmar, Germany:

Hi Chris! Please allow me to ask two questions: 1. Why did you let Russell Watson cover "The Best That Love Can Be" even before TIE was released? 2. Do you keep or have you ever kept a private diary? If yes, does it help you to cope with problems or do you write down things just to read them again years later? Thanks for answering!

Russell Watson's record was supposed to come out almost exactly at the same time as my last album "Timing Is Everything" and he called my office and said it's one of the best love songs he has ever heard", perhaps because he was going through a similar personal problem that is indicated in the lyrics of the song. And as far as release dates are concerned, these are generally on a world-wide basis slightly different. So you can get a release on a certain date in one country, which is different in another. And that will certainly be the case with my next record. And as far as the question about the diary is concerned, it's a time-consuming thing to write a diary. Unfortunately I very rarely have the time to do such a thing. I have to rely on my memory but I'm fortunate in as much as I have a huge amount of press and publicity to keep and read in later years, and photographs indicating of where I have been and what I have been doing all around the world.

8th June 2003 - Leslie Baker (53) from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England:

Where did you get the idea for A SPACEMAN CAME TRAVELLING ? I am a student of metaphysics and I was a UFO investigator. As I love all of your music I would like to know ... Leslie.

The idea for "A Spaceman Came Travelling" came at a time in the early seventies where it seemed that there was a huge interest in UFOs. This tends to go in cycles to be honest. At that time there was discussion about whether the Indians in South America were in one particular area laying down what appeared to be landing strips for UFOs perhaps, laid out in stones in the desert. I think, as I said earlier, that we would be mad not to believe for a moment that there are things beyond our recognition. And I certainly think there is something out there, and perhaps, as I indicated in the song "A Spaceman Came Travelling", there is a benign power out there keeping an eye on the world and the stupid and foolish things that we do, particularly when it comes to creating weapons of mass destruction. Interesting to see that you were a UFO investigator, I am sure that must be a fascinating hobby, or indeed job. Also, I was thinking, I am very much a "perhaps" or "what if" person, you know allow your imagination to go wild, and maybe the Star of Bethlehem was a spacecraft at one of the most significant turning points in human history.

9th June 2003 - Nick Mangiaracina (32) from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:

Chris, I became a huge fan only in 2000 after seeing your concert here in Ottawa. In a matter of days I had all your albums and have recently acquired "Live in South Africa". I don't know if you are familiar with Trans Siberian Orchestra, but my question is, have you ever thought of releasing a rock opera? By this I mean, one album dedicated to one story. Who better to do this, than you?

Well there is a huge amount of work involved in a rock opera, and indeed at the moment I'm working on an idea for a film involving a lot of songs, so I know how much work is involved. But the idea of dedicating an album to one story, I have always been interested in a concept album. These ideas and sorts of records seem to come and go. They were very popular in the seventies, and I remember when I started touring with the English band Supertramp, their album "Crime Of The Century" was often thought of as a concept album. I think when you have a series of songs loosely intertwined, perhaps creating an overall story, would be an appealing idea. It's something I come back to repeatedly. I think perhaps now that I have more time to concentrate on writing, I'll get into such an idea.

10th June 2003 - Munroe (31) from Newcastle, UK:

Hello, Chris! I'd like to ask you a question about the song "Last Night". It's a wonderful, provocative song... I love the line "But I can feel there is this new kind of hunger inside to be satisfied", and I was wondering if you could take some time to elaborate on the emotions involved in the song and, specifically, this lyric. Thank you very much, and enjoy the rest of your day!

One of my personal favourites of all the songs I've written is "Last Night". This is very much a movie in my mind where the song starts off with the camera pending over boats pulled up on a shore, and away in the distance you see a little fishing village, and as you get closer you can hear the noise of dancing and cheering, and there's people in the streets and all sorts of decorations. And then you realize that some soldiers have come back from the war. Then the camera moves down on a little side alley and there's a provocative looking young lady waiting for the boys to come and visit her. She's obviously a prostitute. And then, as the celebrations go on, the camera goes up to a hill. At the top of the hill there's a small church and a barren tree windblown. And kneeling at a graveside there's a young woman wearing black and standing beside her is a soldier, obviously a friend, maybe her brother, and she is looking at the grave of her husband or her lover who has been killed. And this is, I suppose, a familiar thing with me. I find it difficult to celebrate war or victory in war. I think you celebrate by saying "well, thank god, that's finished". But it's difficult for me to find the idea of celebrating somebody else's defeat which has caused so much grief. And indeed also in victory, it has caused havoc. The line "I can feel there's a new kind of hunger inside" refers to these young men of 17, 18, 19, 20 who have been made into soldiers and sent off to war. And I think certainly everything I've read about the first time a young man kills another human being, it has an absolutely catastrophic impact. Some men go on to stay soldiers, and possibly get used to the idea of killing. Maybe it's addictive. But the new kind of hunger refers to that extraordinary power that a soldier has over another human being with a gun. In the background of my mind was the reference to a poem by one of my favourite war poets Siegfried Sassoon, in the first world war. I have read most of his poetry and I love it but one particular poem referred to young lads in some village or other where the local squire bullied them to go off and fight in the war. It's the point of view of one of those soldiers who has been killed. He comes back and he watches a church service, where the squire looks up at the wall and he sees the names of all those killed. And most of them are people, young men, that he said you must go and fight in the war. And this poem has a great impact and I think I had that in my head when I was writing the song "Last Night".

11th June 2003 - Steve Bennett (36) from Winsford, England:

Hi Chris, I've heard a recording of a Liverpool Radio City broadcast from 1978 in which you sing a song called 'Don't Leave Me Now'. It starts with the lyrics: "Last night, I had a dream. So sad, so long, so real, that I came running back towards the light and woke to find the tears were in my eyes." Was this one of your own compositions and if so why did you decide never to record it?

Hi Steve! I know you well, and you are responsible for me recording the song "There's Room In This Heart Tonight". Basically the song was already written, but he came up with a copy of it, because I didn't have one anymore. And I had a listen and I said "god, that sounds pretty good". I amended it, and I changed a few things round. Anyway, you heard a song called "Don't Leave Me Now". I can't remember this one! So, Steve, if you have a copy of it, please send me a copy. It could easily have been one of my own compositions, and I don't know why I decided not to record it. Maybe it wasn't very good. But if you have a copy, Steve, please send it to me.

12th June 2003 - Amy (15) from Surrey, UK:

Dear Chris, I know you are very successful, but have you always received a lot of support from your family?

I've always received a lot of support from my family. Of course one of the problems about my job is that I have to travel away from home a lot. And thankfully at this stage at my career, I can choose how long I wish to make that. In fact my Canadian tour was the longest I've ever been away from home uninterrupted for quite a long time. Three weeks is about as much as I can stand, because it is uncomfortable for those left at home. I am so involved with family life, I take my children to school every morning, often pick them up at the end of the day and I am around 24 hours a day. It is important for me to be there and to know that they understand what I am doing and why I am doing it. And even though at this stage, I don't need to go off and tour, it's because I want to and because I still can. And also I know there are a lot of people in the world who wish to hear what I can do.

13th June 2003 - Laurie Kauppila (37) from Northbridge, MA, USA:

Just wondering if you happen to ever listen to Jackson Browne. We think he rates up there with you as being a remarkable songwriter, performer, and peace advocate. Any thoughts?

Jackson Browne has always been one of my favourite singers/songwriters. In fact, recently he was performing in Dublin, and unfortunately I couldn't get to see it, I had something else I had to do. But he is a fabulous songwriter. I love his song "Fountain Of Sorrow". "Running On Empty" is one of my top albums. He has the ability to obviously play the piano and play the guitar. In fact he reminds me a lot of myself, there's not very many of us around who are not just performers but also entertainers. He is definitely one of my favourites. It's not somebody I would immediately think of, like Paul Simon would be a really stunning songwriter. Jackson Browne is certainly one of the greats. And also Jackson Browne being a peace advocate, terribly important in these troubled times. I'm certainly happy that I wrote the song "Lebanese Night" and it has such an impact in that part of the world. And the irony of being put to bed at night as a child and hearing guns going off in the distance, now that kind of thing. I may not stand up and say "Stop the war" or "President Bush must be stopped" or this kind of stuff, but I feel that the way I approach my anti war feelings are personal but also broad in their appeal. For example, when I wrote the song "Borderline", that's what I had in my mind.

14th June 2003 - Elin Aasen (29) from Norway:

Hey kjekkas! Here I sit wondering what question I should ask to maybe get Chris himself interesting. I don't even have the knowledge of the language but I try anyway. Do you think it's boring to answer all of these questions or do you get something out of it? I hope so anyway! Elsker deg! Helt sant! Elin.

A final and very appropriate question from Norway! No, on the contrary! I find it fascinating and very fulfilling, because I am answering questions that others have felt deeply about. And I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of questions coming in. But I enjoy answering them. And also I am very sorry it has taken so long to get around to answering so many questions, but it's been a busy time for the last two or three months. If you have any more questions out there, please send them through and I'll do my best to answer them as quickly and as deeply and interestingly as possible.

21st July 2003 - Chris Golimowski (40ish) from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada:

Not a question just sincere thank you to Chris for not cancelling his May 21 concert in Toronto. We here appreciate his support and dedication. Many artists have cancelled due to SARS. We live, play, and work in Toronto. It's a great and safe city but I guess Chris already knows that. Thank you and see you soon.

Literally within minutes of me hearing the mayor of Toronto saying that this thing was totally overblown, I was onto his office to say that I would not cancel my concert, I love Toronto and that I was gonna honour my commitment to perform there for my fans and indeed for myself.

22nd July 2003 - Moriah Brunner (18) from St. Paul, Alberta, Canada:

In the song 'This Waiting Heart', there are the lyrics 'O Lean, O Lean, O Leon, Wellahiya' - do they mean anything in particular?

Actually they don't mean anything in particular. I was trying to think of the kind of thing that men in a canoe would be singing as they rowed a canoe. It's not a nonsense verse, but it's to create a feeling of something ethnic, something unusual going on. I think it was my voice that did all those, at least I knew I was singing about nothing in particular. It was difficult, I think, to try and get other people to do that, because it doesn't really mean anything at all, just creates an atmosphere.

23rd July 2003 - Michael Smith (38) from Salem, Massachusetts, USA:

Chris, in your song A Spaceman Came Travelling what is the reference to 2000 years and is it to do with Jesus? It's an awesome song among your many. I think you're the songwriter of all time, I love the mystical stuff, thanks .

This was written one hot August day in the early seventies, I think it must have been 1974. I have always believed in the possibility that there is another dimension. And I think human beings would be very arrogant to suggest that we are the only people within our particular universe, because our audio spectrum is limited, our visual spectrum is limited. Just because we can't see and touch something, we cannot deny its existence. I think we are all too much of a scientific point of view where you have to have it actually banging into your head before you see something actually exists. I don't believe that at all, I think there is a lot more going on out there than we have any idea about. And so I am, as I said, a "what if" person. "A Spaceman Came Travelling", what if the star of Bethlehem was indeed a spacecraft from another galaxy, another being keeping an eye on the world and announcing that the birth of Jesus was going to have a massive effect on humanity for the rest of history, which it has done. It's certainly to do with Jesus' birth. And the reference to 2000 years goes back to a belief amongst many who think that there is a spiral or a gyre that returns every 2000 years of immense historical significance for the world. And that's what I had in my mind. Loosely also based on a poem that you readers might want to have a look at by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The poem is called "The second coming". And you'll find hints of "A Spaceman Came Travelling" in that poem.

24th July 2003 - Kim (30 years plus) from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Chris , you seem to be on the road for many months of the year. Does your family have the occasion to travel with you also?

It's not as bad as all that. When I was starting in this business, I had to go everywhere all the time. It was like being a farmer having to look after 30 or 40 fields, each one being in a different country. And assessing each one on its merits about planting, whether there are a lot of stones in the field to shift and just basically put the work in. Now I do concert tours when I want and where I want. So if I am doing a concert in your area, it is because I want to be there. So my family, because they are all school-going or in my daughter's case university-going, it's only really practical in the holidays to be joined by them. When that happens, it's great.

25th July 2003 - Deborah Madge (34) from St. Helens, Merseyside, UK:

Is there any country you've not toured that you'd like to do?

There are some countries that I'd love to tour in. They would include China. And I would love to do concerts in Iran. I know there are big changes going on in that country, and I certainly would like to feel that I would be welcome in Iran by so many fans who have been in touch and so many people who want to hear me what I do. I think if the authorities would relax a little bit and let people like me in. I am not exactly somebody who is spreading violence and revolution, I actually believe in the absolute opposite. My music is gentle mostly and has always a very positive aspect to life. I would also like to be one of the first entertainers to have the chance to go into Iraq and indeed any war-torn country where it's looking for healing, like I found in Lebanon in the early nineties. It's those kinds of places where I would be most interested to tour.

26th July 2003 - Maroun Azar (45) from Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

I know that you are a fan of Formula 1, are you still attending every once in a while such events? With the new rules it is hard to tell for this year who has the chance of winning, but who's your favorite? Looking forward to seeing you In Canada again.

Yes I am a huge fan of Formula 1. I cannot get to too many races because of my professional commitments. But with the new changes in rules, it is certainly opening things up a bit. The most recent race I watched was Ralf Schumacher. But I think what it proves it's now that it's not just the dominance of the richest teams, I think it's pushing the better drivers to the fore. But in my opinion, the greatest driver at the moment is Michael Schumacher. I think if you put him in a not so competitive car, he'd still do a fantastic job.

27th July 2003 - Francis DesCoteaux (37) from Aylmer, Quebec, Canada:

Some of the best moments in my life have been spent with friends and family around a campfire, in the middle of nowhere after a long day's paddle just shooting the breeze and enjoying the simple things in life. I am grateful to you for making me remember those moments every time I hear At the End of a Perfect Day. Is that in fact the type of atmosphere you had in mind when you wrote the song? Thanks.

I wrote the song "Perfect Day" following what really was a perfect day alongside of three friends. It came out almost the way I've done the song, where it had been a lovely sunny day, spent the day at the beach, went to a pub in the evening. We didn't actually wind up on the beach with the guitars, but that's my image of a perfect day. Friends around the campfire, singing old favourites, and then at the end of it, the idea of everybody singing all their favourites, and then somebody is saying "why not sing a Christmas song?". And that's when I break into "Silent Night, Holy Night". It is for me one of those special days that I will never forget in the company of very special people. And I am sure we have all had those kinds of days. If you haven't had them, you will.

28th July 2003 - Fabian (18) from Korschenbroich, Germany:

Hi Chris! I'm a big fan of yours for many years now and I've attended some of your concerts. I think the live versions of many songs sound much better than the usual album tracks. Are all shows being recorded in audio and video? I know that some other artists do. Do you have any plans to release some more live stuff in the future? Thank you!

To set up live recording and make it actually sound good, it's a very time consuming and expensive thing to do. I have done it in the past obviously. But even more time consuming and expensive is setting up an actual video recording or DVD nowadays of a concert. It is something I will be doing next year and it's something that I like to do very much. The problem with it is that it's really only the recording of usually one show, whereas some artists, particular the ones doing the big places, like to record all of them and then put together a collection of, sort of a sample of one particular performance, taken from various other ones. I will be doing more live stuff. As you can probably tell, those who have been to my concerts, I really enjoy performing live. And as far as sounding different from records is concerned, well that is a fact mainly because when you record a song it's very green, it's very raw and it's very new. By the time you have sung it a hundred times, then obviously it becomes different, which is why often a live record can show different sides of previously recorded material.

29th July 2003 - Paul Britton (40) from Manchester, UK:

Hi Chris, how do you choose your support artist? When I saw you in Birmingham last year (a birthday present from my girlfriend) you had Martyn Joseph with you. I've liked his music since I saw him a few years ago, he was supporting you then too. Are they chosen by you or your record company and do you travel together or do they make their own way around. Thanks for all your music and inspiration.

As somebody who has had a vast experience of being an opening act in my early years, I know how difficult it can be. I have even performed when the lights in the auditorium were on full and people were wandering around looking for their seats. I have performed before the advertised showtime in the past. If the show is supposed to be eight o'clock, and I am the opening act, sometimes I have been on stage at 7:30. It's very difficult. What you are trying to do is get people to listen to your songs and trust me, it's one of the toughest jobs in the world. So I have immense sympathy for opening acts, particularly the good ones. But in Martyn Joseph's case recently, I actually called him up and I asked him whether he is interested, would he like to come and play a few shows, because I have a lot of time and respect for Martyn. I think he is a wonderful artist and a wonderful bloke and a very good friend. At this stage of my career, I very rarely use opening acts, because I got so much material to choose from and I can do a three hour show effortlessly or indeed in the case of the recent solo tours, 2 and a half hours, so much material. But usually what happens is that I get sent a tape of somebody who is a prospective opening artist and if I like it or approve it, it gets a chance. And if not, I just do it by myself.

30th July 2003 - Ryan (4) from Oaks, Pennsylvania, USA:

Dear Chris, is the Castle haunted?

I think all old buildings retain some kind of memory of the energy that you find from human beings occupying a building. And in the castle where I was brought up, those of us who are sensitive to these things feel very much in that place there is nothing remotely to suggest that it's haunted. There has been evidence in the past of poltergeists which I have come across, but there has never been that sort of spying chilling feeling that there is something horrible about to happen. No, on the contrary, the castle, although it is originally built in the 12th century and then added onto in the 16th and 20th centuries, there is definitely a good feeling about the place. And everybody who has been there will probably agree to that.

31st July 2003 - Connie Majchrzak (35) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA:

Hi Chris, I've been a fan of yours since I saw the video for "Don't Pay the Ferryman". That's all it took and I went out and bought "The Getaway" (great album by the way, as they pretty much all are) and searched to get any & everything of yours I could get my hands on. This was & can still be a difficult task as I live in the US. While you've had success basically everywhere else in the world, I'm sad to say the only major success you've had in the US is "Lady in Red". Sad because so many here are missing out on a lot of great music!!!!!!! Which brings me to my question. It doesn't seem, at least recently, that you "target" the US market at all (since it's so hard to get your stuff here) and I was wondering if you plan to do so at all. And I'm not asking for specific tour information but do you have any plans or have you at least considered touring in the US? I had tickets to see you in, I believe it was 1982, but the show got cancelled and though I was fairly young at the time, I'm not ashamed to say that I think I actually cried when I heard the news. I also wanted to say Thank You for giving your time to the "Man on the Line" section. It's a wonderful way to "keep in touch" with you "personally". PS I love "Timing is Everything" - it's always in one of my CD players!

