Between April 2002 and April 2010, Chris de Burgh answered over 1,000 questions from his fans, submitted via his official website in a section called 'Man On The Line'. This section of the official website went offline many years ago, so the questions and answers are archived here.
1st January 2005 - Rowan Troy (19) from Kent, England:
Where did you get the inspiration for "Just A Word Away"? I have been a fan for a long time now since my Dad played all of your records but this one struck me in particular. In the lyrics you mention "It must be a daddy's pride and joy, a little baby boy" and also "Your sister Rosanna's fast asleep". I have a sister called Rosanna, she is my twin and I really like the song. I was wondering what inspired you to write these lyrics as it is very coincidental that I feel really connected to the song - keep up the good work!!!
Hi Rowan! "Just A Word Away" was written for my first son, Hubie. Because I had written already a song for his sister, Rosanna. And I wanted again to describe the bond that exists between fathers and their children. And I am saying to him that wherever you are in the world when you grow up, all you have to do is call me and I am there for you. It's an eternal kind of love that you have for your children. And I am fascinated by the fact that you also have a sister Rosanna, your twin! I wrote this song because I wanted to celebrate the birth of my second child and that indeed now we have a sister for him and a brother for her. And that's why I mentioned "it must be a Daddy's pride and joy, a little baby boy is lying in my arms here tonight".
2nd January 2005 - Julia (54) from Melbourne, Australia:
Hello Chris, Some months ago I saw a documentary on TV about the discovery of almost two hundred year old graves of fallen soldiers from Napoleon's army. These soldiers died whilst in retreat from Moscow during one of the worst winters ever seen. Most of these men had either starved or froze to death. Your song "Snow Is Falling" from the new album "The Road To Freedom", reminded me of this very interesting, but sad documentary. These soldiers had lain in their graves for so long, just crying out to be discovered. My question to you is, what made you write this beautiful, melancholy song? Was it something that you had seen or experienced, or just something that came into your head? Thank you for your wonderful music, best wishes Julia.
Julia, I just read your question and I got the shivers, thinking of those young men who have been lying in a grave for 200 years. And when they disappeared, can you imagine the grief of the families, not knowing what had happened to them? And the companions not knowing what had happened in the retreat from Moscow? And I tell you, I didn't have this in my mind when I wrote the song. What happened was that I was in a beautiful hotel called Lainston House Hotel near Winchester in England, and I was working with my friend, Chris Porter, at his recording studio which is a few miles away. And I am staying in this place, and this hotel is at least 300 or 400 years old, it's absolutely gorgeous, I can recommend it to anybody who wants to find somewhere unusual to stay in that part of England. It's about 6 miles outside of Winchester. And they had a piano there in one of the drawing rooms downstairs. And one morning, it was a beautiful sunny morning, I started playing it. And the melody of "Snow Is Falling" just came straight out of my fingers. And it immediately started a film in my head. And the film was a vast white snowy landscape, and then the camera moves into trees, fir trees, heavy with snow, and it is absolutely silent. And occasionally a lump of snow would fall from the trees. But like little snowflakes are falling, we go deeper into the forest. And there is a clearing, broken earth with snow on the top, and it's the grave of three or four hundred young men. And an old man had been taken from their village and had been murdered. And nobody knows where they are. And as the seasons come and go, from spring to summer to winter, those bodies in there and those spirits are calling to be found, so they can have a decent burial and so their families know what happened to them. What you said in your question about these soldiers lying in their graves for 200 years, crying out to be discovered, it's exactly what I had in my mind. I have no idea where the idea came from, it just hit me. And I remember dramatically performing this in Russia, and I had an interpreter describe what I have just said to you about what I had in my mind. And at the end of the song it struck such a chord with those people, because that sort of thing has happened so much in Eastern Europe. You know, people had been taken in their hundreds and thousands and been murdered and never been found again. But at the end of the song, virtually everybody in the audience was crying. And it had a big impact on me. This song is beautiful, but it's melancholy as well, and I hope it makes people think a little bit about what is actually out there, waiting to be found.
3rd January 2005 - Norman (60) from Celle, Germany:
Hi Chris, I don't really have a question but a suggestion. I happened to hear a song on a local Radio station this morning and thought straight away, hey! I think Chris de Burgh could make a beautiful version of this. The song is one which I am sure you know, "Those were the days" done by Mary Hopkin about 30 years ago, what do you think?
Funny you should say that about Mary Hopkin. I know this song extremely well. It is based on a Russian folk song. Mary Hopkin was, and still is a beautiful Welsh lady. She was discovered by Paul McCartney and he produced and I believe co-wrote or wrote the song "Those Were The Days", based on this traditional Russian folk song. And it became a massive hit for Apple Records. I used to know every single word. In fact I was listening to, somebody sent me a CD of Russian folk songs, and I heard exactly that with Russian words, quite unusual sounding. I did a kind of a Russian song with "Natasha Dance", which speeds up at the end. Lots of Russian songs do that. "Those Were The Days", maybe there is a chance to sing it again for me, because it is a lovely tune.
4th January 2005 - Nico (26) from Ermelo, The Netherlands:
Dear Chris, Congratulations on your great new album! However, I have a question regarding the song "What you mean to me": I think it really breaks the whole peaceful and romantic atmosphere of the album... Is there a special reason why you included this different kind of song?
Thank you for what you are saying about my album. And you ask about "What You Mean To Me". Well, I know exactly what it does to the album: It lightens the mood. Some people have said exactly that, some people love that song. And other people are not mad about "What You Mean To Me". It's very difficult getting the balance of the songs right. And in fact you may have come across the three new songs on the special edition of "The Road To Freedom": "Little Angel", "Once Upon A Time" and "Even Now". You see, I think that if any of those three songs had gone in instead, the atmosphere of the whole record would have changed and it would have been extremely melancholy. So one thing that I am always very very aware of is creating balance on a record. And I do believe that, if I had been performing that album live, at that point after the song "Here For You", where many people are getting tearful, thinking about their children leaving the country at an airport, or indeed if you have a child leaving parents and friends behind, it does need something to lighten the mood a bit. And that's why I decided to put that one in there.
5th January 2005 - Sibylle Marwitz (38) from Hilden, Germany:
Hi Chris, was the very first song you've ever written really called "A Waste of Love"? Your only comment on it so far is that it was "a waste of time", but I think the title sounds interesting and it must have been about something at least ;-) ... so do you remember how old you were when you wrote it, what inspired you to do so and what it's about? xx Sibylle
Greetings to Sibylle Marwitz, one of my great fans from many many years ago. And Sibylle, thank you for those wonderful compilations of pictures and articles you put together for me, most recently about Rosanna winning Miss World and what she has been up to. And the various articles that appeared in German magazines and newspapers about me and my family. Yeah, I think the first song I ever wrote was called "A Waste Of Love". And I was a bit flippant when I said it was a waste of time, but it wasn't really good. I think it is like anything, the first thing that you create, you think it is marvellous until you create something slightly better. And songwriting is no different from anything else. You just got to get good at it. And you write quite a lot of rotten songs before you start coming up with anything that is decent. I remember playing it to some people, thinking I am very clever, having written a song... but they weren't that impressed. I don't remember what it was about, except that it was in E minor. And I would have been about 14 or 15 years old.
6th January 2005 - Anna Dolgikh (24) from Moscow, Russia:
Hi Chris! Thank you for your wonderful songs! Your last album is really exciting! Hope one day I'll hear you singing your new songs in Moscow! Chris, I have got a question that really concerns me greatly. How should parents bring up their child in order to make him strong and happy? I've seen two major approaches. The first one is when the parents try to protect their child from the problems of this "big world" around him. They try themselves to deal with difficulties their child face with and save him from pain and tears. The second one is to let the child resolve his problems himself (except very complicated, perhaps). My Dad considers this approach to be right assuming that the child should learn how to survive in this "big world" without help and should be able to overcome difficulties and build relationships himself. The most interesting fact that I've noticed that even when the parents try to combine two approaches one of them anyway will prevail. Chris, what approach is closer to you?
This question is one of the most difficult questions to answer for any parent. And there is no actual answer. It all depends on a number of environmental questions like "Where do you live?", "Who else is in your family?", "Are your mother and father in the home?", "Do you get on with your mother and father?", "What are your hopes and dreams for yourself and for your family?". It's a question that has dominated human thinking ever since time began: "What is the best way to raise your children?" Well, I think the first thing to consider is that there have been times when parents have ruled their children through fear and not love. Notably I would say in the Victorian era in English history. Not all parents of course, but there is an old rule which was used at the time: Children should be seen, but not heard. You can't stop children developing, but I think that you must always be encouraging to your child to develop and grow and try things out. But be there for them almost like an invisible wall. When they go that little bit too far, at least they know you are there. Even just today I was hearing about a family that grew up, where they had no rules. It was a very Bohemian, relaxed, easy-going atmosphere, where the girls in the family had their boyfriends stay overnight in their beds and all. And it did not work for this family. In fact, it was a catastrophe. One of the girls committed suicide. The other was a drug addict. Children do need rules, and they do need help, they need encouragement. I certainly don't have the answer, Anna, but with my children I am aware that as they grow through their teen years, the relationship with their parents changes. You must always shift and change. It is nothing cast in stone. You must always change, preshape their changes, understand their moods, understand why they are changing. And as you see, even my short answer, I think it presents more questions than answers. The protection against the big world? Well, that is a natural thing that parents try to do. But then again, if you are too protective of your children, when they finally get into the big world, it is a dreadful shock. They shouldn't be too streetwise, they should be a bit streetwise. Again, it depends on where you live and how you live. I must say, I would not be drawn to the second one that you are referring to, about a child having to fight the fight all on its own. I think you should allow the child to resolve their own problems on their own, but you should always be beside them in case they need you. It's like going with your child, climbing a tree. You know, you don't just send your child out and say "climb every tree in the garden", you just go out with them and say "Try that one! No, that might be a big high for you, try this one! Careful that you don't fall! Oh, well done, you went up that one all by yourself." That's what I call encouragement, but being there for them, when you feel that they need your advise and company. And being aware all the time of the shifting sense of change as children grow up. And as parents change as well! I hope this helps you a little bit, but it is a complicated problem.
7th January 2005 - Marc Stynen (30) from Antwerp, Belgium:
I am a fan of your music (of course), but I also like the music from Alan Parsons very much. The Crusader album was produced by Alan Parsons and also Andrew Powell worked on it, and together they worked again later, on the Alan Parsons albums. I wonder how you remember working with him (or them), and what do you think of his music? Regards, Marc.
Yes, my Crusader album was produced by only Andrew Powell. But Alan Parsons and Andrew Powell used to work together quite a bit. They used to make extraordinary good records, and in fact the musicians on the Crusader album also came from the Alan Parsons Project. And looking at my record collection right now, I have a few of Alan Parsons albums. I don't know if he is still making records these days, but he certainly made some very interesting and unusual records back in those days.
8th January 2005 - Evan Bishop (10) from Montreal, Canada:
Hi Chris, My Mom has been a fan of yours since she was my age, so I have gown up listening to your music. Last year (2003) she brought me to your concert at Place des Arts. It was cool. My grandmother came also, so we had three generations. My question is this: I have been playing the guitar now for two years (learning in school). Sometimes I make up songs - which comes easiest for you - the notes or lyrics when you compose your music? Any advice for a young musician? Looking forward to seeing you again, next time we're going front row - Mom promised...Thanks, Evan Bishop
What a wonderful question from ten year old Evan from Montreal! And those of you who read MOtL know that I often talk about Montreal and my great friends, who live there, and the lovely people of that town, and how grateful I am to the people from Montreal for their love and support and friendship and loyalty for all these years that I have been making music. Not just in recent times, but since many many years ago. I loved playing in Montreal and if you were at the Place des Arts, as you said you were, I am sure you would have seen a really extraordinary show, but made not just out of me and my music, but also the wonderful people of Montreal who give so much of themselves to a performer. It is great that you are starting to write songs so young. The key is to write songs about things that you believe in, things that mean something to you. Maybe about friends and friendship, or a story about something you have seen or want to do, or a dream. As far as the music is concerned and the words, I find the easiest thing for me to do is to try and define the shape of the song, almost like the outline or the skeleton of the song and then the music will tell me what it is about. Whether it is a minor key, it is going to be slightly sad. Or major key, fun or happy. Let the music start nudging you and say "well, this is a song about this" and then let the words sort of tumble out, even if it is gibberish and nonsense. Sometimes you will pick up a phrase or something that will give you an indication of what the song is actually about. There are some people who believe that every song has already been written and what you really try to do is to discover them. Then again, I think it's also up to your own brain to develop an idea. So good luck with the music, Evan!
9th January 2005 - Caroline & Michelle Hardwick (47 & 21) from Gloucester, England:
Dear Chris, We all like to laugh and feel happy, and occasionally we have one of those laughs where we cannot stop. Tears are streaming down our faces, our stomachs ache, and when we try to stop, just a glance at someone and we start all over again! This type of laughter does not usually happen very often, but when it does, isn't it great! Can you remember the last time you experienced laughing like this? All our love Caroline & Michelle
Caroline and Michelle, great supporters, great fans for many years! You have been fantastic in sending me gifts and taking care of me in many different ways down the years. Very interesting question about laughing! Yes, that does happen. I am trying to think about the last time that happened to me. But there are moments, you know, when your stomach is aching and tears are pouring down your face as you described. I am actually inspired by all sorts of things to laugh a lot. But it's obviously not something that you do on your own very often. But when you are out and people are acting in a very dumb and dozy way, or else a dog does something stupid, or you see a photograph of animals behaving in an odd way or people. You know, things do trigger me off, but the continuous can't-stop-laughing, that sometimes happens when I am out or at home with friends. You know, you keep on referring to something. My kids certainly collapse laughing sometimes and I join them. There's a very funny series which was on television called Father Ted. And although I have seen each episode 50 times, I still fall around laughing, I think it is quite the funniest thing I have ever seen. For me it's funnier than Faulty Towers or Monthy Python. I think Father Ted, because I live in Ireland and it is about an Irish priest in some godforsaken place in the West of Ireland, I just find it absolutely extraordinarily funny. And at the beginning of each episode that I am watching, particularly if I am with friends or family, I am laughing almost at the very first thing that happens, because I am anticipating how funny it is going to be.
10th January 2005 - Tracey Gleave (21) from Lancashire, England:
I have managed to get hold of the record 'Lonely Sky and Other Stories' for a bargain price of $18 do you know approximately how many copies of this record were minted and/or what it is worth?
Hi Tracey! Well done in getting hold of a copy of "Lonely Sky And Other Stories". I have no idea how many copies were made, I think it was probably about 2000. Because "Spanish Train" was banned in South Africa, and apparently somebody complained that the line "And God didn't see what the Devil did" was blasphemous, because God sees everything, even when the Devil cheats. I thought it was absolutely ludicrous as did a lot of other people at the time. And we got the ban lifted by doing two things. One, by releasing an album called "Lonely Sky And Other Stories" which is the same black cover, but instead of the words "Spanish Train" written on the front it had the words "Lonely Sky". And the second thing is, I performed the song with my band to a group of censors from South Africa, we played it during a show in Johannesburg, just to show there was nothing wrong with it. And I think it was about half a dozen elderly gentlemen from the censorship board, we put them right in front of the speakers and cranked up the volume. I don't think they could have heard anything. Anyway, it was unbanned about six months later. But it is certainly a very unusual item to find. And I have one copy, but I have no idea how many others exist.
11th January 2005 - Ron (39) from Guelph, Canada:
Hi Chris, My wife and I saw you in concert in Toronto in May, 03. You performed a beautiful portion of an "uncompleted" song relating it to a young girl whom had recently been killed in Toronto. Did you ever complete the song? Please come back to Canada soon, my daughter wants to hear you do Spanish Train live.
Hi Ron! The concert at the Hummingbird theatre in Toronto in May 2003 did feature a song called "Little Angel". Yes, I did complete it, and it is available on my extended CD of "The Road To Freedom". And thank you very much about your wish to see me again in Canada. As you know, I have a long and terrific love affair with Canada going back many years, and I can't wait to get back there. And bring your daughter to come and see me doing "Spanish Train", because it is quite a scary song.
12th January 2005 - Cleopatra (54) from Melbourne, Australia:
Hi Chris! I have recently bought a fabulous book called 'Irish Gardens" by Olda FitzGerald which show some very beautiful gardens in some very beautiful old estates and castles, and being a keen gardener myself I was wondering what your garden was like and what sort of trees you have growing, being an old house I should imagine some of the trees would be quite old. Thank you as always for taking the time to answer our questions. Love Cleo.
Nice to hear from you, Cleo! I often read your emails that you send into the website, the guestbook, and also I read a lot of things on the Yahoo website that have been said. The book "Irish Gardens", actually I have a copy, I know the one you mean. The house that I currently live in, that we developed and expanded and renovated across 7 years has a beautiful garden and a lot of it got damaged during the construction process, so we're in the position now of bringing the garden back to its original beauty. It was, before we bought the house, one of the gardens that featured in "Irish Gardens" that you could go and visit during the summer and the autumn and the spring of course around the Wicklow area. But there's a lot more to be done to bring it back to its original state and we have a terrific gardening team here who are looking after it. But I don't think it's likely to be in that book. Maybe you should come out to Ireland and visit some of these gardens, Cleo! It's a beautiful country. Just as far as the trees are concerned, because the house itself originated in the 1740s, a lot of trees were planted during that time and 50 years afterwards. So we are surrounded by very beautiful big old trees. And sadly some of them are reaching the end of their days, the beech trees, the oak trees, the Spanish chestnuts. So we are going through a process of replanting hopefully for future generations to enjoy.
13th January 2005 - Paul (40) from St-Jean, Quebec, Canada:
Hi Chris, first English is not my first language.... The last time you came to Montreal (at the Place des Arts), they gave us a program that talked about a French version of Guilty Secret (secret mensonge) that you made. Is it true? Because I didn't find anything about this version. Thank you.
There is a French version of "Guilty Secret", in fact I did "Le Coeur D'Une Femme" (A Woman's Heart) in French, "Guilty Secret" in French and several others actually in the French language, because as you know I really enjoy singing and speaking French. The version does exist. I guess the best way to find is through one of the radio stations, because it was a number one hit in the province of Quebec and also the song A Woman's Heart was a big hit there too. So maybe the radio stations can help you find a copy.
14th January 2005 - Robert Meister (41) from Nassau, Bahamas:
How many songs do you typically write for a new album that don't make the final cut? And would you ever consider letting your fans vote via your official website (for example, by posting one minute sound clips) which songs you would release on a new album?
Well, that is an interesting idea to encourage the fans to vote in their favourites. I don't think that would work in practice, because I have in my head an idea of what I am trying to say with a whole album and as I said earlier in one of the MOtL questions, getting the balance of an album right is extremely difficult. And it really has to reflect what I have been thinking about in the last couple of years. However, that said, it might be an interesting idea in the future to ballot the fans on the website and see what songs they would like to hear me singing live. Well that would be an interesting thing to try and do. And as far as the songs I write, if I am recording, say, 12 songs, I usually write about 14 or 16 and keep the extra ones for another album or another idea. Or if they are not good enough, I just ignore them and move on to something else.
15th January 2005 - Konni Risse (46) from Bochum, Germany:
First I have to thank you for the fantastic concerts I've seen on your "Road to Freedom Tour"! And I have to say I absolutely love your guitar version of "Rainy Night in Paris"! So here is my question: What gave you the idea to play this song with a guitar instead of a piano?
What I was trying to do for the new tour, was to come up with different ways of playing songs that people had heard before. For example I do "Sight And Touch". Originally it was done on the piano, but now I have moved it across to guitar. And I think it gives it a different feel, a different flavour. And the same thing with "A Rainy Night In Paris". I liked the slow version of that and it makes it funkier and more rhythmic. I went through virtually every track that I have ever written and recorded in order to put together the concert tour I have just completed for "The Road To Freedom". And it took a lot of work. But I looked at songs how to perform them, maybe ones that people hadn't heard for a while, maybe do them in different ways. And that's why I came up with the idea of playing "A Rainy Night In Paris" on the guitar. I think it works quite well.
16th January 2005 - Peter (19) from Warsaw, Poland:
I am very pleased with your latest album, "The Road To Freedom". I was wondering if it is possible somehow to obtain your music in written form - notes. Particularly I'm interested in piano notes for "When Winter Comes". Do you sell your music "on paper"? Thank you for your efforts, and best wishes from myself - Peter.
The answer is yes, my music is released in songbooks with piano and guitar notes. And I am sure at some stage the music of "The Road To Freedom" will be available in these kind of songbooks. "When Winter Comes" is not that complex actually. It's the chords of D minor, A minor, B flat, F, G minor and A. I am sure you can probably work it out on the piano. Good luck! Hopefully it'll wind up in a songbook at some stage.
17th January 2005 - Karin (40) from Austria:
Hi Chris! First I must tell you that your songs go right to my heart for nearly 20 years now and they helped me through a very grave crisis in my married life! The song "Rose of England" is my favourite of your latest album since I heard it for the first time. Now I would like to know why you chose Elisabeth I for a song. Why did you make a song about duty winning over love this time whereas mostly you spread the opinion of "finding for the heart over the head"? I wish you and all your fans many, many more years with your wonderful music, your most unique voice and your love for mankind. Thank you!
How nice of you to say to me that my music has helped you through a tough time in your married life. I can only guess what that must have been, but it sounds like you are full of hope at the moment and things have worked out for you. "Rose Of England", that came from nowhere in particular, except that I was thinking about how Queen Elizabeth I was one of the longest reigning monarchs in English history. And how ironic was the fact that she felt herself unable to marry a man that she loved. And in effect she married the country of England. I know it's different to what I said in "The Head And The Heart" where I usually find for the heart, but in her case she decided that the country needed her more than one man did. That is why she made her decision. I must say I love singing this song. It may not be historically as accurate as it could be, but it's what we call poetic license. When you are writing a complicated song like that, you are looking for the right words to rhyme, and they don't necessarily tell the full story. But I think people who know the story will understand exactly what I was getting at. And how a rose is a beautiful flower, but the thorns can hurt you, if you pick it up the wrong way, just like love.
18th January 2005 - Edwin Baeyens (36) from Antwerp, Belgium:
Hi Chris, Thanks for a great new album and a fantastic concert right here in Antwerp. I've always been fascinated by your song "Spanish Train". Where did you get the inspiration for this song? When I was at school (a long time ago, I'm afraid), I did an essay on it, comparing it to works of Magical Realism. Are you familiar with this literary genre? Also, have you ever read Belgian author Johan Daisne's novel "De Trein der Traagheid" (One night, One Train), in which the train is used in a similar manner? Thanks.
Thank you for your remarks about the concert in Antwerp. I enjoyed that, I remember it well. "Spanish Train", the reason I wrote it, as I am sure some people may have heard before, I'll tell you again anyway. I was staying in Spain in 1974, and I had a guitar and a backpack, and I took a train from the border of Spain and Portugal North towards Seville. And we were crossing the Quadalquivir river, and the train was going very slowly, and there were just two carriages, and there were very menacing looking Guardia Civil guards, because this was still in the time of General Franco of Spain. There was a very strange atmosphere on the train, as these guards walked up and down, looking frightening. And I glanced up a hill, and a farmer had got lots and lots of bits of wood, which were very dry and very twisted and knotted. And he put several of them together to create a fence all the way up the hill. And as we passed by, I glanced up, and in my weird state of mind at the time I fancied that they were skeletons dancing up the hill. And at the same time I imagined the train driver being a skeleton. And then one thing led to another, and I wrote down in a book, that I still have, the opening lines "There's a Spanish train that runs between Quadalquivir and old Seville. The dead of night the whistle blows and people hear she's running still." And I wrote that down. I didn't come back to it for a couple of months, but I loved the idea and I started to developing it around this cosmic struggle for good and evil which was described so brilliantly in John Milton's epic poem of the 17th century called "Paradise Lost And Paradise Regained", where the devil was once a favourite in heaven but he did very evil things and was thrown out. And it describes his fall into hell and now he lay there vowing his revenge. And I just thought, well, if there is this cosmic struggle between good and evil, looks like evil is getting the upper hand right now. So that was the inspiration. I don't know about this Belgian author Johan Daisne "The train", but it sounds like an interesting story.
19th January 2005 - Doris Neerfries (35) from Dinslaken, Germany:
Dear Chris, I just saw the report "Hoechstpersoenlich" on ARD about and with you. I really loved it! The 30 minutes were very interesting: old private films and photos and new spots of your tour!!! It was like being in your concert again for a (too) short time! I wondered, if you really composed that song about "always having to say goodbye" exactly in that moment or did you develop the melody before? It's hard to believe, that somebody just can sit at the piano and play a new melody and sing a new text and it even sounds so wonderful!!!! Is it really so easy for you to write songs?
Hi Doris! This "Hoechstpersoenlich" report on ARD was a great program to record. And I must admit, I was fascinated by it. Yes, that was the first time he had asked me about writing a song. And the idea of always having to say goodbye came into my head. I think, at my stage now, because I am a professional musician for so many years, and I have studied modern music for so many years as well, it is not difficult to write a song. But what is difficult is to write a really good one. And I certainly don't believe I would have recorded that one. I would have worked on it a lot more and polished it up and made it better. But yes, it was straight out of the blue. It's simple enough, if you have a few words in your head and create a melody and create chord structure. But as I say, Doris, the hard thing is to make something good and create a really good song.
20th January 2005 - Chris Raymond (53) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Dear Chris, it was a bit of a shock for your fans to see that you bid for the latex model "monster" from the 1979 film Alien on 13th July. I think that, like me, many people are very curious about this!! Please would you tell us more about your reason for purchasing such an unusual object? We're fascinated! Many thanks. Chris R P.S. Also please can you tell us where you have displayed the monster?
Hi Chris! It was great to see you on the British tour a few times and thank you for your continued love and support. The latex model monster from the 1979 film Alien? Well, I saw the film when it came out, and I was absolutely shocked by that tiny episode. I think it only occupies about 12 seconds, when the alien comes out of John Hurt's stomach. It was one of the most extraordinary moments in movie history, and it's not just me who feels that. Millions of people all over the world have identified that as one of the top three or top five most horrific moments in movie history. Now the reason I bought it was, unlike for example the shower scene in Hitchcock's movie Psycho, where the woman is hacked to death, that was a horrible scene or The Exorcist, where the girl's head goes round and round, the fact is this is an object. It wasn't just a cinematic moment created by film, this object actually exists. And I think it's a really horrible thing, but for me it is the object that was in that film. And it's one of those things that happened, that can never happen again and you will never ever see in film. Unless it is a parody or a satire, you will never see something like that coming out of somebody's stomach again. It was such an extraordinary moment. Many people have come to my house and admired it. You know, it works. It has got pumps that make the gills move up and down at the sides of the head. It makes the jaw open and close. All sorts of things happen. So next time anybody reading this watches the film and sees the moment when it comes out of John Hurt's stomach, just remember I have that object in my home. I know it cost a lot of money, but on the other hand I do firmly believe that it is an investment for the future. And it gives a lot of interest to me and my friends in the present time.
21st January 2005 - Pouya (22) from Iran:
Dear Chris de Burgh, I have two questions. Maybe you think hey slow down but I like to know do you have any plan to release another album in 2005 or do you have a plan for later? Do you write any songs and lyrics right now for next album? I think it will be a nice idea if you could give this chance to your fans around the world to come with some titles for your next album. Maybe it gives you some more idea to write new songs after you see titles. You know people around the world have a lot of different great idea. My second question is about internet. I like to know how much you spend on the internet to search and find related websites and news about yourself and your work. I think it is great to see different websites and sources about our own works. And finally did you find any of those websites interesting? Actually these are questions from a group of your fans from Iran. I hope you answer to my questions because I sent different questions before but I was never lucky to get an answer. Have a great day my forever favourite singer.
I keep on stressing how much I look forward to going to Iran to sing, and I really hope that I can do that soon. My plans for 2005 are firstly that I am involved in a film called "Through These Eyes". I have written some songs for that and we are very much hoping that we start the production of this film in 2005, which obviously will mean for me doing some recording for soundtrack. I have been approached by a leading European playwright who wants me to become involved in a musical, which I find a very exciting idea, which I hope to also do in 2005. Another plan is to record some songs from my past catalogue again in a different style and a different way, plus some new material. That might be a good plan to do early in the year. And I feel fit and I really love doing what I do and I can't see that I am ready to stop. Certainly after the touring that I have done last year, seeing the response of people of all ages, I strongly feel that people still really want to see me. Indeed in the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, to sell out that big place just for a solo performance, one guy with a guitar and piano, selling more than 7,000 tickets, well that is quite an extraordinary achievement. That tells me I am not ready to put my 12 string guitar to bed quite yet. The internet is a wonderful place to look for virtually any information about anything. And I do spend a little time on the internet. I must admit, not a lot. I do check out some other websites. Particularly on my own website, I read the guestbook quite a bit, I am really interested in the comments that are made. Astrid herself has been wonderful in helping me and indeed you to get all this information out to you, so a big debt of gratitude is owed to Astrid. And I hope she won't be shy and leave this bit off, but I want to say in public thank you very much for all your help and support. And I go onto the Yahoo site and I look at some of the comments which are very interesting. I am not sure everybody understands that I actually do read this stuff, but it doesn't matter. What they say is what they feel, and I find it interesting. And the interesting ones, also the websites from Iran? Yeah, I've checked them out.
14th May 2005 - Patricia Guilhermina Torres Afonso (19) from Porto, Portugal:
Hello! I love your songs! I write poems sometimes and I send them to a band. But my poems are much worse than the lyrics of your songs. My question is: Is there any difference between a poem written to be sung and a poem written to be read, I mean, are there any poems that are useless for songs? Or should I just give up? Thank you for reading this! And congratulations for the results of your work. You are a real artist! Bye... Patricia
Well, I don't think I would be a particularly good poet. Poetry relies on a different set of disciplines and rules than lyric writing, because writing lyrics, what I am trying to do, is marry the sound of a word with the musical note that it sits in with. So if anything, it's possibly a little more difficult to put a good lyric to a piece of music. Secondly, what you are trying to convey with a word in music is the same emotion that the music is trying to convey as well. I can give you an example of this. If you listen to my song "Borderline" - the line "I watched a bunch of soldiers heading for the war, I could hardly even bear to see them go." Now, if that was just written down as a poem, it wouldn't be particularly significant. But I do believe that the melody that carries those words is strong enough to convey the emotion that I am trying to get across. In particular the word "bunch", which is not a very nice word, but it indicates the sort of feeling that the singer is having about war and how people are caught up in it, not just individually, but also collectively. I think, if you are writing poems for songs, you have to work very very closely with the person who is writing the songs. A lot of people often think they have written a song, or send me songs which are indeed just poems. A song is a piece of music. So, Patricia, keep writing the poetry, because poetry is beautiful to read. But it is not necessarily going to work with music as easily as a lyric writer will be able to put together his words with a musician.
