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.
16th March 2007 - Francis Doherty (37) from Bishopbriggs, Scotland:
Hi Chris, I recently got your new album "The Storyman" and I have to say it is a wonderful album, so full of soul and heart - a great counter to all the nonsense in the world! I am amazed by how consistently good all your albums are and wondered if you have thought of why it is you not only produce music, but it never seems to dip in quality? Your music really touches and grabs people in a profound way; my three and two year old daughters have been listening to "The Storyman" and apart from focusing their attention they have also danced along together to "The Grace of a Dancer"! Thank you, Francis Doherty
Hi Francis! I am charmed by your kind words and the fact that your young daughters have been listening to "The Storyman". And indeed it makes me smile to imagine them dancing together to "The Grace Of A Dancer". You are also very kind in telling me how consistently good my records have been down the years. And this is mainly because I have always felt that what I do with a record is make it into a book. Not a throw-away-magazine or a newspaper, something just for today. I have always wanted people to be able to come back to my records, even many years after they have been released, and enjoy the ideas, enjoy some of the timeless stories that have emerged down the years. "The Storyman" for me is an achievement of which I am hugely proud. And indeed it leaves me at a certain point in my career where I am wondering how on earth can I do better than that. And there are times when I have thought to myself "well, it is always best to quit while you are ahead". As some people say, get out while you're at the top of your powers. As a songwriter I am always interested in writing songs. But coming up with those ideas for "The Storyman" involved a lot of mental and physical energy. Not that I am lacking any of those energetic forces, but sometimes it seems a very high mountain to climb to get back to those peaks that I have achieved before. Having said that, I felt that my album "The Road To Freedom" was something I would have a lot of difficulty topping or doing better than. So who knows, there might be something more after "The Storyman", perhaps "The Storyman part 2". I have said it before and I'd like to say it again that unless you feel an emotion very deeply, you can not possibly hope to convey it. Which is why, when I sing a song like "Spirit", I feel the emotion very powerfully. I can see the scene, which is why I was so pleased eventually to add the stories to the collection of songs in "The Storyman", because people can now have an opportunity to see and feel, even smell and visualize the events that I am describing. People might be interested to know that the vocal in the song "Spirit" was supposed to be a demo vocal prior to me doing the real thing. But the emotion that I came up with during that vocal version could not be bettered, although I tried. And I remember I had my eyes closed and I could visualize the stars, I could visualize the fire, the old man dying, I could see every part of it. However it touched me I think that's the way my vocal came out and how the words came out, so hopefully people would feel the same feelings that I did.
17th March 2007 - Alan Thompsett (39) from Kent, UK:
One World is an excellent new single, but I wonder how many times you rewrite the lyrics before you finally record. Do you ever write the words and never change a single word, or is it a major editorial task. Thanks for your time and good luck with the new album and tour from a fan from way back in the 70s/80s.
The process of writing lyrics is a constantly evolving process. And it is very rare that I actually come up with a first draft and stick with it. There is always a word that you want to change or a line, or maybe the melody changes slightly and you need to incorporate a slightly different lyric. The "One World" lyric came pretty fast, because I knew what I wanted to say. That's a very strange thing for me to come up with, but a lot of people who write songs don't actually know what they are trying to say and you feel that what they are doing is struggling in the dark, groping around blindly for something to hang the melody on that makes some kind of sense. So it's a lot lot easier if you actually have an idea what you are trying to say and your music is then a vehicle for saying it. Those people who know the words of "One World" will understand what I am saying. In both sections of the song and in particular the second part which starts "I believe there is a God, but it doesn't mean that my God is greater than yours" and as always I am pleading for religious tolerance in this crazy world of ours, where people are so entitled to have a faith, but please do not force your own beliefs on other people. Everybody must have a chance to believe what they want in privacy without any threat whatsoever.
18th March 2007 - Pauline Ellerington (49) from Kingston Upon Hull, East Yorkshire, UK:
Hi Chris, what made you choose Hull as the place from where the director came from in "The Sweetest Kiss Of All", after all, it's not as if you have ever been here is it, but then if you had, maybe you wouldn't have chosen it!! One day, just one day maybe you will grace our city and reward Colin and I for travelling to see you in concert, not that we mind doing that, it's always well worth it. Love always, Pauline XXX P.S. Like everyone, I'm blown away by the Storyman and love the idea of the stories booklet; I have had tears in my eyes reading them.