Thank you very much. It is great to hear that I have so many fans in the United States. In fact I have had a couple of top forty hits prior to "Lady In Red", which were "Don't Pay The Ferryman" and "High On Emotion". "Lady In Red" was a huge record there and it still does very well. The subsequent album "Flying Colours", the record company did not get behind, and it was a very disappointing response to a very very big album and single prior to that. America is a very big country and it takes a lot of commitment and I've put a lot of time and energy and money into trying to break in the States in the late seventies and early eighties by a lot of touring. I think the reason I haven't been back a lot since is because of the simple fact, it is such a huge country you have to dedicate a lot of time to it. This isn't to say that I'm not interested which of course I am. But with so many commitments elsewhere in the world, to take on America as a single unit is a huge task. Nevertheless I am, as I said, delighted that there are so many fans of me and my music in the United States. It is difficult I believe sometimes to get the records, but now with the internet you can really access records from just about anywhere.

1st August 2003 - Jacqueline Ebner (45) from Erskine, Scotland:

Hello Chris, Do you wear ear plugs at concerts? So many artists do and I've always wondered what they can actually hear. What springs to my mind is someone trying to sing with headphones on - oh dear, it can be so funny. Can you help? Is it just the music you hear or can you hear yourself sing? I hope you answer this for me and may I take this opportunity of thanking you so much for all the pleasure your music gives me.

The earplugs that you are referring to are called in-ear-monitors. That means they are monitors, the same thing as the large boxes in front of the microphones that I have, except you are getting the same information in your ear. Now I have tried them in the past. I find that because I leap around so much they tend to fall out firstly and secondly I just don't like them. I think it can damage your hearing. You basically get what you want to hear, if you want to just hear your voice or if you want to hear the drums or the guitar or whatever, that's what you get in your headphones. But it's difficult for me and I will always now carry on using the traditional method which is the monitors in front of me.

2nd August 2003 - Vern Hines (41) from Auckland, New Zealand:

Hi Chris, when you introduce a new song to your band members, do you instruct them on how you want them to play it or do you let them interpret it themselves. Thanks for the many great stories.

When I introduce a new song to my band members, I play it on one instrument. Which has always been my rule is that if it sounds good with one instrument then it's worth recording. Because I am, I suppose, so lucky to be so versatile in as much as I can record and perform either solo or with band or with orchestra or string quartet. It gives me many options. So when I come with a new song to the band, generally the first thing I do is describe what I see, the picture in my head. Almost like describing the movie that I see when I write a song. We go through the chords, they write down the chords, and the bars pertaining to the song, if necessary write out some of the music. But professional musicians pick these things up very fast. Later on, when we have the structure of the song completed, I give the musicians plenty of scope to interpret certain sections of the music themselves. But rather than me guide them after the initial point, I like to sit back and listen and say what I like and what I don't like in the direction the music actually finds itself going into.

3rd August 2003 - Behnam (18) from Toronto, Canada:

Hi Chris! First off, I really want to say how happy I am that you chose Snows Of New York as your finale, that is one of my personal favourites of yours. My question is this: How did you come up with the Revolution trilogy? It's just, for me, it is perfect. One of your masterpieces, I think. And I was just wondering how you came up with it, especially having it as a trilogy.

Let me just say what a thrill it was to perform in Toronto recently, in spite of all the difficulties the city is having with the SARS virus. In all the time I was there, four days, walking around the city, from end to end, East to West, I was on the tram car going from the bottom of University down to what we call the beaches. I was all over the city and I didn't see one person wearing a face mask. I know this is a serious epidemic, but I think there also has to be some kind of balance with the media reaction to what is essentially a very contained and confined virus. Thank you for what you say about Snows Of New York, it's an important song to me and I love to sing it. As far as the trilogy of Revolution is concerned, I was always interested in creating more of a story in music than just the usual three minute piece. Crusader was, I think, the first time that I attempted to do a three part piece of music, and that worked quite successfully. Revolution came from I suppose living in Ireland, although it is not about Ireland and the Irish revolution of 1798, but it's the same feeling I suppose anywhere of the excitement knowing that the battle is about to be started and people calling and whispering from home to home, you know "the revolution is coming". It could apply to the French revolution of 1789, it could apply to anywhere, anytime. And then the subsequent trilogy I did on the Into The Light album 1986 was called The Leader, The Vision, What About Me. And I have every intention of continuing this style of writing, in particular by adding extra parts of stories to existing ones that people have enjoyed in the past.

4th August 2003 - Alireza (22) from Tehran, Iran:

Dear Chris! Beside your very nice voice and your great lyrics and music I believe the way you sing your songs with deep feelings is making you the best that can be, it really makes me feel I'm involved in the story you are singing and you can't imagine how wonderful it is ;-). As I understood you love your mother so much, but I just wonder how it happened that you haven't sung any song for mothers (that I believe are the most faithful lovers) ?! I'm sure with your great imaginations and feelings it will be a brilliant song.

Thank you. Again I'd like to stress how excited I am to receive questions and messages from my fans in Iran. When I sing, I like to convey a total and absolute honest belief in what I am singing. It's very important for me to convey an emotion, and unless you feel that emotion, you can't convey it. It's my belief. So when I sing, I wear the song like a coat, I try to convey everything that I put into it initially. All the ideas, all the feelings, all the emotions. And as far as writing a song about mothers is concerned, well this is an area I have heard people doing in the past. I think the moment you mention the word "mother" in a song, people think it's a bit corny. But it's certainly something I can have a look at in the future. It's a difficult area, but I understand what you are saying to me about the importance of mothers in our social fabric, in our society. Indeed we wouldn't even be here without mothers. I'll give it some thought, thanks for the question.

5th August 2003 - Leanne (46) from St Marys, Ontario, Canada:

Apparently you recorded Eastern Wind in Toronto, Canada. I was wondering how that came about and how long you were "here". (Close enough anyway). By the way, it was quite an experience standing in line for your concert in London. Such an eclectic mix of fans you have!

I'm glad you enjoyed the concert in London, Ontario. As you probably saw on the night, I really enjoyed myself as well. I recorded the Eastern Wind album in Toronto in 1979 because my band were all Toronto based, and it seemed like a good idea because Canada for me was an important territory, and I felt that the studios were of very high quality and it appealed to me to record there. So, that was the only time that I made an album in Canada, but as you may have noticed, I always return there on a frequent basis, because I love the place. I was in Toronto for about six weeks making that album Eastern Wind.

6th August 2003 - Sandy Gemmill (33) from Toronto, Canada:

Chris, I write children's music and every time I sit down at my piano to sing my song entitled "Nelson the Giant", I wish it was you telling Nelson's story through song. Is there any chance that you may consider recording a children's album and would consider reviewing submissions?

Canadian singer/songwriter Raffi did a number of albums for children and they are absolutely terrific. My children were brought up listening to his songs like Baby Beluga, and extraordinary songs about animals in zoos and all the funny things that they got up to. And they have always appealed to me, these kinds of records. I suppose not having young children in my home anymore, they are all 12, 15 and 19 now, it makes it slightly more difficult to write these songs, because it would be great to have a captive audience. But it's something perhaps I might get round to one day. It's certainly very appealing. I wrote one song called "That's What Friends Are For", for a children cartoon series. And that was interesting, to write a song aimed at five year olds, that was kind of being bouncy and fun for them to listen to.

7th August 2003 - Julia (26) from Speyer, Germany:

Your song "Saint Peter's Gate" somewhat helped me to cope with the death of a family member because even though it talks about what may happen if you lead your life in a negative way, it also offers hope. Could you explain why you wrote this song and how you managed to include both hope and fear? Thank you.

Speyer is a place I know very well, because there is an airfield there, and there's a beautiful cathedral, the Dom. And every time I go there, for example if I am going to the Hockenheim Grand Prix or if I am going through Speyer, I always stop at the Domkeller, where they have the most fantastic beer that you can buy in large glass bottles, 2 litre bottles I think, or a litre and a half. And I take them home or I take them with me. Saint Peter's Gate was written from the idea of revenge. Particularly from the point of view of a large number of people who have been treated in a dreadful way by a dictator like Stalin or Hitler or Mugabi. And the idea is that if there is a judgement day at St. Peter's Gate, wouldn't it be great to know that whoever you are, whatever you have done, you will always finally wind up at your judgement day. And that was the reason I wrote this song. It started growing in my head for a long time because I wanted to get this particular idea through into a song. I remember talking to friends, saying "I'm gonna write a song some day and it's about what happens at the end of the life of some of these terrible cruel people. Saddam Hussein and his sons, sooner or later, it would be great to know that they will face not only the judgement day, but also those millions and thousands and hundreds of thousands people that they have murdered and tortured and destroyed the lives of." It does offer hope in as much as I am going in the song to see my own judgement day. And then I'm told that the powers of be have made a mistake and they are not ready for me yet, so I run from the place. It's just one of my story songs. I must admit I really enjoyed writing it.

8th August 2003 - Bettina Kann (32) from Wiesbaden, Germany:

Hi Chris! In your answer from the 2nd April you wrote that there is a devilish side in you and that you can tell us more! Would you mind doing this ;) ? Thank you for your music - which is part for more than 20 years of my life now! Take care!

Well, there's not a lot I can say about this without getting too personal, but those who know me well will know that I am very fast with jokes and practical jokes. I love to laugh, you know, life is a short span between the cradle and the grave, and in between you've got to be happy, you've got to make other people happy, and you've got to laugh. You know, laughter is just the greatest. I like to do crazy things and nutty things sometimes. For example recently, I was in Canada and I saw a beautiful woman waiting for somebody to pick her up, I think, a collector to take her somewhere. It looked like somebody in my song "Love And Time", who was being abandoned at a dining table. Anyway, I went up to this lady and I said "I just want to say that you look very beautiful today." And she went "What? Oh, thank you." And I said "That's all I wanted to say." and I left. And I think these are the crazy things that make me into, I suppose, the quiet anarchist that I probably might be. In the face of it I appear to be a quiet and peaceful kind of a guy, but underneath there's a lot more going on, which amuses me.

9th August 2003 - Claire Powell (45) from Brussels, Belgium:

It seems to me that you are not very influenced by what's going on in the current music scene - something I appreciate. We love your own style which is wide anyway. My question is, what CDs by other artists do you currently have on your player?

At the moment on my CD player, I have a system in my house where you can listen to music in all sorts of different rooms and different music. You know, I am very fond of classical music, of Johann Sebastian Bach, Mozart, Pachelbel, big orchestral music as well as flute music. Rock music, I like to listen to, you know the classic rock musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, and more recently Dido. I like good songwriters, it doesn't really matter who it is, as long as they have spent time working on their craft of songwriting. Sting is a fantastic songwriter for example. But a lot of the new guys who think that they can just write a few chords and jam a melody on the top that sounds exactly like something from the past. You've got to work hard to sound unique and different. I tend to spend a lot of my time going back into my own musical background and hopefully finding new angles and new ways of writing songs from what I have heard and what I have learned in the past.

10th August 2003 - Manuela Del Castello (30) from Rheinbach, Germany:

Hi Chris, I love it to listen to your fantastic music. Before I've heard your music I listened to Michael Jackson's music . Many people say that he's crazy. What do you think about M.J.? Thank you for all your great concerts.

Michael Jackson is without doubt one of the key figures of 20th century music. Not so much in the beginning of the 21st century. He is much laughed at and derided which is a shame, because the man is extremely talented. Not only as a singer, as a musician, but people forget that he is a very good songwriter. For example the song I heard once he wrote called "The Man In The Mirror". The line "I am starting with the man in the mirror", that is very clever about starting, looking after people's charity work and so on. He is just a huge figure, he is much more impressive as a musician than a celebrity in my opinion. But he is extremely important, and I have great respect and admiration for him.

11th August 2003 - Jean-François Pelletier (36) from Montréal, Canada:

I want to ask you a question about the song "Tender Hands". It's amazing, every time I listen to this song it gives me a feeling of relief, I feel relaxed as if everything in my life is running well. I listen to music a lot and there's not much song that gives me such a strong feeling. How did this song came to you, when did you write it ?

The song "Tender Hands" came as a chance discussion on a phone with somebody I know about how she loved to just go home at the end of a hard day and have someone give her a massage. And I expanded this idea into thinking about somebody coming home after working very hard and they don't want to go through the usual stuff of, you know, "I've been working hard", and then your partner says "Well, I've been working hard too, I've had a tough day." You just want to say "Look, I give you all that and I accept all that, but please, just for now, I just need your tender hands." And similarly to give somebody that kind of feeling. Just walk in the door, and your partner comes and says "I've had a dreadful day." Just stop what you're doing, don't go telling your partner what a dreadful day you've had, just say "Well, look, sit down, I'll make you a cup of tea and I'll give you a lovely massage." And that's what it's all about. I wrote this song in 1988.

12th August 2003 - Joe DeRouen (34) from Richardson, Texas, USA:

My all-time favorite CdeB song is "Every Drop of Rain." What inspired that song?

This is a question from one of my favourite people on this website: Joe DeRouen, and his wife, and his lovely new child. Well, I guess not new anymore, he must be about a year old! Anyway, Astrid, how is yours? How are things going with you? Well, Joe, "Every Drop Of Rain", that came from a very strong melody that seemed to emerge and it had been around for a while. And I just kept on coming back to it "just like every drop of rain". As raindrops come down, I was thinking about them, going into streams and then going into rivers and then going out to the sea. And I was trying to think of a parallel to this feeling. And that's what love can be like. It grows and grows and it's always in existence and stays forever.

13th August 2003 - Chris Raymond (51) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:

Hi Chris! I would love to know how you see yourself as a Dad? Are you easy going with your children for example? How much time do you get to spend with them and what sort of things do you enjoy together? Hoping to hear from you! Thanks!

What I do know is that traditionally the distance, the gap between a child and a father has been often a very serious one. You know, in the past people have called their father "father". You know, I'm "Dad", I'm not "pater" (the Latin word) or "father". I'm Dad. So I work very hard to break down that barrier. Not to be pals and all that, you have to be a figure of authority at some stage. We don't get lessons in being fathers, as anybody reading this will know. There's no manual that comes with being a parent. But you just have to learn. Usually the first born is the one that goes through the difficulties of the parents not knowing what to do necessarily. But we learn and we struggle through and I think my kids find me a lot of fun to be around. I'm very generous to them, not in terms of giving them things because that's unimportant. And people who know my children will say that they are very unspoiled. They are children who are allowed to blossom and to develop in their own way. That's the important thing to allow children to be what they are, rather than what the parents want them to be. So I think I'm an ok Dad. I do all sorts of things with my kids, but mainly just being there for them. The most precious gift is time. Giving your children time, playing table tennis or billiards, or air hockey, or tennis, or football, or just taking them places and going with them shopping. Time, you know, I love to go swimming with them or watch movies together. Because of my job, it means that I have to be away two or three weeks at a stretch and then home and off again. My recent two week tour of Europe was right in the middle of the holiday season which was difficult for me knowing that they were back here, they were not going to school, I could have been spending a lot more time with the kids. But that's just my job, you know.

14th August 2003 - Kelly (34) from Riverview, NB, Canada:

Are you as romantic and as intimate as your songs? If yes, then could you please publish a "How-To" for those who have no idea?? I'm kidding, of course, but thank you for the lovely romantic dreams you've given me through the years.

Well, I believe, I am. I think I have the facility of putting myself in the other person's shoes, of understanding how somebody else feels and what they want from a relationship. Not from me necessarily, but from their own partner. It's terribly important to be very intuitive about what your partner is feeling, is needing, perhaps not even able to express. And writing the songs as I do, either from experience or more often from observation and imagination, it's a very tricky area to get into. But then again, love is like a restaurant, everybody in the world has been into, and we know what's there. So you can't fool anybody with a poor love song, it has to be genuine and it has to come from the heart. And sometimes when I am writing a sad love song, it hurts me, because although it hasn't happened to me, probably the actual event or emotion, I have to get deep into it to feel how it actually does touch people and how other people react to those kinds of break-ups and so on.

15th August 2003 - Bas van Nunen (35) from Alkmaar, The Netherlands:

Chris, thank you for so many years of beautiful music. I was one of those people who couldn't attend your concert last year. Maybe this summer I'll go to one of the German ones. Anyway, on the cover of the album "Best Moves" you are playing chess, as all chess players know, you're playing your biggest opponent, yourself. Do you really play chess?

The cover of "Best Moves" was put together with genuine chess moves. I do play chess, not very often. My two sons play together quite a bit, and it's great watching them learning the game. It's a very complicated game. And if we are on holidays and they are on one of those big areas where you have chess pieces that you can walk around and move around, it's great to see that. And in chess, I think in virtually everything, your biggest opponent is yourself. It certainly applies to games like golf where one day you can go and play golf brilliantly and really exceed your abilities, and the next days for absolutely no other reason except it's another time and another day, you can hit terrible shots. So it is very much a game of concentration and self-belief.

16th August 2003 - Cleopatra (53) from Melbourne, Australia:

Hi Chris. I've often wondered what inspired you to write 'Sin City' and 'Lonesome Cowboy'? My theory is you must have enjoyed watching Westerns, especially when you were! Love, Cleo.

Hi Cleo! I've received quite a number of your communications through Malcolm. Thanks for that. Hopefully we will have a chance to meet up some day. Thanks for the photographs you've sent me. "Sin City" and "Lonesome Cowboy"? Yes, I guess I must have enjoyed Westerns in the past. "Lonesome Cowboy" was written many years ago for that first album "Far Beyond These Castle Walls" about almost the same thing as "Sin City" which is being a country boy going to the city and basically getting turned over there and taken advantage of. I suppose in a strange way I was referring to myself because I had spent obviously many years going to boarding school in England, but living at home in the depth of rural Ireland meant that when I went to London, it was a big thing for me. And when I wrote those two songs, I was living in London, trying to get a break into the music business. It was a lonely business and tough going. And I saw myself as the person in "Sin City" and also, I suppose, "Lonesome Cowboy" as well.

17th August 2003 - Norah Batchelor (93) from Mayfield, England:

Am I your oldest fan? Are you pleased that the age of your fans span several generations? Will there be more ballads on your next album, which I much prefer. Keep writing your songs, they keep me young! Love Norah.