15th May 2005 - Gunter Kohl (31) from Trier, Germany:
When you're at home and discovering a beautiful simple good sounding melody - how do you know, that you've just invented it or that you only remember music you've heard before? When I'm improvising melodies on my piano this question is always in my head: Is that me or my memory?
I am very fortunate that I have a melodic recall, which is not as good as a computer, but I always feel it is pretty good. I often hear a so-called new melody on the radio and I can identify frequently three or four songs that this melody has come from. I think it is very difficult to come up with new melodies these days, because we are only dealing with a small number of musical notes. And the pop music field in particular is just jammed with frequently heard melodies, you know, that many of us have heard in the past. I think one of the reasons for this is, very few modern musicians if any are as gifted as the great melody writers in the past: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin for example. So we tend to repeat ourselves. But I am always very very careful to try and make sure that the melodies that I write don't come from somewhere else. Unless it is of course from my own music, in which case I don't feel so bad about it. But there are people now, lawyers, who are called musicologists, whose job it is to take people to court for stealing melodies. Unfortunately this does go on a lot and a lot of very famous people have been caught by either deliberately or accidentally stealing other people's music. You have to have quite a few notes to make it a court action, and then of course you have to give over a lot of the royalties. One of the most famous cases was George Harrison, who inadvertently copied another song for his work "My Sweet Lord", and he had to give a lot of the money earned from that to the original writers of the melody that he took. The best way to discover whether or not a melody is original is play it to two or three friends who also love music and say "does this sound familiar?". A very good example again of this happening was when Paul McCartney wrote his song "Yesterday". He was so convinced that he had heard it before, that he played it to a few people, including the rest of the Beatles and said "have you heard this before?". And none of them had, which convinced him that it was an original melody. And we all know what happened to that song subsequently, becoming one of the most played songs of all time on radio.
16th May 2005 - Myrte (27) from The Netherlands:
Dear Chris, I have great admiration for your work and I think that you are a great artist on making songs that really act out a specific feeling, both in the text as well as in the music! I am already some time wondering if there is any chance that you might write a song about home-abuse (do I have the word I mean?) So, husbands hitting their wife or vice versa. I think that you would be thé artist to make a song about that, that really speaks/sounds for itself! (I'm sorry, my English isn't all that brilliant.) With great admiration, Myrte, Netherlands.
Yes, it would be possible to write a song about this subject. I don't think it would be a very happy song. And again I tend to avoid writing songs about things that we read in the papers or watch on TV on the news on a regular basis. I like to create a bit of a fantasy world from time to time, although it's obviously very important to study realism and reality as well. I did have a look at a difficult subject recently with the song called "One Upon A Time" which I am sure many of you have heard. It looks at the child's point of view in the break-up of a marriage and how the child can never understand why it's happening. Often children believe it's their fault that mother and father are fighting and breaking up. And this is never the truth. Parents fight for very different reasons and very very rarely about the child. But the guild that the child feels is a terrible thing, a terrible burden through the rest of their lives. But I'll certainly consider this one. I think another topic that I have been asked to have a look at is orphans, children who have been abandoned by their mother for some reason. That again can leave a very unhappy feeling throughout somebody's life, wondering why was I given away at birth. It's an interesting topic, but it has to be dealt with very very sensitively.
17th May 2005 - Jeanette (43) from Essex, UK:
Hello Chris, if there was one thing you could change about your life what would that be? I wish you had fallen in love with me, the way that I have fallen for you. But I can't sing, you inspire me. Love you lots, Jeanette xxxxx
You know, I am a very happy person the way I am. I'd certainly like either to be a few inches taller or a few kilos lighter. My body mass index (BMI) indicates that if I had been about four inches taller, I wouldn't be too worried about my weight. But I must admit, I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds. Although I do take regular exercise. I swim a lot, I walk at speed. Recently I bought for my family a treadmill which you find in gymnasiums. And it's an absolutely amazing machine, because you can walk up hills at high speed and run and in twenty minutes you can have a hell of a good workout. What else would I change about my life? It's a very tough one. I don't really think I'd change anything, I always feel to be doing something that I love to do. And to do something that I feel is significant and changes other people's lives in a better way some of the time, is possibly the best job in the world. There are obviously things about one's personality that you possibly would like to change, but for me it's not a significant problem. I am perfectly happy with the way I am. Unfortunately, Jeanette, I have never met you, but who knows, in the future I might. And thank you for your kind words of inspiration.
18th May 2005 - Ilka (34) from Allmersbach, Germany:
Hi Chris, have you ever heard of the Irish Folk band Bachelors Walk? It's a bunch of Irish musicians (actually one Englishman also ;o)) who live and perform in Germany, but also abroad. I've been to a concert of them last weekend, and it was great! Traditional folk music, jigs, reels etc. - fantastic! Led me to the question whether you have ever thought of having a folk band with you on stage. What do you think of the "traditional Irish music" and do you like it? All the best for you! Ilka
No, I have never heard of them. But Bachelors Walk is a famous street in Dublin. Irish music is very popular in Germany, it is feel-good-music, it is fun. And memorably I remember Paddy Maloney and The Chieftains, when they played on my song "The Connemara Coast" on the album "Power Of Ten", was talking about a review they once had for a concert review in New York, where the reviewer was saying that the Chieftains music awakens echoes in him that he didn't even know he had. And I think beautiful Irish music can be very inspiring, I think it can make you think of all sorts of historical and spiritual things. Indeed we have the power nowadays, because we see so much visual image in our lives, with television and film and photographs, that when we hear Irish music we can almost visualize a seascape or a cliff edge or a man with a donkey cart or whatever it happens to be. Rain falling down in the West of Ireland, these things are easy to visualize and by using music we can use musical clues to create a feeling that you are actually there. A sort of visual stimulation to help you believe that you are actually seeing what the musician himself is attempting to convey to you. Curiously enough I am looking at creating a new style of music for a project I have coming up. And part of that would be using traditional Irish music, but in a form that isn't identifiable as Irish. I would marry it with Eastern European music and possibly something from South America, to create a new sort of a blend of world music. And it is possible that some day I will actually be on stage with this kind of combination of music.
19th May 2005 - Jan-Peter van Oudheusden (22) from Ede, The Netherlands:
Hi Chris! During the concert at the Pepsi Stage in Amsterdam, on June 5, I noticed that you took the time for those people who offered you flowers during the show. I really think that's a good thing, because you're getting real close to your fans. My question is: Before the show begins, do you plan every song (length, when to play etc.)? Do you also plan a specific amount of time for 'people with flowers', or is it more like 'OK. Let's play and we shall see what will happen'? I hope you can give me an answer. Keep up the good work!
Well, I never really plan a specific time for people to give me flowers and for me to accept them. I tend to be very flexible about these things, but when it comes to a concert set, because I am working with a fairly complicated light and sound team, I can't switch around too much because that really throws them. I think you would have noticed during that concert that I use a lot of visuals behind me, created by a wonderful team of guys from Southern Germany. And if I started moving things around too much, it would cause a lot of confusion. But as far as accepting flowers, you know, I love that. It's not just flowers; people bring me bottles of wine and pictures of their children and love letters even. And this is a very genuine way of people saying "thank you for helping me in my life", or just a genuine way of saying "thank you, I love your music".
20th May 2005 - Sandy Williams (25) from Burlington, Ontario, Canada:
I have been a big fan of yours since I was 8 years old. My older brother and sister introduced me to your music. Years ago they recorded some of your concerts such as The Munich Concert, The Simple Truth Concert, The Getaway and more recently, the Beautiful Dreams tour. Now that I have purchased a DVD writer I would love to transfer these onto DVD but I'm finding the quality has degraded too much. Do you have any plans to release these concerts onto DVD because I ..and I'm sure I can speak for many others.. would love to watch them.
Well, Sandy, I am looking forward to being back again in Canada in November 2005, hopefully to do some concerts in your area. And your question about the video tapes transferred to DVD: I believe there is a very good case for saying yes we should do this, because, as you say, the VHS tapes are degrading a lot. In fact recently I transferred through a company in Scotland about 180 of my family videos, you know, half hour videos, one hour videos onto DVD. And the quality is just superb. So rather than having to watch them on a lower quality VHS player now through DVD it's great. So I think it would be a wonderful idea to get the DVDs of the concerts that you referred to. And it'll certainly make me feel better, because I think I look an awful lot younger and more energetic!
21st May 2005 - H. Engelbrecht (40+) from Bredasdorp, South Africa:
What was Patricia the Stripper originally written about, (re 1924 in the song)?
I am sure I have told this story before, but I will tell it again. I was in England, this was in about 1973, and at this time as a solo performer I was occasionally playing the odd folk club, but prior to that I have been singing in my father's castle hotel and in a hamburger restaurant in Dublin called Captain America's cookhouse. And occasionally I'd write songs with strange and unusual words like "Hot Barrel Hannah" and "Star Spangled Tangerine Seethrough Topless Trousers". And in this particular genre I had been at a rather boring and rather posh weekend in the East of England. And everybody was very la-di-da the whole weekend. And as I flew home to Ireland, I was imagining myself as part of this setup, but actually secretly inside I didn't want to play tennis with these people or hang out at posh dinners wearing a tuxedo. I wanted to be downtown with Patricia who was the best stripper in town. The words 1924, I don't know where they came from, but I was going through the words in my head recently and I was thinking this is a pretty unusual song. And I think the words are quite clever, and I certainly find that people still enjoy listening to it.
22nd May 2005 - Damien Donovan (19) from Ireland:
Hi. I'm an aspiring musician, and almost accidentally stumbled across your music two years ago, I immediately realised the quality and substance of your music. Firstly I would like to express my admiration and thanks for you music. Now, the main question I would like to ask of you is, who were your musical influences when you started music? And secondly, a lot of your songs contain fantastic, sometimes haunting, sometimes soothing orchestration. Do you arrange the orchestral parts yourself? I think that's about it. Oh, and what instruments do you yourself play? Thanks again.
Nice to hear a 19 year old boy from Ireland getting in touch! Aspiring musician? Well, I wish you luck! These are different times to create music, but I think the best advice I can give anybody starting the music business is: Learn your trade from the bottom up! I don't think there is any successful business man who hasn't sampled the low end of his company. The bottom end of for example a hotel, successful hoteliers have always started in kitchens and working as bellboys and behind reception desks. You've got to know your trade inside out to give yourself a chance of not only becoming successful, but more importantly staying successful. So good luck and thank you for your kind words about my music! My musical influences, I would refer to as being great writers like Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, of course John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Later on they would be Sting, Peter Gabriel. People, whose music still stands the test of time, people who wrote very clever songs. These are craftsmen. If you can look upon a songwriter as somebody for example on a level who makes furniture, beautiful furniture, you can't make a beautiful table or a beautiful chair without having a lot of knowledge about how you put these things together, becoming as it were an apprentice. And so the people that I admire, they learned their apprenticeship almost exclusively from live performance, and I think that's where the strength of my songwriting comes from. Live performance gives you a very strong insight into how people react to music, and what they like to hear and how to surprise them and how you can create dynamics on stage. All those things, if you bring that to your songwriting, it can make a huge difference. The orchestrations in my music are, because I can't write or read music, created by an orchestrator. It is usually somebody like Chris Cameron that I have used recently, who will write an orchestral part to a song under guidance and with help from me, as I try to explain what exactly I am after. I don't give them a song and say "well, do what you want with it". These people will always provide a rough demo of what they planned and I will listen to it and say "no, change that string sound, change the horns, or make this melodic movement a bit stronger", or whatever. So I am very much involved with the orchestration, although I don't actually write the finished product. I play the keyboard and the guitar.
23rd May 2005 - Mau Van Le (44) from Norway, originally from Viet Nam:
Dear Chris! Thank you for the beautiful music that I've been listening for the last 25 years. Your music brings to me experiences that make my life rich. I could listen to the same song over and over and every time it's a different feeling. I really love the songs: Flying Home, Some things never change, Missing You, Broken Wings, Fatal Hesitation and many more. But there is one song that I love very much. As a refugee from South Viet Nam I settled in Norway in 1975 and could not return to my homeland before the year 2000. For me it was very exciting and just 10 minutes before landing the captain addressed my homecoming and turned on your beautiful song Flying Home. I felt something touched me at that moment and I also felt the warmth of tears on my face. "The last time I cried" was 25 years ago when I fled my motherland. Every time listening to "Flying Home" I feel "the freedom in my soul". So Chris, now you know a little bit why your songs touch me. I just wonder how/where you got the inspiration of crafting "Flying Home"? Is it "The Simple Truth" that you wish to make the world a better place to live through your music? It makes my world better!! Thank You Chris. My best regards to you and your family.
I think anybody reading this question cannot help but be moved and touched by the emotions expressed. To have to leave your homeland and live somewhere else, even in a comfortable country like Norway, must be difficult. And the feelings expressed, the songs that you love "Flying Home", "Some Things Never Change", "Missing You" and so on, the story that you come up with about the captain turning on the song "Flying Home" and the way you responded by crying, that is an extraordinary story. And whenever you hear it, you think about Viet Nam, your mother land. I got the idea of "Flying Home", because I was at that time spending a lot of time in America. I was lonely, getting up the ladder of success. But it is terribly, terribly hard and anybody who thinks that it is easy should have been with me every step on the way, because it was really really tough. And a lot of the time I was unhappy, miserable. I often questioned what I was doing, whether I should be carrying on. I had friends back home. If I was married at the time, I had a wife back home waiting for me to come back, Diane. And all I can say is, I'm a person who can accept a lot of pain, a lot of turmoil in my life. I'm very strong inside, and I am surrounded by strong people. But nevertheless there have been times when I felt really sad. And "Flying Home" was written, I am sure, underneath one of those moods. About the feeling that you get, when you are finally on the aeroplane and you are heading home. It's just one of the best feelings in the world. It's the release of all those tensions and emotions. And also, if you have done a good job, the feeling that you have done a really good job and you can now relax and head back home. So as I am sure regular readers of this know, I feel that if I can express the emotion that I have inside successfully in music and words, then I have succeeded in transferring the emotion that I feel. "The Simple Truth", well this is about children. They are innocent. We must protect them from war, from all the horrible things that grown-ups can do to them. And that's why I am saying in "The Simple Truth": "the life of a child is more than a forest, the life of a child is more than a border, the life of a child is more than religion, the life of a child is only a heartbeat from eternity". And you listen to those words in the song and like me I hope you get a real chill. I think that's probably one of my top three favourite songs that I have ever recorded. And I did produce that one myself. And it always moves me when I hear it, because I play it at home really loudly. It takes me back to the emotion that I was attempted to convey.
24th May 2005 - Deborah Madge (36) from St. Helens, Lancashire, UK:
Hi Chris, you once mentioned that you would consider doing two separate concerts, one for the oldies (like myself!) with you playing only the older hits and one for the newer fans, with you playing the more recent stuff, is it still an idea that you are considering and, if so, then when will it be?
I am very amused to see that you refer to yourself as one of the oldies. As far as I am concerned, you are a really young one! The two sets of music? Well, I actually went to a concert a couple of years ago where a performer was playing one night his songs from the 60s and 70s, the next night from the 70s and 80s and so on. And it was pretty good! But it could be a little boring as well. But I can see that there would be definitely an interest for me in some day performing, you know, one night only songs from, say, the first five albums, and then the next night only songs from the next five, and so on. That would be quite interesting. You've put a little seed of an idea in my brain, Deborah. As far as when it'll be, I really don't know. But it is a definite possibility, if such a thing exists.
25th May 2005 - Christina Martin (24) from England:
Chris, I think you should be knighted for your contribution to music. What honour would make you proudest?
Well, I personally don't think I should be, but what a nice idea. "Sir Chris de Burgh"! Mmmh, has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? You know, I work abroad a lot, I travel a lot and I am fortunate to have a successful international career. And any honour from a foreign country, which means a lot to them in that country, to bestow upon somebody like me who comes from Ireland, would be a tremendous thing for me to receive. I was honoured by the Red Cross in Portugal some years ago for my contribution to the Red Cross and the things I have done for them in the past. And I was very proud of that. Similarly, I think I would be very proud to receive such an honour from a country in which I didn't necessarily live. Ireland does not have an honour system, which in some way is a good thing, in some way is a bad thing, because it really depends on who gives out these honours. That adds to the credibility.
26th May 2005 - Mark Gardiner (34) from Wallasey, England:
Hi Chris, I've been listening to your songs for years now (since I was 16!) and one of my favourites is Crying & Laughing. I've always wondered about the woman in the story. Where is she, who is she with and who is she going back to on the plane?
The scenario I had in my head was a short film about a man from the West, say from America or England or indeed anywhere in what we call the Western World, who had been to Russia or the Eastern bloc in the time when there was a Cold War on. And he was a business man, and he had gone over there and he had fallen in love. And he is on his way home. We are not quite sure what he is going home to, whether he has a wife and family back home. But whatever has happened, he has fallen madly in love with this local girl and they are in the car on the way to the airport. And "searchlights, rain on the road", this indicates that they are in a country where there is a lot of pressure on the local citizens. Secret police, army and so on in the streets, creating a feeling of danger. And he has to go and she has to stay. That's why "crying and laughing", it means crying obviously for the sadness of parting, laughing because of the memories that they have had of the wonderful times together. And he will be half a world away, across the other side of the world, dreaming of her. And in this piece of music, those who know it will hear engines starting at the end, like in the film "Casablanca", when Humphrey Bogart says good-bye to the girl who gets on the plane. And you can hear the engines starting up and he goes back. And you can tell that inside he is crying, but he is trying to be brave as well. So I was creating a sort of musical film, I suppose you could call it, during this particular song.
27th May 2005 - Pete Bailey (50) from Hull, England:
Hi Chris, I am originally from Rhodesia and have been a fan of yours since I heard "The Girl With April In Her Eyes" and was so impressed I went and bought that album, plus the two previous ones, and have bought every album since. Since moving to Europe in 1982 (Germany for 8 years and now live in England) I have seen you in concert 5 times. I am going to be at the concert in Nottingham on the 11th Oct, (Had the tickets since Feb) in the stalls in seat C4, which I am led to believe is the third row from the front. I have always wanted to meet you, but I realise this is for the select few. Now my question is this. You have written so many songs over the years, and yet you can't really be set in any one genre, as you do rock as well as ballads, both with equally brilliant results, but do you consciously sit down to write a rock song or a ballad, or is it just what takes over you mind at the time. i.e., apart from anyone who knows your music and your voice, The Power Of Ten (more rock) and The Road To Freedom (more ballad) are two complete different genres, and could easily have been done by different people. Looking forward to seeing you on the 11th.
By now you will have seen me in concert in Nottingham on the 11th of October. Hope you enjoyed it! It's an interesting question about styles of songwriting, because I have always been drawn to various styles. Although, as I said in an earlier question, the rock area of music is fairly limiting and limited, but I try to break away from that by using my imagination to go into areas that don't necessarily get the interest of other rock writers. You know, I would say my most recent album "The Road To Freedom" illustrates this best. I hope in the future to go into even more musically unusual areas. Away from the restrictions of, I suppose, the format that most modern rock music has to adhere to, which is the three and a half minute radio song. I have always been interested in breaking free of that culture of thinking and to try and create through music and imagination and words something a bit more far reaching, something more important to say. It's true to say that "The Power Of Ten" and "The Road To Freedom" are different. Well, one of the strong reasons behind this is that with "The Power Of Ten" I was touring with a band as I was with "Timing Is Everything" and indeed "Quiet Revolution". But with "The Road To Freedom" I literally had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. And it was for me to perform solo. With other records, when you are writing songs for a band to perform, you are keenly aware that you have to really write music that a band can play, will enjoy playing, and that an audience will enjoy hearing, which means involving drums, bass guitar and other various instruments that happen to be in the band.
28th May 2005 - Wayne Barrett (47) from New Zealand, now living in Turkey:
Chris, I'm a long term fan since "Crusader" days and have even attempted to sing one of your songs on stage in the 80's when I was in a dance band as drummer and occasional vocalist. I couldn't reach the top notes though... I just wondered what your vocal range is, and how much vocal warm-up you do before a performance? The reason for my dual "nationality" by the way is that I have moved from NZ to work in Turkey for a few years. (had to leave the drums behind...sob)
Hi Wayne! I have been to Turkey a few times, it is a great country and the people are terrific. And I look forward to welcoming Turkey to the Economic Union at some stage, sooner hopefully rather than later. I hope you are enjoying yourself there. What a pity about leaving your drums behind, I am sure you have come up with some native drums. Because native music is fascinating. Some of the best records I have are from deepest Africa or from the top of the Andes or unusual places like that. As far as my vocal range is concerned, I have about three octaves, three and a half octaves really I suppose. Although it is an inevitable thing as you get older, your range will start getting a little less. But nevertheless I exercise my voice like I would exercise any other muscle in my body. And my voice becomes strongest after I have been out singing on tour. I have often been in a recording studio either just before or just after, and it's a marked difference certainly to my producer, the strength of my voice. Because after sung on stage for 2 1/2 hours every night, 34 or 36 songs, after a few weeks of that, your voice does get very strong. As long, and I have to stress this, as long as you breathe in the correct way. Because too many people, too many singers, they sing from the top of their chest rather than from their stomach. And that way you'll put a terrible strain on your voice. I have always been very aware of that. And the second point is to drink a lot of water. So even if I, or anybody who is a singer, enjoys taking a few drinks after a show, always compensate with lots of water, avoid smoke. For me smoke is a very dangerous thing and I hate it so much. It's such a pleasure to be able to go out in Ireland into pubs and bars and public places where there is no smoking, in restaurants as well. You don't smell the smoke, and you don't breathe in other people's smoke and affect your own health, and more critically for a singer, you don't get chest infections and it doesn't affect your voice. So avoid smoke and take plenty of exercise and drink plenty of water!
29th May 2005 - Ehab Lotayef (46) from Canada:
In Crusader you mention Richard recapturing Jerusalem. I found no reference to this in any history book. Did you get this from a certain source (which) or was this your alternate (artists liberty) version of history?
You know what; I'd have to check my history books on this one. I did some fairly extensive research, but I thought that the crusaders did actually take Jerusalem. But I think on a number of occasions they lost it again. So I bow to your greater knowledge on this occasion. Maybe what I should do is check my history books again. There is one part of this incidentally which is of interest that some people have suggested that I have a problem with Saladin and the Islamic religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have always been the first to go on record to say that I believe every man can have is own believes and faiths, and it is up to nobody else to tell them that they are wrong. But thanks again for your question, and I will go and check again. I am pretty sure that on that particular crusade Jerusalem was taken. But I'll have to go back into my history.
30th May 2005 - Mohammad (19) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi Chris I wanna know that what would you do if you were an invisible man??
This is a fascinating question! This is the first time I have ever been asked this and it requires a bit of thought. I suppose, if I was living in a repressionist regime like in Iran, it would be wonderful to be an invisible person. To be able to affect things from an invisible point of view and therefore a secure point of view, where nobody could attack you, force your opinions to change, where you could actually create through your good works a chance that democracy could shine through, that young people have a chance to live their lives the way they want to. As far as being an invisible man in my own home, I think people would get pretty bored of it after a while and so would I, but it's an extraordinary concept and requires a bit of thought. I'd be interested to see what other people's response would be. Perhaps as people read this answer, they could also log onto the guestbook and say "Yes, I would like to be an invisible person for the following reasons:" and then state their reasons.
1st June 2005 - Robin Thibeault (46) from Pointe-Claire, Québec, Canada:
Dear Chris, my husband & I have long been fans of yours, and so are our children especially our oldest. Your music has always been in our lives, at our wedding a friend sang In a country churchyard. We have gone to see you every time you come to Montreal, the last time you came our eldest came with us. It was an awesome experience. Last year in July (he) our eldest got married and although it's wonderful, seeing him leave home was very hard. When I heard the song on Road to Freedom, with you and your daughter Rosanna singing it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I was wondering what Diane's reaction to that song was when she first heard it? Do you get emotional when you sing it? Well take good care of you and your family, With thanks and our best wishes to you all, Robin Thibeault.
I think everybody knows my extreme affection and fondness for Canada and in particular French Canada. And whenever I perform in Québec or Trois Rivières or Montréal or Sherbrooke, anywhere in the Québec area, I am greeted with such an overpowering sense of warmth and emotion, it is joyous. That's not to say it doesn't happen elsewhere in Canada, but there's something about the French-Canadians which I think you can only find uniquely there. So thank you for that, and I look forward to being back in Canada later this year. This is about the song "Here For You". The first time I played it, I had the idea for it and I played the first part to Diane, my wife, in our old home. It was actually quite a long time ago. And I played the piano and I said "I've got this idea". And I set the scene about this is at the airport, and the parents are saying good-bye. And unfortunately I could only get into the first verse, before I had to stop because I was so choked up. And her eyes were full of tears as well. Because you start imagining what it must be like, to have your child leave and go away. Although it is for the reasons that the song is trying to express, which is exciting for the child who is leaving, but also very emotional. I recently sent a copy of "The Road To Freedom" to the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese. And I wrote, because she is a wonderful woman and I am friendly with the lady and her husband, I wrote a short story about what I saw in my mind in that song, about the scene at the airport that I had just described. She wrote a lovely letter back again, saying that the timing was brilliant, because just a few days later, after she heard the song, she went to the airport to say good-bye to her elder boy who was heading off to, I think, Australia or America for a year and a half. And she was very emotionally moved by the experience, and I think that the song helped her through that, perhaps to understand it. And it is a song to sing to convey emotion. I think the only time I performed it was at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, and I did get very emotional during it. I think I'd better do it a bit more often, because it touches people. Not just the people who are thinking about their child leaving, but also it touches people who are that child leaving and saying good-bye to their friends and parents.
2nd June 2005 - Thelma Heath (62) from Chichester, Sussex, UK:
I discovered your music when visiting Bulgaria for a skiing holiday before the 'Wall' came down and have since attended several of your concerts and have never been disappointed. You have a good family life and appreciate the importance of those close to you, but do you have any furry members of the family? If so what are they and do you think that there is an advantage for children to be brought up with animals?
Yes, I very much appreciate my family being around me and the importance of my family. Yes, we do have - well, I wouldn't describe my dog as a furry animal - but we have a dog called Milly. She is a black labrador and she is 9 years old. She is terrific fun. Recently I was going through some old video tapes which I have had transferred to DVD of family life and growing up, and lots of it seems to centre on the dog. And the fun and the love she has brought into our lives, starting from when we first saw her as a puppy in a litter. And we were given a choice of I think about seven or eight puppies. Some of which were black little baby labradors, others were chocolate coloured. And two in particular stood out. And I think we always like to think it's the dog that chooses us. Well, my daughter Rosanna wound up with this tiny little puppy. And filming it at the time and seeing it now and the things she has done down the years is so funny. I found another short film of the first time she saw snow. And she is leaping and hopping on all fours. Those of us who have dogs know how they can jump in the air, all four feet leaving the ground at the same time. Throwing herself into the snow and doing one of those crazy dog runs that dogs do, you know, with feet going everywhere and the tail flapping around. It is very funny. So, I think animals can bring an enormous amount of affection and love into people's lives. Not just older people, but I think great for children to grow up with animals in their home.
3rd June 2005 - Wendy Beckett (41) from Coventry, UK:
Your locations for your latest tour have included ones where you were able to do the "Britney Spears" bit walkabout, I think this is brilliant (Birmingham Symphony Hall last night!). Did you choose the locations so that you could do this and do you intend to do this again? For me it made it so much more personal and it was an intimate evening with Chris De Burgh. In the twenty five years I have been listening to your music last night was the best ever. Thank you for your music!! With Love, Wendy
It doesn't matter where I am. Certainly in the last tour, where we came up with this idea of doing it, I always work out a system where I can go down some steps. Sometimes I even have to walk out of the wings of the stage and out back into the audience that way, even disappearing for half a minute, carrying on playing and singing. But usually there are steps we organize in the front, so I can get into the audience. I think it's a wonderful feeling for me, and hopefully for the audience. It breaks down the barrier that can often be erected between a performer and the audience. And I work very hard to make sure that the audience, who are every bit as important, are part of the night as I am. And I like to get up close and see people as well! And see who is there, particularly when there are children in the audience. I like to have a bit of fun singing to them, or selecting somebody and sing a few lines to that person. It's pretty unusual to do, but I certainly feel very good about doing it. And I am sure I'll be carrying on doing the same thing in the future.
4th June 2005 - Kelly (36) from Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada:
Hi again Chris, and may I say I am loving "The Road to Freedom". I ordered it from the web site and got it before it was released in Canada. I have to admit..I felt like a little school girl when Mr. Canada Post left me this wonderful present in my mail box on a gloomy March Friday afternoon. It's now October and I don't think it's left my CD player yet! As I mentioned, it's October and as we are all putting up decorations for Halloween I was wondering if you celebrate Halloween like we do here in Canada (carved pumpkins, decorate houses in scary decor, trick or treating, etc.)?? If so, were you able to enjoy the fun in going 'door-to-door' with your children trick or treating?? I saw you on Canada AM back in May and you had mentioned "I'll be back" referring to coming back to our great land...I look forward to seeing you again in concert. Thanks so much for all you do...you have no idea what it means to me!!
New Brunswick is an area that I know well as well from the past. Thank you for your words about "The Road To Freedom". I must admit that I still go back and listen to it. I have a bit of a problem with it now, because I don't know how I am going to do another album as good as that one. Because I think it's turning out to be one of the best that I have ever done. It has a unique feel to it. I particularly like the deep ideas. And also I have no interest in what the media think of it, I don't care about what people in general would think of it, as long as those who like it absolutely love it too. At this stage of my career, criticism doesn't touch me at all, because I made this album specifically for solo performance in this specific kind of a way, away from the usual disciplines that you have to follow when you are making these kinds of albums. This doesn't follow any particular discipline at all, it's just an unusual record. And very few records if any start with an instrumental and put a trilogy as the first three songs that link together. So it was my particular personal journey of discovery and revelation. You ask about Halloween. Yes, Halloween is a big deal in my country. Whether it is a commercial big deal or whether people really enjoy it, I am not quite sure. It's a bit of both, I suppose. My children now aged 21, 17 and 14 are probably too old for trick or treating. But they used to do it in earlier years and I used to go around with them to homes and knock on doors. And I've got lots of old films of them all dressed up in scary costumes. So they were great fun to do, and I think it's of course a very interesting thing and great fun for children. Halloween, All Saint's Night, is when I believe all the spirits of the dead emerge from the graves. And I think that's what we are trying to think about during Halloween Night. So it can be very scary.