Hi Pauline! Thanks for your wonderful pictures with you wearing that red outfit. And I know from seeing you at the concerts that you are a very attractive lady. And the reason I chose Hull? It just popped into my head, perhaps because my former keyboard player Peter Oxendale came from Hull. And it just seemed to be a place, as in many places in the North of England, it's a kind of no nonsense place. You say things how you feel them. And I just liked the idea of this director in "The Sweetest Kiss Of All" story, being from that part of the world, and deciding that the two families that he is trying to bring together shouldn't be warring with each other. And that, rather than being sort of gently diplomatic, he thinks it's time to make these things happen and change something. This is why he casts Romeo and Juliet as the leading actors from the two families. And of course I would very much like to return to East Yorkshire soon. And I hope you enjoyed the Sheffield arena ice concert.
19th March 2007 - Michael Losberg (45) from Regensburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, congratulations for your new album, I love it. Especially the song "The mirror of the soul" is great. I want to know if the story is based on a true story. Thank you for answering. Michael
"The Mirror Of The Soul" is an example of me having the seeds of an idea, something that I wanted to express, but not having the way in which to express it. A lot of people will feel the same thing that I felt in that song, but because I am a songwriter and a storyteller I came up with this idea. It is based on entirely my imagination, the idea of a monastery in the middle of France at a time in human history where people were incredibly superstitious and incredibly believing and trusting in religious dogma and what they were told. In fact to this day there are still many people who believe everything they are told when it comes to religion. It's their choice of course, but I think it's also important to question, because everybody is as divine as everybody else. The smallest little boy in a street in Mumbai is as divine as the greatest church leaders in the world, in my personal opinion. What I was trying to say in "The Mirror Of The Soul" is a contentious idea, but not new at all. But if you question where the holy books of all our human religions came from, as I said just before I sang the song on stage - if you question where they came from, did they come from outer space, did they come from greater beings than us, did they come from more powerful minds, did they come from more divine spirits? Well, the answer is no, they came from human beings like you and I, who had to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, love, be loved, cry and indeed die as all of us have to. So once you understand that then you look very carefully at these holy words and holy scriptures and holy writings and say well, this is something I want to believe in. That's absolutely fair and fine, and as always everybody has the absolute right to believe what they want. But in "The Mirror Of The Soul" I am poking a little bit of fun at those religions, particularly in the West, which down the years have offered all sorts of inducements to their believers in spiritual terms and in return for that they get lots and lots of money. You only have to look at the history of Western religions to realize this kind of thing has been going on for centuries. It's about power, it's about belief, trust, faith and indeed the abuse of power.
20th March 2007 - Kim (41) from Qatar:
What is the meaning of this line from The Mirror of the Soul- 'A power greater from the world's creator'?
Yesterday I spoke about "The Mirror Of The Soul". And this question refers to a lyric "a power greater from the world's creator". Now having said all that about religion, divinity, spiritualism, beliefs and faith, it is my personal belief. And you have to remember that when I am writing, I am writing from a personal standpoint, either one of my own thoughts or the thoughts of the characters involved - usually the latter, they are the thoughts of the character involved, not necessarily my own personal beliefs. "A power greater from the world's creator gave us love to light the mirror of the soul" - for me this is the conclusion of the whole song. It's that the only people who could hold this amazing diamond that came from the sky and make it light up were the ones who had love in their hearts. The stone itself could choose, it could tell who was a bad, evil person and who was a loving, good person. And that is the point of the song, it's that love is the strongest, binding force the world ever has known and ever will know.
21st March 2007 - Gisela Kirsten (51) from Germany:
I love your song "Mirror of the soul". Unfortunately I can't understand the monks' chant at the beginning although I recognize the language as Latin. What are the lyrics? They're not included in the booklet. I'd be glad to get an answer!