Norah and I know each other very well. We have a number of photographs together, and she is wonderful. 93 years old! And Norah, I hope to see you again in 2004, because as you've asked in your question, yes, I am very much concentrating on ballads, on more acoustic songs. The balance of the next record will be alternating between orchestra songs and acoustic based songs with a couple of those kinds of technicolor story songs that I am so fond of. You're marvellous, Norah, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

18th August 2003 - Lance Johnson (34) from Mesa, Arizona, USA:

It seems that I am never able to attend your US concert tours. :^) So, I have my plane ticket, hotel reservation, sixth row (May 26) ticket, and first row (May 27) ticket to your concerts in Halifax. It is a fairly expensive trip from Arizona, but I consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and well worth it. I am also a fan and owner of British cars. I was curious if you like any of the newer or older British cars, and, if so, which ones?

You've gone to the Halifax concert in the Rebecca Cohn Hall, and my two shows for me in Halifax were totally memorable. And, Lance, I probably said a very warm welcome to anybody from the United States and I hope you enjoyed the concert. Thank you for making such a long trip. British cars? Well, I don't really have any British cars, although I have enjoyed driving old Jaguars in the past. But mainly I have a Chrysler Grand Voyager to transport the kids around in, and their friends. And I have BMWs and one old Mercedes 380 SLC. But of course I have great admiration for the top of the range British cars. I was once part owner of a DB6 which unfortunately burst into flames recently, so that's gone.
Editor's note:
The Man On (the) Line section is taking a short summer holiday break now. We'll be back online next week.

25th August 2003 - Doug Thompson (46) from London, Ontario, Canada:

Hi Chris, Hope this e-mail finds you in the best of health. (I say this or my own selfish reasons, as I have tickets for your concert here in London on May 20th, and I'm so looking forward to it.) I doubt you would remember me, but I used to work for Perryscope Productions in Calgary back in 1982, where you performed with an artist named Luba. I have met a lot of performers over those years, but none with as much class as the two of you. Which leads me to my question. I know you love to tour, but do you ever find it gets to be a little like a circus... I mean put it up, tear it down, travel travel, just to put it up again? How do you keep your sanity ? Your songs seem so grounded, for such a gypsy type lifestyle. Well I guess I've taken up enough of your time, in closing I'd just like to say it's rare that you meet an artist such as yourself, that I can now take my children to see, and know that they enjoy your songs as much as I did. Thanks for all the great songs. Love from the Thompson family

Hi Doug! Thank you very much for your question. I remember very well Perryscope in Calgary, and Bear who recently died sadly of cancer. I had a fabulous time out in Calgary. And I remember Luba, the artist you are referring to. Thank you for saying what you've said about meeting a lot of performers and the class. You know, the key I think to travelling is take everything in its right, don't get upset or uptight about things and don't get annoyed with people. And most of all don't believe you're any different or superior to anybody else working on the tour. I am as important or as unimportant as the cateress, the drivers, the technicians, the sound and light people, they are all integral parts of the same machine. I am only like the steering wheel of a car for example. If you don't have a steering wheel, you can't go anywhere. But similarly if you don't have wheels, you can't go anywhere. So we're all in it together, so there is no point trying to pretend somebody is better than anybody else. And that is the key to my touring feeling where you just got to get on with the job, do it as professionally and as smoothly as possible and it makes everybody happy on tour.

26th August 2003 - Emmanuelle Leblanc (6

Hi Chris! My name is Emmanuelle. I'd like to know: what is your favorite color and your favorite dessert? Papa et surtout maman ont bien h'te de te voir en spectacle! Hugs and kisses, Emmanuelle xxoo

Hi Emmanuelle! My favourite colour is a colour found in nature, it's green. I'm looking outside my window now, Emmanuelle, on the hills of Wicklow in Ireland. And Ireland is noted for its forty shades of green. And trust me, there are forty shades of green. I think it's because we get a lot of rainfall here, but also a substantial amount of sunshine. Springtime is amazing. When I returned from Russia, where it was just snow everywhere, and I came to the beginning of spring in Ireland, it was amazing. I walked around with my mouth hanging open, looking at the beautiful colours. So green is a stunning colour. Can you imagine not having green in your life? I think it would be terrible! What is my favourite dessert? Oh, well, all sorts of strange and wonderful things I have eaten as desserts. I am not mad about ice cream funnily enough. I would love beautiful strawberries, recently I ate Wexford strawberries. And I love fruit actually as dessert, that's a good one that keeps the stomach not getting too fat. I like all sorts of fruits: Lychees for example, oranges, apples, grapes. But if you really have to push me, a really fantastic crème caramel would probably get my vote.

27th August 2003 - Joyce (23) from Maarssen, Holland:

Hello Chris! First of all, I think it's amazing that you take the time to answer all these questions! Artists like that are hard to find these days. My question is; what was your favorite question so far?

You know possibly, Joyce, yours is my favourite question! Because it says basically thank you to me for doing what I do. But you see, if you reverse it, you will note, that I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without people like you out there, showing an interest in my music, showing an interest in me. So it's a two-way-street, and it comes back to the ethos that I bring to my stage performances which is we're all in it together. I think I said this in an earlier answer. Everybody is as important as everybody else in that arena or outdoor area, and it's just that everybody is kind of creating a mood, an emotion and a passion together. So your question was wonderful. Thank you.

28th August 2003 - Helen (22) from St. Petersburg, Russia:

Hi, Chris! First of all, thank you very much for the wonderful show in St. Petersburg on April, 2! I saw two guitars on the stage and the question is what's the difference between them? Thanks!

The show in St. Petersburg was wonderful for me, I enjoyed it very much in the cathedral there. And of course it is an absolutely gorgeous town, gorgeous city. I can't wait to go back there, particularly when the weather is warm. I have two twelve string guitars on stage, both of them made by the Guitar Factory in America, which is a small guitar factory making very high quality guitars that people like Sting and Eric Clapton use. One is slightly newer than the other one, and one of them has term controls, base and treble term controls and the other one doesn't. Also slightly different pickups. But they are standby guitars. If one of the guitars should go out of tune or a string breaks or something, at least I have a backup, just in case.

29th August 2003 - Anne Leblanc (8) from St-Eustache, Québec, Canada:

Quel est ton album le plus vendu? (Which is your album most sold?) Bye, Anne

The album that I have sold most of, I believe, is "Into The Light" which has probably sold 4 or 5 million copies all over the world.

30th August 2003 - Bill Muldoon (58) from Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

Hi Chris, I met you at the Liverpool F.C. box office Feb 1990 (L'pool vs Roma) when my son asked you to introduce yourself to me as I had seen your last concert in Toronto and he told you I had not stopped talking about how unbelievable an experience it had been for my wife and I. I left Liverpool in 1967 but have stayed a true Reds fan and it was a thrill for me to watch my sons face at the first live game he had ever been to and the added bonus of also meeting you there. Now to my question, how long have you been a fan, your favourite all time player and most memorable occasion. I have my tickets for May 21st Row N (Liverpool shirt or scarf), looking forward to the show.

I am a huge fan of the Liverpool FC and I have been for many years. You asked me for what my most memorable moment is, well, there have been so many! So many extraordinary things have happened, like some of Robbie Fowler's goals that I have seen. Watching Kevin Keegan play, Steve Heighway, some of the older names from the most spectacular times when they were winning the European cup. Watching Kenny Dalglish play and then meeting him subsequent years and becoming good friends. There have been in more recent years outstanding bits of brilliance from Liverpool FC players like Emile Heskey and Michael Owen. But, you know, the bit that I am going to mention was a free kick by Patrik Berger from the left hand side, and it came zipping into the box very quickly indeed. And it bounced off somebody's head and you wouldn't believe how quickly Michael Owen got his head to it. It was in a split second. He's the smallest guy on the field, but he put it in the goal and he was ruled offside. But for a moment of sheer brilliance and a predatory striker's instincts it was absolutely amazing. I have never forgotten it. I mentioned it to Michael Owen once and he looked very rueful. He said "Pity it wasn't a goal, it would have been one of the best of all time." So, I hope you enjoyed the show in Toronto, and I did see a Liverpool scarf out there, I am sure.

31st August 2003 - Annette (35) from Perth, Australia:

Gidday Chris. I truly am a huge fan of yours however I was a bit surprised however by a comment you made on this site on May 6th. You were answering a question about one of your songs and you ended with "and indeed many women are very tempting for an awful lot of people". I am not sure what you meant to convey but it sounded like you thought women should shoulder all the blame. Can you please clarify as I was disappointed to read that. You really are a wonderful storyteller and singer and I thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.. Thanks Annette

This was in connection with the song "Don't Look Back". What I am talking about here is not all women are temptresses, not at all. It's just the women at this place which is a brothel of course, a road side brothel. And married men in particular should watch out for the temptations of the flesh in this particular place. I am actually not talking about all women of course. And also you may remember in Greek mythology the sirens, that used to sing on the rocks. And sailors were so entranced and bewitched by the singing that their ships always ran aground. That's the kind of temptation I'm talking about, not what you suggested I'm talking about. So I think it's just a little misunderstanding.

1st September 2003 - Lynn (29) from Newfoundland, Canada:

Chris, I have been a fan of your music for many years, since I first saw and heard the video for "Don't Pay the Ferryman". Listening to your albums is such a wonderful experience, because I get lost in them and can easily imagine the characters and situations. My question for you is: how did you create the song "Shine On" ? What caused your thoughts to flow in that direction? Oh, and I wanted to tell you that I got engaged right before your 1996 concert in St. John's, NF (about 20 minutes before the show started), and I requested to meet you to no avail. The engagement ended, but your brilliant concert lives on in my heart!

I have been thinking about how time moves. You know, you look at old photographs, and family gatherings a hundred years ago. And all the people there have moved on to another dimension, they are all dead. And the house that I was living in prior to the one I am in now, we found some old photographs up in the attic that had been left behind by the previous owner. And it showed a tennis court where our lawn was, and all sorts of people. There were two little girls sitting in a pram. They were the two little girls who grew up to old ladies who then lived in the house until they died in their eighties. Time moves very fast, that is what I am referring to in "Shine On". The third verse is of importance to me, about saying all the things you need to say to those you love, your parents for example, before it could be suddenly too late and you regret that forever. And the final one is what we must do to our world, rather than just leave a garden for our children in our homes, we should try and leave the world as a garden for our children. Sorry I missed you there in St. John's, Newfoundland. I was wondering maybe, if you were perhaps at that wonderful show in Newfoundland that I did recently. I really enjoyed it.

2nd September 2003 - Susan McDonald (33) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Dear Chris, this is a more frivolous question but i am curious. Are you a dog person? And if so, do you have a favourite breed?

I am a dog person. Actually of all animals, and I was brought up with dogs and cats and sheep and lambs and cows and pigs and horses and everything. I just adore animals. We have a dog, she's seven and she's called Milly. She's a thoroughbred black labrador. She's gorgeous. We have a lot of fun. She thinks I am just one big game show, she thinks I'm a play thing, because she just gets tennis balls every time I show up and she wants to kick a ball around with me and have fun.

3rd September 2003 - Heike Stelljes (44) from Köhlen, Germany:

Dear Chris, I'm listening to your wonderful music since 25 years and my twins (they are ten years old) love your more unknown songs like The Ballad of Thunder Gulch, Riding On A Rainbow and Friends Forevermore. We know the story of Thunder Gulch and now the boys wanna ask you to tell us something about their favourite song Friends Forevermore and the children you're singing with. Thanks and best wishes from Lukas and Ruben from a small village near Bremen.

"Friends Forevermore" I wrote for the school that my children have been going to. In fact my younger boy just left at the age of 12 to go on to his next school. And I wanted to create an idea about returning to your old school, maybe in the holiday time when it's empty, but you always hear these echoes of the past. And suddenly, for me, I'm transported back to the time and the day when I left. And leaving the school like the one my children were at is a traumatic thing, because it's such a beautiful place. So much full of love, to be taught with love rather than fear, and to be taught by people who really care for children was a wonderful thing. And I, along with Chris Porter, who has made my last two albums, we made this record called "Friends Forevermore", and a CD, a limited number. But it's lovely, hearing the children singing. I sing on the first track. And of course this CD is still available from Aravon School. It's a lovely record of all sorts of different songs and school children singing them.
(Editor's note: To obtain the CD, please use the contact below:
The Secretary
Aravon School
Old Conna
County Wicklow
Fax: +353 1282 1242

4th September 2003 - Marc-Andre Filion (22) from Montreal, Canada:

You've written many great songs about friendship (The Snows of New York, Old Friend, Another Rainbow, etc.). Were these songs inspired by your real friends?

"The Snows Of New York" was a mythical idea about two brothers in the West of Ireland, one of them is heading off to New York to find work and create a new life for himself. And the other has to stay behind and look after the farm and scratch out a living in the difficult circumstances over there, maybe a hundred years ago. "Old Friend" was about my grandfather. And "Another Rainbow" is about a very good friend of mine here in Ireland. And yes, they were inspired mostly, certainly the last two, by real people.

5th September 2003 - Svetlana (35) from Poznan, Poland:

I am a language teacher and I teach many languages. Have you ever had a song about people who speak different languages but are in love with each other? Do you think that certain languages are more romantic than others? Greetings from my students-thanks to your songs English isn't so difficult to them! What's your opinion about Polish ladies?

I have had a song years ago called "Crying And Laughing", and maybe even "Natasha Dance", about two people from completely different cultures who fall in love. And you know, when you are deeply attracted to somebody, it almost seems that language is unimportant. I have seen it happening amongst friends of mine. One boy, an American guy, fell in love with a German girl. It's called in French the "coup de foudre", it's the bolt of lightning or the thunderclap, one of the two, I can't remember which one it is. And it's that moment your eyes are meeting, bang, that's a serious attraction. So "Crying And Laughing" probably would be the one. And I think the Romantic languages (French, Italian, Spanish) really sound beautiful, and of course German is an interesting language, but I think the songs that they sing, they sound very passionate and beautiful in those languages. And my opinion about Polish ladies is, they are gorgeous. And so are the guys.

6th September 2003 - Simin Mhinrad (18) from Tehran, Iran:

Hi Chris. I love your songs. I have a question: What is freedom in your idea?

Freedom in my opinion is the ability to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, as long as you stay within the social laws that exist and obviously the political laws that exist in your country. If you feel like it, you can't go next door and kill your neighbour for example. But I think, when you don't have freedom, it's an extraordinary thing when you finally do have it. What I am saying is, those of us who are free and in a free world, when you go to a place where people do not have it, it's an astounding thing that they have no free choice and no free will. And I certainly hope that you will have changes in your country shortly.

7th September 2003 - Wendy Simpson (40ish) from Scotland:

Hi Chris. My question relates to a TV programme I am watching called 'through the keyhole'. Which is a programme that takes cameras into famous people's home and a panel tries to guess who lives there. Have you ever been approached to do this programme or one like it? Or would you feel it too intrusive to open your home to allow cameras in? May I also say that having asked you questions before, and they have not been chosen, I appreciate the time you take to answer the questions you do answer. Thanks Chris.

I have been approached a number of times for this particular programme. But unfortunately I have no desire to let any cameras into my home for two reasons. One it's very personal and special, and the people I invite to my home are always friends and people I like and love. And secondly, I do not want people, particularly bad-natured and bad-minded people seeing what treasures I have in my house, so they can quite simply come and burgle. And trust me, it has happened in the past that people have seen something nice, either on a photograph in a magazine, a beautiful Persian rug for example in somebody's home or on the TV and they say "Oh, I'd like to go and get that" and they do, they break in and steal those things. So those two reasons mean that I have never been involved in such a program.

8th September 2003 - Shirley Hopkinson (31) from Brixham, Devon, UK:

Have you ever read something in a newspaper that has made you think of a new song? I read something in my local paper and I instantly thought that it would make a great song. Although I am not musical I have thought of trying to write some words for a song based on what I read.

I often hear phrases or read phrases that suddenly sparkle off an idea. For example "Guilty Secret". I have no idea where that jumped into my head, I may have seen it on a billboard or heard it on the radio. I was driving in my car at the time. I heard a phrase and 'bang', the song came almost immediately. And I know that this is a very rich source of ideas, but you have to back up the phrase or whatever it is with an idea to make it strong enough to be a song. But it does happen to me quite frequently.

9th September 2003 - Steve Bronski (43) from Glasgow, Scotland (now Bangkok, Thailand):

Dear Chris, do you keep in touch with Supertramp? Here comes the Sun:-)

I come across the band Supertramp from time to time. I had dinner with Dougie Thomson recently, the bass player. And of course his brother Kenny Thomson is my manager, so I keep a line of communication open and I am very fond of Supertramp, because they really helped me in my career in the early years. And I hope that they are still doing well, and I wish them all the best.

10th September 2003 - Ron Madsen (34) from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

Hi Chris!! If you had a "Time Machine" Which era would you most like to travel to?

If I had a time machine, I think one of the eras I would like to go back to would be the medieval era. But I would have to be an extremely rich and well-off noble man to enjoy being back there, because I am sure that in tough times like that when there are so many people with diseases, and the black death and plague and pestilence and tough times. But just to see the manners of people. I'm looking at maybe the 12th century, but also the 15th century would be interesting, and of course in Shakespeare's time to see what it was that inspired that one man to such heights of genius. Also, if I had a time machine, I would love to go into the future, about 200 years from now, just to see how technology has changed life and the world.

11th September 2003 - Louise Camilleri Torm (37) from Malta:

Hi Chris, first of all I feel the need to repeat what you have heard from many of your fans, and that is that I have loved your music for the last 20 years. 'A Spaceman Came Travelling' was one of the first songs I had listened to. I met you once when you were in Malta for a concert to celebrate the Summit between Bush and Gorbachev but due to the very bad weather, it never took place. I had met you at a hotel in Malta where you had asked me to recommend a nice restaurant. I still have your signature on my birthdate in a diary of that year. I love your lyrics and can spend hours listening to your music. My favourite song is Satin Green Shutters - what has inspired this beautiful song?

Yes, I remember very well our trip to Malta and how sad it was that we were not able to perform at the summit between Gorbachev and Bush. But yes, funnily enough I remember the occasion that you are referring to where you recommended a good restaurant. It was good. "Satin Green Shutters" came from, I think, a few words of a poem that I had read. And I can't even remember where it came from. I must have seen it somewhere locally to where I was living in London. And then I just had the idea of growing from that, to become a dream of somebody, particularly a young person who is falling in love and the idea of having children, and peace and harmony in his life. It is one of the most beautiful arrangements of any of my songs that I can remember. It was on my first album, that was such a thrill to be involved with something. Actually I listen to it from time to time as well and I like the song a lot.