5th June 2005 - Maggie Hebblethwaite-Sharpe (48) from Hinckley, Leicestershire, UK:
Hello Chris. I only discovered this site during the summer and have been eagerly waiting for your return for weeks!! Although I have always loved your music it was this year at the Domplatz Bamberg where I first saw you in concert. I will NEVER forget that concert. I was sooo cold. It was so warm in England when I left for Bavaria that I only had summer clothes with me. But once you appeared I forgot my cold feet, hands, nose etc. ROFL. Your unassuming appearance, almost from nowhere, lit the cold night. I could feel the warmth and love that all of your fans have for you. It was like no other concert I have ever been to. You seem to have surpassed the ordinary "Super Star" status and have an extraordinary and completely honest relationship with your fans. As you said on the night it was more like a C De B party than a concert. So to my question, how do you perceive your success? Are you totally aware of the love and affection on a basic level that millions of people have for you? Is this the sort of response that you hoped for - dreamed of - in the early days, or has it taken you by surprise. There is so much I want to say to you, but realise that if I waffle on for too long you definitely won't answer my question, so I'll keep the other thousand or so questions, comments and compliments for another time. I really feel, as do the rest of your fans I would suppose, that you are such an approachable and honest man. Maybe one day I'll get to have a coffee and a chat with you. I hope so. Bye and God bless you and your lovely family. I hope to see you in concert again in Nottingham next week and I really can't wait. Love and best wishes Maggie.xxxxxxxxxxx
This is a lovely question and indeed short story about the concert in the Domplatz in Bamberg. Yes, it was very cold and also by now hopefully you will have enjoyed the concert in Nottingham. I remember it well, because it is really such a pretty place and there were a number of things that happened that night, including a dedication of a song to a young girl who was murdered in Nottingham the week before. That stayed in my mind. You've said a few things which are of great interest to me and I'll tell you why. You say I have surpassed the ordinary super star status and have an extraordinary and completely honest relationship with the fans. Well, I would agree with you there. Not that I have surpassed the super star thing, because I don't believe any, you know, the super star thing only comes from human beings and the jungle for example, the law of animals is power. But, you know, to be famous for me is not a big deal. I don't think anybody is any better than anybody else. I certainly do not believe that anybody is more divine than anybody else, which is why I have a bit of a problem with some aspects of organized religion, where we are told that there are people in the more exalted areas of the Hierarchy, have it believed that they are closer to God than the rest of us. This is absolute nonsense. Nobody is closer to God than anybody else. And this is the very foundation, I suppose, of my belief that we are all ordinary. You know, I have often come across people saying to me, you might be very famous, but you seem to be very down to earth. This is what I absolutely and sincerely and firmly believe. I don't have to work at it, it's the way I feel. And funnily enough my daughter Rosanna who was Miss World 2003, she feels exactly the same thing. People say "but you are so nice, you are not bitchy, you're not stuck up, just ordinary!" You know, this is the way we feel about people and about life. But anyway, thanks for what you say. And as for the affection in which I am held, I don't want to sound like I am searching for compliments here, but I don't think about it too often. I am always surprised by the lovely things that people write and say. I suppose one failing that I have is that I am not very good at accepting what I have achieved and how well I have done. I always seem to be living in the present and indeed looking to the future. So I am thrilled about the things that people say. And I am also very sincere about the fact that I do not like to buy into the cynical world of, you know, rude super stars. I don't see why people have to act like that. And I think in the end it will revert to them and cause them problems in the future. You cannot believe that you are anything different or special. So I like to think that I can bring this to my persona, to my public life and indeed my private life as well. But thanks for the lovely things you have said.
6th June 2005 - Graham (50) from Nottingham, England:
Hi Chris. I love your music. The minor chord has often been associated with doom and gloom but you have used as a romantic visionary aid. Was this something you worked on or did it just happen that way? Keep those albums coming and as a song writer myself thanks for the inspiration.
It's an interesting thing. Not that I am a specialist or an expert in this field, but it seems to me that an awful lot of what we perceive as music has been created by the major key and the minor key in terms of mood. For example I think you'll find that a lot of folk music, if not all folk music, that is trying to describe the sadness of life on the land, the harshness of the farming life, to reflect the seasons as they change, you know the hard winters, that tends to be represented in minor key music. Whereas major key seems to be the celebration of harvest time, the celebration of life, of rebirth, of sunlight. That for me appears to really show the other side of music. It's almost the Yin and the Yang of music. If you want to see the effect of music, the subliminal effect, when you next go to see a film and there's a sad scene - listen very carefully to the music. And you'll find for example lots of dropping notes. When you have two or three notes that drop, one after the other, that is creating usually a sad feel. Whereas the reverse of notes going up tends to create the opposite feel. These are, I suppose, not exactly tricks of the trade, but there are things, the more you listen to music, and wonder about why they are having the effect that they do, the more you realize that we as human beings react in a fairly standard way, in a very similar way to the various ways musical notes move. And the way I like to use the minor key is to create not a very sad mood, but a reflective, melancholy mood perhaps, perhaps even a romantic, visionary mood as you have suggested. And I am glad that I am some kind of inspiration to you.
7th June 2005 - Chris Raymond (53) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hello Chris! As you know I have been in the fortunate position to attend more than one Concert during a Tour. Most 'non C de B friends' think I'm crazy seeing the "same" Concert again but as any dedicated fan would tell them each Concert is unique! My question is - how soon into a gig would you say that you know what your audience will be like? I've certainly seen you walk on stage and be greeted so warmly that I've thought to myself, "They're hooked already!" but this is not always so. How much do you think the actual venue can impact on the audience response and therefore affect your performance? Hope to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks! Chris R xx
Hi Chris! Yes, I have seen you at many concerts, and we have met a number of times, and hopefully many times in the future. Every venue is different. There are so many different factors to take into consideration, wondering how the audience reaction is going to be. The only thing that I can say, as I have said in the past, to perform a concert is not dissimilar to seduction, where one would hope for a certain result, which is mutually satisfying to everybody in the audience. But how you get to that point, it demands subtlety, it demands respect, it demands so many different factors. For example you can't go out onto a concert stage, cold and start shouting at everybody: "Clap your hands!" Because nobody is going to want to. So every concert hall has its own strange and different feelings. If it's architecturally cold, if the seats aren't very comfortable, if the lighting in the hall is bright, if the stage is very high or indeed very low - there are so many different factors. If the sound is a bit woolly or it's a bit sharp, all these factors can have an impact on your audience. Whether for example, if you are doing two concerts in a city, if one is sold out before the other one, you usually find that the one that is sold out has a more vibrant crowd than the second one. Also the place that you play, some countries differ. Some areas in countries differ. So I usually know pretty soon when the house lights go out, then I can tell you probably within 5 seconds what kind of an evening it is going to be. Possibly less than 5 seconds. It's just an instant response, taking all the other factors on board, and judging that first moment of applause. Sometimes I am completely surprised and shocked, other times it's a bit of a struggle. But generally speaking by a certain point of a concert, I know that people are with me. In capital cities quite often you are playing concerts which are a little more difficult, because the people in capital cities are used to seeing lots of major acts coming through and they get a little spoiled. And it's almost like they sit there and say "prove something to me". The minor places, particularly the really outer way places, who never get major stars turning up, they are usually very grateful that you are there. But as I say, Chris, there are a lot of different factors that play here. And I think after all these years I am fairly experienced about knowing what to expect.
8th June 2005 - Normand Allard (34) from Toronto, Canada:
Hi Chris, I am a French Canadian and really do appreciate the French songs you included in your latest albums. I translated myself "Just A Word Away" and sing it to my family, they just love it. So here are my questions: since your French is already amazing, do you help on the translation of your songs? Have you thought of writing a song in French only without translating it first from the English version? Thanks for your generosity and keep on writing those amazing songs. I always look forward to your new albums.
That's interesting that you translated "Just A Word Away", well done! My French is good enough, I think, to certainly communicate with people. And in the past I have recorded three songs in French, specifically for the French market, which is "Quand Je Pense A Toi" (When I Think Of You), "Le Coeur D'Une Femme" (A Woman's Heart) and "Comme Un Rêve" (Five Past Dreams). As far as the translation is concerned, it is very difficult to translate the song, if you are not a real French speaker. But when I see the translations I always amend them or change them with whoever has written the French lyrics. And change them to not only what I believe the meaning should be, but also more importantly to where the movement for words should be within the song, which is always critical.
9th June 2005 - Marion Ben Rejeb (34) from Kronach, Germany:
Dear Chris, first of all let me thank you for your great and wonderful music. I am a great fan of you since about 25 years. Your music is with me in good and in sad times in my life. For whom did you write the song: "Even Now"? For me it's like a consolation about my mum, she died too young, with only 54 years. Thank you for this song. Take care, Marion
Funnily enough I didn't have anybody in mind for this song. People have suggested various names to me that I could have written it about, but they would all be wrong. I think what I was suggesting here was, I had the image in my head of a young person, perhaps from a boy band like Westlife for example, standing on a stage alone. And for once, instead of singing those sugary ballads that mean absolutely nothing, to stand on the stage and sing something that meant a lot to that person, i.e. to give it a lot of emotion and to give it a lot of feeling. And I started this song actually when I was on holiday in Mauritius, and the words "even now" came out. And there is the clue, you see. When you say something like "even now", you are saying "after all these years, after all this time, I am still going back somewhere that I have left in the past". That's what it means to me. And it means really that, in spite of the way one's life has changed, moved on, perhaps different loves, different lifestyle, there's something that keeps drawing you back to a person. I know there's a major website now called "Friends United", which I have never clicked on, because I don't need to. But I know a lot of people have been on that, and there's an echo from the past that constantly calls and it's like a voice in the night calling out your name. And that's what I was thinking of when I wrote that song. I am glad that it reminds you of your mother. And 54 years is very very young to die, I am so sorry.
10th June 2005 - Gletto (56) from the UK:
Dear Mr Burgh, I have followed your path since almost your first footsteps and how privileged I am to say that has been a marriage of bliss. When you wrote the song "Shine On" it bridged a gap in my life that is so silly. I had fallen out with my father over something that should have never come between us. However, if you haven't made a mistake then you haven't lived. That song allowed me to stand up and be counted and I did find the words to say "I love you". Please may I ask you if the song "The words 'I love you'" is a song that has been echoing in your mind. Finally, may I be allowed to say the influence you have showered on me is now shining like a beacon, and your kindness is my foundation stone. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of submitting this question.
I seem to have some of the best writers of questions on the planet, because here is another one from Gletto in the UK! What you have written here is fabulous and the fact that I may have helped you to bridge a gap with your father through the song "Shine On" and say all the words that should be spoken before they are lost forever. Well, this is again a reference to my own life, and I refer to this once more in my song "The Words 'I Love You'" some years later, because they are often the hardest words to say. And it has been echoing in my mind. These are important things, not only to say to those who are above you in years, you know, your parents, but also to your children. And I often think, you know, what will my children think of me in years to come. Did I do everything that I should have done? Did I look after them as well as I could have done? And did I tell them I loved them as often as I needed to and wanted to? And I really hope to live by this particular feeling which is an emotional one, but it is important as well. Often, when you fall out with your parents, with your father or your mother, it is about something so insignificant. But you know what, Gletto, we have nowadays a chance to communicate with our families and our children and our friends that is absolutely unique to the times we are living in, that never existed in the past. Because it is instant, it does not involve them hearing your voice or you hearing somebody else's voice, because sometimes that can immediately turn the tide in an argument, you hear the voice and you go "oh no no, that voice again". It's bringing up so many memories that are not helping at this time. What I am referring to is e-mail and text messaging. We have text messaging which is a huge thing in my part of the world, and you can constantly communicate with your children. Particularly if you have had an argument, you say "I am sorry". You know, it is an immediate thing, it is not like letters in the past or indeed phone calls. I urge all parents, older and younger, to constantly keep in touch through all the modern methods that we can, electronic methods as well as talking to them direct.
11th June 2005 - Erik Winther-Sörensen (39) from Norway:
Hello Chris De Burgh ! In 1979 I bought my first CdeB album, since then your music has been like a dear friend to me. Now I have to search my 12 year old daughter for my CdeB CDs, your music is so well made that it will last for generations. You must be a person with many talents, I'm thinking of your lyrics, the music and the performance on stage.............. I can still "taste" the atmosphere of your concert at Mysen the 22 Aug. You could certainly have worked with music in many different ways, have you ever considered to be a part of a band ? Or did you decide very early to go for a solo career? Do you usually write the lyrics or the music first? Thanks.
Wonderful things you are saying about the music in 1979, and then your 12 year old daughter likes the music. It's funny that you should say that the music will last for generations. Well, I certainly hope it will, because I always made records like I was writing a book. I think a lot of records are made for the here and now to be disposed of fairly instantly. But for me it was a strong question of making sure that this music would last. Creating an atmosphere on stage is not only part of what I do and the way I sing and the choice of songs and the lighting and the staging, but also to do with the audience, their participation and their energy which certainly helps me enormously. And the atmosphere in Mysen was excellent. To be part of a band, although I was in a band when I was very young in my teen years just for fun, I never considered myself to be a band member. I suppose, because I was always very driven to be a solo performer and I never had the opportunity really to be part of a band. I could see that there were great benefits in being a band member, but also big downsides as well, because you are talking about personalities of three or four or five people working together, and that doesn't necessarily happen. I toured with a band for years and years and years, and I still do. Well, I am glad that it's really my music and that I am the driving force behind the creative side of it, because that is always what I wanted to do. As far as lyrics and music, they usually start off concurrently together, get an idea for a song and then flash out as it were the bare bones of a song. Once I've got the idea of what the music is trying to say and the structure of the song, then I can start filling in the words.
12th June 2005 - Monique Tanja (39) from The Hague, The Netherlands:
Hi Chris, Thanks for your wonderful music and concerts, I really enjoy them a lot. After visiting one last time, and watching Chris Andrews taking care of everything so well, I was just wondering if he likes your songs?? Is he humming them or singing along during the show?? Well I hope you answer, I was just curious about it. Thanks and hope to see you soon again, take care, Monique
Interesting question about Chris Andrews! Chris Andrews has been a colleague and a friend and my personal assistant for many years. And I would like to think at this stage that he actually does like the songs. I don't know if he hums or sings along during the show. I doubt that he watches every show, because he has things to do backstage and in the fronter house. You know, ongoing important work to be done, making the whole thing run as smoothly as it does. But I think he does like the songs. But perhaps, Monique, you better ask him!
13th June 2005 - Shirley Hopkinson (33) from Toquay, Devon, UK:
Chris, My son is 5 and can play twinkle twinkle little star on a children's keyboard straight out of his head - what age did you start to play, what was your first instrument and what was the first song that you could play?
That's great! To be able to play by ear is really important. I never learned to read and write music, and in some ways I am sorry about it, but in other ways it means that I can compose my songs in a way that means they are not restricted by convention or discipline. If I feel like putting different tempos in, I can do that. And you can experiment with things. But if your little boy is that talented, maybe you should help him to get music lessons, but make absolutely certain he has his own time to create his own style of songs and his own style of music as well. Because too many people I have come across went to music lessons, piano lessons for example, and they found the whole idea of music which should be joyful and fun becoming difficult, painful in some ways, and also just no joy in it whatsoever. Music should be absolutely and utterly joyful from beginning to end, and that atmosphere must be created by the teacher and the pupil must enjoy that too. Which is why it is great to get the knowledge of how to read and write music, as my children have, but also they have their own interest outside of that and they can create music in their own style without having to do it through the normal channels. The first instrument I played was the guitar. As far as the first song is concerned, I really can't remember. It probably would have been a Beatles song or a Bob Dylan song, something like "Blowing In The Wind" perhaps by Bob Dylan. And then from understanding how chords worked on the guitar, I worked out how to play the piano.
14th June 2005 - Ron Wijnen (46) from Landsmeer, The Netherlands:
Hello Chris, I love your album The Road to Freedom. The songs are beautiful and are perfect to do on your solo-tour. Now you have re-released the album with 4 extra songs and some video. Are these 4 songs written before the first release of the original album or did you write them after the release. I'm asking because I think there are a lot of artists nowadays who re-release albums with a little bit extra on it, knowing the fans will buy the stuff and so making extra money on behalf of the die-hard fans. You always tell (and I do believe you tell the truth) that your fans are very important to you. Why didn't you release the full TRTF album in the first place?
The simple answer to that is that I had already written too many songs for "The Road To Freedom" album. And when we make a judgement about putting an album together, me and my producer try to put together an album that sits correctly together. It's a bit like going to a meal. Then, with too many courses, you eat too much. And we felt that the way that the extra four songs would take the record would be into an area that would make it a bit more melancholy, a bit sadder, too much reflection. And we felt that it would be worth holding these four for another time. It wasn't some kind of commercial idea, it wasn't some way of squeezing more money out of the fans. On the contrary, it was a way of giving something back to the fans, and I hope they enjoyed those extra four songs on that basis.
15th June 2005 - Mike Bird from Toronto, Canada:
Dear Chris, I'm not sure if you remember the MOtL question of mine that you answered 2 years ago, where I asked what your thoughts were on the subject of UFO's? I just thought you might like to know that I have been invited to speak in Carrick-on-Shannon this August, at a UFO conference organized by Betty Meyler. Here's a URL to the speaker list... http://www.apra.org.uk/ireland_2005.htm My good Irish friend Jim Flynn, who had the heart transplant 5 years ago, is also vacationing in his hometown of Tralee, along with his new wife Jann. My wife Lynn and I will spend some time with them, before we head out on our own to take in some sights before the conference. I'm hoping to be able to get to the Giants Causeway. Anyway I just wanted to say hi. Your "Road to Freedom" DVD is awesome! Warm regards, Mike, Toronto
Thank you very much for your information about the UFO conference in Ireland this summer. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it, but I hope there is a great success and I am sure that, like many others, I am not alone in believing that there other enormous and powerful forces around us that we may or may not be able to see in the shape of for example UFOs or other manoeuvre stations of a power that is beyond our imagination.
16th June 2005 - Nel Hardenberg (60) from Capelle a/d Ijssel, Netherlands:
Why do you go every year to the island of Mauritius during Christmas time? We met you there some years and for us the island and the hotel Le Saint Géran is our second home. We have been there now almost 15 times and the last years also in December so that is why this question. December 2004 you have explained to me why you have written the song "The Words 'I Love You'", because this song can be special for my husband and my son; your explanation made me cry a little bit and the day after you told me: everything will be alright and you gave me a warm hug; after that I called my son at home and he wants me to say to you: thank you. And when we meet each other this year he will say it to you personally. This year we stay in the hotel during October when they have the hotel-birthday-party. Maybe we come in December too. I enjoy the CD The Road To Freedom and the DVD as well and I hope that the band The Rising Sun can play some songs next time; it will be great. Thank you for your nice words and take good care after your family. Will there be a concert in the Netherlands (i.e. Rotterdam) in the future?
It's a pleasure to meet you and your husband on a regular basis in Mauritius. And I was very touched by what you said to me about my song "The Words 'I Love You'" and the importance that it has for you and your family, in particular the relationship between your husband and your son. And I am hoping that this song and the words in it has the same impact on your husband's relationship with your son as another song did for me, when it came to building bridges between myself and my father. Music is one of those things that can do that, or poetry indeed. But I am very happy that this had such an impact for you. And indeed possibly other readers of MOtL may have discovered that those words about fathers and sons may have helped you in your own personal relationships. I very much hope to be back in Mauritius again this year, and it is very likely I will be there at the big celebrations in October, to perform with the Rising Sun band. As far as I know, there are no concerts planned for the Netherlands at this present time, but of course there will be again in the future.
17th June 2005 - Dr. John Crook (50something) from Omaha, Nebraska, USA:
Dear Chris, My name is John Crook and I am a principal of a large high school in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. I became a fan of yours during a time when I was ill with cancer and found your wonderful music to be relaxing, inspirational and therapeutic. I have shared your great somes with my friends and family in the Omaha area. Enough about me! I recently read where you had heard Eva Cassidy sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and was interested in pursuing having her perform with you, only to discover she had passed away with cancer. Knowing this and then with my own story, I wanted to write you and share a dream with you. Chris, I am asking you to consider an invitation to come to Omaha, the heartland of America, and support the fight against cancer. Please don't stop reading! I know that this effort would be extremely successful. I am confident that I could get the Qwest Center (seats 15,000) to work with us. I believe I could orchestrate the American Cancer Society, the Omaha Symphony, The University of Nebraska Medical Center (world reknowed) and area disc jockeys to help with the promotion of such a worthy cause. My goal is to raise 1 million dollars for cancer research. America would embrace Chris de Burgh! I believe there are many fans who would travel from both coasts to attend your concert. People who could not make it to Europe. Not only would this be a labor of love help in such a worthwile cause, it would introduce you to America. America would gain from the essence of your music-romance, spiriruality, pease and compassion-the necessary ingredients for this to be a huge success. I wold love the opportunity to work with you and the Omaha community for this vision to become a reality. Sincerely, John D. Crook Ed.D
My feelings about performing in America have never changed. I have always enjoyed being in the United States, and I can see there will be a time in the future where I will do selected venues in places where we feel that there is enough strength of fan commitment to actually make it worthwhile. It would be nice to be known for something more than just "The Lady In Red" in the United States, although "High On Emotion" and "Don't Pay The Ferryman" were both top 40 hits. Nevertheless those of you who know my music will know that there's an awful lot more to me than just one or two songs. And the answer is yes, I would love to go and perform in your area. I am very hopeful that this will happen some time in the future.
18th June 2005 - Sandi Best (40) from Victoria, BC, Canada:
I have been a fan for many, many years. I still sleep in a T-Shirt I bought at a concert in Offenburg Germany 20 years ago. I do hope I am speaking directly to you, but I would doubt that. But for whom ever is reading this...I see his songs. I see them in my head. I believe that only singers who help you see the song in your head are artists. Chris de Burgh is, and will always be my favourite artist. But I would think it is the lady behind the man who has inspired so many of the songs that touch my heart. I celebrate her. Please let me know when and where Chris will be the closest to Victoria BC Canada...I will pay the ferryman to get me there!!! With love....SB
It is funny that you can see my songs, because that is the way I definitely see everything that happens in my songs. In fact, one of my current projects is very much along the lines of the stories that I have created in the past and the stories of the future. And how clearly I can see things happening and the emotions connected with seeing these things happen. So, I am not surprised that other people can see something probably close to what I see. But as far as the lady who is behind the man who has inspired so many of the songs, well that is a very pleasing thing to hear. Thank you for those comments. Diane, my wife, is a constant source of inspiration and companionship to me. Obviously the old saying goes "behind every successful man there's a powerful woman". And in this case this is certainly the case as well. She gives me strength and the solid ground beneath my feet to go off and be creative in the way I have been for so many years.
19th June 2005 - Fabian (20) from Korschenbroich, Germany:
Dear Chris, having experienced some of your incredible performances during the Road To Freedom tour I was really excited by the release of the new DVD. But when I saw the set list I was kind of disappointed because "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)" and "It's Such A Long Way Home" are missing. I loved the beautiful piano versions of these songs during the tour and I was very surprised that you played them at all. Is there a special reason why they are not on the DVD? And is there any chance that a recording of your Dortmund concert will ever be released? Keep up your great work! I hope to see you again soon on the next tour! Best regards, Fabian
The reason those songs weren't on the new DVD has probably something to do with the time we were able to allocate to all the music. Possibly it has to do with the visual shots of these songs. I have to say that the final choice was really left to the producer of the DVD, and the man who did the editing and the sound mixing. However, by now you will have heard that there is a live version of the Dortmund concert coming up at the end of June. And I can assure everybody reading this, and everybody who hears it, it's an absolutely staggering and extraordinary CD of something that will go down in my memory as one of the most amazing nights of my life. One of those moments in Dortmund where you just felt the love in the Westfalenhalle and the huge power that came from 7,000 people supporting and sending affection to the one singer on stage. I urge people to try and get a chance to listen to it, when it comes out.
20th June 2005 - Gill (40) from Oxford, UK:
Hi Chris, My family - Stephen 12, Victoria 15 and Tony, my husband have just had a great weekend in Bournemouth and had a great time at your concert. Thanks so much for a superb evening, we all thought that you singing solo was a really special evening. It was really great when your son Hubie came on-stage and played guitar alongside you, and watching the closeness between father and son looked really great. Has Hubie played guitar on-stage with you before, or was this his first experience? He played really well and we wondered if he was planning a musical career like his Dad? My 15 year old daughter is smitten and would to know if he'll be touring with you in the future?! Thanks for a fantastic evening and for your never-ending generosity with your time - the encores were wonderful. Take care, Gill
I am not only delighted that you enjoyed yourself, but also just as importantly your son Stephen who is 12 and your daughter Victoria 15 enjoyed it as well. I am not surprised that Victoria was smitten with my son Hubie. He has been described as quite a dish by young ladies of his acquaintance. He is a lovely boy and he is very gentle and he is very musical. I am not sure if he is going to pursue a career in the music business. To be honest, I have not pushed him in that direction, because it has changed so dramatically and drastically - in my opinion for the worse - since I began 30 years ago. I think nowadays it's all about image and it's got very little to do with talent. There was a time when talent was like cream, it would always rise to the top. But I don't think necessarily this happens nowadays. So I have urged Hubie to get his qualifications. He is very scientifically minded for example as well as being artistic and creative. And maybe he will enjoy music as either a full-on career which I think is unlikely, or else very much more so as a terrific hobby and a fun thing to do at the weekends with your friends. It wasn't the first time he has joined me on stage. He has been on stage with me several times last year, and he also played with me in Liverpool cathedral for those 2,500 people who where there may recall him coming up on stage. I was very impressed because he had absolutely no nerves. He told me later he was a little scared initially, but you couldn't have seen that at the time. Obviously I am a very proud Dad.
21st June 2005 - Bahareh (17) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi dear John! I want you to know that all my best, wonderful, remarkable moments, all the time that I am happy, all the time that I really live, really dance, even all the time that I really cry is created by you and you open my eyes to so many subjects in this world that I never knew before. I love you and your poems and I believe that you are a perfect man. I always think what would happen if God hadn't created you... I should thank you so much. Well, my question is: What is the difference between pride and self-confidence from your idea? Thank you, I wish to see you and talk to you.
Hi dear John? I think you probably meant Christopher John, perhaps. What a nice thing you are saying to me about my music and the way it has touched you and people around you. The difference between pride and self-confidence? Pride is a very difficult one, because it is, what we call a double edge sort. I think if you are too proud of yourself or too proud of something you have done, or possibly are about to achieve, it can reflect badly. But then I think quiet pride and knowledge inside that you have achieved something that you set out to do, then perhaps the pride can be shared with those close to you. But I suppose, most importantly it gives you a sense of self-esteem and the fact that you have achieved something that perhaps you never expected to achieve. There's a very good cause for having pride in something you have done. And self-confidence is, I think, very much tied up with self-esteem. Self-confidence is something that, if it's too full on, I suppose even aggressive, people can react against it. But to be quietly self-confident again is very important. It's funny, because sometimes, you know, I don't feel particularly special or different when I am walking down the street. Nobody ever looks at me. But some other days, I am feeling there's a lightness in my step. It's funny, it's like there's auras of light coming out of people, when they are feeling good about themselves. You can see that, they stand out in the crowd. I think people reading this know exactly what I mean. If you wake up one morning and you are feeling great about everything, you kind of shine. And there are days when you can really tell that this is a day to shine. And I think that is because you are full of self-confidence and you are feeling great about things.
22nd June 2005 - Melanie Swann (47) from Nazeing, England:
You said in response to a recent question "But then again my business is full of disappointments, interposed with a few high moments." Tell me, how do you feel about your career and the love you have of the thousands of fans that follow you everywhere you go. How can you feel disappointed about how a few people who don't understand you, your music and the beauty of you and what you stand for? The respect and appreciation of so many must make up for the abuse of a few. I hope it does Chris.
I wasn't actually referring necessarily to the people who don't like me or my music or what I stand for. I take them for granted and they don't affect me in any way. I think in the early years, when you are struggling to get a foot-hold, you know it's like struggling up a mountain on your hands and knees. And you slip back, and it is muddy and it's raining, the wind is howling, and you are trying to get up and every so often you slip back down again. Usually what you need is a helping hand. And there have been many people who have helped me up and those who have encouraged me. But occasionally there have been those people who stamp on my fingers and I slip back down again. In the early years it is very discouraging. You need all the help you can get. At this stage in my career, people like critics or whatever, I pay them absolutely no attention whatsoever. In fact in the majority of cases, these people are failed musicians themselves, and they are full of envy and anger and self-loving. Not just for me, you can tell. There's names that come up again and again, who manage to stick the knife in just about everybody they don't like. Not just me, lots and lots of people. And for these people I feel pity. I was given a very good piece of advice some years ago, which is that if there is somebody who has done you a terrible bad deed, serious injustice, instead of sitting there feeling angry about this person and making all the anger rob your energy, just sit down and picture that person that you hate and send them love. And it's amazing how fast that person just suddenly disappears out of your mind. So I can suggest to those people reading this, there's probably somebody in most people's lives that you just can't stand, well, sit down, take a moment, send them waves of love and all those negative feelings disappear and you'll find that you can just get on with life. And that person has almost vanished from your life. So, as far as the love and affection of the hundreds and thousands of fans all over the world, well that is something that I find pretty awesome to be honest. I don't take it for granted, and sometimes I forget that it exists. I'm one of these people that constantly looks to the future rather than looks to the past. And I suppose this is a failing of mine that I don't often look back at my achievements or acknowledge the fact that I have helped or added so much to so many people's lives. Perhaps I should take a little more time and think about this.
23rd June 2005 - Moriah Brunner (19) from St. Paul, Alberta, Canada:
Chris, I am assuming that since you grew up in Ireland, you may have listened to a great deal of Irish music. What is your favorite Irish song? Mine is 'The Star of the County Down' -- I absolutely love Irish music.
Living in Ireland, I have obviously been exposed to a huge amount of Irish music. And some of it I like, some of it I don't like. The music I don't particularly like is what people refer to as diddly eye music, which means the kind of music that you hear in pubs, aimed at tourists and sorts, jigs and reels. I wouldn't be mad about that. I suppose in some ways I don't really understand it. I don't understand the emotional background, the historical background to some of them. But then again the music of for example great bands like The Chieftains, I find absolutely beautiful. Particularly if it's in a film or allied to some kind of visual. But it's strange that in Ireland, living here you don't often hear that stuff on the radio, unless you choose specific channels or television stations where they will play that kind of music.