We've been talking about this the last couple of days. Yes, the monks' chanting at the beginning is Latin, based on lines that I came up with. And I was given this Latin by somebody who apparently knew some Latin. It has been pointed out to me that it may not be exactly correct, but you have to take a certain songwriter's leeway to put across a point and things that actually work within a melody line. So: AMOR SPECULUM ANIMA LUCET. LUCIFER EX INFERNO CLAMAT. NE NOS INDUCAT IN TENTATIONEM. AMOR SPECULUM ANIMA LUCET. And this actually means "Love lights the mirror of the soul. The devil is calling from hell. Lead us not into temptation. Love lights the mirror of the soul." That is the literal translation of what I was trying to achieve.
22nd March 2007 - Maike (28) from Hannover, Germany:
Hi Chris, at first - a big thank you for your new album! It's amazing - I really love it! I've heard it the whole night and taken a look at the lyrics and stories. My favourite song is "The Storyman" - wow what a rhythm! But there's a question going round my mind: Is the song "The Storyman" a journey through all your wonderful songs? I've found so many "landmarks" where I remember a lot of song-titles and lyrics! Like "...I heard a train far away.." - maybe the Spanish train? "...road to the ferryman.." - Don't pay the ferryman?, or the red dressed lady, the tender hands, ...the missing you. Were you inspired by your musical journey to write this song? Maybe I'm totally wrong - or you won't understand my poor English. However - I hope you'll have a great tour, a lot of fun and a nice day ;o) Bye Maike
This is very much a Celtic feel to the song, using organic musical instruments, drums, violins and so on. And you are quite right that the lyric is based on chronological observation of my albums. The very first verse is an overall idea "I lived my life in the words of a Storyman, watched my dreams from the years gone by". It's just about me, feeling that the Storyman has always been part of my life, always like a shadow beside me, nudging me, inspiring me. And maybe he is a figure from down the centuries, maybe he is a figure that is in other people's lives, full of imagination. And then I wanted to refer to all the songs that I have written. Every album is mentioned. So I know that I have come up with quite a few answers to every title, but one day I'll put up the ones that I had in mind. It starts off with "Far Beyond These Castle Walls", obviously "Spanish Train", "At The End Of A Perfect Day", "Crusader", "Eastern Wind" - every single record is referred to in this lyric, even going out to and including "The Storyman" album. One of the last lines is "the spirit of one world", so of course these are the titles "Spirit" and "One World" from the album.
23rd March 2007 - Graham West (51) from Liverpool, UK:
Hi Chris. it's great to see your Storyman CD in all the shops and to see your face on the TV in England! I must confess that when I first listened to Storyman, I was a little disappointed. Nothing really caught me yet now I find myself totally hooked! I love the song "Raging Storm" and am wondering if you plan to release this as a single. I'm sure that if Lou Walsh heard this track he'd have Westlife in the recording studio the same day! It's an amazing track and I'm sure that with the support of the right radio stations it would be as big as Lady in Red!
As everybody knows I am very fond of Liverpool, not only because of the musical background that has given us some of the finest pop songs in history through Lennon/McCartney, but also through the most successful English football club of all time, Liverpool FC, of which me and my family are big fans. "The Storyman" project was very much an idea where you had to willingly give yourself to the imagination of the storyteller. They have a saying in the theatre that theatre is "the willing suspension of disbelief", which is a terrific way of saying that you know in your conscious mind what you are seeing is a play and its actors. Once you release yourself from that you can actually go into your imagination and allow yourself to believe everything you see, which is why good stage musicals really have an outstanding effect on people. The song "Raging Storm" was one I began the melody of in Portugal, 2 or 3 years ago when I had a little spare time. I was on holiday with my family at the time. And yes, the single is out by the time you read this, with Kristyna Myles. As everybody knows by now she was a complete unknown, apart from winning a busker of the year competition in the UK. And I liked the idea of getting a girl with a great voice to sing along with me. I think those of you who have heard her singing on this really haven't heard her at her best, in my opinion. I think she has so many abilities, so many different ways of singing. She is a very talented young woman and I wish her the very best in the future.