12th September 2003 - Fabian (18) from Germany:

Hi Chris, I just got a CD from you called "Live in Bangkok". It's a concert you played with an orchestra. Great one! I love your version of "Desperado". I was told, this CD was a limited edition, but I've never seen it in any discography. Is it an official release or a bootleg? Thanks! Fabian

The "Live In Bangkok" album is an official release. It was performed with the Bangkok symphony orchestra. An extraordinary night it was, and I am glad you've heard this. It's a limited edition CD but it is an official release. Fabian, I hope you enjoy it.

13th September 2003 - Heike Becker (30) from Trier, Germany:

Hi Chris !! Not really surprisingly we are looking forward to the concerts in July... Like the concerts in the past summers some of them take place in lovely small towns in beautiful market-places or castles. I would like to know how the places are found - does your management ask somewhere for possibilities to present smaller concerts or do the concert-agencies of the towns ask your management to come? By the way - for us it's a good opportunity to visit nice places in Germany we would usually never been to :o) xxx Heike

This is from Heike Becker, who I know very well. A very pretty young lady who I often see with her friends down in the front row of many of the concerts, Claudia and Sabine. I was looking forward to seeing you again this summer. The locations are found usually by our representative in Germany and as you say, it's a wonderful opportunity to visit so many extraordinary places that you generally wouldn't go to. It's because what I have wanted to find which is somewhere historical, unusual with a beautiful background, say a city or town square with a beautiful cathedral or a castle. This is what I have been looking for and this is what I tell them to look for. And because I think my music being of the kind it is, sort of romantic and historical, works very well in these particular kinds of venues.

14th September 2003 - Jacqueline Ebner (45) from Scotland:

Hello Chris, I was surprised to learn that you do not read or write music. I am absolutely amazed and full of respect for you that you produce such fantastic music - all by ear! Have you ever been tempted to learn? Or do you prefer to 'feel' the music? I have all your CD's and can't wait for the next one and the next visit to Glasgow. HURRY BACK! Lots of Love Jacqueline

No, I can't read or write music, in fact my children can read and write music, and particular my elder boy Hubie who learned and started the guitar a year ago and he is already fantastic on it. And he gets things off the internet called tablature. It shows the exact notes that people, his heroes like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, are playing. And listening to him playing this stuff is incredible. I don't find it limits me very much, because the style of music I play is very much based on chords and chord structures. I have spoken about it before, on piano and guitar. So I rely on my instinct, my intuitive instincts and my emotional instincts to write my songs and I think it probably is the better for it. The less I know about the discipline of music, I think the better it is that my emotions run free.

15th September 2003 - Sheila Gardner (43) from Hounslow, Middlesex, UK:

Hi Chris, I watch quite a bit of TV and enjoy soaps, comedies, quiz programmes and reality TV and would like to ask if you watch much TV and which programmes are your favourites?

I like news programmes, I like historical based programmes. Discovery channel is great. I of course watch the Simpsons, I think Homer Simpson is a complete idiot, but he is very watchable and very funny. I like watching DVDs and catching up on movies that I haven't seen before. But I am not much of a TV addict to be honest, there's really too much else to do in life. I love reading as well, when I get a chance. I also like those English crime series that they have, Agatha Christie style, crime series. And there is one called Bergerac based in Jersey, which was quite a big hit a few years ago. That's the kind of thing I like as well. Particularly things that are informative and beautifully produced and shot.

16th September 2003 - Stephen (38) from Kincardine, Ontario, Canada:

Has nature ever called while you've been on stage during one of your long sets? If so, what have you done?

You may have noticed that when I am singing, I drink a lot of water. And during the day I drink about 2 to 3 litres of water every day prior to a show because it is the best way of keeping your voice fluid and in good shape. And the answer is yes, from time to time I have felt the need to visit the bathroom during a concert. But during my band shows there is a moment where, if I need to, I can go. If not, I just hang on. But during the solo shows, there is not much chance. So the answer is I have to be a little careful what I drink in the hour or two prior to a show.

17th September 2003 - Chris Raymond (51) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:

Hello Chris! Do you often go to the Theatre or to Concerts and what sort of things do you choose to see? I'd particularly like to know if you go to see other singers perform and if so what's it like for you being part of the audience?

This is from Chris Raymond, a name I am also familiar with, and the lady herself. I believe she was gonna come to Germany to see some of the shows this summer. Theatre and concerts, you know, I now live about 40 minutes outside the city. And we are so busy now in our usual daily life, particular during school term, that we are exhausted by the end of the day and rarely have the energy to get up and drive into the city to go to theatre or indeed concerts. But it does happen from time to time. And when I am in an audience watching other singers, I am a bit of a pain to be honest because I am very critical of people in my profession, particularly when they do not give value for money. And it does happen in the past, where you see somebody on the stage who is very arrogant and doesn't communicate with the audience or else somebody who short-changes the audience by doing a very short show. And that's wrong. And as a fellow professional I think that's something that people should be aware of and should just not go back to a concert. However, from time to time I do see a really spectacular show with a true professional on stage and for me then it's a real treat and I learn a lot and I respect these people a lot.

18th September 2003 - Todd Johnson (30) from Scottsdale, USA:

Chris, hello from Arizona. My 5 year old son (Michael) and I recently travelled from Scottsdale to Montreal to see your concerts at the Olympia Theatre and Place des Arts. Michael was especially thrilled that he got to shake your hand by the stage after the Place des Arts concert. Michael loves all of your music and his five favorite songs are: Don't Pay the Ferryman, Ship to Shore, High on Emotion, Borderline and I Want It and I Want It Now. He's known the choruses for these songs since he was 2 years old. After the Place des Arts concert, Michael asked me if I knew what your 5 favorite Chris de Burgh songs were. I told him I didn't know but that I would ask you. Thanks again for the great concerts and a memorable experience with my son.

Your question is just wonderful. I do remember meeting a young lad there, shaking him by the hand. It's fabulous to see these youngsters turning on to my music and his favourites Borderline and I Want It And I Want It Now. Congratulations to you for bringing his little fellow up to the show, and I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. My favourite Chris de Burgh songs? That's a tough one! But I would put sort of toppish of the list things like Spanish Train, Don't Pay The Ferryman, Borderline .. let me think … the one I mentioned earlier, Satin Green Shutters, because it's an important song from my beginning days. That's four. I'd be pushed to find a fifth one, but maybe I come back to it once I think about it. Another one actually, because of the picture it paints, is everything that I wanted to convey, is a song called Last Night from the Into The Light album.

19th September 2003 - Leanne (46) from St. Marys, Ontario, Canada:

Wow. I have to say that first. Wow... Hi Chris. An amazing show in London (Canada) the other night. My 15 year old daughter said "Egggsellent" (You have to imagine this with a Mona Lisa smile, bright eyes and a slow nod.) I could go on ... and on. Anyway, during the show, someone requested "Lady in Red". I moaned "NO". I hope you didn't hear me but I do have a visceral dislike for that song and I cannot figure out why. After much analysis I have decided I must have been a bull in my last life! No other song of yours goes below strong like. So, my question is, have you developed a "decreased fondness" for any of your own songs? (Please, if you answer this, don't name any. I wouldn't want someone to find you negative on their personal favourite!) We hope to see you again soon - Lady in Red or not. Thanks again for a great evening.

You see, I give an example about this song. About two years ago there was a poll about the hundred favourite songs and the most disliked songs. Not surprisingly to me, Lady In Red was one of the most loved songs (top five) and one of the most disliked songs in equal measures. And that's because it gets played an awful lot on the radio and people do get sick of these things. You know, unfortunately when you have a big song like that it gets played a lot, it's on TV a lot and so on. So I don't blame you for having a reaction to it. I won't tell you if there are songs that I thought were once great of mine that I disliked or liked less in particular. But there have been times when I look back say ten or twenty years and I listen to a song and I think "oh god, I wouldn't mind rerecording that or doing something slightly different". But you do go through phases. Songs for example that I didn't care much for initially I love a lot later. You go through phases, as I say.

20th September 2003 - Natasha Oliver (21) from Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

Hi Chris, I just wanted to say that your concerts in Montreal and Toronto were amazing! Thank you very much for the opportunity to meet you backstage! My question is that I noticed that in your concert in 1996 and this concert in 2003, when you sing Transmission Ends, you skip the last part of the song when you say "I am always going to love you" I was just curious as to why, no big deal was just wondering. Anyways, can't wait for your next tour and album!

Thank you very much, Natasha, for the photographs that you sent and thank you very much for the wonderful hugs and kisses backstage with all your friends. That was lovely. Perhaps we have a chance to meet again with your friends in Toronto, that would be great. "Transmission Ends"? I don't know why I stopped singing that last bit "I am always going to love you". Although I have done it more recently, it's almost like I forgot that that bit of the song existed. But it is one of my favourites, and as I have noticed with the Chris de Burgh fans around the world, I cannot make mistakes in my lyrics, because they will pick me up on it every time. And Natasha, next time I sing "Transmission Ends" and you're in the audience, I will make sure that I get that bit in the end for you, as a special one for you.

21st September 2003 - Kelly St Denis (40) from Montreal, Canada:

Congratulations on 28 wonderful years of sharing your music with the world. I recently heard you on a radio interview on CHOM FM in Montreal during your Timing is Everything Tour. Being such a fabulous "Storyteller" - You were asked if you had ever made up stories for your children when they were smaller. My question is: Have you ever considered publishing stories?

You know, I have always been deeply suspicious of people who are really good at one thing, trying to be really good at something like else, like musicians trying to become actors. Generally it doesn't work. Sometimes it does, like occasionally Sting has acted well, but I think he is a fabulous musician. Madonna perhaps sometimes, but she is also a fabulous musician. Also Phil Collins, you know. When it comes to story telling, I think my strength is matching melody with words and making like a one page story, I can define it in just a few sentences, you know, really break it down into a small amount, distil it. I have a feeling that if I were to write stories, I can just see the knives of the critics coming out saying "well, he can sing a bit and write songs, but he can't write stories". So I think I'll keep them to myself unfortunately, but that'll probably be the way. But the ideas are nice, my children certainly liked the stores that I made up at their bedtime.

22nd September 2003 - Barb Parknavy (37) from Columbus, Ohio, USA:

I just got back from your Toronto concert! It was worth every inch of the 400+ mile road trip...the last time I got to see you in concert was at Maple Leaf Gardens--16 years ago! So why is it that I look 16 years older now and you haven't changed a bit?? P.S. I handed you a mask at the concert--I hope you checked the back of it and found the NASA patch!

I thought the Toronto concert at the Hummingbird was pretty extraordinary for me as well. There was a lot of emotion around that night. And I am delighted that you felt it was worth the trip. You are saying I don't look any older? Haha! Well, thank you, that's very flattering. I am sure you don't either. Thank you for the mask. Yes, I did see the back of it and I found that NASA patch. Thank you very much.

23rd September 2003 - Vincent Lessard (44) from Québec, Canada:

Hi Chris, when you write songs in French like "Quand je pense à toi " or "Le coeur d'une femme", do you ask for help from a French speaking person (as it's not your mother tongue) or if you do it all alone. I find your French lyrics as poetics as the English ones. Thank you for the very good music you create for years. PS Je n'ai malheureusement pas pu assister à ton concert de ce soir à Québec, j'espère que tu as été bien reçu! Merci .

The French lyrics are written by a Frenchman in Paris, who listens very carefully to my English lyrics. And along with me we talk about the meaning of his translations, and he tries to keep them as close as possible to the meaning of my English lyrics. Then, when he sends them to me, I have a hard listen and see whether the words actually fit in the melodic pattern that they should. And sometimes I've had to change them myself, or sometimes I ask him to change a few things round. But it seems to be a system that has worked very well in the past.

24th September 2003 - Viktoria Peterson (30) from Provo, Utah, USA:

I have been a big fan of your music for many years. My two daughters Anna (12) and Emily (10) have grown to love your music as well. This question is actually from Anna. She is on performing team that does a lot of traditional Irish dancing. She loves it, and she was wanting to know whether you have any interest in traditional Irish music or dancing?

Living in Ireland, of course I am very much exposed to Irish traditional music. And I particularly like music by bands like the Chieftains, who make very interesting and eerie and strange music sometimes. It's not what we call over here "diddle-eye music" that you find in tourist pubs, it's much more interesting than that, and much more melodic. The traditional Irish dancing thing is of course now a worldwide phenomenon since Riverdance broke out of Ireland. It's very exciting to watch, and it is very very skilful to do. So obviously if Anna is good at it, she is obviously a very skilful dancer. Congratulations!

25th September 2003 - Stephen (38) from Kincardine, Ontario, Canada:

Do you have any pre or post concert routines habits or routines that you feel you need to do, or just enjoy?

Before the show I always do a soundcheck and get my voice going a little bit. I usually sing for half an hour something in the empty auditorium. Before the show I don't do much. I sit down and read a book. I am very relaxed before a concert. I meet some friends, or meet people who want to say hi. Afterwards it's nice to get together and go and have a bite to eat at a restaurant or go and have a couple of beers. There's no fixed routine. I suppose I used to sort of tie my left shoelace first and all that stuff, but I think those kind of superstitions are not great to have, so I have been getting away from them. But I usually say a quiet word or two to whoever is around up in the other dimension of our world saying "please give me some help here to make a great show for these people" which is always a good thing for me to do and it makes me feel comfortable. And then I go on stage and do my best and wait for the energy of the audience to lift me to where I need to be.

26th September 2003 - Farzad & Mitra (28) from Waterloo, Canada (Iranian):

We love you Chris......We just met you in your solo concerts in London (ON) and Toronto. You were amazing and we had great moments. We'd like to ask you two questions and really wish to get answer :-) Have you read any book of Paulo Coelho like "Alchemist"? As you talked about the guardian angels, we thought that you might be familiar with his books. Our second question is: Do you know Homeopathy and do you believe in that medicine? As this method of medicine concerns the mind and emotion more than the body, we thought the spiritual people like you might be interested in these kinds of treatments......God bless you and wish to see you again....Farzad & Mitra

No, I don't know this author. But I will be interested now to search him out and hopefully read some of his books including "The Alchemist". And homeopathy is something that my wife and I, particularly her, are very much involved with for years. And the answer is yes, we totally believe in homeopathy as an alternative medicine and a way of feeling better and encouraging your own body to do the work for you. Modern medicine, you see, is very clever and a huge amount of progress has been made in identifying a large number of fatal illnesses, leprosy for example. And a large amount of time and effort is going into trying to conquer cancer, Aids research and so on. But if you go back centuries you'll find that a lot of health has been promoted by making the body heal itself rather than relying on an outside agency as doctors are to do the healing on your behalf. So this is what I think one of the principle tenets of homeopathy is. And it's a whole way of holistic medicine. It involves the whole body, including the mind and the emotions.

27th September 2003 - Julia (53) from Melbourne, Australia:

Hello Chris, I love to power walk early in the morning to try and keep fit. I know you play golf, but do you do any other activity to stay in shape? cheers Julia.

I love walking. I love to take exercise first thing. I love swimming in particular. Swimming is a great sport and I love to swim maybe a kilometre a day. It keeps my cardiovascular system working and it keeps me fit. Fresh air, walking, I have to do this every day, particularly first thing in the morning if possible.

28th September 2003 - Fotis Vlachos (23) from Athens, Greece:

Hi Chris! I was wondering have you ever tried to write an instrumental song? Have you ever recorded any instrumental song that you've never published? Thank you!

I am interested in instrumental music. In fact I wrote an instrumental that has been drifting around in my head quite recently and I think I might put this on the next record as a prelude to one of my new songs.

29th September 2003 - Cleopatra (53) from Melbourne, Australia:

Hi Chris. I have only been using a computer for two and a half years, as an older person, the thought of learning to use one was pretty daunting, even with the help of my youngest son, now I thoroughly enjoy using my new skills. When did you first start to use a computer, did you find it difficult at first, and do you enjoy using it now? Love, Cleopatra.

Yes, I find computers extremely difficult to understand to start with. And in fact my family used to call them "confusers", not computers. But I have been working away and learning about computers, and now I am pretty adapt at using it although I haven't spent a lot of time learning about all the functions of the computer. I just use the bits that I need to know about. I am adapt of course now at surfing the internet, but relative newcomer to all the pitfalls and things that can jump out and bite you on the internet as well, so I am very cautious and have yet to actually order anything via credit card on the internet, because I think the capacity for credit card fraud is huge. My children of course are extremely skilled and gifted at computers, it's second nature to them. And I was amazed, about 3 or 4 years ago, maybe longer, my mother went on a night course of computer skills and years before I ever could get onto the internet, she was communicating with e-mails all over the world.

30th September 2003 - Sergio Gustavo Carloni (44) from Buenos Aires, Argentina:

Dear Mr. de Burgh, exactly how many years did you live in our country? Do you have any relatives here yet? Big and close hug for you and yours. Sergio and wife Grace

I was born in the province of Santa Fe. And I believe, I must have lived in Argentina for about five years. Spanish was pretty well my first language. And there are pictures of me as a very tiny little boy on a back of a very big horse, photographs of me and my brother. And I have quite a few memories of my early time in Argentina. And I have an aunt who lives in San Eduardo which is near the place I was born, Venado Tuerto. And I really look forward to returning for the second or third time and maybe doing some concerts there.

1st October 2003 - Sheila Gardner (42) from Hounslow, Middlesex, UK:

Which celebrity have you met and were most impressed with and why?

I have met a lot of celebrities, and some of them have impressed me, and a lot of them haven't. But I would say I was highly impressed by Princess Diana. And about ten years ago, maybe longer, I met a man called Michael Palin who used to be in Monthy Python's Flying Circus. Such a genuine, funny and interesting man and I spent several evenings in his company, it was fantastic.

2nd October 2003 - Carol Turnham (45) from Mill Hill, London, UK:

Hiya Chris, firstly it's fantastic to have the opportunity to thank you for the inspirational and wonderful music you have entertained me with for the last 26 years, how time flies when each new album brings it's own set of great new songs to get into! My question is about the beautiful ballad "YOU ARE THE REASON" from the "This Way Up" Album: Was this song written on the back of personal experience from a particularly difficult time in your life or was it just an imaginary situation? I have been through many very difficult chapters in my life and quite often at those times, the words of that song are so very relevant and poignant that I can almost feel the pain and despair you portray. It really is a very special song about that very special person who makes it all seem worthwhile in the darkest of times. I now have a disability which stops me coming to your concerts, which were obviously the highlight of any year but I'll never lose the love of listening to your music whenever I can. Bless you Chris, You are the best and long may it continue.........Many Thanks Carol xxxxxxx

The song "You Are The Reason" is actually one of my personal favourites. And it describes a man who has done everything he possibly can to save his job and keep his family in the way that they have expected to live. And he has just realized that he can't fight the fight anymore, and he is sitting on a beach looking out at sea, not actually considering ending it all but certainly in the depths of depression. And then his wife or girlfriend who has been looking for him, knows that he is in a very bad way, and has come to find him. And he suddenly realizes that whatever happens in the future she is the most important thing to him. And that is why he says "you are the reason I stay in the fight, while I can't take it anymore". And he looks in her eyes and realizes that there is still a bit more time left for him to get up and fight again. In a way it's a bit like for me in my business, it's such a tough business and you get knocked over so many times and you just gotta get up again and again and again. But it's not based on personal experience, it's more based on imagination, seeing people around me who are going through this kind of problem themselves. I am very happy to hear that it has meant an awful lot to you as well. Thanks, Carol.