24th June 2005 - Lesley Macindoe (42) from Balloch, Dunbartonshire, Scotland:
I was at your concert in Edinburgh's Usher Hall on 6 October which was fantastic. The excitement I felt at seeing you live is still with me but I am missing you already and hope you come to Scotland again soon - perhaps Glasgow this time? Anyway my question is: When you sang Read My Name, I noticed lots of names on the curtains behind you. What names were actually flashing up as I couldn't take my eyes off you for long enough to see if I recognised any? I enjoy reading all the different sections of your website and am so grateful for it. With love forever - Lesley xx
I am glad you enjoyed the concert in Edinburgh and as always I was given a wonderful greeting from my Scottish fans. I look forward to going back there again. It's a part of the world that historically I find fascinating and architecturally as well. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in Scotland, indeed in the whole island of the United Kingdom. And it's a pleasure to be there again. The names that were going up behind me during "Read My Name" were a lot of different names from the website for example, people who have put their names down for these kinds of questions. We did an entire database and added a few more besides to suit the occasion. For example one night when my own family was there, their names came up. You know, that kind of thing. We have the flexibility to add more and more. And I am glad you noticed that. But I know that, when I am singing that song, a lot of people do look at the screen and wait for names they recognize to come up. And you can hear shouts of joy from time to time.
25th June 2005 - Elie Waked (19) from Lebanon:
Hi Chris, I am a big fan of yours from Lebanon and I have seen your 2 live concerts on tape since I wasn't old enough to see them live. But my question is why didn't you play Crusader and have you ever played it live? If yes, in which concert?
Well, when I wrote that song in 1978, and I went on tour, I played that song a lot with the band. It was one of the key songs of the Crusader tour. And I think subsequently I did play it a few more times. It became superseded by other songs from albums like "The Getaway", when I did the "Revolution" trilogy. And then in 1986 the "Into The Light" album with "The Leader", "What About Me" and "The Vision". But, because it is a story, I do return to it from time to time. Because after all I am a storyteller. And it's something that I listen to occasionally and I know that I have been asked "is it historically accurate?". Well, it depends really which angle you come from. I am actually just creating a song, not necessarily recreating a piece of history.
26th June 2005 - Jayne Simmons (38) from Ashford, Middx, UK:
For many years myself and my husband have enjoyed your music, particularly your ability to tell stories in song. One of our other favourite artists who is another accomplished story teller is Al Stewart. I really think that a combination of the two of you in song would be great - in many ways your musical styles are very similar and I for one would be interested in hearing such a collaboration. Have you any plans to record with any artists in the future or is there anyone you would especially like to record with? Thanks again for a great concert at the Albert Hall (Oct 18th) - we very much enjoyed the evening and hope one day we will be nearby when you do a 'walkabout' around the audience - it would be the greatest of pleasures to meet you one day.
It's funny you should say that, because I have just in the last answer discussed storytelling. And my storytelling ability is something that really began, I suppose, in the early years. The first album for example: "Lonesome Cowboy" or on the second album "Spanish Train And Other Stories". If people like those kinds of things, they may be interested to hear that I am looking very strongly at a next project around the idea of stories. Back to where I was before, I suppose. But also not being one to look backwards, as you may have noticed. I am looking forward to a time when stories can be put together maybe in an entire performance, stories from the past linked with visuals. And I just find writing stories is an interesting way of getting across a point, perhaps a morality point. A point about history, a point about sympathy for people's situations. There are all sorts of things you can do with a good story. And what's more, stories then can become part of people's lives. They can apply to themselves and they are hard to forget, if it's a good story. As far as collaboration with other artists is concerned, it's not something that happens very often. And usually the reason that there are collaborations is for a commercial one. These duets quite often involve a well-established star picking up somebody virtually unknown trying to advance that career, an entourage. One is known and the other isn't. And it has the opposite effect, if you have somebody who is very well known and one entourage that you are not known in and you do a collaboration. It's often a commercial decision. But moving on from that, I would say that yes, there are some great voices out there. There's a young Welsh girl called Katherine Jenkins, who is an opera singer. Not only is she absolutely gorgeous, but she has got a fantastic voice. I have never been a great fan of opera, because I find that the emotion has been squeezed out of the voices by too much training. I would love to sing a song beside an opera singer that has some kind of emotion to it and see who gets across the emotion better to an audience listening, myself or the trained voice. And I suspect it would be probably me for the simple reason that too much training tends to squeeze out the emotion. But I think Katherine Jenkins has got that rare quality of being able to touch your heart as well, as she is having an absolutely pure and beautiful voice.
27th June 2005 - Kelly Preston (36) from Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada:
I just read your reply to Mr. Puett from the US and you talk of the song, Borderline (from my favorite album, by the way)... which happens to have one of my favorite lines; "..and I will never know how men can see the wisdom in a war". I've often wondered if you've ever had any political interests in that have you ever talked with a world leader or two regarding that exact thing? If yes, then who was it and when and what did you take away from the experience. If no, then would you ever lead, or take part in a "Crusade for Peace"? Thanks again for your music... God Bless! Kelly
Well, this line, virtually every time I sing it, gets a massive response from the audience who have been brought up looking up into our fairly recent history at the horrors of large scale global war. In fact I am sending you this answer shortly after the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of victory in Europe, the VE day. And some absolutely astounding statistics are available. For example, in the Soviet Union, 27 million people died as a result of the hostilities in the Second World War. 27 million people, that's nearly half the population of Germany for example. It's 6 or 7 times the population of Ireland. And that's just the Soviet Union. Many other countries had terrible things happen to their population. And it comes back to that one question I asked myself. And perhaps I mentioned it on the website, that people might like to ponder. How many men does it take to start a war? I reckon, it takes about 3 or 4 maximum of men in positions of utter power, who make decisions. They may take advice from a lot more people than that, but I reckon the decisions come down to 3 or 4 people. And can you imagine being one of those 3 or 4 people that launched a war? In an aggressive way rather than a defensive way. And having to live with the consequences. Something to think about! And as far as meeting politicians and leaders, the answer is well I have met many of them, but I haven't discussed peace, because I don't think singers can do much. I think it's populations who are the only people that can respond to situations like the outbreak of war. I am still amazed that the chain of command has meant that people say "yes, I am going to go and fight". Particularly, if it is an aggressive war. This question came up by one of my sons recently about "is bloodshed ever justified?" And he and I decided that yes, it is justified if you are defending yourself. But it is not justified if you are aggressively attacking in a case of warfare. Obviously I am committed to peace and we are very fortunate to be living, broadly speaking, in a peaceful world at the moment.
28th June 2005 - Zeina (20) from Lebanon:
Hi, I always wonder about the variety of songs you perform and the sensation that comes with every song as if giving it a soul and mind. In the song "Classical dilemma between the head and the heart", you've chosen the heart and this is just applicable to fantasy. Do you believe that in this real life, someone can ignore the head and go with the heart especially to a man like you who is brilliant enough to give his mind a big deal so that he achieved all this marvellous success? I wish to you all the success for you've been a relief in the presence of all difficult situation. Thanks for you and your great music. Wish you the best, take care, bye.
I have to say, I enjoyed reading this question very much. It's very flattering, even more flattering that it's coming from a young woman of 20 years old in Lebanon. In real life it often happens that your sensible part is saying "no, I can't do this", but your emotional part says "but I have to!". The trouble is, you see, if you go with the sensible side of you, the head in this particular situation, in years to come you can be feeling guilty and say "oh, did I make the right decision?". This is the trouble when you are presented with such a dilemma that in future years you may say "oh, I think I made a mistake". Therefore I think the one constant is your emotion, because your heart can tell you what's really deep inside whereas your head is saying what you should do. I was once told that you should never, and I have just used it, you should never use the word "should". I should do this, I should do that. You must decide whether to do it or not. Not feel this kind of half guilt about whether you should do something. So in that respect, although the head is often ruled by current circumstances and what people are saying to you at the time, in later years you may regret that. So make a decision, if it's an emotional decision based on your heart, but be very very careful that you cannot come back in later years and say that was a mistake. That's why, when you make a decision based on your emotions, make sure that you are sitting in a quiet place and your emotions aren't flooding all through you, taking over your whole body and spirit. You must try your best to perhaps bring a bit of head into your heart, but not exclusively the head or exclusively the heart.
29th June 2005 - Marjorie Scott (40) from North Glasgow, Scotland:
Dear Chris, My question relates to Crusader and "Carry on"! I wrote to you when I was 18 regarding the strength this song gave me after the sudden passing of my father. I acknowledge that this belief may be personal, however: Do you firmly believe that we do "Carry on"? I still look at the stars in the sky and think of the souls who have passed over! I hope we do "Carry On", with love and great regard, Marjorie
I think since time began really for mankind, we have always wanted to believe there is something beyond there. And if you look at the raw statistics, if there were in the 14th century one billion people on the planet, they all died and similarly the 16th century. There have been billions and billions of deaths in humanity and there will be billions more to come. In this time in 150 years, I think without question, every single living person on this planet will be dead. So we are searching for some kind of longevity, we are searching for some kind of future. I think this is where religion comes in. And I think it is a very good thing that people are offered hope. But I think the way that most organized religions, if not all organized religions, have abused the trust and the spiritual faith put in them by the masses, because leadership and authority and power is a very corrupting thing. So coming back to personal feelings, I think this is where I went with my album "Quiet Revolution". The title track is that a lot of people do think there is a renaissance going on, a spiritual renaissance revival. Perhaps allied to the collapse of religion, which is happening in many places in the world. People are beginning to question their leaders in that respect. But for me I think it would be foolish for us to think that there is nothing else around us or out there as it were. I personally believe that we are surrounded by forces and a power that is absolutely awesome. The trouble is we don't listen very often. And speaking on a personal basis again, perhaps I don't listen as often as I should to the inner voice, but I think that's what we can learn from those who have gone before. Because there have been so many millions of cases of people believing, and it still happens today that they are being touched by a greater force from beyond. So in answer to your question, I do believe that we do carry on.
The MOtL section is taking a short break now, and will be back online hopefully in a few days. Stay tuned for more fans questions and answers by Chris de Burgh! For the Germans - remember to watch CdeB on "Gottschalk and Friends" tonight (ZDF), and also his performance at Live 8 Berlin on Saturday!
13th July 2005 - Ina Stöcker (35) from Bergisch Gladbach, Germany:
Hi Chris! I often heard that you are collecting wine. For me, as I enjoy cooking, eating and having a nice glass of wine - I often ask myself if you have one wine you ever come back to or if you change your taste from time to time and if you follow the "wine rules" (which wine to cheese etc.). After a hard day or week - as example - I love to sit down in a quiet atmosphere, hearing your music (with all the pictures in my head this music gives to me!) and have a glass of Merlot. Or sitting together with good friends, enjoying a meal, having a nice chat. I especially like Merlot wines from France, the area Languedoc, Roussillon. But there are interesting wines from Australia and South Africa, too. For me it
Well, Ina, this is a terrific subject, because it's one in which I have a huge interest. I have been collecting wines for many many years, and hardly a day goes by without me reading about wine, or trying a wine, or learning a little bit more about wine. I think the most important thing for me about wine is it's something to share with friends. Two weeks ago for example I had a barbecue. And selecting wines to be enjoyed for barbecue is interesting, because it's a fairly broad area of appeal. Because some people like a good, tough wine with their hamburgers or steaks, other people like to start with a nice and gentle wine. So in fact I brought out a few bottles of a Sauvignon Blanc from France, which was delicious. And I followed that up with a good rough '97 Bordeaux and at the end opened a bottle of something very special, which was called Chateau Cheval Blanc 1981. And people reading this, who know about their wines, will say, well, '81 wasn't a very good year. This is correct. But I also believe that, if you are dealing with a company or a chateau as fantastic as for example Chateau Cheval Blanc, the quality will always be there. And I urge people to try the second wines of French chateaus like, for example, Chateau Leoville Barton. That is delicious! And quite often you will find the second wines of great chateaus perhaps not being as fine as the key wine of that place, but it can also be extremely good. Following wine rules is, I suppose, very much down to people's taste. As far as I am concerned, because I don't eat fish, I try to present a white wine that does go with fish for those who are eating it in my house. And there are some things that do not work, for example spinach or eggs are very very hard to match wine with. Also spicy foods like curries, spicy foods that we adore in our house like Chinese foods for example. And for those I recommend a wine that has got a lot of fruit in it. Some of those German wines, not the very subtle ones like the Rieslings, but more fruity ones are absolutely delicious with those kinds of hot and spicy dishes. For example wines from the Alsace area go very well with spicy foods. With meat I would recommend anything full-bodied. And as you can tell I am beginning to get into my stride here! I could go on talking about wines for the rest of the day. So I'll just finish and conclude by saying that I don't actually have any area I particularly enjoy, but in my opinion the finest red wines do come from France and the Bordeaux area in particular. Although I like Burgundy wines, I much prefer the white Burgundies to the red Burgundies. And I like wines from Beaujolais as well, and the Rhone valley. And some of the places you mentioned, for example Languedoc, Roussillon and so on. They would form in my cellar, I would say, about 60 percent of the wines. But I am a huge of Italian wines, the whites and the reds. Some of the top Italian wines and some of the red ones from Tuscany are absolutely stunning. And I am also a big fan of South African wines. Strangely enough I have never been a great fan of Australian wines. I know there are some terrific wines made down there, in particular Penfolds which is, I suppose, the leading red wine maker in Australia. And there are some great wines coming out of Argentina at the moment. Malbec is a great grape and a lovely tasting wine. And some terrific wines are being made in Chile. Even in Canada there are some good wines coming through. I have a preference for what we call old world wines to new world wines, which is why quite honestly I do not know much about American wines. But they, like Australian wines, tend to be a little unsubtle to my taste. They tend to be very strong, very fruity. And for example the Chardonnays sometimes for me can taste like boiled sweets, put in water, it's not very pleasant. I suppose being a lover of white Burgundies, I am looking for the slightly more refined taste. But this is a matter of opinion of course. Those of you who know my music and the lyrics will also have noticed that I mention the words "wine" ("sitting down with a glass of wine") quite a bit during my songs. In fact, I'd be curious to know if anybody out there can send back a list of all the songs in which I mention the word wine. Because as I said right from the start it's a wonderful thing to share with friends. Another reason I love wine is, because it is also a great way to look into history, the history of vineyards, the history of winemakers, the history of the buildings that occupy the area where the vineyards are growing and so on.
14th July 2005 - Necip Tiynak (30) from Istanbul, Turkey:
Dear Chris, I am a very big fan of you following your music for 18 years. I have got every album of you from the beginning to the end (1974-2005 equal to my age). Your third concert in Istanbul Cemil Topuzlu Theatre in 1992 was one of the most amazing times of my life. It was the 19th of July, but it rained very hardly, but we didn't mind about it and danced for 3 hours with your wonderful music under the rain; do you remember that concert? My question is about the world we live in: Yesterday when I was listening to your song "The Devil's Eye" which is in the album Crusader (1979), I thought about the lyrics. It was the second part of Spanish Train, actually. At that song, the devil says to people: "I have blacked out your television, every station in the world is mine, And there are millions who are just like you as you sit there, paralysed! I have some orders which you will follow, and there's nothing you can do. 'Cos as you're looking at your TV screen, I am looking back at you..! ." Now let's look at the world we live in today: 9/11 event in New York, blasts in Istanbul, blasts in a SPANISH TRAIN in Madrid, disasters in Iraq, Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo... Do you think that your nightmare came true? By the way, congratulations for your wonderful last album and the last single "Read My Name" which is going to be a huge hit. Your name will be read forever! We are looking forward to seeing you in Istanbul. Take care....
Those of you who know that I love football will know that I went to Istanbul with my family to watch Liverpool beating AC Milan in the European cup final, which was one of the most outstanding nights in my life. And I wrote about this on the website a few weeks back. The concert that you are referring to, when it poured with rain, I have never forgotten. Not just that one, but also the warmth of the fans in Istanbul and in Turkey, in Izmir, playing the concert in that extraordinary place Ephesus, and various other places in Turkey. But the night when it rained, it was warm rain, and I remember it so well. I remember meeting a whole lot of fans afterwards, and they were absolutely drenched and they were just smiling and smiling and smiling. It was an amazing sight. And I remember starting the show with the song "Where Will We Be Going" slightly off the stage and coming down. It was one of those nights, you know, you want to go back to in your memory. Thank you for reminding me of that show. Moving on to your question about "The Devil's Eye", well I have often thought about the surveillance that goes on in people's public lives. Everybody knows about the cameras all over the place, speed cameras, cameras in stores, cameras following on the street. Now anything you do on the internet can be followed and found and scrutinised. Every word we say on the telephone can be overheard, every text message you send is stored in a database. Now it comes to the point where, in privacy, how much of what we do in private is actually being observed. And I had this nightmare scenario, perhaps the camera in the TV is actually two-way. We are not just looking at a camera showing us images from elsewhere, but perhaps the technology of course exists where you could put a camera into a television. In fact we have often seen reality shows where there is a camera broadcasting from people's homes and showing what they are up to, you know, the Big Brother scenario, which, I think, either currently exists or shortly will exist. So, in terms of anti-terrorism obviously it's very important to make sure that we are, all of us, kept in safety, and that we are not at the whim of terrorists, which is why, for example, we have such a tough time, going through security at airports. The 9-11 disaster in New York and Washington just showed how easy it is for terrorists to break through the security screens and threaten ordinary people. My firm belief is that there is no way that firstly we can ever be entirely private in our lives, and secondly I do not believe there is a way that we can live without the threat of terror. I think this is part of man's make up, in his physical and spiritual personality is the desire to wreak revenge and wreak havoc on other human beings, just to prove a point. And sadly a huge amount of it is based on religious believes and religious discrimination. I have said it many times in the past that, if only people had more tolerance towards another man's beliefs, I am sure a lot of this terrorism would not happen. Of course you have to ally that to the ongoing needs of consumerism and the consumer societies who are trying to protect their own economies which is why oil is the currency of life and it's also the currency of death.
15th July 2005 - Angelo Auriti (40) from Calgary, Canada:
Hello Mr. de Burgh, I have been a big fan of your music for many, many years. I do like some of your love songs but am especially fond of your songs about the tragedy of war. Over the last several albums I have noticed you have not had the epic songs like Crusader or Revolution/Light a Fire/Liberty or most recently The Leader/The Vision/What About Me. These songs are by far my favourite. Do you derive a certain inspiration to write these songs? Is there a chance that an epic like one of these would ever be published? I have had the pleasure of seeing you twice in the mid eighties in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have ranked these two shows as some of my all time favourites, even twenty years later. I discovered this website by accident and impressed by its details. I realise how busy you must be but I would be honoured if you would be able to answer these questions. Thank you very much.
Well, Angelo, I have been to Calgary many times in the past. I've really enjoyed myself in your city. I have been there during your boom times and in your bust times, when things haven't gone so well, and I have always thoroughly enjoyed my trips across there. I am sorry that the upcoming tour of Canada does not take in the Western section. For those who live in the West, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Regina or Calgary for example, please accept my humble apologies. It is always a question of time. Trying to play the West of Canada means you have to add at least a week to ten days, maybe longer onto your tour. And unfortunately I have got so many obligations back in Europe. I know that you think that I don't think you are important, but that is not true. It's just that other things have already been filed into my fairly full diary. So, I will return, I promise you, to perform in those places that hold many great memories for me. Just going back to your question about the epics. I started getting interested in these epic songs like Crusader and so on way back, and I think perhaps because I come from this background of storytelling, and also having been on tour with a band like Supertramp who did not do those kinds of songs necessarily, but they liked to have a big epic sweep to some of the productions, particularly on stage. Even their seminal album "Crime Of The Century" was supposed to have been a concept album, but I think it was more a series of songs that sort of ran into each other and joined up in a very specific way, but I think by accident. But having shown a great interest in literature in early years, I wanted to bring that into history. History has always been a keen interest of mine. Furthermore, a track like "The Leader/The Vision/What About Me" was very much inspired by a specific moment which was looking at a painting, and wondering what people from way back, forefathers, many previous generations behind us, what they would have made of the current methods of war in relation to what they believed which was in biblical terms it was the hell and damnation in The Book Of Revelations. So I had this vision that all this kind of stuff was going on in the sky above these people. But the point of it was, and also in "The Revolution" and "Crusader", there is a point like in Crusader all these warring nations decided to put aside their wars and fight what they felt to be a common enemy. In "The Revolution" it is about how people get very excited about change, and then it often comes to nothing. And change is just repeated, it's as they say in France "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." That is: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." And "The Leader/The Vision/What About Me?" was about modern warfare and how in modern warfare, if there is a cataclysmic war, started by either one of the superpowers, everybody will be affected, so they don't really gain anything. I would very much like to publish these stories in a longer, broader form one day, and this is a little plan in the back of my head. Finally, what has always interested me about the scale of war is to take it from the point of view of an individual of a family suffering during the onset and the prosecution of a war.
16th July 2005 - Tillman Graach (24) from Augsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris! Lately I was listening to the song "I Started A Joke" from the very early days of the Bee Gees. It struck me that - unless my ears are playing tricks on me - this sounds a lot like your first album. The melody could be one of yours from those days, but most of all it's the arrangement and the production that really remind me of the typical "Castle Walls" sound (no particular song in mind), if you know what I mean. Finally, also the lyrics seem to bear some resemblance to "Turning Round/Flying". Here's my question: have you been aware of these similarities, were they perhaps even intentional? Or is it just pure chance? One more question concerning heroes of the 70s: What do you think about Agnetha, Björn, Benny & Frida, better known as Abba? Like them or not?
It's possible that the chords and the production do resemble "I Started A Joke", but it was unintentional. And unfortunately as a songwriter you are limited to only a certain number of chords. The chords in that particular song are what we call the standard round and round chords, you know, D F# minor, E minor, A. And I think "I Started A Joke" is fairly similar. But if you look back at a lot of other songs, they are fairly similar. I am not sure about the words though, because it's been a while since I heard the Bee Gees song. But I am sure it was purely unintentional, pure chance. And about Abba - I admire Abba enormously, I am a big big fan of Abba. And I am very interested in deconstructing their songs. Because we have two songwriters, Benny and Bjorn, who were very talented musicians, particularly the keyboard player, and came up with almost mini stories, mini epics like Fernando, which really appealed to me. I love those stories and they manage to paint a beautiful picture of the drums, Fernando, and so on. I like the production for example of S.O.S. If you listen to that, you'll hear the build up of tension and then, when the chorus comes in, the drums come in. And it is exceptional. It is very obvious, and it is very basic, but unfortunately very few people have got the skill to use simplicity to such great effect. And another thing I noticed about Abba is, when the girls sing, they sing full voice most of the time. And luckily for them their songwriters have given them long notes to sing. So it's thrilling stuff, and they really sound terrific when they are singing full on.
17th July 2005 - Mandy Chadburn (36) from Sheffield, UK:
Hi Chris once again. Hope you're keeping well. I've already asked you a question once, can't wait for you to answer. I sing myself, I've also taught myself how to play guitar. I do admire how far you have got in your career. I wish I was in your shoes given the chance. Anyway, my question: I know you're a professional singer and this sometimes does happen, do you ever sing out of tune and think "oh my god what's up with my voice today"? Hope you are not offended by my question, Chris! See you, take care, yours Mandy.
Playing the guitar has been something I have always wanted to do. When I was 14 or 15, all my friends had guitars and we formed little bands. It was a great way of meeting girls, if you are a shy boy like me. For me it's also a natural way of putting across my creative ideas, that and the piano. Coming to the singing, when you look at the voice as purely a muscle that is controlled by the brain, there are times when you are not hearing yourself right. For example in the recording studio, having a lot of experience recording. I know that if I have my voice too what we call dry, which means there is no reverb or no echo added to it, it can make you slightly out of tune. Similarly, if you have too much reverb, you start listening to the reverb coming back again and that can put you slightly out of tune. One of the reasons I always do a sound check before the concert is to check out the hall, if we are indoors, because there is a big reflective wall at the back, and the sides and the roof. And if it's a very big hall, which I have often played in the past, you are getting your voice coming back again at the speed of sound. But as it comes back due to various effects, I think including the Doppler effect, it's coming back slightly flat. And if you are not aware of this and your monitor is not loud enough, you will start pitching your voice to what you are hearing coming back at you, rather than what you should be hearing directly as you sing. Similarly I find that a base guitar in such a big hall can have a similar effect, because it is very loud, a very big sound. If you start pitching to a bass guitar that is coming back to you from the other end of the hall, you will pitch flat. So apart from that I am lucky enough that I very rarely, at least I hope that I very rarely sing out of tune. I am pretty tuneful except when I am sick, and if I have a sore throat or something, I have to push quite hard to make sure I hit the right notes. But generally speaking I am lucky and I sing in tune.
18th July 2005 - Lanning Schiller (57 going on 29) from Boulder, Colorado, USA:
Apologies to your brother and your nieces......Since you are always 29 years old, I asked your brother in the ROYAL ALBERT HALL if he was your father in law....oops.....THANK YOU for putting signed discs and posters out in BRIGHTON......The UK tour was life-changing for my disabled son....unable to work, READ MY NAME and ST. PETER'S GATE and others and even the title ROAD TO FREEDOM offers him so much hope that he can have a future......and LEBANON and NATASHA and always talking to a woman using a FRENCH NOT BRITISH accent keeps him romantic and alive.....and we cried all the way from London to Denver about the young men who will not be coming home in your songs and for real. The QUESTION? Why did you write about fathers and sons in I LOVE YOU? Keep them coming. The bittersweet, weltschmerz tone of this album is haunting and lovely.....
Great to hear that you came over to the Royal Albert Hall for the concert last year in October, and I hope you enjoyed it. I am flattered by the fact you asked my brother if he is my father in law. I suppose one of the inevitabilities of life is obviously getting older, but I have a job that in some ways is very stressful and in other ways is not. Because I love what I do, maybe it keeps me looking a little bit younger. At least I haven't got too many grey hairs quite yet. I just really like your question and the things you have said before the question itself. I wrote about fathers and sons in "The Words 'I Love You'", because it's a theme that I have actually referred to in the past at least twice in my songs, about the difficulties that fathers and sons have sometimes. I am so happy that my relationship with my two boys and my daughter is just really rock solid. We were away recently on holiday for two weeks, and quite a few people kept coming up to say "How come that the six of you (we brought Rosie's boyfriend along) always eat together, like breakfast, lunch and dinner? And you always seem to be having a laugh together and having fun and enjoy each other's company." I said well we are just lucky, we are a very close family. So the difficulty I had with my own father, I am quite sure stemmed from the fact that I was away a lot at boarding school and he was living with my mother abroad a lot. And, you know, my advice to new fathers is, the bonding starts instantly, at birth. And it must go on forever. And you've got to keep that love and affection. You can't suddenly turn out to be an authority figure the moment they become teenagers. You've got to be there for them through thick and thin. And for me it's been quite the juggling act to try and make sure that my career doesn't interfere with my family life and vice versa. And judging from the way that I get on with my family, I think I have been successful in both counts. But again going back to the question, saying the words "I love you" can be very very difficult. And I think people who know this song will also know that I am referring to the tolerance we must have for other people's religions. And saying in a broad sense to your neighbour and to somebody you have never even met, somebody across the other side of the world: We are all human beings. We all have the same fears. We all have the same internal systems, the same immune systems. We all live and die the same way in terms of our physical make up. So we really are one people. And it's worth remembering that in your dealings with people from different cultures and religions.
20th July 2005 - Adrian Brittlebank (17) from Leighton Buzzard, England:
Hey Chris! I really enjoyed the Royal Albert Hall concert this year. My question is, if asked, would you do a theme song for a James Bond film? Cheers Chris
I am glad to see a youngster like you, the same age as my son Hubie, coming to the Royal Albert Hall concert. And the quick answer to your question is, if I was asked to do a theme song for a James Bond film, I would say yes immediately. But I think it is unlikely at this point that I will be asked to be the singer. Maybe I could be asked to be the songwriter. But you never know, one can keep on dreaming of these things. I have always been a huge fan of James Bond films, but in particular since, I think, the best James Bond was Sean Connery. And he is also a friend of mine that I meet from time to time. He's a charming man, but I think he was the best Bond. And I am sure most people agree. So if he comes back and does a, you know, Bond aged 60+, whatever he is, then maybe they'll ask me to write a song for him.
21st July 2005 - Declan (33) from Cork, Ireland:
Hi again Chris, my family and I were in Florida last September for our summer vacation. Yes September in Florida is hurricane season. We got tangled up in the frenzy and panic of Hurricane Francis. I must say it was an experience "Waiting for the Hurricane" to hit. We lost three days of our holiday however that was a small loss as in the aftermath many Floridians had lost homes and many businesses had been seriously damaged. Florida was still recovering from Hurricane Charlie when Francis hit. My question is did you get the inspiration to write your song "Waiting for the Hurricane" from being caught in one in Florida also and if so when?
It sounds absolutely terrifying to be caught up in a hurricane. In fact we were in Mauritius when the Tsunami struck in the Indian ocean. We were very lucky to be nowhere near it, but we could see the impact and the force of the power of nature. And how many were killed, I think it was coming up to 300,000 to date. And a hurricane is also absolutely terrifying. My bass player, Al Marnie, lives in Florida. And I have called him from time to time, as I have seen a hurricane hitting the Florida coast, just to see how he is doing. And I rang him once when he was in the middle of it. And the noise was just absolutely appalling. Coming to the song "Waiting For The Hurricane", I did not have any intention writing a song about a group of people waiting for a hurricane. That just developed, I think, as these things often do from the first line, which was "Standing in the foyer of the grand hotel, suitcase in his hand, looking for a bill." Then it began to me to sound like an old Humphrey Bogart film. Which often happens, you know, once I start a line of a song, I go into the mental film mode. And this one appeared to be exactly that. A group of people like perhaps in an Agatha Christie film, something where you are unable to leave a place and you are enclosed with other people that you barely know. And there will be a few days of interaction with these people, and probably the terror of being caught in a cataclysm like a very bad hurricane. I have never been in one, although I have been in very very severe storms and winds. I remember in the Midwest of America being caught up in a Tornado, and it was very close to where I was and that was scary. But not thankfully a hurricane.
22nd July 2005 - Brigga (34) from Germany:
Hi Chris! First of all - thank you for a great show in Dortmund last night!! Are you aware of the fact that people - total strangers - become friends during your show? That people who are standing next to each other and who have never met before at the end hold each other and sing and dance together? (And here I don't mean the big crowd right at the stage!) Music is obviously powerful but do you ever notice the changes in people while you sing? You surely intend to bring a bit more happiness into everybody's life. Not only by playing fantastic music but by touching the people somehow. You seem to reach out and actually get hold of them. (Of course I am speaking for myself, too, I can't count anymore how often I thought "yes, true" listening to your songs.) It's so amazing to watch and I wonder if you know/see/plan that!?? Anyway, I wish you and your family all the best and for myself I wish that you keep doing what you do because you are doing it more than great!! Listening to your music is not just to 'sing and dance', it's so much more to me and I bet it is for so many others, too. Thank you - Brigga
Well the answer to your question is no, I am not especially aware that people make friends during the show. I know a lot of people like to get together before and after the show with people that they know, people who have come from overseas for a concert. The Dortmund concert in particular was absolutely extraordinary. I can't remember in my life enjoying a concert as much. I was so relaxed going into it. It was a way of saying thank you to everybody for the 20 years of support in the Westfalenhalle, and to say thank you for the years of support that I have had from people all over the world. And it was just a fun night. For me it wasn't like a concert at all, it was like a party. That's why at the end of it, I think I was on stage for more than 3 hours, I did some extra songs and said "this is like a party, we can't go to bed now". But it's delightful reading what you've just said about what happens during my concerts. And I hope if these things do happen, you do get in touch with each other and exchange phone numbers, exchange websites, email addresses and so on, and build up the friendship that does exist around my music that goes around the world. Because it gives me a tremendous source of inspiration. Although in the last few months I have been creatively quite quiet, indeed I have been creatively bored to be honest, because I haven't been able to focus on any particular direction. Because plans have been slow in developing. Not because of something that I have done or haven't done, it's because other people are involved and other projects. And trying to for example get the film project up and running has been frustrating. But the stage musical project looks like it is going to come through, but that took 6 months longer than anybody expected. However I am now focussed personally on another project for the end of next year which is very exciting for me, and I am writing new songs towards that. Maybe I'll be able to bring that show to Dortmund. But Dortmund, Westfalenhalle, is a very special place for me. And it's wonderful to hear what you are saying, Brigga, about people making friends.
23rd July 2005 - Christina Martin (24) from Orpington, Kent, UK:
What is your favourite day? You don't have a "9 to 5" working week like the rest of us, so do you enjoy the weekend as much as say someone who works in an office?
I don't have a 9 to 5 working life, although in many regards I do have a structure to my life, particularly during school time. Because we get up early on school days every morning, five mornings a week. Actually six mornings a week, because there are frequently things on a Saturday morning early. I take my two sons to school. My daughter Rosanna now drives herself to University College in Dublin. And just on that particular point, she had an extraordinary year as Miss World and we were all thoroughly relieved that when she handed over the crown to the new Miss World in December last year, that at least she could now put some further structure back into her life, and concentrate on her studies plus other projects that she wanted to do. And she managed to get through her Christmas exams with great results, although she had missed most of the course and worked extremely hard. And then we just recently heard that her end of year results, bearing in mind that she probably missed about 70% of the course and she had to really really catch up missed seminars, missed lectures, missed important essays that had to go in. She got a 2.1 grade in sociology and history of art, which is a tremendous achievement for somebody who wasn't there most of the time. So we are absolutely chuffed and thrilled about that. Now she is working, as I am sure a lot of people know, with the team who put Holiday On Ice together. And she is the European face of the Holiday On Ice group, so you are going to be seeing her on television a lot, and the newspapers a lot, and on big giant billboards. And she's got a year coming up of interesting places to go and travel to. And these people treat her with a respect and a kindness and an understanding, and giving her breaks, not crazy travel plans. For her this is a complete change from what she had to put up with during the year she was Miss World. But back to the question: My favourite day? Well, I don't really have a favourite day. I must admit, it's fantastic when the school holidays come round, so we can just relax. We don't have to go through the thing of leaving the house at 8 o'clock in the morning or having to pick the boys up at 4 o'clock or 5:30 in the evening. And late study for my elder boy, actually all three of them have got big exams coming up towards the end of 2005/2006. So today for example, as I speak to you, Christina, it's an absolutely gorgeous Sunday. And friends have been dropping round, we have been sitting out on our terrace. It's been extremely hot. We've got beautiful views of the countryside, of the hills, across the fields there are sheep which thankfully don't belong to me, but we can still enjoy their company. And you can feel the grateful earth as a response not only to rain, but also to sun. So I would say Sunday is a nice day, because there is nobody else around us, there is nobody working in the house for example, it's just a very personal, private day. And I think like everybody else we love the weekends.
24th July 2005 - Stephanie Grabowski (36) from Dormagen, Germany:
Hi Chris, first congratulations for your 20th anniversary. I love your music since I'm 11 years old, now I'm 36, so it's an anniversary (25th) for me too. Needless to say that I have visited THE CONCERT in Dortmund. FANTASTIC, INCREDIBLE !!! Now my question: What were your feelings, seeing a young boy (Cesar) performing your song (of course PATRICIA)? To see how he got the audience to support him? Take care and keep on! Your fan forever, Steffi
I have spoken, Steffi, in a previous reply all about my feelings about the Dortmund show, so I won't repeat them now. Except to say it was absolutely fantastic, and the live record that we have ("Live in Dortmund") reflects very accurately the excitement that everybody, including myself, felt on that night. As far as the young fellow Cesar getting up to sing "Patricia The Stripper", I think some people felt that was a bit of a fix. You know, I actually fixed the result or somebody did. Well, I think I have gone through that already. Obviously somebody coming up to sing a song that I wasn't going to do on the night was important to get that into the hat from where I chose Cesar. But I am delighted for people to come up on stage, it's something that I have always liked to incorporate into my shows. I suppose for a couple of reasons: People love to get up and maybe be close to their star/hero, and maybe not for that matter, but people do like to stand up and sing a little bit. Some people are very good, and some people are not very good. But it's just a chance to get up on stage and show what they can do. I think a lot of people also are surprised certainly at how difficult it is. It seems easy to stand up on stage and sing, but it is actually not that easy. You have to really concentrate, you have to concentrate on the way you talk between songs for example, which is very slowly. And singing you have to be very aware of your tuning. But good luck to Cesar Quintero - I was delighted that he did a very good version of "Patricia The Stripper". We obviously hadn't planned it in front, but I thought he was excellent.
25th July 2005 - Jan McKenzie (48) from Herne Bay Kent, Kent, UK:
Is it true Chris, that you are involved in some way with supporting research for the blood cancer - LYMPHOMA? My husband was diagnosed with a rare form - WALDENSTROMS MACROGLOBULINEMIA. Quite a mouthful. Considered treatable but not as yet curable! I wonder if you could either confirm something or squash the idea, if it is true! WHY Lymphoma? I know.. getting personal.. but I am sure other fans would like this one out of the bag, so to speak. LOVE your music! Hope I have not made this too long! OH what the Hell! Here's a P.S.: Michael is fine! He has had chemo/antibody therapy for just under a year (shingles twice in one year), got addicted to pain killers for shingles, weaned himself off (quite a challenge!) (breast nodules) In remission now! In fact (rampant rabbit!), if you get what I mean!! Full of youthfulness! He stopped all treatments December last year and his body is supporting him in wellness. I know you are a man of heart and deep feelings, I hope I am right that you are a patron of something. Lymphomas seem to be on the increase! And you have such charisma and profile… and GREAT MUSIC talent (of course). It would make so many feel so much hope! Warmest wishes, Jan
Again I want to tell everybody reading MOtL how impressed I am by the things that people write to me. They aren't just questions, they incorporate a whole lot of other things of personal stories, like this one, of feelings, of emotions, of gratitude. And all I can say in response is that I've been a professional musician for 30 years, and I am constantly overwhelmed by the love and support that I am getting from all you people out there. Thank you! And if I may be so bold to ask, please keep it coming. Lymphoma is a dreadful form of cancer. And my interest, unfortunately, came from a personal situation with Glenn Morrow, the keyboard player from my last band, you know the Canadian boys. And he died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. And I took a keen interest in this particular disease. I am not sure if your husband has got Non-Hodgkins or a different sort of Lymphoma. But I am delighted to hear that he is doing well, and that he is, as you say, a rampant rabbit. And that he is enjoying life and you are as well. And thank you for what you say about my music. Although I am not a patron of a Lymphoma society, I am very much involved with ways of reducing the spread and onset of cancer and the early recognition of cancer in people.
26th July 2005 - Mylène (42) from Nederweert, The Netherlands:
Chris, First of all, thanks for your music and concerts. I visit as many as possible... Now for the question: In one of your MOtL answers, you say "When you hear a song, enjoy it for what it is, certainly initially without looking for deep meanings". Ironically most of the questions are about the meaning of the song or what you inspired writing it. I wonder how you feel about people who have very different feelings about one song or another than you had when writing it (considered I don't think anyone could get "hate" feelings about any of your songs).
Hi Mylène! What I am suggesting here is that, in my opinion and obviously it is clearly just my opinion, music is at like looking at a picture. People get all sorts of different things from a painting as they do from music. After all, one of the great things about art is that various things appeal to various people in completely different ways. I am not a big fan of modern art particularly, because I don't see why something has to be explained to me. Like a red blob on a white background. I think some people are very foolish indeed about parting with enormous sums of money to give for example for a painting that you have to have an explanation for. But that's their opinion, and I prefer more realistic art. I am a huge fan for example of the French expressionists of the late 1800s, early 1900s. And some people don't like that kind of painting. Similarly with music, there are a lot of people who listen to songs on a superficial basis, because I believe that the way music is translated into people's emotions is by two methods. One is by hearing, and the second by listening. People hear music most of the time as background in cars, you know, in the bath, when you are falling asleep, on television, whatever. But when you actually listen to music, that is by giving it a hard listen and working out what's going on inside it, working on what the lyrics mean, that kind of thing. That's what I mean when you listen to music, to try and figure out what was the artist, the musician, the composer, the songwriter thinking of. And that's what I do for my music. I like to think that people can hear it, but also spend a bit of time listening to it and working out the meanings behind what I have produced. And clearly people have different reactions to different pieces of music.
27th July 2005 - Geoff Dickson (37) from Canberra, Australia:
Chris, your music is great, but you seem to have two major problems in your life. Firstly, you don't spend enough time in Australia entertaining us with your music, but more to the point your second problem.... Liverpool football club? Oh dear, surely you could do better than Liverpool! Apart from the minor fact that the ball is the wrong shape (come to Australia and watch some good southern Hemisphere Super 12's Rugby Union), Liverpool..... how did you end up following a team like that?? Seriously... you're not a native of Liverpool, why them?
I know this question was asked quite a long time ago, but I am having a very very big smile to myself about Liverpool football club and the way they won the Champions League. I am sure as everybody knows by now, my family and I went out there, and witnessed one of the most extraordinary games of football in history. Liverpool has been a place that I have been extremely fond of for years. It first came up on my radar screen as it were when the Beatles came out and all that wonderful music coming out of Liverpool. And in my early years as a performer, it was one of the two places in the UK that you could rely on having a really supportive, emotional and exciting crowd. One was Glasgow, the second was Liverpool. We regularly did British tours in the 70s, if we ground our way around the countryside of England and Scotland, saying "don't worry, we will soon be in Liverpool" or "don't worry, we will soon be in Glasgow". So Liverpool has got such an affectionate place in my heart. I have always had friends there, and I was a huge supporter of Liverpool FC in the 70s and 80s and subsequently obviously. Now just going back to rugby, I have also been a big fan of rugby. I have had tickets for Landsdown Road, which is the venue for Irish Rugby internationals, for at least ten years and I have got another ten years with a new ticketing arrangement. My two boys are mad for rugby, and I like it very much as a sport at the top level. I used to play probably more rugby than football as a youngster, and cricket of course, when I was at school. And it is a game that I certainly admire. I like Rugby Union more than I would Rugby League, because of different rules and so on, but it is a thrilling game at the top level. I am sorry about Australia by the way. I have been to Australia four times, and you are right, Geoff, I think I should go back there.
28th July 2005 - Dione (38) from Taiwan:
Dear Chris, you have been my favourite singer more than 20 years. And I have your albums from "Far Beyond The Castle Walls" to "The Road To Freedom". I am a Chinese, so I don't understand Western culture very much. I have a simple question for you. Why are you so interested in "ferryman"? Does this word have a special meaning for you or your culture? Sorry, maybe my English is not good.
Again stressing how fortunate I feel to have an international fan base. Your question is very interesting and the things you have said about Taiwan. I don't know if you had the chance to come and see me performing in Taipei about 6 or 7 years ago. I really thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. That was when we were working with the string quartet. Peter Oxendale was playing the piano. And I remember checking into my hotel suite and it was enormous. And one of the two or three young ladies who were the butlers said "Oh, Michael Jackson was just in this suite." So I looked everywhere to see if he has left his chimpanzee behind, but he hadn't. It's an interesting thing hearing that you do come from a Chinsee culture and background. Moving to the ferryman, I think that word only occurs in one of the songs, although I may be wrong about that. The ferryman in ancient mythology used to ferry the souls of the dead across the river. Some people think it was the river Styx or the river Hades, anyway it was the gateway to hell. And I tried to put together the idea of having a story with this wild horseman who is thundering through the night, heading for this river. And I can see it in my mind's eye every time I listen to the song. And the river with the moon on it, and the ferryman waiting. Basically it is a story about destiny and the time when you have to make an important decision in your life. The word does not have any particular significance, apart from what I have suggested, ancient mythology. But also there are many many thousands of boats all over the world which are called ferries and I am quite sure they would have a ferryman involved with the movement of the passage of this boat or ship.
29th July 2005 - Renate Sambale (49) from Göttingen, Germany:
Dear Chris, thank you for your personal note to the meet and greet in Dortmund, hope you got my present which I gave to someone standing in front in the "chaos". My question to you: Who had the idea of the very nice film on "Making of" TRTF and would you do it again on a next album? It is very nice to see you working and to listen to your comments. Thanks for a short answer and all the best to you, Renate
Yes, thank you about the meet and greet in Dortmund that I referred to as the rush and crush. We certainly won't make that mistake again, we'll organize it better next time. But I think those who went to the Dortmund concert probably forgave me, because the concert itself was extraordinary. The "making of" the Road To Freedom album, well Kenny Thomson and I had this idea about a behind the scenes film, which is actually most of it shot by my brother-in-law David Morley, that's my wife's brother who is a professional photographer and very interested in making videos. And I just thought people might be interested to know as well about what happens in recording studios, in the recording process. It's something that again in the future I would very much like to do.
30th July 2005 - Mandy Smart (36) from Skegness, UK:
Hi Chris, remember Martyn Joseph who opened some shows for you years back? Well he has just released a covers album of his favourite songs, past and present. My question is, have you ever thought of releasing such an album, and maybe include Without You (which you sang years ago at a Liverpool concert), Hotel California, Hey Jude, etc?
I'd like to say hello to Mandy Smart, who claims she is 36, but I think you are only about 24. You're still looking great. I am very fond of Martyn Joseph, he's such a talented man. And a very good golfer incidentally as well. And I am delighted to hear that he has released an album of covers. It's funny, I have often thought about it, you know particularly when you are in a situation where you are between records and you want to have what we call product out in the market place. But there is no room for such a record in my life at the moment, I suppose because I am still doing fairly extensive tours. Not that Martyn isn't incidentally. But it is, I suppose, something to do one day. Maybe a collection of ten of my favourites and get them on record, and probably do a tour incorporating them.
31st July 2005 - Rita (45) from Frankfurt, Germany:
Hi Chris, just a few lines to tell you that I'm a fan of your music since many years and that I hope, you'll have still many years with new songs for your fans. In the chatroom after the 50 years rock party in the German TV you told about a film-project you'll join next year. What kind of film will it be and what's your part?
Yes, I recall being in the chatroom after the 50 years rock party, and I spoke about the film project. Well, I have spoken about it before, but I'll just refresh your memory. Which is, it's called "Through These Eyes", it's the story of an old lady who is in a nursing home at the end of her life. And she has written a diary about her life. And a young nurse finds the diary as the old lady is sleeping. And the young nurse and the old lady are very close. It's a flashback of this lady's life, and all the extraordinary things that have happened to her. The idea for this really is that when you look at an old person like your grandfather, your grandmother, you know that, if it is somebody close to you, you know how lovely they are, or if they are unwell, how much they need your help and attention and your care and your love. And you know also that they have had an extraordinary life, because everybody has a story to tell. And if you look at an old person, say an old man going down to the shops with a shopping bag or coming back, or even more interesting is when you have an elderly couple walking along very slowly, holding hands, you know you should never laugh at them, just because you can run faster than they can. Because they have had a wealth of experience, a huge amount of living that has gone into their years. So it's really about this lady's story and what has happened to her, the changes in her life, the tragedies, the high points, the photographs, the memories. This is something we all have to face eventually, if we are lucky, to go into old age supported by a loving and strong family behind us who would care for us in our old age. So the bottom line is, have respect for old people, as one day, if you are lucky, you may become like them.
1st August 2005 - Renate Meyer (44) from Herford, Germany:
We've seen you at the 50 years Rock Special in Bremen where Thomas Gottschalk said he would like to have you in a separate show, performing some older love songs, too. Will there be any chance?
By the time you read this, I have already been on Thomas Gottschalk's chat show, and I will be well into my tour. Thomas was speaking about another show doing some older love songs, and the answer is yes, I would absolutely love to do this. Because I have a voice that suits some kinds of music much better than others. I don't think I would be particularly good at doing Rolling Stones covers or Jimi Hendrix songs, but it's the older love songs like for example one of my favourites, the Harry Nilsson song "Without You" or a lot of the Beatles songs, or much older than that, maybe from the 30s and 40s, that I would be very happy to give my hand at trying and give my voice an attempt to get round those melodies from the past. Yes, I would love to try this one day, and I hope it happens. So, Thomas Gottschalk, if you are reading this, it's up to you now!
2nd August 2005 - Silvia Eggert (37) from Cologne, now Berlin, Germany:
Hi Chris! At first thank you for your emotional tour this year. It was the best, I've heard in these 20 years (and I've heard many of your concerts....). My question today: Why do you look so serious most of the time (concert in Berlin)? Are you not happy on stage? What do you feel, when you are on stage? Thanks a lot and excuse me for my terrible English...........
Thank you for your kind words. I may look serious, but actually inside I am laughing and dancing. The thing is, to carry a concert on your own for two and a half hours, maybe longer, you have to concentrate. It's a very very concentrated thing. I am always thinking not only 20 seconds ahead, but also what the next song is, what I am planning to be saying between the songs, trying to remember the words. There's a lot going on in my little head as I stand on the stage. I think possibly when I am with the band, I spend a bit more time laughing and joking. But I have to tell you I am actually relaxed on stage all the time, I am never ever nervous, because my energy comes from the love and affection of the audience. But I must apologize, if you think I am being serious, but I am not. Actually I am always wanting to break into a smile. But another thing you should know, Silvia, is that when I sing a song, I want to get right into the heart of the song. I want to be the person in the song. When I am singing "Rose Of England", I am with Queen Elizabeth I. And this is a serious story, and I have to try and convey the emotions that I am feeling. So I have always believed you cannot convey an emotion unless you feel it yourself. So that's the point at which I begin. I have to feel the emotion. That's why sometimes I look a little serious, but I am in the song, deep inside it. I think you also know that when I do my walk around with my headphones on, I am not so serious then, I am laughing and joking quite a bit.
3rd August 2005 - Joe Griffith (45) from Concord, North Carolina, USA:
Hi Chris! My name is Joe Griffith. I am 45 years old and live in Concord, NC U.S. My sister recently started dating a man who claims to have written 'Lady In Red' and sold the rights to this song. Now I know from previous answers that you are the lone penman to this wonderful song. My question is why do people claim to have written this song and how does this make you feel when people are falsely trying to take credit for your creative talent? Do you have any idea how these rumors get started? I'm willing to bet you have never collaborated with or bought the rights to any song from someone named Pedro (Nick) Berg. By the way, Don't Pay The Ferryman is one of my all-time favorites! Thank You, take care, and God Bless!
Thanks for your extraordinary question. Funnily enough I have had strange letters from people, claiming to have written my songs. Some of them use pretty foul language, saying "Chris de Burgh, give me the f...ing money! I wrote Lady in Red! Send it to the above address!" This is absolute nonsense. I wrote "Lady In Red". I have never heard of Pedro (Nick) Berg. He absolutely did not write "The Lady In Red". I did, I was there at the time. And thanks for what you say about "Don't Pay The Ferryman". I have spoken about it before, but it is probably one of my strongest favourites on my all-time list as well. I think incidentally the reason your sister has a man saying that he wrote "The Lady In Red" is that he was trying to impress her. Maybe this won't impress her much anymore, if she is still going out with him, to know that he told her a complete falsehood.
5th August 2005 - Christina Nissen (20) from Krusaa, Denmark:
Dear Chris, On your album "Road to Freedom" you have a song called "Here for you". I've just spent 10 months in Georgia, USA and one day when I was over there, my dad tells me that he has a song I need to hear, when he sees me again. Turns out that he had been watching some show on German TV with you and heard you talk about your daughter. He bought your CD shortly after that and went home to my mom. Told her to sit down in the couch and just listen. Then he put on "Here for you" and she started crying in a second. Same thing happened to me when I finally saw them again after my stay in the States. I cried and cried. I just want to thank you for making a song so powerful to me and my parents. I would love to ask you, what made you write this song and what your own feelings are about it? Love, Christina
Well, Christina, I was very moved to read your beautiful story. And I am moved for two reasons. Firstly, that the intention that I had initially when I wrote the song was really from the parents point of view. And I know that the second point, which is to hear it from the child's point of view, is just as important. I haven't heard it expressed as beautifully as you have just expressed it in your story about your mother and father. I have said before that I remember playing the song to Diane, my wife, with thinking about our little girl, who would have been about 16 or 17 at the time, going away. And I couldn't get past verse one, having described the scene at the airport. It's something that's going to come to most parents, if not all parents, when their child finally leaves the nest. But hearing it so eloquently written as you have, Christina, from the point of view of yourself and saying thanks to have created a bond between yourself and your parents, that is on a different scale. And it's funny to say also, I am delighted that the tears flowed, because this is another expression of joy. People cry when great things happen, and people cry when they are terribly, terribly sad. But I think the recognition of something that has moved you or touched you, it's also a release of emotions that too many of us hold inside us too often and for too long. The inspiration behind the song is in fact very mundane. I was in the Hyatt hotel in Cologne, which is one of my favourite, if not my favourite hotel in Europe for many reasons. It's right across the river Rhine to the beautiful cathedral of Cologne. I have had fantastic nights in that hotel with friends and fans, you know, the bar downstairs and elsewhere and had a lot of fun. But I was waiting for somebody to come to see me to do some singing. I had a piano in my room, and I was waiting for this particular singer to come from England with my manager and a couple of other people. And there was a cleaner, walking around the room, doing some cleaning. And I was fiddling at the piano, and this melody came out which is the first part of the song. And I immediately completely ignored what was going on in the room. I went into a shell of my own, when I started imagining what the music was trying to tell me. And I found myself in the airport. Perhaps this particular thing had been on my mind? Whatever happened, the music sat beautifully with the idea. Subsequently I turned it to a song. So, Christina, if you ever manage to come to one of my concerts, or your parents, hopefully I'll be singing it that night. And maybe the tears will flow again.
6th August 2005 - Marie (26) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi Chris, as you've decided to leave the closing words in "When Winter Comes" as a mystery (which I am determined to solve) would you give us a hint and say if the words are English at all, or are they in another language? I am dreaming, no, hoping for the day when I will attend your concert in my own country, Iran, which, if it seemed impossible before, doesn't seem so out of reach today. Maybe, just maybe.
Curiously enough, I was recently reading a piece from a newspaper report from Scotland talking about the people in Iran and the elections and what was happening there. One girl was talking about how music can change things, sometimes not for the better, sometimes for the better. And a friend was disagreeing, saying that she loves music. And just saying that this fellow Chris de Burgh, you can hear him coming out of all the radio stations, in every café, in internet cafés, in restaurants, which made me smile. So, as you know in the past, I am determined to come to Iran to sing hopefully at some stage when people allow me to come into the country to sing! And I am sure I will get a very very good reception. The words at the end of "When Winter Comes" will remain a mystery, because I think somebody some day will figure them out. But as you probably know, they are not English. And it's not actually English backwards either, as once I did on the song "Carry On" on the album Crusader many years ago.
7th August 2005 - Susanne Krah (30) from Bochum, Germany:
Hello Chris, I just bought the special edition of "The Road To Freedom" and I was so glad to find the song "Little Angel" on it. What is the story and meaning behind this song for you? For me it is really a very emotional and touching song, I can not listen to it without starting to cry at the moment. It touches my heart very deeply, it brings up strong emotions for me. Please do not laugh but as someone who has and had animals I hope you can understand me: my cat Lawina died a few weeks ago, she was 17 1/2 years old, I spent more than half my life together with her. She died peacefully in sleep and was not suffering in the end but for me it was a shock and after her death I felt lonely for the first time ever since I can remember. I missed and miss her so much. Your song "Little Angel" expresses very much what I feel so I was wondering what your story behind the song might be. With lots of love (and best greetings from my two new cats Moira and Monty, I adopted them from the animal home), Susanne
Hi Susanne! We have come across each other many times in the past, and thank you very much for your question. The song "Little Angel" was written as a spontaneous response to the murder of two little girls in England about 3 or 4 years ago. And I was so shocked and horrified that a man could murder two 10 year olds who were walking down the street in England one moment, the next minute they were killed and their bodies turned up in a ditch several weeks later. I wrote this song from the point of view of the parents of that poor little girl, and also from any other parent whose worst worst nightmare it is to suddenly lose a child like that. I also put the singer of the song in the bedroom of the child, and looking around at all the childhood memories, and the memorabilia, and the toys and the photographs. And it's just that absolute, dreadful aching in the heart, which is why I have written "My heart is not broken, it is shattered". It is absolutely destroyed, those people's lives are broken forever. And you know I am not laughing about your cat, because people get very very close to animals, and they become a member of your family, and it is well-known that pets can allow outpouring of affection and love that it is very difficult sometimes for people to give to each other ironically. So I know that people get very very close to their pets. We have a dog called Milly, a black Labrador. She is 9 years old and she is a member of the family. And actually I am quite convinced that she does not think of herself as a dog at all, I think she thinks of herself as a human being like the rest of us. And she doesn't like being left behind on trips and things like that. She stares at us. You know how they can look at you in that way to make you feel guilty because you haven't taken them somewhere? And all the other things, they really always know when there is about to be a trip by somebody in the family, even before the suitcase turns up. So to be honest, I am not surprised that the song "Little Angel" touches you in that way, because memories are intensely moving and emotional.
8th August 2005 - Melanie Edwards (42) from Liverpool, England:
Hello Chris, during the soundcheck in Dortmund on 6 November (which I must say a huge 'Thank you' to you for allowing our group from the Mailing List to be present at, it was just fantastic) you paid particular attention to the positioning of the 'sound boxes' (technical name?) by the piano. I can't remember ever having seen you using personal earplugs during a performance. Do you find the boxes easier to use? In which case, how do you manage during the 'walkabout', not being able to hear yourself? And, is it difficult to concentrate on what you are singing when we start hugging and kissing you (which I was fortunate enough to do in Manchester (ending up on the floor if you remember!!!), Liverpool and Dortmund. Thank you.
Hi Melanie! Yes, I remember the hugs and kisses. Thank you for them, and I hope to get many more again in the future! The soundcheck in Dortmund involved not only the sound out front, obviously through the main speakers. And every hall is different, that is why it is important to hear what is happening from in the hall from the stage. And the two boxes in front of me are called monitors. In those, I can hear myself. It's really important. If you can't hear yourself, you will sing completely out of tune. Because of the speed of sound, by the time the sound waves come back to you, they are distorted and you can't hear the original pitching. So these boxes are absolutely vital. And particularly when you are playing with a band. They can all hear themselves, and I don't want anything in my monitor at all except just me. I can hear the drums, I can hear the keyboards coming out of their own systems. So part of the complexity of this is you must also have a very good sound engineer, and I have been fortunate to work with a lot of great sound engineers. So it makes a huge difference, particularly in a band situation where you've got a lot of noise on stage. Having the clarity to be able to hear yourself, and your own part of the music that is being made, is really down to a very good sound engineer. And also you are saying to the sound engineer, even during the concert, what you require. During the walkabouts I listen to the speakers that every body else hears, in front of the stage. The only curious thing is, when I am a quite long way away from the stage, and I am playing the guitar, my hand is moving at a certain speed and I am hearing it back again at the speed of sound a millisecond late, that's quite disconcerting. And the same thing with my voice. So you have to be ready for that, if you are going to do such a thing in the future, Melanie, which you may or may not. Some people use personal earplugs. I don't like them, because they tend to fall out and I become very aware of them. I have tried earplugs, they are called in-ear-monitors, but I am not mad about them. Particularly if I am dancing around a little bit, or somebody grabs a hold of me and kisses me, they can fall out and then I won't hear what I am doing.
9th August 2005 - Babak Shakiba (18) from Tehran, Iran:
Dear Chris, I just can't find the words to thank you for the great music that you make. Last year my father passed away and the only thing that could comfort me, was listening to your music and for that, I am very appreciative. As you know you have millions and millions of fans in Iran and most of them are from the younger generation and you probably already know that the youth in Iran are under a lot of pressure because of many different kinds of problems and difficulties and your music is like a medicine for them that heals their wounds and gives them some time to let go of all the daily troubles and relax for a while. If you were to dedicate one of your songs to the Iranian youth, which one would it be? And I would also like to know what does "the snow" mean in your song "Snow is falling" is it the metaphor of something else and does it contain another meaning rather than the actual snow?
First of all, I would like to say again thank you so much for the wonderful things you are saying. Just reading all the things you are saying lifts my spirits enormously. And yet again I must tell you that it is a dream of mine to come and sing for you people in Iran. Let us pray that the day will come soon! The word that you use "medicine" is also extraordinary. And to know that, as I sit in my small studio, playing the piano, playing the guitar, writing the song, that the impact that this can have to the people across the other side of the world from different cultures, different backgrounds, different languages, different beliefs, different ways of life, I think that is an extraordinary thing. And I feel humbled and honoured to be in the position that I am. The word "snow" is referring specifically to cold water, when it becomes iced and falls as snow. It has no extra metaphor to be perfectly honest. Except I will say, when snow falls, it is a time for people to be indoors, for people to be in warmth, in comfort around hopefully a fire, or with people that they love. And if you are left outside in the snow, then you are a person that needs help and needs to get into the heat as quickly as possible. So with that in mind, I would probably refer to a song called "The Snows Of New York", which I would like to dedicate to the Iranian youth, because it tells of friendship, of people going far away from their homeland. And I refer to many Iranians who have left their home country and are dreaming of those at home on a regular basis. And just to offer hope and to say things will be ok, things will change eventually. And hopefully in the short term, I am quite sure that the authorities from your country who read this website to see if I am somebody who wants to pervert the youth, or change the administration. Well, this is completely incorrect. I am a humanist. I believe in international barriers being broken down through love and music. And I am not a threat to anybody, least of all the Iranian youth. I am a solid family man with children of my own, and strong beliefs that we are all one in the eyes of whichever god that you believe in.