3rd October 2003 - Pat (47) from Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, Canada:

Thank-you for the fabulous concert. It was my first time seeing you on stage and you are truly incredible. Do you have all natural talent for singing or did you have voice training? You seem to have a very wide range of notes and I love the change-up from low to high notes.

I loved the show in Cornerbrook. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. No, I have never had any voice training, but I just had this natural way of singing that has been with me since I was 15 or 16. My voice has changed a lot, when I listen to my earlier albums. I have learned to breathe just by experience, by doing long concerts, understanding where you must sing from and the absolute vital importance of breathing out to allow yourself to breathe in. Never lift your shoulders when you're breathing or singing. It's just things that I have spotted, tips that I have been given. I think opera singers do a lot of breathing exercises, but I don't particularly like the way their voices are trained. I think a lot of emotion disappears. But breathing for me is vital, which is another reason I like swimming so much, because it is very good for breathing.

4th October 2003 - Frank Modder (29) from Bremen, Germany:

Dear Chris! I'm a fan of you and your music since 1982. I was an eight-year-old boy then who listened to your Getaway-LP, and this album is still a favourite of mine. But my question is on behalf of your Best Moves-album. As a big chess enthusiast I wonder not only why you chose a chess cover (okay, Best MOVES), but why you chose just that position. This is the final position of the game Kaplan vs. Bronstein, played in Hastings 1975/76. White has more material, but will lose the game, because he has no good moves in the long run. Is there any meaning in it and do you have any connections to chess in general (I also think about the last words of the song "Spanish Train", where the Lord and the devil are playing chess)? Thank you and I wish you good luck for the future and I'm really looking forward to listen to your next album!

When we decided on the cover of "Best Moves" I wanted to do the picture and have a genuine game of chess going on that occasionally somebody somewhere sometime would spot. And it appears to be that Frank Modder has spotted what's going on here! Yes, it is very much based on the Spanish Train story about black and white, good and evil. And white will lose the game as you may have noticed. As I said earlier, I play chess but not particularly well. But this one, the Lord and the Devil are playing chess, and that is exactly what is happening on the front cover of the "Best Moves" album, and that particular game, the Kaplan vs. Bronstein, was one that we found in a book and replicated on the cover.

5th October 2003 - Ali (22) from Tehran, Iran:

I'm Iranian and I'm a Muslim and I love your voice and your songs. Can I ask what was your feel when you sang 'The Rivers of Abraham" and what is the concept of this song? It's very similar to story of our prophet (Muhammad) when you say: He walked alone up the rocky road...As he lifted it up... I Hope to see you in Iran, we have a 100,000 seat stadium!

That is interesting what you say about "The Rivers Of Abraham". It wasn't about the prophet Muhammad, it was more about the prophet Moses going up to see the ten commandments. And he was told then to go and spread the seed of himself and his followers around the world to spread the word of God. And the second part very much refers to what is going to be happening in the future when perhaps we come to a point when our world can no longer sustain life as we know it, and people will have to leave and then emigrate to other planets. And it's the scene on a spaceship about to leave. And the rivers of Abraham will carry the seed of future generations to the next place where they can grow and live.

6th October 2003 - Lynne Ayles (over 30) from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada:

I saw your May 31st concert in Saint John, New Brunswick. Truly Amazing! Loved it! Thank You. Wonderful concept of piano, guitar and you! Question: I stayed the night of your concert at a local hotel and had a terrible sleep - flat pillow, cold room, etc. How do you get the sleep you need to put on such fantastic shows when you travel so much and to such "luxurious" locales as Beirut, Corner Brook, and Saint John? Have you become immune to whatever the accommodations are? Any travel suggestions or horror hotel stories? You're the best, Thanks.

Lynne, thank you very much for coming to Saint John, New Brunswick. Having lived a huge amount of my life in hotels, I've come to one extremely important discovery which is that pillows are the key factor, followed by mattresses, to a good night sleep, followed obviously by fresh air. And in some hotels, I mean I could bore you for hours and hours about the hotels I have stayed in, where things are too noisy, or there is construction going on, or there is construction above or beside or below, wakes you early in the morning. We of course live different hours in my profession. We stay up late, because we are working, and we get up late. And there are windows that you can't open, which I find pretty unpleasant. I love to have fresh air, but if it's noisy on the street.. all these factors come into it. But, what I have been doing for the last 8 years, is I bring my own pillow on tour. This may sound stupid, but these foam pillows, it's almost like an orthopaedic thing. A foam pillow can help your head, give you a good night sleep. And the other thing I can't do is I cannot sleep under a duvet. I get so hot, I just boil. And I get hotter, and it's like being in an oven, I just cook. So bring your own pillow next time, Lynne. And the other thing is to make sure that you got a relatively comfortable mattress.

7th October 2003 - Bryan Mugova (22) from Harare, Zimbabwe:

The song Snows Of New York is one that has inspired me ever since I heard it. Tell me Chris, what inspired you to write this beautiful song? You also talk of those who will never win, who are they, Chris? Thank you once again for the sweet music.

Well, I spoke about this a little bit earlier, about the two brothers, one of whom has to head off to America to find work, and the other who stays at home. I was working on the idea that emigration has always been a very sad part of Ireland's history. And literally millions have had to leave the country to seek work elsewhere, mostly in North America. When I speak about "there are those who fall, there are those who fail, there are those who will never win", those are people who for one reason or another have decided they do not want to put their back into a fight and work hard at achieving something. And then the second part of this, "and there are those who fight for the things they believe, and these are men like you and me", this refers then to his brother, or indeed his friend. And it is a song about friendship and companionship and an enduring love.

8th October 2003 - Francis DesCoteaux (37) from Aylmer, Canada:

I've always been saddened by the importance the media places on how well artists do in the charts. Do you find that the charts are as important to artists today as they were before? Have fans become more discerning or is it that the internet allowed artists to speak directly to the fans thereby circumventing the charts and radio stations?

Well, again, I could talk about this for an awfully long time. One of the great things to come our way, as you have pointed out, is that the internet allows the chance now we can bypass record companies, we can bypass quite a few media outlets. However you cannot beat being on television. Television is vitally important to put across a profile, which is why MTV is so important for, you know, it is visual radio, radio you can see. And as far as charts are concerned, there are those who are more experienced and have a lot more knowledge than I about what goes on at the charts, but the numbers that are involved in actual chart reflection have plummeted. There is so few being sold now, right across the border. And in fact there are quite a lot of charts, only just radio play charts. They are put together by radio stations, and they do not reflect the public or what the public actually wants to hear. Don't forget that on the radio we are being played what radio stations have decided they want us to hear. And it isn't actually a proper perception of what the public wants. There has always been this case, so it has always been a problem. But I think now with the internet, and the fact that there are people like me still doing live shows around the world, shows that you can bring people to music if you can't get the music to them. But all in all, I would say charts, they are nice. You know, I had a big number one record with Lebanese Night in Lebanon. But I don't think it was a sales chart, it was more an airplay chart. It's nice to have these numbers, and of course for celebration, of course for opening another bottle of champagne. But generally speaking, nowadays they don't mean an awful lot.

9th October 2003 - Dave de la Plante (45) from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada:

Dear Chris, I have had the great fortune of building a close friendship with your band member, Jeff Phillips. Jeff has always praised the power of your talent, as a singer, musician, composer, leader and friend. Would you like to share with your fans, the fun you and Jeff had with the telephone book?

Well I am glad to hear that you have kept in touch with Jeff. Jeff is a wonderful guy, a terrific drummer, and I have so many fond memories of being with him and the other guys in the band. And sad memories that Glenn of course had to die and the way he did and it broke up the band really. But Jeff has always been a good friend to me. One year I got a Melbourne telephone directory on an Australian tour and it was quite heavy, it was the yellow pages, the Melbourne yellow pages. And I hit it in his suitcase, and he could not understand why on the rest of the tour his suitcase weighed so much, until he went right into it. He found the yellow pages which then wound up in my suitcase. And then we started sending each other just the top copy, you know, just a piece of paper of the top of the Melbourne yellow pages. And eight years later I was back in Melbourne, I got the yellow pages, tore off the yellow piece of the top, and sent it to him in America. It's just one of those enduring jokes that goes on and on.

10th October 2003 - Glenda Bennett (51) from Barnoldswick, Lancashire, UK:

Your songs have such a strong sense of history and past, I wondered if you were able to go back in time, which historical person would you like to be able to meet and speak to? (Mine is St Columba or Grace O'Malley) Thanks for the inspiration that you life and music provides-it gave me the courage to write my book, which was published in April 2002, and I'm on the next one right now.

There is only one person that I and I am sure millions and millions of other people would like to meet. I would love to meet Jesus Christ. And not only to be in his aura and find out more about him and feel the fantastic person that he was. I mean, what an extraordinary man to have inspired billions of people through all sorts of circumstances, including martyrdom and certain death people have faced because of their belief and love for this man. And clearly this would be my number one choice of somebody to meet.

11th October 2003 - Jason (26) from Baltimore, USA:

I recently met David Sethi who said he helped to co-write The Lady in Red there any truth to this?

The answer is a one-word answer: None-whatsoever! I wrote the song completely by myself.

12th October 2003 - Terry (38) from Perth, Australia:

Hi Chris, I recently read a review of your Perth leg of the Beautiful Dreams concert. The female reviewer admitted to not being a fan only knowing The Lady In Red. She gave you a glowing review, concluding that "It is the mark of a true talent when you walk out of a show with 100 times more respect for the artist than when you walked in." Do you find this happens a lot, that people can dismiss your work because of "that" song but when they hear more from you, they realise there are many aspects to your work.

This is pretty true, Terry, that people who only know "The Lady In Red", and quite a few of them find it a sickly kind of sweet sugary ballad, they are pretty surprised, if you can actually drag them to a concert, kicking and screaming, and they walk away like this lady did in Perth. She walked away with a completely changed point of view. Well, I think people are wrong to take a point of view based on one piece of music when you have an artist who has been around as long as I have, who has made so many records. They are not all "The Lady In Red". And quite often, if I come across this particular thing, I refer people to the album "Into The Light" and say "listen to Lady In Red and listen to the last three tracks at the end of side two, if you have a vinyl record, 'The Leader, The Vision and What About Me', and you tell me is this a rock singer or is this a sickly balladeer?" And the answer is right there. Also, when you come and see a live performance, you see a huge amount of energy on the stage and involvement with the audience.

13th October 2003 - Kaveh (16) from Rasht, Iran:

Dear Chris, I like you very much. Please answer my question. I love your "Where We Will Be Going" lyric and its music. What is Dallas Darkened Days? Thanks a lot.

The song "Where We Will Be Going" is a really uplifting one for me. And I love singing it. It refers to a number of things that I have enjoyed in the past, which I have mentioned earlier. One of them was this poem "The second coming" by William Butler Yeats. And there is a line "what rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born". Now that turns up in the song, in the early part. And the second part is about John F. Kennedy being shot, and John Lennon. So the Dallas Darkened Days refers to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

14th October 2003 - Chris Williams (51) from Essex, England:

Hiya Chris, In your 'private life' do you call yourself by your real name 'Chris Davison' .....or should I say Christopher Davison ;-) ? Thanks, Chris

HI Chris, how are you? I know you and your husband well and I have been seeing you during the summer. Chris Davison, Christopher Davison, yeah, well, it doesn't really matter. The thing is if I am out in public or making calls, and the people who say "Chris de Burgh" know it has to be that person because the people don't know who Christopher Davison is. But my mother calls me Christopher and of course Davison is my given name and I get a lot of my mail in that name. I am fortunate to have two, so I can choose, you see. :)

15th October 2003 - Patricia MacDowell (34) from Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada:

Hello Chris, Your music is so very reflective and inspirational--your lyrics bring to mind a time long ago… medieval times with lush backgrounds and majestic imposing castles, and I visualize you as the soothsayer in a world out of reach. I wonder, are you a strong believer of fate…in the sense that mayhap a destiny is mapped out for each unique individual? While I am on the subject of divine intervention I also wondered if you believed in past lives? Would you kindly allow me to ask you one last question... Do you believe that astrology 'makes up' an individual?

When I was making my earlier albums, I seemed to have been slightly lost in this medieval lush background and majestic imposing castles, because after all that was my background of being brought up in the castle. I think I emerged into the real world for a while, although I am still fascinated by the old fashioned times and medieval life styles, as I said earlier when I was asked what time frame I would like to go back to. The medieval times would be of great interest to me. A strong belief in fate? Not necessarily. But I am a strong believer in listening to what your intuition and perhaps other more powerful forces are trying to tell you what to do. Always listen to intuition. And that's what I do. And divine intervention, destiny mapped up, it's possible. I mean, who knows, it's very difficult to tell. Astrology - I know so little about it. And the only time I ever come across it is in newspapers. And how can, for example I am a Libra, one twelfth of the entire population, the world, be expected to react or think or feel emotions in a certain way, all the things that happen? I mean, one twelfth of everybody on the planet, that's a massive amount of people all expected to act in the same way, because that's what it says in the stars. I think individual maps for individuals must be of some interest and importance, but as I said earlier, I know so little about it.
Editor's note:
Happy birthday Chris! And thank you for taking so much time to answer all our questions!

16th October 2003 - Eva (17) from Ulm, Germany:

My friend said she believes "I love the night" is about a werewolf. Is that true?

The song "I Love The Night" is not about a werewolf. But it suggests that it's about somebody who is very boring and does a very boring job during the day, but at night they become somebody completely different. And it refers to the fact that all of us have this capacity to become something or somebody different. But there is a line in the song that says "I must get back before the sunlight falls upon my face", so perhaps there is a bit of a hint of a werewolf. Maybe, Eva, your friend is half right. Then again I could be referring to vampires.

17th October 2003 - Chris Hebert (35) from London, Ontario, Canada:

At the beginning of the video for "A World Called Catastrophe" by Canadian singer/songwriter Matthew Good, the camera pans by his record collection and first and foremost in the shot of the albums (and basically the only recognizable one in the quick shot) is "Best Moves," presumably because he's a fan of yours. Were you aware of this, and have you heard of him? His work, while perhaps "harder edged" musically, sort of reminds me of yours in a lyrical sense, dealing with many of the same topics (war, peace, what we are doing to the planet, etc.) that you do. Thanks!

That's interesting what you say about singer/songwriter Matthew Good. I have heard of him, and I have heard his music, some of it, and it's very good. As you say it is slightly harder edged than mine, but he is somebody that I have enjoyed listening to in the past and I wish him all the very best. I am delighted to hear that he is probably by the sounds of things a bit of a fan. Keep up the good work and you're obviously still a young man, you've got a long way to go yet till you reach my age and stay in the business as long as I have. So good luck and keep making great songs!

18th October 2003 - Alice Saunders (38) from Sacramento, California, USA:

Do you have or like California wines? From the Napa Valley, for example.

I have had a chance to try quite a few wines from Napa Valley. But it's so far away, and they are hard to get where I live. I have tended to concentrate on wines from Europe, particularly from France. Italy, I love Italian wines, Spanish wines, Chile, Argentina. Australian wines, I wouldn't be that mad about, I find them a bit obvious. Although there's great stuff like Penfolds for example and Wolf Blass wines which are beautifully structured. But I tend to go for the old world rather than the new world. That's not to say I haven't enjoyed quite a few great wines from California.

19th October 2003 - Kathy Kanis (46) from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada:

Hi Chris, It was great to see you in concert again. I have been a huge fan since the very beginning with Far Beyond the Castle Walls. I'm not sure whether you have heard yet but the police have arrested someone in Holly's murder. Your song in progress about a father's loss really moved me. I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire Hummingbird Centre! Do you think you will have it finished in time for your next CD? Keep up the great work.

Thank you Kathy. I hadn't heard that somebody has been arrested in connection with Holly Jones' murder. When I sang that song in Toronto, it was a very emotional thing for me. And I have to say that the images that I was trying to convey were very powerful and I was in tears myself by the end and the idea of a little ten year old girl, walking out in the early evening on a safe street and never to be seen again alive and then to be found floating in bags chopped up into little pieces eighteen hours later in Lake Ontario. I mean, the thing is so horrible, so unbelievable, so evil, to think that there is people capable of this kind of horror and cruelty, it staggers me. So, the song I plan to record probably, although I didn't think I would. But now I've got so many people who have asked me to. And funnily enough when I said I had it unfinished, I thought a lot about it and I couldn't think of anything more that I could say about the situation. Just the father being in the child's bedroom and looking at all the memories. And he cannot believe what has happened to his child. It was originally of course written for the two little girls in England who were murdered last year. It's a very emotional area to get involved in. Perhaps it's a bit too hard hitting for a CD, I don't know. But once it is completed, I will make up the judgement for myself whether I should carry on and put it on a CD. Maybe the fans themselves could let me know.

20th October 2003 - Dot Hudson (51) from Liverpool, England:

Chris, not so much a question but to point you in the direction of some inspiration. My 15 year old son, Gregg, has recently formed a modern punk rock band. they have played a couple of gigs for charity - care parcels for the gulf. The group have a website, If you ever have a moment please have a look at the site. In his words about himself, he attributes his love of music , not to the rock groups that he now favours, Blink 182 etc but to yourself and the fact that I have taken him to your concerts since he was around 5 years old. He points out that you are quite a rocker yourself by way of his defence in his musical influence but i have to say that it made me feel very proud and touched by his insight and intuitiveness that he was able to by pass any form of peer pressure and openly admit how much your music has influenced him. Thank you for providing my son with such direction and a professionalism way beyond his years.

I love to hear about your son Gregg, the modern punk rock band. Well, my 15 year old son put together a little band too, and they play all sorts of stuff, mainly hard rock stuff. It is wonderful to hear that Gregg likes my music. And it shows he has great taste. Well done, Gregg!