10th August 2005 - Stephanie Grabowski (36) from Dormagen, Germany:
Dear Chris, I try it again. After being your fan for 25 years I'm still nervous and excited visiting one of your concerts. Again and again there are thoughts like "Maybe I can get an autograph" "Maybe I can get a picture of him" Maybe, maybe, ... But all your concerts still accomplish my expectations, no I never meet you face to face (what a bummer!) but your performance and your music are great, fantastic. My question: Is there any person you ever want to meet and maybe you have the same feelings your fans have? Being nervous and excited like a little boy (sorry!?) waiting for Christmas? Take care, and please never stop writing and singing your songs. Steffi
Hi Stephanie! I would love to make your dream come true. Funnily enough, my younger boy Michael, he and I were walking down a corridor in our house recently. He had his arms around me and said "Dad, isn't that amazing?" Because we just got up and we were walking in our dressing gowns. He said "Isn't that amazing? Some people never get the chance to be close to you, although in their eyes you are something of a hero. But for me you are just my Dad." And I was smiling. I laughed at that, because yes of course, I am just an ordinary person. For some people perhaps not so, but as far as I am concerned, I am. So I hope we get the chance to say hi to each other, Stephanie, I can give you an autograph and whatever else you would like. You know, talk about songs or music. And as far as anybody I would like to meet - well, yes, there are lots of people. Famous people from the past, and current famous people. But I've always had as a hero, not just as a singer, but also as a songwriter, the musician Paul McCartney. And I think, if I were to meet him, which I very much hope to do at some stage, I would be very nervous. I would just say "Paul, you know, I want to thank you for the inspiration you are giving me and millions of other people all over the world, to continue to love music and to respect music and to respect your talent." If I had the chance to sit down with him, I wouldn't stop talking, which he may not find particularly interesting. But I would tell him everything that he has done for me. And it's funny I should say that, because I am sure I am that person for somebody else. Maybe there is somebody else out there who would like to meet me, and offer me the same feelings and emotions. Isn't that amazing how we all grow and change, but still you are everybody - even everybody reading this - everybody is important to somebody some way.
11th August 2005 - Lourdes Villarreal (40) from Mexico City, Mexico:
I had the great opportunity to meet you personally in Bonn, in 1998. As I told you that time, even though I love all of your music, my very favourite song remains "Flying/Turning Round", which was the first I ever heard from you. My questions are, what inspired you to write such an amazing song, and have you ever played it live? If not, would you consider playing it again in the future? I would also like to recommend you to visit my beautiful country in your next vacation :)
Mexico City is again a place I have never been to, but I am excited about the possibilities of such a visit. And Lourdes, you mention my song "Turning Round" which was renamed "Flying" in South America. It was the first big hit that I ever had. It was unusual, because those of you who have a copy of it from "Far Beyond These Castle Walls" will recall that it was a long song, about 6 or 7 minutes long, and it played an eternal game where I believe the first word of each verse was also the last word of the next verse. So there was an eternal movement around and around. And I was looking at the cycle of life, of birth, growth, death, rebirth, growth and death. This is particularly important, I suppose, when you are brought up on a farm and you see it right in front of your eyes on a daily basis. I don't know why I started writing this song, but the first word just came out of me and again I pursued it. And I remember at the time having dear friends who lived in a little cottage nearby. They were from America, Joe Gunnells and his wife Julie. And I remember going to them with my guitar one day - this would have been in the early 70s - and playing them two songs. One was called "Windy Night" and the other was called "Turning Round". And they said "Oh, that is amazing! You have got to record these things!" I am not even sure I had a recording contract at the time. But that particular song "Turning Round" became a major record in quite a few places, but mainly South America, as I said. And maybe it is one of those ones that I need to re-record, because my voice has changed so completely. When I listen to that, well, I sound of course very young, but I sing in a different way now. I don't know where the inspiration came from. It's just somewhere from my imagination.
12th August 2005 - Christina (24) from Orpington, Kent:
Chris, I think you would make a marvellous friend. You have a lot of tales to tell and a lot of wisdom. But what qualities do you look for in a friend? Is it hard to find true friends when you are famous?
Thank you for saying that I might make a marvellous friend. The qualities I would look for in a friend are loyalty, support and strength, when there are difficult times in everybody's lives. And I would also suggest that most people only have about three or four really really close friends, with whom they can feel absolutely comfortable. And then of course a wide circle of acquaintances and other people, who you enjoy their company, but not necessarily a three week hike through the Himalayas. I think friends are people with whom you don't have to be anybody but yourself. Quite often when we go out in public we are trying to put on a face that is not exactly who we are, but it's the person we would like people to think we are, which is completely different. But with friends you can absolutely relax. You can get silly, you can get drunk, you can have fun, you can tell jokes, you can have a lot of crazy times with. And most of my friends, if not all of my close friends, are people that I have known for certainly since I was in University, if not before. And the question about is it hard to make friends, if you are famous? Well, if you don't have friends prior to becoming famous, I would say it is difficult, yeah. Because you are not quite sure why people want to know you. I have always been very guarded about my private life in any case. And as a solo performer, who runs a business from London to here in Ireland, I don't have a network of business associates and contacts that I can rely on as normal business people do. Nevertheless I am very happy where I am, and I am very happy with the people around me.
13th August 2005 - Paul Blest (57) from Launceston, Tasmania, Australia:
Dear Chris, you seem to do something of a world tour with your letters, but this beautiful island of Tasmania seems to have slipped off the planet, so I hereby reinstate it! Apart from finding your music moving generally, I have always been fascinated by "Say goodbye to it all", my favourite of all your songs; it reminds me of a time when my family and I ventured north about ten years ago; we were driving northwards through France to take part in the fiftieth anniversary of the Normandy landings. Most vivid in my memory is stopping off at a small town called Oradour sur Glane where an horrific massacre took place in the dying months of the war; four of the inhabitants survived - the town is now a museum and left exactly as it was over sixty years ago. When we finally arrived at the Normandy beaches, we attended a memorial service in a local ceremony near Bayeux; I will never forget the deep and lasting gratitude to allied servicemen expressed by a priest who had lived through that era, and by the townspeople generally. What was the origin of the song? Paul Blest. Tasmania. Australia. P.S. Any plans to come "flying home" over here?
First of all, please accept my apologies that I have not been to Tasmania. I have heard a lot about the island, and all good things, I have to say. In fact some friends have spent quite a long time there and enjoyed it very much and want to return. The world is a very big place, and although I am fortunate to have an international career, it is difficult to go everywhere. But who knows, it may be some place that I could venture into and discover some more about in the years to come, possibly allied to a tour of Australia. And incidentally you shouldn't feel too bad, I have not been to New Zealand either, again due to time constraints. The song "Say Goodbye To It All" came as the second part of the song "Borderline". And as people who know me would also recognize, I have always had a horror of war and how individuals get caught up in war. A book that I have very much enjoyed in the past is called "A Farewell To Arms" by the great writer Ernest Hemingway. A man I have admired for years, and I love the way he writes books. And in the book "A Farewell To Arms", there is the story of an American caught up in 2nd World War in Italy, and an English nurse. It's a very very interesting and very emotive book. And if you are reading it for the first time, look out for the word "rain". Because rain is a symbol of despair, of death. And the first line in my song "Took a boat over Lake Geneva, it was raining all night long" - well, that is a symbol for what is about to come. But in my song I do not want to leave the listener with the feeling of despair. I actually on the contrary want to leave the reader with the feeling of hope, and that it is possible to move sideways in life and move away from something that you find completely repulsive. It's not explained whether in my song the man deserted or whether he was badly wounded and he had to leave anyway. But nevertheless the couple decides to make their own future in Normandy. Moving to Normandy, I have been there several times. It is one of my favourite places in France. And of course like everybody else, I am very much aware of the history, of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. I have visited the American cemetery there, which is absolutely staggering. It's so awful to see the ages of the young men who died, most of them on June 6th, or on June 7th or 8th. And anybody who has seen the film "Saving Private Ryan" will remember the early scenes, not just the beach landings which incidentally happened in County Wexford in Ireland, but also how the returning old soldier walks to the cemetery. And I think almost uniquely in cinema, within the first two minutes, a lot of people in the cinema were in tears, watching the old man falling to his knees and remembering his comrade, who also died in that conflict. Nevertheless my interest not only in 2nd World War, but more in general, always focuses on the personal, on the individual. I think it's a very important part of history. If you have the chance to visit Normandy and indeed the Flanders Fields from the First War, it has a vivid and extraordinary impact on those who go. We are in a bizarre time with cinema and film in general, of being able to watch TV and not really distinguish between reality and fiction. And as Paul has discovered by going to this town Oradour sur Glane, these things actually happened. There was real flesh and blood involved in these massacres. It wasn't just make believe and make up and tomato sauce being splashed around on unfortunate extras in a film. Bayeux is of course the place made famous by the Bayeux tapestry which was commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux who is one of my forefathers. And there is a beautiful cathedral also in Bayeux, which I can thoroughly recommend to people to visit.
14th August 2005 - Yvette Jessen (34) from Rüsselsheim, Germany:
I grew up in the US and moved to Germany when I was 24. Being bilingual, I realize not only the difficulties of learning a second language, but also having written lyrics to songs on a semi-professional level, I see how hard it is to take a set of lyrics in one language and translate them into another simply because I have done this myself with German originals, but have never tried it the other way around. My questions stem from this particular area of songwriting. While in Canada, I purchased a copy of 'Notes from Planet Earth', and on the CD are two songs that are sung in French with some parts probably non-translatable and kept in the original format. Do you write the translations for these songs and have you ever considered translating one of your songs into other languages besides French for your concerts in other countries? I know that you have a number of songs with cultural themes, and they are really great, but I'm curious about this and would absolutely love to hear one of your songs performed in German, but only by you, of course.
Interesting what you are saying about second languages and the acknowledgement of the difficulties of not only writing lyrics, which really are a condensed form of fiction in as much as you can take a story of five or six pages and then condense the whole thing into just a few verses in a song, which is quite difficult to do. And it is also very difficult to translate. As far as the French songs that I have done in the past are concerned, they have been translated by a French writer, presented to me. And I have changed a few things, because I am relatively comfortable with the language of French and translations. Although I wouldn't be good enough to totally translate any of my songs. I am sure I would make plenty of grammatical mistakes. Sometimes I have to change things round to make sure that the melody movement suits the words. As far as German is concerned, I would be very happy to attempt a song in German. But I am not sure firstly if it would sound very good, or secondly if it would appeal to people. Because I believe the Schlager music is very popular of course, but it's that sort of area that I am not sure that's really the area that people would expect me to go into. However, I am prepared to try anything once!
15th August 2005 - Willem de Waal (41) from Richards Bay, South Africa:
Hi Chris. Not so much a question, rather than a "touching base". I have not been to your web site for a while now, and coming back here reading the Man on the Line section is bringing back lots of memories! In particular, the comment made on 29 November 2003, about your interaction and respect for audiences and fans. I was the fortunate guy who got to meet you backstage at the Durban concert on 18 October 1998, and handed over the 50th birthday card from your on-line fans. (I see a copy of it is still here on the website - cool!) And then, later in the evening, I was the really fortunate guy who sang "Say Goodbye to it All" with you! An amazing evening, and fond memory. Regarding the respect for audiences: I think you have hit the nail on the head - people are not fools, (well, some of them, anyway!), and they can easily see if a performer is simply going through the motions, or when he is really into his performance. If there is one thing I always try to drum into the performers in the amateur shows I produce, it is this: PASSION! When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn. And I think that most people who have seen your live performances will agree that the passion is always evident. That said, I realise I DO have a question: Are there albums which you have recorded, which you thought were less "passionate" than others? Where things did not turn out as you would have liked them to? For example: when I listen to the earlier, more romantic albums, or one like "Power of Ten", "Getaway" or "Man on the Line", I can always sense the enthusiasm. This is not the case with "This Way Up" - and this in spite of great tracks like "Here is Your Paradise", "You are the Reason" and "The Snows of New York". As individual tracks, they are great - but the album has always given me the impression that it was not as good as it could have been. Looking forward to seeing you in SA again!
This is a very interesting question and indeed statement from Willem de Waal, recalling a night in Durban in October 1998, which I remember extremely well. I had the chance to celebrate my birthday in South Africa. Thank you, I remember, Willem, not only coming to sing with me, but also presenting me with this 50th birthday card. You ask a question about passion. Well, I have always said right from the start that unless you can feel an emotion, you will not be able to convey that emotion. I think some people get a little too passionate in performance, you know they wave their arms around. They get a bit uncontrolled. And I think audiences find that uncomfortable. But I think what they want to do is mental stimulation, emotional stimulation, as well as when I play particularly with a band, the rock songs, I love to put my physical side into it and get people dancing and interacting with the people on the stage, which is very important to me. The word "passion" is a word that has sustained me for years. But that said, it is very hard to sustain passion throughout entire records. There is a number of reasons for this. Firstly the songwriting cannot hit the centre of the target every time. Usually if I feel that there are four or maybe five songs on an album of ten or twelve tracks that I feel are really, in my opinion, for me anyway personally, outstanding, then I am very very happy. I am not saying the others are fillers or poor quality. It's not that at all. It's just that you have to balance a record. And a very bizarre thing happens sometimes, and I remember it happening in the mid 80s. When you make a record of, say, ten really excellent songs, they don't sound excellent. But if you take one individually and play it on the radio, then it really stands out. It's a very strange phenomenon, which I have come across in the past quite a few times. Also, secondly, when you are working with a producer, you are very much in his frame of mind. Although I have worked as a co-producer or indeed the full producer on many of my productions. Working with somebody else, you do allow yourself to be aligned into their production techniques, their recording techniques, to a certain extent. But then again, as it is me singing and co-producing and being totally involved with the music, in fact every aspect of a record, it's quite hard, as we say in English, to see the wood from the trees. You have to be able to stand back and see it and judge your record and think "this is what I want to achieve". Most of the time I believe I have been successful in my own desire to have a record turn out the way I wanted it. Not always, but when I listen back as I have been recently in preparation of this tour, to my older records, there is a slight feeling on some other tracks, thinking "I wish I had done this or changed that". But you see, you must never have regrets. You can't do that, because life could be full of guilt and regrets. So generally speaking, when I finish a record, I walk out the door and say "That's that. That's finished to this day." I can't make a judgement about the album "This Way Up". There are some terrific songs on it, in my opinion, "Up Here In Heaven" being one of them and "Here Is Your Paradise". But you can't get it all right all of the time. I do my best.
16th August 2005 - Jacqueline Ebner (46) from Erskine, Scotland:
Hello Chris, I saw a TV programme last night called Kirsty's Millions, in which you appeared, albeit briefly, at the end, about a delightful little girl who is terminally ill. My question is, how do you choose the charities to support and the ones to decline. Do you find it difficult to say 'No'? Love, as always, Jacqueline
Hi Jacqueline! I have met you on a number of occasions and you are a great supporter. And thank you for all your kindness down the years, your letters. The choice of charities is a very difficult one. I am the patron of about fifteen different charities, but I tend to only go for charities that involve children. This little girl Kirsty was born with a heart defect, a very serious one. And she was not expected to live beyond her first or even second birthday. However, she just turned 9 years old. And I was asked to go and sing at a birthday party for her, because she loved the song "The Lady In Red". And I did a little concert at a dinner to about 200 or 300 people in Manchester. My daughter Rosanna came along as well, when she was Miss World. And we had an extraordinary night, very emotional, a very beautiful night. And little Kirsty came up onto the stage, dragging behind her an oxygen tank which is her lifeline, she has to have oxygen all the time. I wish her well in the future! And the difficulty for me is choosing which of the many charities I am asked to support. So I just tend to choose ones that affect me or my family or are connected with illnesses or diseases that have affected people around me that I know. As you have pointed out, Jacqueline, there are so many charities to support. Obviously I can't do them all, but I do as many as I possibly can. And I hope that my name being involved with some of these charities helps them to raise the much needed funds.
17th August 2005 - Deborah Moore (49) from Scappoose, Oregon, USA:
Chris, so many of your songs are so very heartfelt...especially for a man...to whom do you attribute this wonderful quality? Who were your heroes growing up?? Also, who is the face on the cover of "Crusader"? I noticed the beautiful eyes and was wondering if they are, indeed, yours? Thanks so much for being! Your friend, Deborah
I have been to Oregon in the USA in the past, and I intend to return in the future. Thank you for your remarks about my songs. As you've pointed out, especially for a man to show and understand deep emotion. I can't put my finger on why this happens, Deborah, but when I go into an idea or a thought or an emotion, it's almost like sinking into a swimming pool. You've got to let yourself fall, knowing that you can always return again to the surface, but you have to allow yourself to drift down, down, down into your own feelings and emotions and your own thoughts and beliefs. And sometimes it's actually quite scary. It's very important for me when I am in this particular phase - it's almost like the phase between being asleep and awake - that I am not disturbed. So that is the time that I switch off the phone, lock my studio door and make sure that nobody interrupts me. Because then I can really imagine myself in a situation, for example in a song like "The Best That Love Can Be", where a couple are breaking up and the man is pleading that his memories be left intact, although the break-up may be extremely unpleasant. The memories are all that's left at the end of the break-up. And although that hasn't happened to me, it has happened to people around me. And I suppose I have a big capacity, an ability to put myself into somebody else's shoes. It's funny, because watching the children grow up and then things happen with them or to them, I always say "well, imagine what it would be like, if it was you.", to get an understanding what the other person is thinking and feeling. And similarly with songs and feelings and emotions, I am not one of those men who is scared to show my emotions or scared to cry. It's because I am very much in touch with my inner person and it's really important to try and go into that in a person, to try and express an emotion, to allow it to be conveyed to somebody else who is listening. The face on the cover of Crusader is me. I remember holding that helmet on my head and it was very heavy and I could not move, because it was a long exposure on the film. That was back in 1978. When I was growing up, my heroes would have been the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, great songwriters like that. And as you say, it is rare to find a man who is able to express his emotions. In some ways this exposes me to derision and indeed contempt. and people laugh about a man who can show his emotions, some people. But on the other hand I couldn't care less. I am who I am and I like me. And that's the important thing as far as I am concerned, to like yourself.
18th August 2005 - Kurt Hauke (44) from Wildflecken, Germany:
Hi Chris! I have a question about the orchestral arrangements on the album "Road to Freedom". Did you write the arrangements all by yourself or was there another composer? I like your songs with orchestral background a bit more than the others. By these songs I become a very sentimental feeling. Many thanks for answering my question. Kurt
The orchestral arrangements on "The Road To Freedom" are by a man called Chris Cameron, where it's a full orchestra, that is the first three songs. I worked with him initially, when I sent him a demo copy of what I planned to do, what I liked to hear. I talked to him a lot subsequently about ideas, about orchestral movement, about individual pieces of music coming from individual instruments like an oboe for example or a cello. Then on the day of the recording they would do a run-through, and if there was something that I didn't like or I felt was wrong or wanted to change, that could be done immediately on the floor of the recording studio. I can't read or write music so I have to leave it up to somebody else. But they always listen very carefully to what I have to say and what I would like to feel and hear. And it helps when you have somebody like for example Chris Cameron or indeed the keyboard player on my record Pete Gordeno, who are very emotional musicians as well, and they understand the feelings that I'm trying to convey. Chris Cameron also did the orchestral arrangements on "Here For You", after I explained what the song is all about. And I have, down the years, always tried to help musicians to understand what I am talking about in my songs, by writing a short story, a one page story, about what is happening. And for example, in the song "Here For You", I wrote the story to Chris Cameron about the scene at the airport where everybody is leaving, and how emotional it was. And he understood immediately. And he wrote a beautiful string part for that song.
19th August 2005 - Ian McDonald (40) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:
Hi Chris. I am reading a series of 28 books by Alexander Kent on the 18th/19th Century Royal Navy. With 2005 being the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, have you ever thought of writing a song about it? Something similar to Crusader would be great!!
Hi Ian! I am very familiar with your name. You have always come up with some interesting things to say, and things to talk about and things to suggest for the future. It's curious that you should be asking this question and several months later I am answering it. Because I believe today, as I am answering this at the end of June 2005, is the anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar! It's an interesting idea to go to history and look at Admiral Nelson, because it occurs to me now that when I write songs I tend to rely on my own knowledge of history. But for the first time I am becoming very interested in looking at a subject like for example Ian's idea of the battle of Trafalgar and researching it, reading books about it, and then writing a song about it! This is something I haven't done in the past. Even the song "Rose Of England", I went into my knowledge of Elizabeth I, and once I had got the idea for the song, I did a bit of historical reading and research. So this is a very good idea for the future and I am glad that you brought this up, because that's an incident in history which I am sure a lot of people would be familiar with.
20th August 2005 - Amir (22) from Tehran, Iran:
Wotcha Chris, I would sincerely thank you for your kindness towards us Iranians, as far as I can see on your website. Anyway, my main purpose of leaving a message here is to ask you of your purpose of writing and singing the "Eastern Wind". I was wondering if the old man there is Ayatollah Khomeini and if the people "burning the palace down" are Iranians uprooting the regime of Shah. Thank you so much. With the hope to catch you up in one of your upcoming concerts.
Well, I don't need to say anymore here, I think, about my fondness for all the things that you've said about me and to me, from my fans in Iran. I'd just like to say "Thank you very much", and please keep your sentiments coming back to me. The song "Eastern Wind", which was in the late 70s the title track of that album, was written from the point of view of a farmer in the Mid West of America. And no disrespect to America, but the amount of international news that was available back then, and probably still is the case about the rest of the world, is very very slim. If anybody travels to America and wants to read international news, it is pretty difficult to find. Maybe just a small part of the paper, or the news bulletins. So this farmer is very ignorant about what is happening over in Iran, or indeed Persia. At that time he senses there is a threat coming to him that will threaten his livelihood, his country, his family. And he sees it as a wind that is about to destroy his crops, that is what the Eastern Wind refers to. And yes, you are quite right, it was relevant to Khomeini. But you have to understand that these points of view aren't necessarily mine. I create these characters, who believe things that they see and hear. So as I say this is not necessarily my point of view. But this farmer feels that something is about to change, and he doesn't like what is coming. It's also the cover of the album "Eastern Wind", illustrating these feelings.
21st August 2005 - Paula Bostock (30) from Wiltshire, UK:
The Traveller - What made you write it? My sister and I love it, and have fond, early childhood memories of it. Mainly travelling up to Scotland with our family. Please let us know your inspiration for such a wonderful tune and song.
Hi Paula! It's great that you have these early childhood memories of listening to songs, in particular "The Traveller". After I had written the song "Spanish Train", I felt that there was still room for a few more songs about mysticism, about the Devil for example, about the supernatural. Which is why subsequently I came up with "The Devil's Eye", "Don't Pay The Ferryman" and indeed "The Traveller". "The Traveller" was based on revenge. And I remember being impressed by a film starring Cling Eastwood called "High Planes Drifter", where a man enters a town and he is beaten senseless by the townsfolk who don't understand him. They see him as a threat which he isn't, but he decides to get his revenge and he comes back again. It's an extraordinary film, it's almost biblical in its attitudes about life and death, black and white and in this case red as well.
16th November 2005 - Chris High (38) from Wirral, England:
Hi Chris!! Firstly, thanks very much for the FANTASTIC show you put on at the Liverpool Cathedral. I know that myself, Helen, Steve Bennett and his wife Claire enjoyed the show immensely and that Diane Perry thought it well travelling up for. A great night indeed. Now, for my question. I've heard somewhere that you used to perform Spanish Train in some sort of fancy dress, is this right? And, if it is, when did you stop this, why and will you be returning to singing this great tune of yours dressed up in future. Thanks again Chris and I hope to see you again soon. Best Wishes, Chris High!!
Of course I know Chris very well and the fantastic work that he does along with Steve Bennett in the aid of blind people, using my songs to create stories that blind people can listen to. They are expanded stories and I can thoroughly recommend anybody who wants to have a listen and help this project to log on to his website at www.chrishigh.com . Questions about "Spanish Train" and did I ever perform it in costume? Well, I cannot recall ever having done this. I know that I used to do "Moonlight & Vodka" wearing a long trench coat and a hat. And I know that also during "Spanish Train" in the early years, I used to have this trigger mechanism where cards would fly off at a certain point when I said "my hand wins". These cards would fly off into the audience and some people still have them and have kept a hold of them. But "Spanish Train" is for me one of the key songs that started me off as a storyteller. And I am quite certain that it will be re-performed with the band in the future.
17th November 2005 - Chris Raymond (53) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hi Chris! Some people have phobias about such creatures as spiders and snakes. I'm not keen on creepy crawlies but get by O.K. - how about you? Also on these lines do you have any fear of such things as heights, flying (probably not that one?) etc? Thank you very much for taking the time to answer so many questions! Chris R
This is another very familiar name to me, and a great supporter. Chris, yes I am actually freaked out by snakes. And I think people who don't like spiders for example obviously have a sheer terror of these things. For me I save them all the time. If there is a spider in the bath or a spider inside, and the people in my house are all screaming and pointing at them, I am the guy that goes and puts them under a glass and takes them gently outside and releases them. I do this a lot, to be honest, to anything that I can save. Even flies in the house I try to get them out of the window rather than having to kill them. You know, we are all given this gift of life somehow, and I feel it is good to protect it where you can. But snakes do it for me. I am really, I wouldn't say terrified of snakes, but they make me feel really weird. I don't like being near snakes. I think this goes back to when I was a little boy and living in Africa, and they were everywhere, all of the time. And I think three members of my family were bitten by snakes. And to this day I don't like the way they feel, I don't like it when I touch them. Actually I don't do that very often, touch them. If I go to a zoo and I see them moving around or indeed living in California, I used to go out on walks up in the hills, and there'd be rattlesnakes and that was pretty scary for me. So snakes would be my number one phobia. But really I am not frightened of anything else in that respect more or less than anybody else is of flying or deep sea diving or something like that.
18th November 2005 - Dennis Muise (50) from Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada:
Hi Chris, again thank you for many years of great music. My question is this: You have done a few cover songs such as Girl and In Dreams, which I think you did a fantastic job of. Anyway to the point, I know permission and royalties and such are required for an artist to record another's song, my question is: Has anybody ever turned you down and not given their permission?
Well I started off singing to people in the dining room, the banquette hall of the old castle I was brought up in, doing mainly folk songs, cover songs, Beatles, Bob Dylan, that sort of thing. And occasionally one of my own just to see how it would go down. Usually fairly unnoticed. But I don't record many cover songs. As you have pointed out I have done "In Dreams" and "Girl". Or "Always On My Mind" for example recorded by Elvis Presley. So the answer to your question is I very rarely do cover songs, because I prefer to write my own. So I have never been in the position of somebody saying "no, you can't record this". It has actually happened to my own songs, particularly when people wanted to do a version that uses words that are really stupid. You know, I avoid them and we have the right to say to somebody "no, you can't change the words, if we don't agree with them". But most of the time in the many many times that my songs have been recorded, people are entitled to go ahead and record them as long as they alert the publisher to the fact they are doing that.
19th November 2005 - Jorgen From Petersen (45) from Denmark:
A great Danish singer asked me some time ago, if I would translate your song "Here is your paradise" to Danish. He had already contacted your record label in this matter. A very beautiful tune, I think. But as a result of my difficulties with the lyrics - it gives different meanings (to me) - I got stuck. And two month from now, the great Danish artist died. Very, very sad. But I'm still curious about your lyrics. Is it a song to a dying person… a dead person… or a lost love? I hope you will help me on this.
This is an interesting question from Denmark about "Here Is Your Paradise". This song is really about noticing what you have got, why you have got it, and don't wait until it is too late. "I never knew love could be a silence in the heart, a moment when the time is still. And all I have been looking for is right here in my arms, just waiting for the chance to begin." What this really is about is looking at the partner that you have, and realize that up to a certain point you both share the same book of life. "And in the dark night, you'll follow the bright light, and go where the love must go." Really, this is a song that came from the album "This Way Up" and I was, I suppose, thinking about people turning to somebody that has been for a long time somebody that means a lot to them, and saying "we share the same road, the same journey of life and this is our paradise." Don't wait until the next life to find paradise, you have got to create it here on earth, where you can and with whom you can.
20th November 2005 - Doris Langenau (41) from Vienna, Austria:
Dear Chris! From my earliest childhood until now I always feel somehow incomplete, like there is anything missing in my life. Between the age of 25 and 30 (that late!) I began to realize that all events in my life - even the unimportant ones - and some people on my way (which I never exactly know) could help me find some parts of the puzzle to make me feel more complete (reading some books also had that effect). It's like coming home step by step from a vast and strange landscape, where you have thousands of possibilities to choose the wrong way and get lost. Being blessed with two wonderful daughters and a loving husband - that's really a gift - has become the most important guide in my actual life. But even now, with the overwhelming experience and joy of maternity and the steadily growing love and understanding for every kind of being there's so much left to find + learn + do and there are still signs on my never-ending way waiting to be seen and showing me the direction to my final home. Only recently - some weeks ago - when I switched through the channels to escape the commercials - I watched by chance part of a concert of The Road To Freedom tour. Unfortunately I missed the first half of it. I never knew any of your songs except Lady In Red and so I was really struck by your wonderful music and the whole spectrum of feelings you can evoke in any listener. That was another step for me - I found the music I always missed. Thank you!!!! Now I dare to ask: Are you still searching or do you feel complete? Do you think one life is enough to complete the puzzle? I'm asking especially you because I think you are closer to yourself and your home than I am to mine. (Otherwise you couldn't impress and delight so many people - or make them cry like I did when I heard Here For You) - Love and peace for you and your family.
This is a fascinating question in itself. And I am sure a lot of people reading this will ask themselves, do they have the same thoughts, the same questions in their life. For me life is always full of questions, it is always full of, you know, "where have I come from?", "where am I going?", "the people around me - how are they?". Although I must admit I am not absorbed by the reasons we are on the planet earth. I think it's complete chance anyway. Although I'd also believe that there is a superior power that is around us at all times. Nevertheless there are questions to be asked, not just about human fallibility, but also the great things that humans can do and achieve, particularly if they are to make other people's lives better, happier and stronger. I think it would be a mistake for me to say that I feel complete. I think very few people can say they feel complete, but I must admit that I do feel I am a person who understands a lot more about myself than perhaps some people can. Mainly because I have time to do this. It's almost my job to dig deep inside myself and feel the feelings. I can go straight to strong feelings almost immediately. I can describe a situation for example to somebody like you mentioned the song "Here For You", and I can feel that whole thing so powerfully so quickly that the tears prick on my eyes within seconds. I am very much in touch with my emotions. And I think also I have a lot of love to give. It's almost like my heart is very full of love and I have a lot of it to share. I am not a negative person, I am a positive person. I love to give. And perhaps this is what comes through my music and comes through my words that I am a person that is as weak as everybody else and as scared as everybody else, but also I have strength to share. And for those people out there of which there are millions and millions who need help, who need reassurance, who need comfort, well I am in a situation where I have that little bit extra which I can share and hopefully it will make people feel better.
21st November 2005 - Andy Haynes (47) from Leicester, England:
Hi Chris, all your concerts are special (he says creeping) but sometimes the setting for an outdoor concert just gives it that something extra, whether it be a field in front of Ragley Hall with amazing views of the Cotswolds, the courtyard at Hampton Court or an Asda car park in Doncaster! Which is your particular favourite place for an open air concert? Also, on your travels have you ever come across a place that you have thought would make a great setting for a concert but where you haven't yet managed to play? My suggestions would be in front of Lake Louise in Canada with the mountains as a backdrop or at the ruins of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire (where I believe they do have concerts). That would be a great place for "Brother John"! Best Wishes, Andy Haynes
Andy, I absolutely adored the open-air shows that I did with the orchestra and the choir and the band and anything up to 10,000 people who came with picnics. And I'd love to do them again some time. The outstanding venues that I have done in the past, I would say, would have been for example Hampton Court Palace with the echoes of so many historical events in and around Hampton Court. I suppose, in particular one thinks of Henry VIII and his wives. It is an extraordinarily beautiful venue to perform in. Also in front of Blenheim Palace, it is such a beautiful and historical place. I had the chance to go back there recently to do a BBC television program called "Songs Of Praise" where I sang the song "The Words 'I Love You'" and looked around the interior. And it is wonderful to think that there have been people in history like the Churchill family who created such an outstanding monument for the future. Not just thinking about their own lives and their own comforts, but also recognizing that a beautiful place like that is a gift to the future. Similarly I would look at somewhere like Castle Howard, where I performed another outdoor show. In the future I suppose there are favourite spots. I'd love to do a series of concerts along the river Rhine, maybe from a boat to people in front of a beautiful location. I remember in the town of Würzburg, doing a concert in the grounds of the castle way up above the river, and it was a beautiful day when I was doing the Liederfest back in the early 80s. And that was an extraordinary venue. And of course the castles around Bavaria, built by King Ludwig would be also a stunning setting. I think though if you looked at some of the great places around the world, the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, it would be an honour to be able to perform in such an extraordinary environment.
22nd November 2005 - Mark (36) from Phoenix, Arizona, USA:
Chris, I was listening to the Flying Colours CD, (for the hundredth time!) and I was listening to the song 'Leather on my Shoes' when a thought appeared to me. The lyrics 'on the freedom road', during that song; even though it was many years ago, was that a precursor to the song "The Road to Freedom", or are they entirely unrelated? Thanks for giving us the gift of your music over the years. God bless you and family. Best, Mark
"Leather On My Shoes" may have used "out on freedom road", but that was really about emigrants, people having to leave the country, because there is no work. But also the recognition that it's time to give yourself a good kick up the backside and say "right, I am going to go out there and do something with my life and be somebody". And to say that I have got leather on my shoes means that I can walk, I can go. Even if the times are tough, I am ready. There was not supposed to be in years later a relationship between "out on freedom road" in "Leather On My Shoes" and "The Road To Freedom", which is an entirely different story. But of course it does use the same words. "Road To Freedom" is about a farmer and his son. And the farmer does not believe that his fight for freedom is going to change anything. Because he is old and he is cynical and he has seen it all before. And most of all he loves his son and he wants his son to come home alive.
23rd November 2005 - Kevin Moore (50) from Lumsden, Saskatchewan, Canada:
I am an old fan coming back into the fold. I was an early fan buying the first 8 albums and seeing you twice on tour in Newfoundland (Spanish Train and Crusader tours). I was one of those fans that did not like it when you departed from the "epic" songs in favour of shorter 3-minute songs. "Lady in Red" was not a highlight for me as a fan but the point that I realized the epic songs were gone for good. Years have gone by and I've kept a general track of your career assisted by a former co-worker who was a major fan buying hard-to-find CD's from other countries. But except for "Sparks to a Flame" I've not bought any recent CD's. Just 2 weeks ago I bought the quickly made 20th Century Masters - Millennium Collection and I've not stopped playing it. I had forgotten how rich and distinctive your voice was. For that I apologize. I even liked "The Lady in Red" and appreciate it is much better than I have ever given it credit to be. Having said that, I still do prefer the longer epic style songs. Which leads me to my questions... 1) Since I don't know your later work, have you created any longer style songs since those early 8 albums? 2) I want to purchase the CD's that I've missed - in your opinion, what are the first CD's I should purchase to reacquaint myself with your music? I have been told that if nothing else, I should buy the Live in Dublin CD (if I can find it) as it is, to quote my ex-workmate, "simply one of the best live albums ever made". So that's my first purchase. I'm glad to have re-developed this appreciation of your voice and music and will keep track of your Canadian tour dates as I will come to your concert the next time you are in western Canada. Kevin in Saskatchewan
Yes, I know there are quite a few people who would agree that they prefer the epic style of the earlier albums. But to be honest, Kevin, I had to change because I wanted to change. I wanted to respond to the worldwide fan base that was growing, particularly in Europe. They wanted rock songs, you know. "The Getaway" was a big record in Europe. It was No. 1 in Germany for example in 1982. And I was then playing through the 80s with my band in enormous football stadiums, like 100,000 people, 50,000 people. And you've got to come up with punchy, strong songs like "High On Emotion" and ballads like "The Lady In Red" of course, which was and still is a major international hit. But your question about whether I have done these kinds of songs since. Well, I am not quite sure where you stopped listening, but I wondered if you listened on "Into The Light" to the last three songs "The Leader", "The Vision" and "What About Me". For me, they are probably the three most exciting and strongest of all the epics that I have written. "Crusader" and "The Revolution" included in that. But those three are very strong, so maybe have another listen to that. It's the same album incidentally that "The Lady In Red" is on, which for me I am delighted that it was such a big hit, because it brought all my other work to people's attention. And that for me is an important part of all this, because to have a major hit single means that people go into record stores, they find old recordings or they look out and then they see something completely different. It is not just pigeonholed as a pop singer. I like to regard myself as a bit more serious than that. Furthermore on the most recent release "The Road To Freedom" you'll find that the first three songs are closely related to one another. And it's worth having a listen to those, and I am very pleased with them. Lastly I should say that yes, of course "Live In Dublin" is a very exciting record. What that shows is the wonderful singing of an Irish audience. And I can refer you also to the "Live In Dortmund" record, which I released earlier this year. Which shows just how extraordinary a group of 7,000 people can sound. And an artist who is truly in love with his audience and they with him, so I can recommend you to that. And finally I can tell you that my next project "The Storyman" is very much back in that old vein of stories, which have got nothing to do with looking at whether a song is radio-friendly or whatever. It is just each song will be treated on its own as an epic, a journey. And hopefully you will come back to listening to my voice and my music through these kinds of songs in the future.
24th November 2005 - Bennet (19) from Germany:
Dear Chris, I first heard one of your songs when I watched the film "American Psycho". It was "The Lady in Red" and although there is only a short part of the song in the film I wanted to buy the soundtrack to get the song, but then I saw that the song and some other songs by other artists are not on the official Soundtrack CD of "American Psycho". Some people say it's because you and some other musicians don't like the film and now I wonder whether this is true because I like "American Psycho" very much. It's a very good and wise film. At least in my opinion.
To be honest, I had no idea that "The Lady In Red" was not on the American Psycho soundtrack, which is fairly extraordinary. It has nothing to do with the fact that I did or didn't like the record. Usually these choices are made through the publisher and the management. I was unaware of any of that. I have seen the film and I enjoyed it. But it has nothing to do with my decision whether or not the song was on the final soundtrack record. It is a good film! And I very much hope that in the future people will take my attention to whether or not a song like "Lady In Red" is on a soundtrack record or not. There's another one recently, "Dodgeball", which I believe one of my songs was on. And I am pretty sure that the song is actually on the soundtrack record.
25th November 2005 - Chris Raymond (53) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hello Chris! First just to say that the special Concert in Dortmund in November 2004 was wonderful - the best ever! More please!! At Dortmund a large group of fans had made arrangements to put a folder together with individual messages, photographs and such like which was presented to you. I would like to ask if you might like to say a little about the sort of messages you received and how you felt about the gift? Were you surprised at all by things that fans wrote? Thanks! Chris R xx
I have just spoken about Dortmund, it was an extraordinary night for me. Maybe even more extraordinary by the fact that I was unaware that we were recording the evening. I probably would have possibly been a bit more self-aware, if I had known it was all going to be recorded. And it's probably a good thing I didn't know. But thank you for the book! I have read everything that everybody wrote, and I was extremely moved. Who wouldn't be? You know, when you realize the impact you are having on people into their hearts, into their lives, into their souls even. And I was very moved by everything that everybody wrote. So I'd like to take this opportunity, if I haven't said thank you before, which I think I have, but I'd like to say it again: Thank you to all those people who took the time and trouble to say nice things and interesting and wonderful things in that guestbook that I got after the concert in Dortmund.
26th November 2005 - Henoch Neethling (32) from Cape Town, South Africa:
Hi Chris. Let me reintroduce myself quickly. I am the South African who joined the first internet group gathering at the now legendary Bonn concert in 1998. Or perhaps you will remember me better for the The Last Time I Cried karaoke I did in the Gerry Weber Stadion in Halle, Westfalen (not the Westfalenhalle!) just after that. Anyway, I was recently reading an article about the relationship between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and it mentioned that the heartbeat of the average person is 72 beats a minute. This, said the article, is the same beat as you singing Lady In Red. And although it did not say so in so many words, it sort of implied that the success of this song has a lot more to do with this fact than with your talents. My question: Are they correct? If so, is this something you did on purpose? We are really looking forward to seeing you in our wine-region at Stellenbosch again. Henoch
Let's get to the important thing first. Stellenbosch is one of the finest wine areas in South Africa, if not the world: Stellenbosch Paarl and Constantia. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Stellenbosch and I look forward to returning there to sample some of the fine fine wines that I have had in the past. Just going back to the article you read about a healthy body and a healthy mind and the heartbeat is an average of 72 beats per minute. Unfortunately you are going to get all sorts of so-called pundits and experts, claiming the reason things work is for something else. It would only take somebody with a couple of minutes and a metronome to realize that "The Lady In Red" is not 72 beats per minute. It starts at 76 and then goes up to 77 beats per minute in the first chorus and it remains at 77 throughout, I think, by recollection. It's a long time ago since I have recorded it. But it's not 72. And I certainly would not be the kind of person to try and ally a song with a heartbeat. Although disco music was initially 120 beats per minute which is a fairly speedy heartbeat as you can imagine. But now, you know this kind of rave music is way quicker than that. Have a look at "Don't Pay The Ferryman", that's really quick, that's in the 130s I think. So there are cynical people out there who try to find reasons why things work, but this has got absolutely nothing to do with it. In my opinion "The Lady In Red" works, it's got something to do with the smoothness of it. Perhaps the key which is B flat. And the melodic content and the lyrical content. It's still one of the most played romantic love songs all over the world. I'm just thrilled that I have written such a song. And if you, Henoch, ever have a chance to respond to whoever it was that wrote about the 72 beats per minute, you might just want to point out that they are completely and absolutely wrong.
27th November 2005 - Monika Maid from Ingolstadt, Germany:
Dear Chris, as you wrote the song Lebanese Night, what did you mean with the question "and did you run for your life, from the hell that came down from the sky on a Lebanese Night?" Thank you for reading and the answer, if I can find it! Greetings and best wishes to you, Monika Maid
This is a name very familiar to me, another great supporter. Thank you for your support, Monika. In the "Lebanese Night", the question "did you run for your life, from the hell that came down from the sky", it's an ironic question. If you go back a little bit into that chorus to "did you go to your bed with a sweet lullaby and the sounds of the guns in the night". But the fact is, you have the image of the child being told the bedtime story, and all the time guns are exploding in the distance and bombs are going off. And the idea of children playing in a field and then suddenly bombs are coming down from the sky as they are caught up in yet another bombardment. Or certainly living in a war zone as so many people did during the war in Lebanon. And indeed all over the world where children are caught up in warfare. So that's what it's all about and the need, the enormous need to protect our children from harm at all times.
28th November 2005 - Paul Woodley (42) from the UK:
Chris, I have been inspired by many of your songs for so many years and I wondered if you had ever thought about writing a book that contains all the lyrics to all your songs but with an explanation as to what inspired you to write them and in some cases explaining the more subtle meanings behind some of them. Perhaps you could include this as part of an autobiography. I'm sure it would be very popular with your fan base.
Well, this is actually a very good idea. I think we are proposing through the website to put together a few of the key songs with an explanation as to what I had in my mind when I wrote them. I think it would probably be a bit much to have all of them, because so far I think I must have written and recorded nearly 200. And it's a big stretch on my memory to try and remember what I had in my head when I wrote the songs and the circumstances of all of them. But I think taking out some of the key ones, either my favourites or other people's favourites, or a combination of both, would be a great idea to print out the lyric and then saying what I had in my mind. And going back to my next project "The Storyman", it reminded me, as I planned for this, of how in recording sessions I used to write out a short cinematic theme of what I had in my head for the musicians and they found it extremely helpful to try and realize in music what I was trying to get across in my lyrics and in the musical atmospheric feelings that we were creating in the recording studio. So this is something I will definitely be returning to in a far greater way with the next album project.
29th November 2005 - Andrea Macovacz (33) from Mosbach, Germany:
Only a few days ago I discovered this site and I am that fascinated in your answers and the possibility to understand your impulses and thoughts about the secrets of life! It gives me a good feeling to read a few of your letters each day. It's like the intention of listening to a special song or album of you to ease strong emotions or to give me back an optimistic view about some things. Have you ever thought of putting your moving views and ideas into a book (would be a best-seller, for guarantee)? Hope you take care of you and your family. Andrea.
I think your question is in parallel with the one before about the lyrics of my songs. Because it's part of our plan for the website to put together some of the answers as well to some of the questions that have come through in the last couple of years while I have been doing Man On (the) Line. And it's fascinating how many people have said to me "we really miss Man On (the) Line", when it's not being done. And I wake up in the morning, and the first thing I do is click on the website and see what the topic of the day is. And again I must stress that I have to apologize that it has been so long since I have last been doing this, but it does take an awful lot of time for everybody involved. Nevertheless I like your idea as much as I like the one about the lyrics. And it's certainly something we can look at, because it's a different area of the music business to try and create new forms, new formats, not just music. To try and get into the songwriter's head. Not only because there are not that many songwriters any more who do the sort of thing that I do, but I think it is fascinating for the fans to try and find out what exactly people like me had in mind when I write my songs.
30th November 2005 - Robert Puett (36) from Puyallup, Washington, USA:
As an American who opposed the war in Iraq, I am now dismayed to see Bush and Co. beating the drums for war with Iran. I know you have legions of Iranian fans; I would like to know if you would oppose publicly any move on the part of the US to invade Iran. Adding your voice to the worldwide outrage toward the Bush Administration would really be a wonderful thing. To paraphrase your own work, how can men see the wisdom in a war?
The first two things immediately spring to mind, Robert, are these. Number one: I do not think that pop singers, people in the music industry, indeed virtually any individual is taken seriously by administration powerful as that in America, or indeed anywhere else. We think we are getting somewhere, but to be perfectly honest, decisions are made behind closed doors by men in cabinet. And they decide. I frankly don't think they pay any attention at all. I think they like to pay lip service to famous people getting upset about policy, but they also love to have the photo opportunities. That's the first thing. And the second thing is, we are in an era of 24 / 7 news. We all believe as armchair theorists and armchair politicians and armchair decision makers that we are actually in possession of all the facts that we require to make policy statements and to make informed opinions. I think this is completely incorrect. As somebody who was once involved with a national radio station and the news gathering part of that, I am aware of the fact that 1 percent of news gets put out into the public arena. The other 99 percent is either of no interest or is at the whim and the mercy of the editor of the news station. The editors of a national broadcasting company are in a way the most powerful purveyors of propaganda that exists in the Western democracies. We all believe that we are being told the truth. I don't believe that for a second. I think we are being told nothing that anybody wants us to know. And also we are told what the powerful people want us to know. I am a very cynical person when it comes to the news that we get. And our reaction to it. And I am not saying that editors of news corporations are in collusion with administrations, but on the other hand we've got to remember that we only get told a minimum of what we need to know. Coming back to Iran. In some ways it's good to have the United Nations as a global policeman. And I feel a shiver of fear when the most powerful country in the world is also telling, we believe, the United Nations which way to jump. The United Nations came into being after the Second World War as a very powerful force against the possibility of another global catastrophe and in that way it's very important and very necessary. But nevertheless, when there is only one big big world policeman, i.e. the United States of America, we have to listen very carefully to what they say and what the United Nation says about countries like Iran. And of course, having so many fans there I would hate to see anything happening in a military way. And it would be great if any difficulties could be ironed out through political discussion, negotiation. However, it's clear that the administration currently in power in Iran is posing a serious threat to our beliefs in the Western democracies. And most recently the remarks by the president about Israel are obnoxious. So hopefully a bit of good sense might come back to those in charge in Iran who have got to realize they must change. We are in the 21st century.
1st December 2005 - Chris Raymond (53) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hi Chris, Most fans know of your keen interest in Grand Prix motor racing. This led me to wonder if you just enjoy watching or have you ever been 'bitten by the bug' and done some racing yourself? I know it's a dream for a lot of people, both men and women and that there are tracks where the public can go to race for fun. Love to hear about this. Thanks. Chris R xx P.S. For me it's a spectator sport!
This is from Chris Raymond again. Yes, I am very interested in Grand Prix. Although I have to say in the last couple of years my interest has lessened slightly. Not only because I haven't been going to as many races as before, but I find that a lot of people in the sport tend to believe they are extremely self-important. They believe they are enormously popular and that the Formula One is the only sport that people are interested in. That's a bit of a generalization. On the other hand I have met a lot of people in Formula One who I really like. There's some really nice folk in there. But there have been massive changes to the rules. I am sorry to see for example a great driver like Michael Schumacher struggling now. Particularly when a lot of other people say "isn't he great?", that he is having a bit of a tough time. I do believe that Schumacher is going to go down in history as one of the greatest drivers of all time. And Ferrari of course is a wonderful global name for excellence in motorsport. However, it's time to move aside, as in all things. Like in football, the domination of one team over an entire premier league for example is not a healthy thing. I think that Chelsea FC having been bankrolled by Abramowicz is now in a position of being able to buy the best players in the world, and I think that's unhealthy. And the also-rans can bitch and moan about the situation, but we must recall that Manchester United was also the most powerful club in the early 90s, because they had the money to spend, having gone into a public limited company situation, known as PLC. And prior to that we had Liverpool FC, more I think by talent than money. And more recently than that it's Arsenal FC. So things do change. And the same things in motorsport. As far as your question about driving is concerned, I have to admit I do enjoy speed, but I would not; I don't think, particularly enjoy roaring round the track in a Formular One car. I went with Nigel Mansell, the World Champion, one time in an ordinary family saloon round the track at Spa, and we were doing very high speeds. And I must admit, I was a bit white-knuckled by the end of the ride. But I enjoy it as a spectator sport.
2nd December 2005 - Walid Saad (23) from Beirut, Lebanon:
Dear Chris, I've been a fan since 1990, when I was only 8 and I danced around on the Traveller and Sailor. I've seen you in September 2000 in Beirut, I was really rocking on the tunes, it was an impressive experience that I would like to relive again. My question is on my favorite song ever "Sailor" , there's this strong expressing of emotion when you say "To Feel The Wind, To See The Sky, To Hear The Waves ... Oh My Darling Wait For Me" , I would like you to tell me the exact emotions you felt while writing and singing these words, which touch every listener's heart. I would like to picture the exact emotions of an artist such as you while doing such lyrics. On another hand, I would like to know why haven't you ever sung Eastern Wind live at a concert?
You want to relive an experience that I will never forget, also by having been in Beirut and in fact it was subsequent to my trip there in 2000 that I wrote the song "Lebanese Night". And that was a number one hit all over the Middle East. And I remember it very well, being with my band for the show that you are talking about. They are a fantastic audience in Lebanon and I am longing to go back. Things are a little bit unstable at the moment but that won't stop me from returning to a place where I do believe I have a lot of friends and a lot of fans. The song "Sailor" is one of those songs which I see very clearly in my mind. I see the prisoner looking out the bars of his window across the moonlit bay, and seeing a ship setting sail in the 18th century, perhaps full sail galleon, moving away from the harbour. And he is perhaps somebody from Scotland for example who has been imprisoned for something or other. We are not quite sure, and it is not really important, but he longs to get back to the hills and the valleys of his native country. And the words "to feel the wind, to see the sky, to hear the waves breaking on the shore, oh my darling wait for me", yes they were very emotional. And usually when I am singing this in concert, for one of the rare occasions, I actually close my eyes to actually see the place where I feel this is happening. You can almost feel the echo in the hills as he shouts out the words. And to dream of the girl that he left behind. And he is begging her to wait for him. And then he sees a seabird flying off and he just wishes he also had wings to fly back to his loved one. Incidentally when I was touring with my band in the early 80s, after the release of Eastern Wind, of course we did do that song "Eastern Wind" quite a bit.
3rd December 2005 - Michel Champagne (43) from Montreal, Canada:
Chris, I have been a fan since 1977. At that time, I never thought I would still be listening to the same songs in 2005. I would like to know if you intend to do something special for the Tsunami victims? Can you also tell me more about the song "She must have known", where did the idea came from? My wife and I are really anxious to see you in Montreal soon.
What a wonderful surname! As I and my family do enjoy the odd glass of champagne. Montreal, as you know, and I have said it many times on Man On (the) Line, is a very strong and favourite place for me. And in fact by the time you read this I probably will have already played a couple of concerts at the Theatre St. Denis in Montreal and I hope the experience was good for all concerned. You refer to the Tsunami, which I have spoken about and it would have happened quite a long time ago. At the time, yes, I did a couple of things for the victims of the Tsunami like millions all over the world who were horrified by the appalling events. And subsequently with the earthquake in Pakistan, funnily enough my mother went back to India about two weeks after that to the place where she was brought up. And she is now in her late 70s and it was quite the trip for her. She enjoyed it very much, but reflected on the difficulties in Northern India and of course in Pakistan following that terrible disaster. It just seems very sad that usually for some reason these enormous global catastrophes happen in places where people are least able to look after themselves. So we in the West, who have money and the expertise and the time, should really feel an obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves. The song "She Must Have Known" was a very rare co-write for me, when I was in France at a songwriters week just to mix with other songwriters like Carole King for example. And it's about that thing that I have seen so many times. And I am sure that people, when they get to a certain age, and they see their friends beginning to split up and marriages split up, and it's a sad sad thing. And this one is that occasion where a woman who is probably in my head here unhappy in her marriage and unhappy with her life, suddenly looks in a man's eyes and realizes that he too is the one she has been looking for and he has been looking for her. And that's why I say she must have known from the moment she saw him, from the look in his eye. This isn't just a Casanova who wants to sleep with her. They both have suffered and they both are injured and vulnerable and feel something in the other that is empathy and sympathy and compassion. And that's why they get together.
4th December 2005 - Lucy (48) from Edinburgh, Scotland:
Hi Chris, I saw your recent concert in Edinburgh almost exactly thirty years after seeing you here in concert for the first time. I had gone along to see Supertramp and to be honest was a bit miffed that I had to listen to this "Irish Guy" first. However, that started me off as a life long fan and I loved the recent concert. However, I wondered if you realised the "gaffe" you made when you introduced the song "Rose of England"? You said that as well as being England's rose that Elizabeth could have been Scotland's rose. The fact is that she was hated in Scotland for killing "our" rose, Mary Stuart or Mary Queen of Scots as she was known. She had Mary imprisoned for over twenty years then executed her. I was surprised that no one in the audience responded but I think it shows what high esteem they hold you in that you were allowed to get away with it!!! A beautiful song though and I just change the words in my own head. Looking forward to your next tour and album. Lucy xxx
I have to put my hands up and say yes, I did make an historical error by introducing the song "Rose Of England" in Scotland. Nevertheless "Rose Of England" in my mind always refers to Queen Elizabeth I. But as I have often done in the past, I have checked fairly thoroughly the historical background of songs like that. And I was aware of what happened to Scotland's rose Mary Stuart, Mary Queen of Scots. And how Elizabeth was frightened of Mary and I think eventually Elizabeth was convinced by those around her that Mary was still a magnet for disruption and for trying to get rid of Elizabeth as the Queen of England, and install Mary the Queen of Scots as the next Queen of England and Scotland. And then, I think, that's what led to Mary's execution. But thank you to my friends and fans in Scotland of which I know I have a lot for bearing with me in that slight historical blunder. But I assure you it wasn't deliberate.
5th December 2005 - Lindsay Titus (53) from Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada:
Dear Chris: I have searched Man on the Line and its archives but still have questions surrounding "The Last Time I Cried". In an earlier question, one writer asked you about "The Risen Lord", but surely these two songs must be connected and are not meant to stand alone. I see this as a clear reference to Jews being loaded on board trains by the Nazis, and I love the reference to the soldier's face being "me". Could you kindly comment on these powerful songs, and explain, if you would, about the lines "to take them away" and "to make them pay"? I saw you in Fredericton, NB and Saint John, NB and cannot wait for your next Canadian tour.
I am glad you brought up these two songs "The Last Time I Cried" and "The Risen Lord", because for me they represent two of the most powerful songs that I have written. And certainly two of the most favourite things in my work that reflect a completely different side to the person that an awful lot of people assume just wrote "The Lady In Red" and nothing else. "The Risen Lord" is really a reflection of a man who stumbles into a bar or a tavern many many hundreds of years ago and he is shocked and shaken. And he begs the landlord to give him a glass of wine to steady his nerves. And he says "I have just had the most extraordinary experience. I was walking down the road." And there is a clear reference to the road to Damascus here. "And I met this man and he fell over and he dropped his load on the ground. And I went over and I helped him. And I offered to carry this load for this man who was limping. And as we walked, the load became heavier and heavier. And I realized that, I believe, I have seen the face of the risen Lord." And he thinks that after Christ's crucifixion, that the person he met on the road was Christ himself. And this is really, I think it is a well-known reflection on the fact that we should always be kind to strangers, because you never know if that's the Lord who has returned into our midst again. Nevertheless we should always be kind to strangers whatever the fact of who it might be! And you are quite correct about "The Last Time I Cried". I remember this one I wrote on an aeroplane in my head on a flight somewhere in Europe. I think we were going from somewhere in Germany to, I believe it was Madrid. And I was reading an article in the New York Herald Tribune about a court case that was going on about a man who had been identified as the "butcher of Lyon" in one of the concentration camps. Anyway, I don't remember the exact details, but the descriptions of a barber in the concentration camp, who had to cut the hair off people just before they were taken away to be executed or burned or gassed. And this man survived the war, and he recognizes this man. This is why the trial was going on. And he was telling how one day a woman with a small child came in to have their hair cut. And he recognizes this woman as a close neighbour from his own little village. And he went to embrace her. And the soldier hit him and the woman and the child and dragged off the woman and the child to the gas chamber. And I remember how shocked and angry I was by this. Subsequently I have visited the camp of Dachau on a couple of occasions. And again it rocks you to your core of your being, of your humanity, to think there are people who could have done what they did there and in other places. And unfortunately this terrible part of humanity is not going to go away and it's still round. It's skin-deep. And that's what I am reflecting on in "The Last Time I Cried". In a way it is me watching a video or a film of that period. And in my arms is my child watching it, say 50 years after the events. And to my horror I realize that the child who is having a gun pointed at it, as they are loaded on the train to be taken away to be killed, the child is actually identical to the one in my arms. But even more horrifying is the soldier pointing the gun at the child is actually myself. And the implication is quite clear: That we are all capable of doing these things.
6th December 2005 - Mark Gardiner (35) from Wallasey, UK:
Hi Chris, The Getaway is a stunning album and one of my favourite songs on it is Crying & Laughing. I've always been curious as to who the girl is leaving, why she is leaving and also who she is going back to. Is she leaving one love for another? Please answer - it's another one that has been bugging me for years!! Cheers, Mark
Well, "Crying And Laughing" was an attempt to create a film in the mind. Even to the point of having the aeroplane engines starting up at the end, and footsteps and so on. Trying to recreate perhaps the film Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, I think it was. And as they say good-bye at the aeroplane, she gets on the plane to fly away and the engines start up. And in my mind I was thinking of a man, perhaps a business man, who is going to work in Russia for 2 or 3 months. He is either married or he has a relationship back home in the United States or Canada. And he has fallen madly in love with this girl in Russia. He is totally smitten. And it is the scene driving to the airport in a limousine, it's rain on the road, the searchlights are indicating this is the country under some kind of suppression. You know, the security and special police and so on. He is saying "although I'll be half away across the world, I'll be crying and laughing. We both will be laughing about the good times, and crying because we cannot be together." And I think this song quite successfully achieved to make it sound like you are part of a film or watching a film. Also creating, you know, the bass line for example adds to all the mystery and I hope that I have managed to achieve what I set out to. In fact it is not the girl who is leaving. It's the man who is leaving! She is going back to her ordinary life. And he is flying back across the world to his other life.
7th December 2005 - Harold Kosteck (37) from Temple, Texas, USA:
Borderline and the Light a Fire/Revolution/Liberty have always struck a chord with me. I was from a military community, and, served in the US Army for 8 years. I always felt these songs expressed the heart and soul of a soldier/patriot far better than nearly any other songs, and, after having been in the service, and, having been in combat, I now know it's true. My question: Were Revolution/Light A Fire/Liberty written about a specific action, or just meant as a more generalized idea? My friends and I agreed that it was about the American Revolution, but, we were kids, and, well.. Americans.