21st October 2003 - Brian Morton (37) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:

Howdy Chris: We've met a few times now, but I haven't had the chance to ask you about this... Way, way, back in the early spring of 1984, I purchased a Rickenbacker 620 12 String electric guitar from The Music Shoppe in Thornhill, just north of Toronto, which so the story went had previously belonged to you. According to the salesman at the time, some member of the band, (can't recall now who - Al Marnie or Danny McBride), had at one time worked there, and so at the end of the GETAWAY tour some equipment was sold on consignment. (Next time I saw you during the MOTL Canadian tour you were now playing a Red Gibson Les Paul, same one used on the HIGH ON EMOTION video, so the time line fits)... The serial number on the guitar was TF 2140, which according to the Rickenbacker Company Website, means that it was manufactured in June of 1980. It was a great sounding guitar, with that very distinctive "Byrds - MR TAMBOURINE MAN" sound. Sadly, the guitar was lost in a fire in 1991. So my questions are fairly simple. Was this really your guitar? Where did you buy it originally? Why did you stop using it and get rid of it? And lastly, do you have a photo around of yourself playing it that you might post to the site?? The only images I have are the 1983 Live at Hamilton Place Concert Video, where you play the guitar on the songs SHADOWS AND LIGHTS and THE GETAWAY. There is also a picture of the guitar on pg 36 of the book SPARK TO A FLAME, but it is just sitting by itself next to the drums. Thanks ever so much for the information!

The answer is yes, that is extremely likely that that was my Rickenbacker 620 twelve string electric guitar, because we did sell it after a tour through probably Glenn Morrow. This was my guitar. I don't know if I've got any photographs of it, I've got to look around, but it's definitely mine as far as I can tell. Good luck, Brian. I'm sorry to hear that it got burned.

18th November 2003 - Nicole (31) from Freiburg, Germany:

This is not a question about your music which I really love!!! But I saw a report on German TV about your beautiful Bell 407 Helicopter. I am a helicopter pilot since 1996 (Bell LongRanger IV) and I got my pilots license in Fort Worth, Dallas at Bell Helicopter Training Center. It was great time with those "flying cowboys". And you were so excited about flying that I was wondering whether you are considering to get your own pilots license. It took me only 2 months. The training there was really good and the people at Bell were so friendly. I will never forget the time with them. And you know what?- It's a great feeling to be able to fly a helicopter. When I saw this report on TV I thought you too would enjoy the feeling to fly a helicopter on your own. It is something special! Although not as special as your music I must admit.

Freiburg is a town I know extremely well. It's so pretty there, and I always stay at the Colombi Hotel which is just at the bottom of the walking street area. And I always walk up through the town, through the little cobble streets and to the cathedrals and the restaurants and the bars. It's a town I very much like to be in, in both summer and winter. Your question about my Bell 407 helicopter, well, I've been learning to fly this machine for three years. I must have put up already about 150 hours as co-pilot. Because my time is limited in terms of learning about how to fly a helicopter, I haven't gone in for the really deep technical stuff. But I can land it, and I can take off in this aircraft. The most important thing for me to do is to be able to land it, to know the wind direction, drop off the speed, and bring the aircraft in for a safe landing, should the requirement ever be necessary. If the pilot himself has some kind of accident, at least I feel confident now that I could affect a landing. And I know that the people at Bell are amazing, because I went to Montreal 3 1/2 years ago to select a Bell 407 helicopter. And Montreal again is one of my very favourite places, and I know I have a lot of friends in Montreal who read Man On (the) Line, so to them I want to say a particular hello, and I can't wait to go back to your beautiful town and to all those wonderful things I did last time. The people at the Bell facility were so charming and we've kept in touch ever since. The training that you did at Fort Worth, I hear, is amazing as well. So I envy you, Nicole, to be able to fly a Bell 407, which I think is still regarded as one of the Ferraris of modern passenger helicopter travel. And I'm thrilled that I've got one, and I fly quite a lot in it.

19th November 2003 - Stephanie (30) from Montreal, Canada:

Hi Chris, I'm just wondering, during your concert you have a list of songs that you will perform but do you always stick to that list or there are a lot of improvisation during your concert? I'm pretty sure i know the answer but just in case!!!!!

Strangely enough, since I just spoke about Montreal, this question is from Stephanie in Montreal, about the list of songs! When I'm doing a solo performance, I am fairly flexible. The tour that I'm going to be doing next year which is also a solo performance, we are going to be doing some visual things that I have never done before. And I'm very excited about these ways of illustrating songs and beautiful visual imagery. So, for those ones, I probably won't be able to alter during the concert set where we have them, because they will be computer driven. But generally speaking, I'm open for all requests. Once I've got the core of what I want to do, that is sort of the backbone of the concert set, then I can deviate from it. But it's also important to stress that getting together a dynamic concert performance that lasts 2 1/2 hours, it takes a long time to put one together with the shifts and the movements and the ebbs and the flows. After a while, it becomes second nature. But within that I have the flexibility to do what I want. It's not quite the same with the band though.

20th November 2003 - Dave Lawrence (28) from London, UK:

Hi Chris, I wonder if (especially now you have your own label) you ever think about putting out an outtakes/rarities CD? I guess I am not the only one whose mouth waters when we hear about various unreleased or unrecorded songs.. For example I've always longed to hear the version of Nights in White Satin you recorded for Best Moves.. and I know there a brilliant recording of a song called Nice Guy.. I also get the impression there may often be a few songs recorded from each album that do not make the cut (particularly This Way Up I recall). Not to mention various unrecorded songs (Don't Leave Me Now?!) you may have demos of. You might also include some other non-album rarities/Bsides etc eg Strangers on a Train, Riding on a Rainbow, the Diana song etc. What do you think of this idea? I can't help feeling kind of cheated to know there are great songs out there that we are not able to hear..!

Well, Dave, although I have my own label, the recordings that I made prior to having Ferryman Productions, are actually still owned largely by the previous record companies that I have been involved with. So it might be difficult to price those away from them. But that said, there are rarities out there. And, you know, my feeling is that probably the reason why they were never put out is possibly because they weren't good enough. I'm always a little cautious about hearing these old songs from way back, because quite honestly I don't think they were particularly good, some of them. But there's always a case for real fans to get a grip on some of the old titles like for example "What's A Nice Guy Like You Doing In A Face Like This" (hehe), "Nights In White Satin", that I recorded but never made it onto a record. There must be at least twenty or thirty songs somewhere which never made it, and I think a lot of them were from my early years, when my voice was completely different than it is now.

21st November 2003 - Susan MacDonald (33) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Hello Chris! I just read a book called Sweeter Life (which I loved) by Tim Wynveen. His bio at the back mentioned that before turning his attention to writing he was a professional musician, "touring with performers such as Chris de Burgh." Looking at some older CDs, sure enough, there's Tim Wynveen playing guitar. I was wondering if you have kept in touch, and have you read any of his books? Thanks!

I've spoken about Halifax before, and again I'd like to mention what a fantastic time I had in Halifax on my recent Canadian tour. I'm a keen student of history, as I am sure many of you know. And I love going to museums, and in particular the maritime museum in Halifax is just terrific. I went there two days running, and not only were the artefacts from the Titanic disaster, but also from other maritime events in the area, it's a very important harbour and port. But the devastating explosion that took place in 1917 was something absolutely awesome, the biggest manmade explosion ever. And the next one was, I believe, the H-bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And this bomb, caused by two ships colliding in what was called the narrows in the harbour of Halifax, flattened the town, killed thousands of people, blinded more thousands of people who were looking out their windows at the fire on the ship. But just getting back to your question: Tim Wynveen was indeed a guitar player in my band for many years. He is also featured on the "Live In South Africa" record as a guitar player. And I think since he gave up guitar playing, he then turned to writing. And I read his first book called "Angel Falls" which I enjoyed very much, but I didn't realize that "Sweeter Life" had come out. So I'm sure I'll go looking for that one, and I hope to enjoy it as well.

22nd November 2003 - Meike Ruge (28) from Lübeck, Germany:

Hello Chris! First I want to thank you for all your really fantastic music. However I feel, or whatever is running through my mind, it is always the right time to hear your music. I'm especially interested in the last three songs from the "Getaway" album. My question is, do these songs tell about a special battle or similar in the history? I read lot of books about the fights in Scotland. And most time these songs remind me of several stories I read before. Thanks for your answer and I wish you to have always a smile in your face, when you wake up in the morning. Greetings from Germany, Meike

I was very fortunate in my early years to have gone on tour with terrific bands as the opening act, and I learned a lot. And I think, if you are going to go out as an opening act, you must always watch what it is about the headliner that makes them the headline act. And similarly on the rare occasion that I have an opening act, I urge them to have a look at what we do, because you can learn from it. But what I learned from Supertramp in particular was their grasp of visual imagery, of sort of cinemascope songs, big imaginative songs. And it really spurred me on to not just become a singer with a guitar. I wanted on record to put these ideas into far more epic proportions. So, on The Getaway, I wanted to do this trilogy, these three songs. And it really tells a story of what may have happened in, say, Ireland in the 18th century, or indeed anywhere where the excitement of a revolution beginning, when people go from house to house and they whisper to each other. Because obviously, if you are starting a revolution, if you are caught with this, you will be in deep deep trouble. There was no special battle, but the Irish element of the Revolution trilogy is very strong for me, and most likely comes from around the time of the 1798 rebellion which was an uprising, supported to some degree by the French, against the English in Ireland. And in fact the castle where I was brought up in, was the ancestral home of Bagenal Harvey who was a protestant landowner in a mainly Catholic country. But he felt so strongly about trying to get the English out of Ireland, that he also led a large contingent of men. And unfortunately they were crushed in county Wexford. And he himself was caught and beheaded. I think his head was stuck on a pike on Wexford Bridge and the rest of him was thrown to the fishes.

23rd November 2003 - Bärbel Lenk (37) from Kassel, Germany:

Hi Chris! Thanks for your wonderful songs. Did you ever sing a song in German or do you plan to do it? Lots of love, Bärbel

At the moment I have no plans to sing in German. Anybody who has come to my concerts will realize that my grasp of the language is not particularly good. But that's not to say I would like to give it a try some day. I have done songs in Spanish and French and given the fact that my German, Austrian, Swiss audiences have been so fantastic and supportive down the years, I think it's only polite for me to maybe sing a song in German sometime. Maybe I should go down to the Munich Oktoberfest and learn something there, so it's a good drinking song. What do you think?

24th November 2003 - Ashton Lane (17) from Newfoundland, Canada:

Hello Chris. I have two questions to ask you. The first, out of all the places across the world that you have performed, which one is your favorite? Secondly, where is your favorite place to be or your favorite thing to do to have some time to yourself? Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions that your fans submit to you. My father has been a fan of yours since your first album was released, and he has bought every one of your albums since. Now that I'm older, I appreciate why your music means so much to him. You are an exceptional musical artist, you have the ability to capture an audience regardless of age or the musical preference. You are a brilliant performer, thank you for performing in Newfoundland. Your concert that you held at Mile One Stadium was outstanding and I hope that you will come back to perform again soon.

You have no idea what a thrill it is for me to hear that a new generation of people is coming up and enjoying what I do, and they come to the concerts and they see what I do on stage, and obviously the fantastic enjoyment that I have in performance. Newfoundland is a place that I have been going to for many many years. I absolutely love it, and in fact in a way that answers your second question one of my favourite places to be. And favourite things to do, well, I love being in the open air. You know, if I am on tour, I don't seek out the company of necessarily my band members all the time. I much prefer, as I have done in Newfoundland, to hire a car and just drive off and find somewhere where I can walk and think. It's a way from the Hurley-burley of ordinary life, particularly touring life. I like to think I'm a spiritual person, and I need to regenerate my spirituality by being thoughtful to feel the impact of nature on my frail body as we all are. Nature is so fantastic and wonderful. And there is a place out near Saint John's, Newfoundland, called Flat Rock, which I always walk down this peninsula. And I have seen whales from there, and I have seen icebergs. It is a place for me which is very important and very moving and a place where I can find solitude and peace.
I'm also delighted that, you know, the generation has been spanned obviously. Your father likes my music by the sounds of it, and you've known to love it too. The places where I have performed, which is my favourite? Well, you know what, Ashton, there haven't been really any outstanding favourite places, there's been like a top ten. I would say one of my very top ten places was in Turkey, near the town of Izmir. There's a beautiful place called Ephesus which was a theatre carved out of the hillside. And I remember performing there with the band under the starry sky one night. And this place has been there since the 3rd century BC. And Saint Paul preached to the Ephesians standing on the same marble slabs surrounded by the same pillars that I was amongst with my band. And the backstage was just tiny little monks rooms. It seems to have been untouched for more than 2000 years. That kind of a place really does give you the chills, looking out at 20,000 people and knowing that this is one of the key places in Christian history. On top of that there have been a lot of important places. I mentioned Newfoundland, I particularly remember places like the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, and of course Montreal where the love affair continues. And the Forum and the Place des Arts there. Places in Germany, I often talk about the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund. And the Royal Albert Hall in London. They would be on my list. But you know, just about everywhere where you see a smiling crowd in front of you, that's my favourite place to be.

25th November 2003 - Ina Stöcker (34) from Bergisch Gladbach, Germany:

Dear Chris! When you create new songs - do you "try" them at home - sing these songs for your family to get their critic about? Do you take your songs "with you in your days" or are you able to stop them after doing your work? I mean - when I hear a song going into my heart it's in my head the whole day, coming up in my mind again and again and I'm thinking about it. Is songwriting and development for you something like going to work day by day or more like inspiration and a kind of fun? Thank you for so many years with great music and so much great concerts! All best wishings for you! Greetings from Ina

When I am at home, yes, I do often play the music that other people can hear. But that doesn't necessarily mean they come in and listen. I think what happens is, when I have a grand piano in one of the big drawing rooms that I have, and I play that quite a bit. Or else I go into my own studio which has got beautiful views, and I can be very private in my studio and I try things there. I'd say my family probably, by the time they hear a new record, they are familiar with the music, because they have heard snatches here and there. The songwriting process is a lengthy one. Even now I've spent today finishing off the lyrics of three songs for the new album "The Road To Freedom". And that takes me to a completely separate zone. It's very important for me to switch off everything else that is going on in my head. I'm very good at that. I can actually concentrate on one thing 100 percent and then move on to something else rather than be caught drifting between the two of them. I also believe in what the Beatles used to say, it's if you can come back to a melody the next day and you can remember it, then it's worth remembering. Otherwise I'm sure I've forgotten loads of melodies that I've started, but if they are not much good, I don't remember them. It's just as well, I suppose.

26th November 2003 - Thomas Schilb (37) from Tallahassee, Florida, USA:

My question is regarding your next CD. You have written some amazing songs over the years in which almost always falls into 5 categories: war and history, love and romance, Family, lighter side of life, and the deep meanings of life songs. I love all of them but of the 5 I guess the one that grabs me the most are the deep meaning of life songs like Discovery, Turning Round and Heart of Darkness to name a few. I was wondering if you could give us a sneak peek on your new CD and describe what categories you think they fall in, if not multiple ones. Thank you for the stories.

It's interesting that you have categorized the way I write, because I never really thought about it much. I tend to write from an emotional standpoint and an observational standpoint. I don't necessarily kind of move from one to the other in terms of categories.
But it's interesting what you are saying about "Discovery". Because that is what we call extrapolation, where you take an idea and then you go along that idea for as far as you can. And I had this idea of Galileo Galilei, thinking as he looked up at the stars 'there's got to be more to life than what we see here'. And in a way that explains my philosophy as well which is I'm a big questioner, I love asking questions. I love to find out is there another way, I mean, in a very mundane way. I'm the guy that, if there's a queue of people waiting to get through two doors, and one of them is closed and the other one isn't, I'm the guy who goes up to the second door to see if it's open or closed. Sometimes it's locked, so obviously nobody else, but quite often, more times than not, that second door is open. And you push it open and you go through. You don't have to stand in the crowd with everybody else. I'm a questioner, and that comes to much of my music and much of my songwriting. Similarly in "Discovery", maybe we are not earthbound as we discovered in the sixties or before, we can actually leave the planet and look at it from the outside. And as many of the astronauts have discovered, it is the discovery of huge proportions, because suddenly they see just how fragile our world is. And how we need at all cost to protect it.
"Heart of Darkness" is similar to the title of the Joseph Conrad novel, it's a voyage of self-discovery. And in this case it starts on a smuggler's bay. And a boy in the 17th century looking out the window and seeing the moon and seeing smuggling going on. And that brings him down to a light that could be the light of a smuggler, but in fact in this case it isn't, it's a light that takes him onto a journey to another life and what is actually beyond. It's again a film in my head that I love to explore. And it's exciting going into this exploration area and it's something I do a lot.
You know, the new album, I know that I'm going to be talking about all the tracks at a later date, so I won't start here. Just two I would refer to. One is the title track "The Road To Freedom" which is set a long time ago, a few hundred years ago, in a small farm West of Ireland or West of Scotland. It's very rugged, tough land, hard to make a living. And there's an old man who is working on this little farm with a stone house and the stone walls and the sea below and the constant wind. And the only person to help him is his son. And his son has gone off to fight for freedom. We don't know what this is, this freedom. But the old man knows, that he's seen it all before. Freedom means death, it means change, if they even achieve that much. But most of all freedom does not bring rain and sun to make his plants grow. And he is mostly upset about the fact that his son has gone off, the only person that is with him has gone off to fight for freedom. So it is a fairly deep and emotional song. As is "Snow Is Falling", which is another one that is on a very wide filmic, epic scale. As the snow falls, in a Doctor Zhivago landscape, the camera moves into a forest. And in the forest there's a broken ground, the snow gently falls, and the trees are heavy with the snow. And under the ground there's a grave containing the bodies of maybe three or four hundred young men and boys, who have been taken from their homes and executed. And nobody knows where they have gone, where they have been buried. And this is their story, saying "come and find us". The seasons come and go, and the snow falls and the leaves fall in the autumn. It's deeply sad and very Eastern European. It's the kind of thing I just get into. You see, my philosophy is this: If you do not feel emotion, you cannot convey emotion.

27th November 2003 - Janet (29) from Belfast, Northern Ireland:

I know you're in process of setting up your own record label. Will that give you more freedom to decide what songs do or don't get recorded? Will it mean that it will be slightly less important for an album to be an economic success?