I have spoken about "Borderline" many times in the past. Yes, it is very strongly anti-war. And I couldn't bear the sight of the celebrations at the end of a war, which should never have happened. At the Falklands war about which more is emerging on a daily basis, and how appalling it was. In fact recently I spoke to a Welsh man who was in Argentina a few months back. And he was talking to young, well they were young at the time, Welsh boys who came from Wales and moved to Argentina or were born in Argentina of Welsh parentage. And how the Welsh speakers in the Argentine army were conversing with the Welsh speakers in the United Kingdom army, fighting in the Falkland Islands, the Malvinas, which is just ludicrous. The whole thing was a set-up in my opinion of the generals in Argentina who thought that they could occupy this rock out crop for a couple of weeks just to make a point perhaps to help their re-election chances. And Margaret Thatcher over-reacted. Anyway, that's part of history now. And that was my reaction to all that, which is "Borderline". But "Revolution/Light A Fire/Liberty" is for me very strongly allied to the 1798 rebellion in Ireland, when the French were invited to assist the Irish in their rebellion against the English. And a French force landed in the West of Ireland, but the whole thing completely collapsed and fell apart. There's a very good book called "The year of liberty", I believe written by Thomas Pakenham, which gives an indication of what was going on at the time. And "Revolution/Light A Fire/Liberty" is about that particular event. But then, as always, I like to give a blue print that people can, as this gentleman has done, apply to their own world and their own history. And in particular the last piece "Liberty", you know "Roll away the dawn, roll away the dawn and let me see the land of the free. Has anything changed at all?". And quite often very little does change. I've returned to this theme in the song "The Road To Freedom", where the old man looks at liberty and he says "Well, this certainly won't make my crops grow. And I've seen it all before." It's part of the extraordinary fluctuation of the human world, where things change, but usually as they say in French: "Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose.", which in fact means "the more things change, the more they are still the same."
8th December 2005 - Steve Wain (38) from East Yorkshire, England:
Hi Chris, having written and recorded some wonderful songs over the years have you ever thought about re recording some of your earlier work and give those wonderful lyrics a well deserved airing?
Thank you for your kind remarks about the songs I have written down the years. And the answer is yes, I have often thought about re-recording some of my earlier work. And looking again at the lyrics, in particular the story songs. As you may be aware, I have a new project upcoming, including a concert tour in November 2006 called "The Storyman". And "The Storyman" is going to revisit some of those early stories like "The Tower", "Spanish Train". Maybe slightly more obscure ones like "Just Another Poor Boy". And hopefully reviving them and giving them a new life, because it comes back to that old thing that if you write a story and it's a good story you can tell it anytime, any year to anybody. And I've always believed that with my own songwriting. And if you look at a lot of songs that are current or indeed in the last 20 years, the memorable ones are good strong melodies usually with a good strong idea behind them. But very few of them are stories. And that's why I believe that to concentrate on the things that I write, the stories, hopefully will give my songs a much longer life.
9th December 2005 - Angelika Sommer (25) from Frankfurt, Germany:
Hello Chris, this summer we will spend our holidays in Ireland! Since 3 years we are trying to visit this beautiful country. Do you have any favourite places which you can recommend? We are planning to drive round from east to west. Thank you for your answer. And good luck for your film/sound track. Regards Angelika Sommer
I presume you have already been to Ireland to spend your holidays. Hope you enjoyed yourself, and indeed the summer should have been pretty fantastic, because we had a great summer this year and I hope you enjoyed yourself. Well, I am not exactly working for the Irish tourist board here, but I would recommend for spectacular scenery the West of Ireland: Donegal, Connemara, Killarney. And those of you who came to see my show in the summer in Killarney will hopefully have had the opportunity to drive around the lakes of Killarney and see this extraordinarily beautiful part of the world. It's strange to me because, although I have been there many times and in many different weathers, it doesn't seem to matter what the weather is, as long as you can see beyond the fog. But there is a sense of history, a sense of spirituality, a great sense of melancholy as well as enormous beauty in the West of Ireland. That said, West Cork is gorgeous and the South Coast, the South East where I was brought up: Wexford, Waterford I can recommend. I don't know too much about the Midlands area of Ireland. I am a lover of the sea and being close to the sea. But I know there are beautiful spots in the midlands, and I live along the East coast in an area called Wicklow. And as I am talking to you now, I am looking across on a beautiful autumn day. The leaves are turning and I am looking across at the mountains, because where my house is situated, the views are absolutely stunning.
10th December 2005 - Kennedy Uvie (26) from Nigeria:
Have you ever imagined yourself as a complete stranger to YOURSELF, hearing and listening to the song "Lady in Red" for the very first time? How did you feel?
What a very interesting question! It's very hard to do that, and I am sure all of us have wanted to do that once in a while in certain situations that perhaps you are revisiting again maybe places, then you try to see yourself through other people's eyes, to see a situation through other people's eyes. And indeed your reference to "The Lady In Red", every time I hear it, I attempt to kind of pretend I am hearing it for the first time. Not particularly successfully, I have to say, because when I listen to "The Lady In Red", I deconstruct it in my head, and I think about, particularly when I was recording it, the situation in the studio, the time of day, what I was thinking, whether I had two headphones on, whether I had one slightly off my ears when I was singing. All those little things come back. But quite often, if I am in a disco or something or I hear "The Lady In Red" surprisingly on the radio and I didn't actually put it on in my own stereo, and I hear it, I am immediately sucked into it. As I have to say, I am sucked into most of the other things that I have written. I have strong feelings about "The Lady In Red". It's a great calling card around the world, but it's by no means in my opinion the best thing that I have ever written. It just worked, and it worked extremely well. And I am very proud of it, but nevertheless I think there are other things that I have done. And hopefully in the future that I will do that are every bit as good and as successful and perhaps greater pieces of music than that. When I listen to "The Lady In Red" as we had finished recording it and mixing it - mixing is like cooking, you sample the ingredients in the recording studio, and then you mix it to the final version that you put on your record - I remember turning to Paul Hardiman, my producer, and saying "Paul, this is going to be a no. 1 somewhere, even if it is Bolivia." Which is no disrespect to Bolivia, but you wouldn't put Bolivia at the top of the kind of places you'd expect to have a song like this as number one. And indeed, I think it WAS number one in Bolivia, come to that! I thought at the time, it was like - and I hope you can understand this suggestion - imagine that you are naked and then put on a fur coat! And that's the way I felt the first time I really listened to "The Lady In Red". It felt so sensual and so warm and smooth and even erotic, that I kind of felt there was something very special about this song.
11th December 2005 - Mylene Reiners (42) from Nederweert, The Netherlands:
Dear Chris, On the mailing-list (firstname.lastname@example.org) there was a discussion about your old(er) songs. Some of the listmembers agreed "Brazil", especially the chorus, was the only(!) song you ever wrote they didn't like. How do you feel about that song? Is there a song you wrote (and put on an album) you don't like anymore? Love, Mylene
Well, Brazil was supposed to be a bit of fun. The more important side of it is that the first major hit, the first hit indeed I ever had, was "Turning Round", renamed "Flying", in 1975 or 1976, a long time ago when it was released in Brazil, and it became number one and stayed at number one for something like 18 weeks. Of course this was absolutely thrilling for me to have a first major hit record. And I went to Brazil, treated like a superstar and I returned home to a blizzard of apathy, where nobody knew who I was. So it meant a lot to me. And I loved the sound of music that I heard over there. I brought back a lot of records, so I thought in honour of Brazil and to say thank you to the people there for having started me on my journey in the music business, that I would write a song. Which is just a fun song, you can't take it too seriously. I have done things like this since, like for example "What You Mean To Me" on "The Road To Freedom" album. Perhaps some people think of me as a too serious songwriter. This is the fun side of myself and my writing. You only have to look at "Patricia The Stripper" to realize that within this possibly slightly serious exterior, which I am not indeed at all serious, but I am perceived as being serious, it does lurk an anarchist and a fun maker and a fun lover. About the final line of your question, any song that I don't like anymore, well I wouldn't say "don't like anymore", but some of them I don't react as strongly as I did before. And I am aware that on an album of 10 or 12 songs, you can't have everyone a cracker, you can't have everyone amazing. Because you do need balance! Quite often you create a sandwich effect by putting a light song between two very powerful ones to create a dynamic flow and a balance. It's very hard to make each song you write a classic. I am not suggesting for a minute that I put fillers into my records, but there are lesser songs and there are greater songs. And I am comfortable with just about everything that I have written and recorded.
12th December 2005 - Sam (20) from France:
Hello! You did a live on belgium tv on 25/02/2004 called "de laatste show". I'd like to know your impressions about that live and have you kept a special memory of the work of the "home musicians" on your song... Thanks a lot!
I remember it well, and I was very impressed by the musicians who worked on that song. And I was also impressed by how popular that show was. I believe it was, I think, maybe 4 or 5 nights a week. A wide ranging discussion show of current topics, political topics, interposed with music. I enjoyed it very much.
13th December 2005 - Elin Aasen (31) from Feiring, Norway:
Hi Chris. I hope you will come back to Norway soon! We miss you! My question to you is: what do you think happens when we die?
As people from Norway know, I have such a warm place in my heart for Norway. For how they lifted me, I suppose, when I was in the gloomy times, towards the end of the 70s, wondering what would happen. I had done Spanish Train, then I had done At The End Of A Perfect Day. Eastern Wind came out and suddenly, boom, it became a huge hit in Norway. And I spent many happy tours in Norway. And I do intend to come back. I think I was back within the last 18 months to do some promotion on television. I am very fond of the Norwegian people and I look forward again to returning to do some concerts. After all I had been all way up the coast as far as Trondheim and Bergen, Alesund and of course Oslo. And Stavanger! And I remember those places very well. What happens when we die? Well, you know what, this is the big question. I think it is the basis of all religions. And I suppose what's happening here in Ireland, with enormous publicity now given to clerical at sexual abuse of children by members of the Catholic church. It's so disgusting, so revolting that men, priests in positions of power and authority have been sexually abusing these children. And these children are not believed when they go home. Some of them covered in blood, having been attacked and raped by these priests. It's got me even more thoughtful about the basis of religion. Religion, in my opinion, is there to offer the faithful and the believers some kind of hope, not just for the past but for the future. A religion with the people in power who do not abuse their position, I am not aware that such a religion exists. But it might do, I am not an authority on world religions. The one I belong to, the Church of Ireland, is a much gentler form of religion. And I do believe the people involved with the hierarchy are probably more aware of their obligations than other churches are. I am aware that I am getting into deep water here. But I have always said that anybody should be allowed the freedom to worship what they want, who they want and in any particular way they want, as long as they do not get in the way of other people's beliefs or aggressively attack other people's beliefs. There should be clear lines: This is what I believe, this is what you believe, and I am not going to attack you for your beliefs. So it all comes back to what happens after death. Quite simply: Apart from I have a strong belief that something does happen, but, Elin, the evidence is pretty thin on the ground. And that's why I believe the basis of most, if not all world religions is this question "what happens to us after death?" Because we all want something to happen and we don't want to suddenly disappear off the face of the globe. There are people who clearly do believe there is a complete blank and that's it. You're gone forever. Other people believe that there is an afterlife. Personally I'm not sure. But if I have talked a lot about world religions I must apologize to anybody who may be offended. But nevertheless, as far as I know, no one on the planet is any more divine than anybody else. So we should bear this in mind, when approaching and respecting other people's religious beliefs.
14th December 2005 - Andrea Lucas (40) from Ludwigsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, last weekend was the premiere of the musical "Elisabeth" here in Stuttgart. I hope you enjoyed it, though the weather was very cold and uncomfortable with snowfall. Rosanna must have been frozen in her dress without a coat. Our local newspapers wrote that you are planning an own musical with the company that presents "Elisabeth". Can you already tell us more about those plans? Take care and see you in July, Andrea
This is from Andrea Lucas, a great supporter. And by the way, Andrea, thank you very much for the wonderful photographs and memories of my tour in July. I went to see the musical "Elisabeth" in Stuttgart, which I thought was quite outstanding. Although, as you know, I don't speak a lot of German, I can recommend this musical to anybody who has a chance to see it. And I believe 7 million people so far have seen it. It's a fantastic experience, beautifully staged and highly impressive. And at the moment we are hoping to work with the same company that mounted that particular event. But at the moment, as I say, nothing has been finalized. We are still waiting.
15th December 2005 - Feyzullah Yilmaz (22) from Istanbul, Turkey:
I heard that Chris De Burgh has decided not to visit Turkey ever again because one of his singles "The Traveller" was published in Turkey as "Original Aksu Music" in the early 1990's. Is this true? Why he never visits Turkey again? And secondly, I saw a Turkish fellow's name in some of your albums. His name is Osman Eralp. Was he a friend of yours? How did you meet him? Was he playing a role to persuade you to give concerts in Turkey? Thank you...
Feyzullah, all I can say to you is that you should never believe what you read in the papers. This story about "The Traveller" being published is complete nonsense. I have never heard of this story. And this is not the reason and it would never be a reason why I would not visit a country again. In fact I have actively got plans to try and visit Turkey in 2006 to do some concerts. Not sure it'll happen, but I very much hope it will happen. And of course those of you who know that I am a keen supporter of football will know that I went with my family to see Liverpool beat AC Milan in Istanbul for the Champions League final earlier this year. Quite an amazing experience, not only because of the result in the football, but also to be back in this wonderful wonderful country full of beautiful things and beautiful buildings and very kind people. We all loved our experience there. And in fact yes, Osman Eralp is a friend. He has been involved in the past in bringing me to Turkey. And hopefully we will be able to get there again.
16th December 2005 - Danielle Bilodeau (13) from Québec, Canada:
Hi! First of all I'd like to thank you so much for your music. It's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard. You are without a doubt the best singer/songwriter I have ever heard. I have a few of your CDs and I really like your song, "A night on the river", I don't know if it was meant to, but I think it's kinda funny. Where did you get the idea for it? Thanks again. Best wishes from a huge fan.
Hi Danielle! I am delighted that a young lady like yourself enjoys my music. And that you also like my songs. And I presume by the time you read this, you will have known that I have performed on Star Académie in Montréal, which went all over the province of Québec. And I also will have played a few concerts in the province of Québec as well. "A Night On The River" started as just a fun idea. Sometimes words come out which have absolutely no meaning. You have got to try and figure out what it is. It's like a clue to a puzzle. And I got this line "naked and frozen at the side of a lake", and immediately I started thinking about some guy having had a row with his girlfriend, and she's got the car. And she is taking off with his clothes. And it reminded me somewhat of an instant that happened when I was way younger. A group of us went down to a beach, where I lived in Wexford in Ireland for a midnight swim. And there was a fellow with a Range Rover on the beach, because the tide was full out. And it was a beautiful moonlit night. We all took our clothes off. I think some of us retained our modesty and kept on underwear or whatever. And we put all the clothes on the top of the Range Rover, and ran in for a swim. And the fellow who was driving the Range Rover completely forgot about this and drove off with all the clothes on the top. So all the way down the beach, all these clothes were distributed and we had to grab them before the tide came in. A very funny incident!
17th December 2005 - Vicki (32) from Leeds, England:
Hi Chris, my husband and I saw you in Harrogate on the Road to Freedom tour. He was very happy as you came up to where we were sat (my husband is in a wheelchair) and you shook his hand - THANK YOU for that. My question to you is: I recently saw you on a TV series on BBC 1 and I was wondering if you were thinking of moving into the acting world? If so, what role(s) would you consider? My husband and I love your music and we have recently had some difficult times and your music was truly inspiring and helped us get through. Can't wait for the next album!!! Xx
I remember that show in Harrogate. I really enjoyed it a lot. And it's such a beautiful town. I was told that this is where the rich folk from Leeds used to come in the last century to spend their summers or indeed move into beautiful homes. And I was very impressed by the town of Harrogate and indeed enjoyed a very nice late morning brunch in a suite restaurant overlooking the town green area. And I admired the architecture of the general vicinity. As far as acting is concerned, I do believe acting is much more difficult than it appears. And I think the best actors just make it look easy. As far as I am concerned, there have been a number of people in my profession who have moved sideways into acting with, in my opinion, mixed success. And although I have co written a film, I may indeed have a small cameo role in it, I don't particularly think that unless I had some very good training, I don't think I would ever become a particularly good actor. Although I am very comfortable in front of television cameras and cameras in general and on stage. I think acting is a very skilful profession.
18th December 2005 - Chris Raymond (53) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Dear Chris, I very much enjoyed watching the T.V. programme 'My Favourite Hymns' here in the U.K. You chose 'The Words - I Love You' as a hymn and it was sung by a choir which gave it a very different sound from the version on TRTF album. I would like to know if you re-arranged the song to be sung by the choir yourself or worked with someone else. It's not the sort of sound your fans are familiar with on any of your albums! Perhaps you might consider writing some hymns yourself? I would love to hear a reply on this. Many thanks. Bye, Chris R xx
Hi Chris! The TV program "My Favourite Hymns" - yes, I chose "The Words 'I Love You'", and the choir gave it a different slant. I think that was because they were singing it in a cathedral, and they had to come up with a new arrangement, because, as I recall, I think it was done a cappella. I don't think there were any instruments. If there were, it would have been just a church organ. I didn't have anything to do with that, but I gave some suggestions as how they should do it, and I was very pleased with the way it turned out. In fact you may be interested to know that on January 1st 2006, there's a 40 minute program about me on BBC 1, called "Songs Of Praise". And this is very much about the songs I have written in the past, which do have a spiritual slant, and also my own personal beliefs. And I will be singing with various choirs in both England and Ireland.
19th December 2005 - Beckie (22) from Rideau Ferry, Ontario, Canada:
Hi Chris, When I was growing up my parents always had your music playing, and one song in particular "Don't pay the ferryman". This song tells a familiar story to my family because it is the same story about our little village of Rideau Ferry in Ontario Canada. There was rumour that you visited Rideau Ferry and heard the story of our ferryman Oliver. Is this true? What inspired you to write the song?
The quick answer to this is no, I have never, as I recall, been to the Rideau Ferry in Ontario, although I spent a lot of time in Ontario down the years, and I like the province very much. I don't know the story of your ferryman Oliver. In fact, the background to the ferryman song was, I was writing songs for the album "The Getaway" in 1982, and I have been on a trip to London to talk to my producer Rupert Hine. And we have gone through all the songs, and what was really missing was a really good strong fast opening song. And I had this word in the back of my head called "The Ladderman", who was a man who used to sit in gambling clubs in the Wild West, allegedly with a shotgun, sitting high on a ladder to make sure that nobody cheated. And he watched the games of cards going on. And I thought this was interesting. I liked the word, but the song that I started writing "Don't Pay The Ferryman", it suddenly switched to the ferryman, and I started thinking about the river Styx and the souls of the dead, where you put a coin on the eyes to ask the boatman Charon to take the souls of the dead across the river. I think, if memory serves me right, to either Hades or Heaven. I think maybe the souls of the dead would go to the purgatory place, where decisions would be made about their eternal future. But no, this had nothing to do with the Rideau ferry, but my inspirations were based on mythology, imagination and energy.
21st December 2005 - Chris Williams (53) from Basildon, Essex, UK:
Hiya Chris!! Although I go to the dentist regularly, I still 'hate it', and get very very nervous especially when I have to have a 'filling' done :-( How do you feel about going to see your dentist? Hugs, Chris
Chris, you are a qualified nurse and a very good one, I believe. You should know better than to get nervous going to the dentist, somebody in your profession! But I don't blame you, to be honest, because sometimes some dentists can be fairly rough. I have a dentist here in Ireland who is wonderful, because he correctly claims that he operates with no pain. And although I only go on an occasion to him, I find that he is absolutely right. He has a very soothing atmosphere in his dental surgery with beautiful classical music playing, and the whole experience is not exactly wonderful, but I certainly never feel stressed out or scared when I go there. It's quite on the contrary.
22nd December 2005 - Gary Lacy (37) from Attica, Indiana, USA:
Hello Chris! This may sound over-philosophical, but what would you want to accomplish in this world the most? In other words, what do you want your legacy to be? I know it sounds very "deep", but I'm just wondering. I have enjoyed your music for about 25 years now. "Don't Pay the Ferryman" still brings chills up my spine! Thanks for the music, Gary Lacy
I think we all want to leave something behind us. Your question is not over-philosophical in the slightest. Something I think about a lot, I think in practical terms what you want to leave for your children, is hopefully a comfortable lifestyle. My personal legacy will be a number of things, I hope. Firstly a strong loving family, and a body of musical work which I believe, hopefully, some of it will survive down the years. And the house that I have been working on for so many years in County Wicklow is going to be a very strong legacy, because it's a physical building. And my wife and I have brought a huge amount of energy, love, affection, of course money, but mainly interest and a keenness to understand that there will be future generations who will enjoy what we have done now. And if anything, that is a potent legacy, and one of which I am very proud. I suppose overall, in a more spiritual way, to leave a feeling of love and affection behind you is every man's and every woman's dream.
23rd December 2005 - Matt (23) from Sheffield, UK:
Hey Chris. I play in a folk-rock band from Sheffield. One of my first proper memories is seeing you in concert at the Sheffield Arena. I went with my mum and dad when I was about 6 (I think) and my particular memory is of you playing the Revolution. I know this sounds strange, but this first experience of live, loud music was really the 'spark to a flame' for me, and lead me to form a band many years later. My band Dead Like Harry is doing really well, we have played to audiences up to 1000 people, and I put this down to this early memory. My question is, what is the earliest memory you have of wanting to be a singer/songwriter? What was your earliest musical inspiration? And finally, I love Snows of New York... please keep playing this live. Matt
Great question! It is wonderful to hear that your experience at the Sheffield arena, when you were about 6, inspired you, particularly the song "Revolution". Because it is a very dramatic song, it's exciting, it's got some kind of story behind it, some depth. And it has plenty of energy. And that experience for you of live, loud music obviously brought you to the realization that it's what you wanted to do, even if it's just for fun and for a hobby and you started your band. Funnily enough I have heard of your band "Dead Like Harry" and I hope you carry on doing well. It is a very tough business, as I am sure you know. My earliest memory of wanting to be a singer/songwriter would have started in my parents' hotel in the South of Ireland, the old castle. And I am sure fans of my music know full well how I started singing to the guests from all over the world, who unfortunate people had nowhere else to go at night, and so this young fellow of 14 or 15 would pull out his guitar and say "hey, I can sing you a few folk songs". Of course this was a great way to learn. And it wasn't really until I got to University that I realized in my naivety, that you could actually make a living at this. But even then it took me years to really understand fully the impact of music and the music business, because all the time I was just feeling grateful that I had a chance to try to do something I really loved doing.
24th December 2005 - Martin Travers (36) from Farnborough, Hampshire, England:
Hi Chris. You've written many songs that either portray a father's love for his children or a man's love for a partner. It is my mother's 60th birthday this year and I was looking back through your recordings to find a song that I could play (or sing if brave enough!) for her on her special day as a way of showing my appreciation to her as her son, but it struck me that, as far as I can tell, you've never written a song with a 'son to mother' theme? Is this a conscious decision? Regards, Martin
I hope that in my answer to your question you haven't missed your mother's birthday, because I would recommend playing my song "Here Is Your Paradise". Because that suggests the conjoining of people's affection with each other, and a life together, and indeed a book of life in which obviously your mother's book of life is full of you and your upbringing and obviously she is in your book of life. The fact that I haven't written a son-to-a-mother-song, there's nothing sinister in this. I am absolutely crazy about my Mum. I guess I have never got round to it. Some people have done it in the past, and those kinds of songs are often quite mawkish and sentimental. But perhaps I will come round to it. And you are quite right, I have written quite a few songs between sons and fathers, because quite often they are areas of conflict. Of course I don't like conflicts, as nobody else does, but I like to try and understand and iron out the difficulties that do occur sometimes between fathers and sons.
26th December 2005 - Yvette (34) from Rüsselsheim, Germany:
I have recently gotten into the musical style of Gregorian Chant, both the historical renditions and today's pop music arrangements. I actually found a CD of a group that calls itself 'Faith & Harmony' that did a Gregorian style mix of the song 'Lady in Red'. I wasn't sure if that was in the strict confines of Gregorian music or not, but overall it was pretty good arrangement of the song. I was wondering what your thoughts about this genre of music were, if any. Have you ever listened to it, and if so, what were your impressions of it? Finally, which of your songs, if any, do you think might actually fit into this particular music style?
I wasn't aware there's a Gregorian style mix of the song "Lady In Red" by Faith & Harmony. But thank you for telling me, because I will look it up. Strange to say, I actually adore this kind of music. I love Gregorian chant. In my studio I have a number of CDs from Russia, from Greece, of orthodox singing and chanting. I have records from the 15th and 16th century of the similar kind of music. It seems to awaken echoes in me that I don't really quite understand, but I certainly love that kind of music. Just coming back to some of my songs. Well, things like "Where Peaceful Waters Flow" is an immediate one where I would say that might work to a chanting kind of thing. I think what you have to have is a fairly constant drone, a musical note that goes through a lot of the song. And it makes it a lot easier then to create a chant through that. But interesting question! I'll certainly look at that sort of thing again.
27th December 2005 - Stephanie Grabowski (36) from Dormagen, near Cologne, Germany:
Hi Chris, first of all, thank you for your music. I love your music for more than 25 years and you are like wine (your favourite drink), each year you become better. Last year I visited the concert in Cologne and, of course, Dortmund. It was fantastic. We saw you at the meet and greet and after this the concert was the best I ever saw. I hope there will be a few more, because my son (he is now 8 years) still asking, when he can visit your concert in the future. But now my question: When you heard the pope has died, did you have some special feelings about it? Like the thousands of people, who came to Rome? I was very surprised that so many people wanted the pope say good-bye. I never could imagine that he had such an influence on the people, because the set of belief isn't really "up-to-date" I believe. Thanks for answering my question and I hope, I will see you next time together with my son Dominik. Best wishes Steffi
I am delighted that your 8 year old son enjoys my concerts, and of course there will be chances during 2006 for you and your little boy to come to one of my shows in November. Your question is about the pope. In a sort of way of answering this, I would point at the death of Princess Diana. And that had a massive impact all over the world. People genuinely believed she was a friend of theirs. They felt they knew her. They felt that this was a tragedy, the way her life was unfolding. And it shouldn't have happened to such a beautiful, talented and inspirational woman. To not only have the difficulties that she went through with her marriage, with the media particularly in England, and with the way she died. To this day people are still talking conspiracy theories. I think it was just quite simple that the car went out of control and it was a tragic accident. But going to the pope, no I personally didn't feel any particular grief or sadness. I have immense admiration for the man as a human being and great respect for him as a human being. But the fact that he was a pope, in my opinion, didn't make him any more divine than any single other human being on the planet. Any starving child in Africa is as divine as the pope was. And certainly this applies to my feelings of the current pope. We mustn't forget how Pope John Paul became pope. It was because the power vested in the cardinals and the authority of the church created one man to be their figurehead. But he, in my opinion, although he did wonderful things, he also did as a lot of critics have said, some things which put back the progress of for example understanding and having compassion towards homosexuality, and also towards clerical celibacy. There are a number of things which he could have done, which in my opinion would have made him an even greater man. For example to have allowed contraception. When you think about all the millions and millions of AIDS sufferers. And if there was a comprehensive program of education, investment and understanding of the AIDS difficulties in very poor countries that was inspired by the Catholic Church, then I would have probably felt a lot more strongly about his passing than I did at the time.
28th December 2005 - Melanie Edwards (43) from Liverpool, England:
Hello Chris, I am going to a school reunion this summer (all girls Convent!!!!), 25 years after leaving. Although I am really looking forward to going, unfortunately, I have not kept in touch with anybody and only see two of the girls now and again as they still live locally. Have you ever been to a school reunion and do you still keep in touch with any school/university friends? If not, and you would like to go to one, you are welcome to come with me to mine!! Looking forward to your next concerts and I think another visit to Liverpool is due very soon. With Lots of Love, and all the yellow roses in the world, Melanie x
Thank you very much, Melanie, for all the wonderful yellow roses you've sent me. Whenever I receive a single one or a bunch of yellow roses, I know exactly who they've come from. And thank you for that! Your question about school reunions? Well, the answer is no, I haven't really attended many of them if any, apart from fairly soon after I left school, which of course was back in the dark ages. But I have still a lot of friends from University days, which is great. We keep in touch. They are the solid friends in my life and I really enjoy their company. We have still a lot in common. I have been to Liverpool recently, but only for a football match. But I look forward to returning there some time in the future to sing as I did in the Anglican cathedral last year, which was a huge success and a great memory for me.
29th December 2005 - Mert Ener (23) from Istanbul, Turkey:
Hi Chris! In the video clip of the song Ship to Shore there are two guys playing cards. One of them is never seen all along the video. But the other guy really looks like the famous French actor Vincent Perez. Is he? Thanks a lot!
You know, the trouble is, I haven't seen the video clip of "Ship To Shore" for years. And I think the other person in the clip was an actor. I don't even remember who he was, but he certainly wasn't this famous French actor Vincent Perez, whoever he is. I am sure he is very famous. But no, that was just me and somebody else. For the life of me, I cannot remember who.
30th December 2005 - Gaynor Lightfoot (49) from Bromley, Kent, UK:
Dear Chris, I have recently been on a special weekend at a Warner hotel where there was a guest entertainer appearing on the Saturday night. I was there when Jools Holland was playing.It was a brilliant evening which was very intimate as there were only about 200 people there. Have you ever considered appearing at this sort of venue? I'm sure that many fans would love the chance to see you, and have a weekend together too.It would suit your solo style, but there would be ample room for your band. I love your music and have been glad to listen to you on so many occasions, especially as I have M.E. which means I have a good reason to rest and listen to you. Thank you for all you do. With Love, Gaynor
I think I may have adressed this kind of question before, and perhaps even from Gaynor about this kind of weekend. Well, I love this idea, and in fact we have talked about it many times, my office and I, my manager and I. About finding the right sort of place to have an intimate weekend with a small number of fans, where I would do a performance. People would either stay locally, or would stay in the house itself. And I would talk about the songs I have written, how I wrote them, 200 or 300 people, maybe 500 people. I think it's a fantastic idea. I have a strong feeling this will happen sooner or later.
31st December 2005 - Andy Sands (37) from London, England:
Chris, without your music my life would be pretty empty. What one thing could you not do without?
That's a tough question! Music is important to me, but I think at the end of the day, the one thing that would keep my heart beating would be surrounded by my family. Music is a beautiful extra, but I think if I was for any reasons separated from my family, this would cause me direct and constant pain.