It has never been a problem for me deciding on what songs to release on a record, because I have always been left alone, almost since my career began. I think they realized that I was an unusual songwriter and very much in control of what I wanted to do in my career. But the freedom comes from being able to do what I want with the record. Record companies can be difficult to deal with sometimes. Sometimes getting through to people who are in meetings, or trying to motivate record companies when they have seen it all before ("Oh it's another Chris de Burgh record"), this is very tough. To try and motivate a record company into giving priority to a record that you think is important, that is the hardest thing at all. We have that flexibility now to work around that and make our record available just about anywhere we want. As far as the economic success is concerned, yes it is important, because I am now funding the thing myself. And obviously we've got to sell records to cover the costs.

28th November 2003 - Babak (16) from Rasht, Iran:

Hi Chris... I have a short question... what's your opinion about the movie "Lord of the Rings"?? Thanks a lot, bye.

It's a very strange thing, but this morning on the radio I was listening to BBC Radio 5 live, and they were having a discussion about the "Lord Of The Rings" film. And some people were saying they thought it was an absolute masterpiece, and other people were saying it goes from fight into scenery, fight, scenery, fight, scenery… I saw it. I was amazed like everybody else by the technical accomplishments of the filmmakers. But I just saw it as a bunch of guys running away all the time and being chased. And I didn't find it a satisfying film, as much as for example I found the "Harry Potter" films far more satisfying. So I would not say I'm a big fan of the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy and those films.

29th November 2003 - Lauryan de Jongh (23) from Pretoria, South Africa:

At both of the South African Concerts that I have attended, including your birthday one, you have always chosen someone out of the audience to come on stage and sing a song with you... Do you do this at all your concerts? Also - how did this "interactivity" begin?

I love the idea of people joining me to sing, because one of the key elements of what I believe good performers should do, is create a feeling in the audience that the man on the stage is no different to them. Most people in the audience should look up at me on stage and say "oh, I could do that". That's important. And it's also important that everybody feels we're all together. It's not an audience being dominated or dictated to by performers. I've been to enough concerts in the past to see arrogant performers who really don't care about their audiences. And really you've got to respect your audiences. I always have. I've always taken the idea that you do two concerts every night. One for now, and one for the next time. You must always show respect for the audiences. And one of the ways of creating a bridge between the stage and the audience is having people sing with me. Sometimes it's something I like to do, sort of, by surprise. Other times it's planned in advance.

30th November 2003 - Rebecca (16) from Surrey, UK:

I have just read about your daughter being elected "Miss Ireland", she is very pretty indeed. You must be so proud of her, I just wanted to know what you thought when she said she wanted to enter it?

My daughter is Miss Ireland, as I have said in the beginning. She is heading off for the Miss World Competition. It's a very political event. We don't know whether it exactly is a chance for the prettiest girl and the most intelligent girl to win. I think there's more to this election process than meets the eye. But nevertheless we have high hopes for Rosanna. And she only went into it, because she was at a shopping centre in Dun Laoghaire in Ireland, and somebody came up to her and said "would you like to go in for a beauty competition next Saturday?". As she says herself, her boyfriend was away and she wasn't busy that Saturday, so she went in. Nobody knew anything about her, but she obviously wowed the judges. And then she went on to win Miss Ireland convincingly. Although there were 20 other very pretty girls there. And I was delighted for her. Sometimes you are going along in life, Rebecca, and a door opens in front of you. And you have a look and say "well, why not? Give it a try!" So, if this sort of thing happens to you, just give it a try. There's no point in later life saying "I could have been a Miss World", or "I could have done this or that." If you feel strongly about something, just try it. The worst that can happen is you'll fail and you can start again. But at least you have given it a try.

1st December 2003 - Dave Malcolm (34) from Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland:

Dear Chris, Thanks for the Music over the years, I've been a big fan for longer than I care to remember! I was wondering - How do you rate your daughter Rosanna's chances are in the Miss Ireland Competition this year? Do you think she can win the Miss World Competition as well, and have you given her any advice on how to handle the press?

Your question is pretty similar to my last response. I have given her some advice. I said "whatever happens, you'll still be beautiful the day after the competition". And how to handle the press? "You treat them with respect, but also understand that they need you. If you need to sell something, if you need to have promotional requirement, then the press is your root to it." I've told her to forge her own destiny with the media, and although there are people in the media that I wouldn't even cross the road to shake hands with, after all these years of the abuse I have taken, particularly here in Ireland in the 25 years of it, I have said to her there are some people that she should be very very careful of, and other people she can make her own mind up about. I think her chances are pretty good to win the Miss World Competition, but as I said there is a lot more to the voting than meets the eye.

2nd December 2003 - Chris Raymond (52) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:

Hello Chris! This thought intrigues me! How do you cope with knowing that so many women out there, all ages, shapes and sizes are totally besotted with you?!! What volume of fan mail do you receive apart from through the Guestbook here? On the flip side - do you ever get mail which is critical of your work? Thanks! Chris.

Hi Chris! How are you doing ? Thanks for your cards and letters. I don't give that much thought about what you are saying. How flattering of you to say that women out there, all ages, shapes and sizes are besotted. Well, I wouldn't admit to that. I don't actually really think about it, I'm a little shy about that kind of thing. But I do receive quite a lot of fan mail. Some of it is surprising, some of it is quite suggestive, some of it includes interesting photographs. But yes, I always listen to critical mail. People say why did you do this, and why did you do that, and what were you thinking of when you wrote such a song and it could have been better this way. I think if you just spend your life being praised, and only listen to praise, I think that's the day that you become very big-headed. And I don't particularly want to ever get into that particular area.

3rd December 2003 - Sabine Schlichting (34) from Henfield, West Sussex, England:

Hi Chris! I was very pleased to see you performing in the beautiful city of Augsburg a few weeks back (fantastic evening!), hoping and waiting for many years that you would give solo concerts some time. Always thought you were at your best when you were alone on stage. Shame I wasn't able to go to more of them... What made you finally do it? Has it always been a dream, an idea of yours or was this a more recent inspiration?

That night in Augsburg in the amphitheatre, that was absolutely fantastic. It was one of my great memories of this summer, and I?m glad you were there, Sabine, to enjoy it, because I certainly did. And remember, I got everybody come on the stage at the end, and in particular there were two people in wheelchairs, I was absolutely thrilled about them, because it?s always tough if you are either very small or a child or if you can?t see particularly well. And the solo thing, I was talking to somebody actually yesterday about doing solo concerts. And these young fellows who were trying to start in the music business, they were amazed, they said ?You mean, you do solo concerts? What do you do??. And I said ?I play the guitar, I play the piano, I talk, I do a 2 1/2 hour show, play all my old material and some new stuff.?. They were absolutely amazed, because so few people can do it. But I have my grounding in that, you see, and I have a lot of back-up and a lot of history and experience of doing solo concerts. And yes, it always has been a dream. It?s something I?ve always been able to do and I love coming back to it from time to time. And indeed next tour will be a solo concert tour. It?s so intimate, and I know a lot of people in fact who said ?oh we really prefer them to the band shows?. Well, I love the band shows too, because I love the impact and the power. But the solo concerts for me are the way of showing my music at its best. And it?s kind of a seduction process from the stage with the audience. And it?s always a beautiful experience.

4th December 2003 - Amir Flaishman (29) from Tel Aviv, Israel:

Hi there Chris. First of all, I want you to know that you are my favourite singer and the only one whom I've ever flown to actually see his concert (I saw you performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London). My question is: beautiful 'Crusader' song naturally deals with Jerusalem. Have you ever been to Jerusalem? (If not - then you're more than welcome to do so) What associations come to your mind when you hear of the word 'Jerusalem' (if at all)? Thank you, and keep on writing great stuff!

It's amazing you actually flew to London to see me perform at the Royal Albert Hall. Yeah, that was one of those amazing venues too. The song "Crusader" is really just a historical look at the way all these people who are former enemies decided to put aside their bitter grievances and say "Right, we're gonna fight a common enemy". It's not particularly anything to do with Israel or the Arab world, as some people have suggested. This is very much a story that goes back 800 years, and I'm sure this kind of thing will arise again, where a common enemy will be there and all people, who have bitter times together, decide "We won't fight anymore for a while. Let's go and fight this common enemy." I often wonder what will happen, for example, if a meteor came hurtling towards planet Earth. All those, like the Chinese, the Russians and the Americans, they would all combine to see if we could save our planet. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. And when I think of Jerusalem, I actually think of biblical Jerusalem, the time of Jesus. And I'm just so sad that there's such a desperate crisis in the current history of Israel that the name of Jerusalem is now a synonymous with suicide bombings and other atrocities. But for me Jerusalem lives on, in my mind, as a place involved with Jesus Christ.

5th December 2003 - Liz Griffiths (47) from Surbiton, Surrey, UK:

My friend and I sat next to you and your family at a wonderful restaurant on the island of Patmos, in Greece. (You might recall my friend nearly falling off her moped as we headed off into the dark, whilst you waited for your taxi). You are my most favourite singer and songwriter and I so wanted to say hello, but felt very protective of your privacy during your 'time off'. Patmos is the most romantic of islands and your songs are so steeped in romance, history and story telling. I wonder if my beautiful island might have inspired you to write a song about it?

I remember that instant very well. And Patmos was recommended to me by a friend of ours, to go to this summer. And it's an extraordinary beautiful place. Difficult to get to, but that makes it even more beautiful. And it is also well-known for the cave, where Saint John the Divine had his revelations which you read at the end of the bible. And we went to see this, and it's an extraordinary feeling to be in, like I mentioned Ephesus, to be in this place which is so important to Christian history. The island itself is absolutely lovely. Thank you for feeling protective of me and not getting involved. But as you can probably tell, I'm a very affable person, I don't mind talking to people. I'm not one of these stars that tells people to push off and no autographs. On the contrary, I am always very happy to give autographs and have pictures taken. History and romance have always been a critical part of my writing, and whereever I find it, it comes into my soul and then to my spirit. And I'm sure the Greek islands will always be there, because I've been to the Greek islands before quite a few times, and I absolutely adore them. There's something very noble about the Greeks and their history. And that's one reason that draws me back again.

6th December 2003 - Andres Kahn (36) from Tallinn, Estonia:

Hi Chris! Your music is fantastic! I have been your fan since 1985 when I heard you records Man On The Line (this one was extremely popular at school) and also Far Beyond These Castle Walls. I have attended both of your concerts in Estonia. My question would be - I have been wondering how well the musicians worldwide know each other. Hereby I would like to ask you how well you know the following musicians: Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre, Andrew Latimer, Phil Collins, Maggie Reilly, Fish, Jan Garbarek, Al Stewart, Alan Parsons, Jan Anderson, Mike Rutherford, Tina Turner (I know she was singing on one of your records). Who is the one in the world of music you admire most. Also have you heard the Estonian names like Arvo Pärt and Neeme Järvi. And last but not least have you already planned your next concert in Estonia. We are all waiting for it! Best regards Andres Kahn

I think I have been twice in Estonia, and I very much enjoyed it. One impression I walked away with was how healthy and beautiful the people looked, both the guys and the girls. You know there was that glow that tells you that they have not been eating junk food for years and years that you find in other countries. They just looked very healthy and fresh. But anyway, moving on, about your question. Yes, I run into people like Rod Stewart, Elton John I just saw recently. Phil Collins I see at the Formula 1 Grand Prix races sometimes. I've met Mike Rutherford from Genesis and of course Tina. In my business you do come across these people from time to time. The guys from U2 live fairly close to me in Dublin and I run into them from time to time. Enya for example. But I would say one man I have enormous respect for, as somebody I have known for a long time, it's Peter Gabriel. He's a very unusual talent indeed and I think he is marvellous. Tina Turner is great fun, and I wish she would come out of retirement, because she is a legend and an amazing performer. I don't know the two people you have spoken about from Estonia, but maybe I will. And I look forward to going back there.

7th December 2003 - Solange (39) from St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Québec, Canada:

Dear Chris, first of all, many many thanks for that wonderful magical moment you shared with us last May at la Place des Arts. And talking about shows, I have noticed that the prices for the tickets seem to have exploded lately. Not only for you but in general. As my husband and I had a bit of a hard time gathering money for two tickets, I am sure that many of your fans will never get to see you live. What is your opinion about that? P.S. are you happy to know some quebecois singers now?

The Place des Arts again was one of the most memorable shows I have done this year. I'm not sure about other ticket prices, but I know that we always in my organization try and keep a fair ticket price, because we're aware there are young people out there who want to come and see the shows. There's no point, I mean I have seen high ticket prices for people who do a very short concert like 50 minutes. At least, when you get a ticket for one of my shows, you are getting value for money. In some cases I'm actually singing for almost twice as long as most other performers. So, although I am aware that these prices are high, don't forget that, if you got, say, a thousand people spending, I don't know what it is, $30 on a ticket (I'm just guessing here), don't walk away with the impression that the artist on the stage is walking away with all that money. Because there is an enormous amount of expenses involved. For example the rental of the theatre, the paying of commissional tickets, tax which is significant in the country that we are performing in. Sometimes the tax is so high, some performers have refused to perform in some countries, like 30-40 percent of the gross, you just can't operate all of those circumstances. So I have always taken the view that it is not fair to push too hard on ticket prices. But on the other hand there is not much point in me going away on tour for a year and coming back with no money or having lost money. So my answer is, yes, I am very happy to know some quebecois singers. I have come across a few of them in the past, and I look forward very much to go back to see my friends in French Canada very shortly.

8th December 2003 - Saman Barzegari (29) from Tehran, Iran:

Dear Mr. Davison. I wonder if you have been informed that two collections of your fantastic works have been recently released in Iran. Have you been asked for permission?

Again I'd like to say hi to all my friends and fans in Tehran and in Iran in general. Thank you for your questions, and keep posting messages on the website. I love to read them in the guestbook. Yes, I had learned that two of my records have been released in Iran, and I think permission was requested from the record label in United Kingdom. But the great thing about my new one "The Road To Freedom" is, if I felt like going to Iran myself and giving it away in a street corner, I can do this, because it is my own product. And I would love to go and perform there some day, because I know I would get a very terrific reception.

9th December 2003 - Bianca van den Berg (35) from Voorhout, The Netherlands:

Hi dear Chris, I really like the version of Separate Tables you recorded with Vicky Leandros. Every time she sings; "I think about you" she makes me smile. How was it to work with her and why wasn't this version released on one of your CDs? Thank you for the music, hope to see you soon! Lots of love Bianca

I was in Holland a couple of weeks ago doing a private concert, and it reminded me just how much I enjoy going to Holland, and the fans I have there. These people there, they knew every word of every song, it was quite amazing. The version with Vicky Leandros of "Separate Tables", we actually recorded that a few years back at the request of her record company and, I believe, her own request. And I was delighted to sing with her. She is a remarkable artist and a very talented and professional one. The version wasn't released on one of my CDs, because I do believe that was the condition that it was just one version on one of her own CDs. I'm not quite sure of the background to the release of the song, but all I can say is that I enjoyed working with Vicky.

10th December 2003 - Jacqueline Ebner (45) from Scotland:

Hello Chris, do you wear glasses at all?

I see you are aged 45, and of course I'm sure you are still beautiful at 45, but, you know, time takes its toll on all of us. And I started wearing reading glasses about 7 or 8 years ago. And it makes life really much easier, to be able to read newspapers. I'm actually what you call long-sighted, which means that my long vision is fine, it's very good. But small print upfront, I just can't read that, it is all a bit of a blur. So I'm afraid it is because how nature takes its course and makes the front of the eye harden up and makes it harder for it to actually be flexible and move, so you can actually read small print. So yes, I wear reading glasses.

11th December 2003 - Stefan (35) from Mönchengladbach, Germany:

"Timing Is Everything" was also released as a special edition with a bonus DVD from Frankfurt (4 songs). The whole Frankfurt concert was broadcasted via internet, so why didn't you release the whole concert on CD or DVD? I liked your show of the "timing is everything" tour very much, very good band - and I would be happy to have a live recording of that tour.

Well, this is a situation where we weren't in complete control of all the material on that live concert. And also to mix down an entire concert is a very long and time-consuming experience to make it sound right. So it just shows four songs and kept it that. So that's why the whole concert was not released on DVD. The band on my Timing Is Everything tour are excellent. They are very very good friends of mine and beautiful players. And maybe we will be able to do a proper live recording some day. I know I plan to do that with my next tour, to do a live recording and DVD as soon as possible once we've started it.

12th December 2003 - Wendy Simpson (42) from Scotland:

OK Chris, Joe DeRouen brought it up so I just have to ask, and maybe you will put a face to the name, and to the voice that keeps shouting at you from the darkness. Why won't you sing Every Drop Of Rain?? The first time I asked you was in Foret Nationale in Belgium some 12 years ago, I asked in Kensington Gardens and at almost every outdoor concert in the UK since. I'm also the one who asks in the Clyde auditorium and at the NEC also I'm the one you promised at Ragley Hall. PLEASE CHRIS. I'm not a lunatic, although after reading this you will probably think I am (smile), just really like the song and have never heard you sing it live. Love your music can't get enough of it, keep up the great work. Wendy

Hi Wendy, I know exactly who you are. And thank you for your repeated request for "Every Drop Of Rain". It's funny that I've very rarely done this one, because usually I like to do songs that come from the past that sort of mean something to me all the way. This one wasn't actually on a full album, which is probably why I regarded it slightly less than I should. It's quite a complicated tune, because of the time signature. And also it really needs a big production behind it. The chorus is very strong. But, you know, it's one of those songs that will never go away and it's quite possible that I will come back to it. I've actually sung it to you before by the way, I was so concerned that I wasn't doing this for you, Wendy. But I went back home and listened to the record and learned the words. There's a lot to learn and a lot of songs to do, something like 170 now. So hopefully I'll be able to do that one again, but no promises.

13th December 2003 - Feyzullah Yilmaz (21) from Istanbul, Turkey:

Hello Chris. We are a few fellows from a Turkish-CDeB community and we really love to listen to you. Here's our question: We heard that "Richard The Lion Heart" is your ancestor? Is that true? Is that why you made the song, "Crusader"? Thank you...

I'd like to say a warm welcome to my fans in Turkey. I've been there three times now, and I've absolutely loved every trip. It's an extraordinary country, and so much history there and culture. The people are just wonderful, I just had some fantastic times there. Richard the Lionheart, that's a tricky one. I believe the de Burghs are related through marriage to Richard the Lionheart. And my grandfather General de Burgh was very good at genealogy and putting together family histories for his own family. Our one stretches back to Charles Charlemagne (Charles the Great) in the 9th century. And the name de Burgh came from Norman times. And I think there is every chance that Richard Coeur de Lion did marry, as William the Conqueror did, a de Burgh. I'm sorry I sound vague on this, I know that we are related somehow, but I can't exactly remember how. It doesn't occupy my days looking at the family tree. The reason I wrote the "Crusader" song was, as I said earlier, because I was interested in the historical perspective of that time.

14th December 2003 - Bahman Kazemian (21) from Iran:

Why don't songwriters arrange their own songs? And usually let someone else do the arrangement. Is it for the better results? Or simply that two minds work better than one?

Well, I do arrange my own songs in the studio with the band. But when it comes to orchestral arrangements, this is something that I cannot do. I cannot write the notes out for an orchestra. However, when I hear an orchestral arrangement, then I have an opinion about it and I ask the arranger to change things and so on. But an orchestral arrangement is a far more complicated thing to be involved with than just ordinary band arrangements.

15th December 2003 - Art Trombley (34) from Malone, New York, USA:

Here is a twist on the old desert island disc question: If you were stranded on a deserted island and had only one CD to listen to, which one of your own CDs would you chose and why?

I would take one that inspired my imagination. It reminds me a lot of what was happening at the time. It would be the album "Into The Light". I absolutely love the first song "Last Night", which really shows a powerful movie in my mind. And the last song at the end of it, the three songs together, "The Vision", "The Leader" and "What About Me". And I just think as an example of two songs that totally surprise people who think the only thing I ever recorded was "The Lady In Red". That would be the album I would take with me. And there are some fantastic memories associated with that album.

16th December 2003 - Kaveh (16) from Tehran, Iran:

Hello dear Chris. You had said that there are some countries that you'd love to tour in like Iran. I wish from deep of my heart that you come here and this waiting heart see you. Anyway: I'd like you to explain a little about "Making the perfect man" and what's your target of "You can watch your money going west". Thanks for your beautiful and popular lyrics in Iran.

"Making The Perfect Man" was a fun song for me. And it's an ironic look at the old story of Shelley about the Frankenstein monster. It's almost like we are creating Frankenstein monsters around us and one of them is the media which can sometimes be looked upon as a blind monster, falling around the place and crushing everything in its way as it tries to gobble up stories as food. The idea "watch your money going west", this is an old expression. To watch something going west, I think, comes from North America back in the Cowboy and Indian days where people looking to make a fortune went West. And I think a lot of them either made fortunes or lost fortunes, so to watch your money go West, it has nothing to do with the Western world, our economic world or geographical world. It's just an expression about saying goodbye to something. Thank you for your words about me in Iran. As you know, I would very much like to go there.

17th December 2003 - Matthew J. Longcore (29) from USA:

First and foremost, I think it's great that you take your time to answer so many questions! My question is: I was watching your video "The Munich Concerts" which is great and I noticed that you very rarely play the 6-string guitar. Do you favour 12-String? Thank you for all of your amazing music (and performances).

The reason I play twelve strings opposed to six strings mostly, actually there are two simple reasons. One is I love the sound of a twelve string guitar. And secondly playing the six string guitar, for anybody out there reading this who plays six strings, knows that it's actually tougher on the fingers having one string than two. I find it easier to play twelve strings. And if you are doing a long concert, six strings can after a while begin to really bite into your fingers. That's not to say I don't enjoy it. Back home I've got quite a few six string guitars which I enjoy playing. But the twelve string, it's a brilliant sound and I really enjoy playing it.

18th December 2003 - Susanne Kasten (39) from Wankendorf, Germany:

Dear Chris! You have been on tour now for ca. one year. Are you able to make "normal life" after such a long time on tour? What are you doing to keep all these impressions? I need a few days to find my way to reality after ONE concert! How long do you need? Best wishes to you Chris, your ladies from Wankendorf

A warm welcome to my fans, the ladies from Wankendorf. I stay normal, because I think I am normal. I make sure that when I get home, I involve myself in the normal family things like take my children to school and all the usual things that everybody else does when they are at home. It's very important also not to believe all the stuff that goes on in public, when people think you are wonderful. It's a dream world, you know, I know what the reality is and I know what the dream is. And I'm perfectly happy living in both worlds, as long as I know that I can always return to the reality world. Thanks for your support.

19th December 2003 - Modestas Ruzaukas (33) from Lithuania:

Dear Chris, do you use harmonizers or other electronic gear to improve your voice when you're recording albums? Thank you and welcome to Lithuania!

Lithuania is another country I have been to, and I enjoyed visiting. No, I never use those kinds of things. Obviously during recording sessions you want to make your voice sound as good as possible and using a specific kind of a microphone and a way of enhancing the warmth of your voice for example, these are well-known techniques of recording studios. And my producer Chris Porter and I obviously spend a lot of time trying to make my voice sound as good as possible. But when it comes to alterations in pitch and whether you are singing flat or sharp, I don't use those kinds of things. Because, you know, if you claim to be a singer, you should be able to sing. There are a lot of people making records these days who can't sing a note in tune. They just look good perhaps, young bands and young girl bands. They use harmonizers and effects and vocal effect systems even on stage, that's if they are not miming. Most of them mime on stage, but when they are not miming they use all sorts of equipment to make sure their voice comes out in tune. It makes the voice sound pretty unpleasant sometimes actually, so I'm all for the natural sound.

20th December 2003 - Patrick Radley (42) from Cork, Ireland:

Freemasonry was an obvious influence on your songs [eg. birth of mankind via Isis in "In a Country Churchyard" and obvious allusions to her as Sirius - Sound Star waking the sleeping - in "A Spaceman came travelling". The chessboard on cover of "Best Moves" is another. Any advice for aspiring/hopeful Masons such as myself? Once the light has been switched on you see the real meaning of the lyrics - just like with Sting [eg, Fields of Barley].

Hi Patrick! I know Cork well. I'm actually fairly interested in what you have to say about freemasonry, the birth of mankind and all that. But unfortunately it's something I'm learning that I have had little idea about in the past. It's not something that I had in my mind when I wrote those songs. And I know very little about freemasonry. I know this is a very important historical brotherhood. I've been involved in all sorts of important things throughout history, but certainly it has nothing to do with any of my songs. I think you have seen something in there that possibly wasn't there. But nevertheless it's of great interest. The chess board is a deliberate game of chess going on there. It's interesting what you say about the lyrics. A lot of lyricists, particularly the older lyricists who I suppose learned their craft a bit better than the young modern ones, they often have a second reason behind the lyrics they wrote. And I find it fascinating to have a look inside the mind of a good songwriter like for example Sting. And I myself often like to put several layers of meaning there for people to enjoy finding at a later date.

21st December 2003 - Morgan Smiley (49) from Yuba City, California, USA:

Re. Your Song, "Brother John": Are the words of this song referring to the meaning of the nursery rhyme "Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques (Brother John, Brother John)"? I was doing research on the meaning or origin of Frere Jacques, and I discovered you, your talent, and music. So, my 2nd question for one who has been very sheltered in the area of music but would so like to "discover" Chris de Burgh, what CD would you suggest I look for to get started with? (I love the deep, meaningful, sometimes spiritual, plus I read of your song on this site about your song about simple pleasures, and the one about the birth of Jesus...but the more simple on instrumentation the better so I can appreciate your voice and the words of the song.) Please suggest. Thank you, Morgan, a Fella-artist

Quick answer to your question: This was very loosely based on a poem by Robert Browning called "The Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" which I enjoyed the idea of the hypocritical stance taken by certain religious orders about their own sexuality. Which is you cannot, in my opinion, deny sexuality. You cannot say to yourself this function will now cease in my body. It may cease in my head, but that is very difficult to deal with, as we've discovered with this enormous amounts of abuse cases coming from all over the world where people have been put in very difficult situations by their religious beliefs. In particular celibacy which in my opinion just cannot work. And they have caused mayhem in private lives of individuals, under their spiritual guidance and care. And I think it's absolutely disgraceful. But moving on from that, the thing about "Brother John" is, we have this monk in a monastery and he keeps looking at this beautiful girl who is very sexily trying to lure him on, knowing that he is only flesh and blood. And of course he has to try and fight the little devil in his head that keeps saying "Go and look at her. Look at her beautiful long flying hair. Look at her breasts. Look at the way she is bending over provocatively." So the question about what to start with about me, well I would go to the albums "Into The Light" and "The Getaway" as two referral points to start the road to the kind of stuff that I have enjoyed writing. And of course don't miss out "Spanish Train And Other Stories".

22nd December 2003 - Susan (39) from Madison, Ohio, USA:

On a personal note, you've talked about your grandfather and your parents and children, I was curious about your older brother and your relationship with him. (I can empathize, I have one, too.)

Hi Susan! You probably noticed, those fans of mine for a long time, that I don't talk about my brother so often. I love him very much, but I don't see him much, because he lives in London. He has two daughters, one is 21 and the other one is 24. And they travel the world. They are great girls. But I don't unfortunately see much of my brother except at sort of Christmas times and party times. But he's a lawyer in London and he is a good guy.

23rd December 2003 - Ziggy Kruse (35) from Los Angeles, California, USA:

Hi Chris! I really think your music is wonderful and I would like to know how you would feel about the idea of having your wonderful work sung by somebody else on a stage in a musical? Would you be honored or disappointed and mad?

There seems to be whole lot of musicals out there at the moment, like "Mamma Mia" with the music of Abba. Recently a Rod Stewart musical opened. And I would be immensely flattered if somebody decided to do a musical based on my songs. Some of you may be aware of this, but I am working on a film project at the moment, involving some new material and some of the older material that actually works with the film project. If that ever winds up as a stage musical, I would be absolutely delighted. I suppose it would come down to how good that person was singing it. I would obviously have an opinion about that. But I would be happy, I would be very proud in fact to be in an audience of people singing my own material.

24th December 2003 - Amy (15) from Surrey, UK:

Chris, in my English lesson recently, I read a poem called "My Last Duchess", and is about exactly the same theme as your song "The painter". Is this where you got the inspiration from?

Hi Amy! "My Last Duchess", again a poem by Robert Browning, was very much a key factor in my head when I wrote the song "The Painter". I was very fortunate to have an English teacher called Dennis Silk when I was at school at Marlborough College in England. And he brought such enthusiasm and love and respect for poetry and literature in general, English literature, that his enthusiasm really brushed off on me. And in particular, if you go, Amy, back to that "My Last Duchess" poem again, every time you read it, you'll see something different. Every time you'll see that what appears to be a man talking about a painting, then he is talking to somebody who has come with the possibility of an offer of marriage, but this other person who represents the other woman (the daughter of the nobleman) is uneasy and becomes more uneasy about this duke talking about the painting of his last duchess. Because it becomes clear that this woman has been murdered out of jealousy. And if you look at the very last line, if I recall it goes "Nay, we'll go together down, sir." Which means "wait for me, I'll come with you", says the duke to this emissary. And obviously emissary is trying to run out the door, because you realize that this duke is not only mad but obviously a murderer as well. So the more you read it, Amy, the more you find out about the story behind it.

25th December 2003 - Chris High (37) from Wirral, UK:

Hi Chris !! I've always loved the song, but where did you get the idea from to write 'Nothing Ever Happens Round Here'? Was it based on a couple you know?

A special hello to Chris High! He's doing some fantastic work. He has been putting together a CD-Rom of ideas and stories based on my own songs. And he is raising money for blind people. It's a wonderful idea and everybody reading this website should try and contact him to see if they can help out by maybe buying some of his stories on CD-Rom. It's a great idea. The song "Nothing Ever Happens Round Here"? I can't remember where this came from, to be honest. I love the idea "nothing ever happens round here". And that, as always, is a clue. You kind of look at it saying "What does that mean?". And the more I looked at it, the more I thought, well, this could be sat in a small town in America, where a film crew comes in. And this girl, she is dreaming of stardom. And you know, you can dream, but sometimes the dreams come true, and for her it does. Ironically my own daughter who, I am quite sure, she never dreamed of being Miss World, but now it was possible that she could actually make that particular dream come true, but it just goes to show that if you dream, you can actually make it into reality.
Editor's note:
To purchase Chris High's CD-Rom "Untrained Melodies", please visit his website at Merry Christmas everybody!

26th December 2003 - Craig (8) from Australia:

My name is Craig and I'm 8. I really like all of your songs especially Spanish Train, but i do think it's a bit scary. Do your children like all your songs? Did they ever get scared when they heard Spanish Train? By the way it is my birthday next week. Thank you for reading this :)

A very happy birthday to you Craig. I hope you had a wonderful day. It's very exciting for me to know that you are interested in my songs. "Spanish Train", yeah, it is a bit scary. But it is a story after all. And I always thought that if you can tell a good story, then that story remains forever. And that is, I feel, why "Spanish Train" is still popular whenever I sing it live. And if I am ever doing a concert in Australia, I don't know where you live, but you must come and say hi and I'll do a special rendition of "Spanish Train" for you, maybe not quite so scary. But yes, children do like my songs. And maybe they do get a little scared listening to "Spanish Train", but after all this is that fight between God and the Devil that could be going on not only out in the universe but within ourselves as well.

27th December 2003 - Louis Picard (41) from Québec, Canada:

What is your opinion on tattoo's and body piercing . My oldest daughter (14) wants both and I am really unsure what to do !!!!

The only answer I can give you is look back at the days when you were young. And think about how desperately you wanted to be different. How desperately you wanted to be unusual, to do something, to have something, to wear something, a haircut or clothes or shoes to make you stand out not just from the crowd but saying "I'm not from my parents' generation". Tattooing and body piercing is part of that. When my daughter came home with one in her navel, I had to bite my tongue. But it actually looks beautiful. But it was not a great idea, because it got infected at first. And these things do happen with tattooing and body piercing. Be very careful! But I think there's a line across which kids go where they actually make themselves ugly. I know a young woman who is so pretty, but she put one of these things through her lip and it has just made her look ugly. I think she looks actually stupid, but I wouldn't say it directly to her face because that's the reaction a lot of these people want. They want older people to say "That's stupid! You shouldn't do it!". That's part of the fun of doing these kinds of things. But if it actually makes you look ugly, I wouldn't recommend it. There's no harm in ears, but I think on the face itself it's not a great idea to have any kind of body piercing.

28th December 2003 - Steve Smith (30) from Congleton, England:

I am a massive fan of yours along with 2 other male artists. Sir Elton John and Paul Carrack. I think both you and Paul Carrack have similar voices. Is there any possibility in the future that you may sing a duet with him? It would be almost certainly a huge hit. All the best.

Hi Steve! It's funny you should say that about Elton John and Paul Carrack. In particular Paul Carrack, I mean, what a fantastic voice! The first time I heard him was with the band Ace, when they had that huge hit with "How long". And ever since then I followed his career. And he had a massive record with Mike & The Mechanics "The Living Years", which is one of my all time favourite songs. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. And his voice in particular is just a thing of beauty. I have such respect for Paul Carrack and his voice. He probably will never read my website, but Paul, if you are out there, if anybody knows that you are listening or reading this, I think you are a fantastic singer! Elton John too, but Paul, you get my vote as one of the greatest soul spiritual singers around. You are just fantastic. And of course, if there was ever a chance to do a duet with Paul, I am sure I would jump at the chance. It would be great.

29th December 2003 - Helen (10 1/2) from Sydney, Australia:

Hi Chris! I really love your music. My favourite song is "Don't Pay The Ferryman". I thought it was just about not paying ferrymen, but my dad says the ferryman is a symbol. What is he a symbol of? What is the song really about?

Hi Helen! I've been to Sydney a few times. Sometimes it stops raining, I think. Actually it is a beautiful city. "Don't Pay The Ferryman", there's a few things going on here. First of all it is a story about a crazy rush from a man on a horse wearing a cloak at night with the moon behind the trees, galloping towards a river and his own destiny. It's a point at which he must make a decision that is going to affect the rest of his life. And that is what it is about. It's making a decision that takes you to the next part of your destiny or your life. And he knows that he's got to get across the river, but he knows he mustn't pay until he gets to the other side because he has a strong feeling that the ferryman is going to slid his throat and throw him in the water along with all the other fools that have done that before. That's part of it. The ferryman again is from Greek mythology. And paying the ferryman, if I am correct in my memory, is you put pennies on the eyes of the dead and you push them across the river Styx with the ferryman. And that was his payment to take the body to the other side. I know that there are some religious persuasions that do strongly believe in these kinds of mythological stories. The song is really about destiny and making the choice. And it's exciting and it's fun and it's a great film in the mind, if you allow it to develop and see everything that is going on. And the dancing bones that jabber and moan on the water, I mean, as he is going across, the lightning is flashing and the thunder is roaring and these skeleton bones are dancing up and down the river. It must have been a very scary sight for our hero. And the ferryman there with his hood and his burning blazing eyes, looking at him saying "You must pay me now.". And our hero says "No. Wait until you get me across and then I pay you.". So it's a fun song, but it's got several layers behind it.

30th December 2003 - Paulina Correa (19) from Santiago, Chile:

Dear Chris: I can't believe this big opportunity that I have to ask you a question!!!! You are my favorite singer in the whole world, I've been listening your music since I was born, because my dad loves your music and he is a fan of yours too. We have all your records, and we are big fans of yours, I love you so much!!! I'd like to know what you mean in the song "Turning Round", it is such a beautiful song and it has a special thing that makes it authentic. What were you thinking about when you wrote it? What feeling did you have in that moment?...Thank you so much for giving us and to the rest of the fans a wonderful music for years, every song has something special and beautiful, you write so so so good!!! And you're so talented too. When I watched the video "Beautiful dreams"(concert) I cried and I enjoyed each song of it. Well, thank you for everything!!! You'll be forever my favorite singer...forever!

Although I was brought up in Argentina for the first few years of my life, I never made it to Chile. And I know from a number of people who have been out there that my records are played on the radio and I am quite well known. And it would be another dream of a place for me to visit. The song that you are asking about is one I wrote a long time ago, called "Turning Round" which was retitled "Flying" because that is the first word of the song. And then it became a very big hit record in South America, back in the mid seventies. In fact my first big hit record. I thought I was going to be a world wide star overnight. Yeah. What I have tried to do is talk about the cyclical nature of life of how things grow and they die. It's the nature of the seasons how things grow and then die in the autumn and the winter. That's what the song is about. And also within the song I am using words, like the last word of each verse then becomes the first word of another verse, so the whole thing becomes turning round and round and round. And I think one of the reasons why it feels so natural is because I felt it in my heart about crying and flying. It's almost like I am crying on the record. That was the emotion I was trying to express. And I am glad you like "Beautiful Dreams", the concert on video, because it was something I liked a lot and enjoyed doing. But keep enjoying the music and I hope very much to get out to Chile some day.