24th March 2007 - Isabella (37) from Frankfurt, Germany:
Hi Chris, I have seen your wonderful show last night. What impressed me most was the song "The Leader" .... and the pictures of war which were shown with it. Somehow my emotions were so strong while watching the pictures that I felt like being a part of the film and I felt the fear the people must have had so strong that I had to cry. I would like to ask you what you felt when you saw the pictures the first time and what do you think that ordinary people like me can do that something like that will never happen again. Is there something I can do?
Isabella, the song trilogy "The Leader" from 1986 is one that I poured a lot of my emotions into. I did a lot of research into revelations in the holy bible. And I looked very closely at the feelings that I was trying to put across about how we, the billions on the planet, are at the mercy of really just a handful of people, usually men, who have created enormously powerful weapons of mass destruction. They can wipe out every one of us and indeed all human life and perhaps all life on the planet. And it struck me as quite ridiculous nowadays having been through the cold war between Soviet Union and United States and recognizing that they just didn't have enough weapons to kill everybody in each country. They had thousands of times more weapons than they needed to kill everybody in each country. And in nuclear war and indeed biological war there are no winners. Everybody loses. So that's what I was looking at. Subsequently a young man from Liverpool called Steve Bennett who I have enormous admiration and respect for started putting together visuals for songs that he liked. And there's quite a few of them. And maybe one day other people will have a chance to see his work. I tell you when I saw this particular one of The Leader, I went into my little home cinema, which has got a big sound system and a big screen and it's lovely and dark in there. And I put the track on with the visuals accompanying it. And when I saw the central section, not just the first part and the last part, the central section and the bombs being dropped, I suddenly realized that Steve had absolutely seen into my head. He saw what I was seeing. And I was overwhelmed. And I have to tell you quite honestly the tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was so stunned by what I saw. And I wasn't the only one, I can assure you. Many many people since who watched that have been similarly moved. The grief at the very end, when I am singing "What about me and the ones that we love?" And you see the appalled faces of the people, pulling out the bodies from the bombed out ruined buildings. War is horrible and I don't need to tell anybody from your country, Isabella, about how dreadful war can be. And that particular song is something that I think has left a lasting impact on just about everybody who had the chance to see that in concert. I don't think there's much of an answer to your last question except to say we can only help by putting into our children's heads again and again that the only way that human beings can survive on the planet together is to have respect for each other whatever their beliefs, whatever their faiths, whatever their aggressive tendencies. Put into our children the feeling that love is really the only way; love not just for your family and friends, but for all. And I go back to that line that I like to say: If you love yourself, then others will love you too.
25th March 2007 - Eberhard Blocher (41) from Cologne, Germany:
I deal a lot with people in Tanzania so I am a little intrigued to read "The Serengeti, Kenya" when looking at "The Storyman" booklet. You surely know that the Serengeti is situated in Tanzania rather than in Kenya. I wonder if it would be possible to correct this.
This is a name I recognize from various websites. You are quite right, the Serengeti is in Tanzania. But if you look on the website, if you google-search "Serengeti", you'll get the information that it runs from Tanzania to South-West Kenya. So there is nothing to correct here. It is a large area that does cover both Tanzania and South-West Kenya. So we are both right.
26th March 2007 - Doreen Gardner (49) from North Yorkshire, UK:
Dear Chris, when you go on holiday with your family, what do you enjoy doing the most? Just relaxing on the beach or by the pool, sightseeing, or something else?
Well I am very lucky that my family all still want to go on holidays with me and my wife. The children enjoy the holidays. We get on great. We are a very close family. We laugh a lot. People often remark that we enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner together, always the same family unit. And we always seem to be getting on well and having fun. When I am on holidays I basically like to relax. My favourite holiday spot would be Mauritius, which means that I do a lot of water sports like water skiing, kayaking, hobie cats, swimming. But that's not an all-day thing. I do like to relax with a good book. I am not great at lying on a beach putting on the tanning lotion. I get a little restless and I love to talk to people. But once I am on a holiday, that's a really good chance to stop thinking about everything else in my busy life. I wouldn't say that I'm great at sightseeing, because usually when I am on tour, I take the advantage to sightsee wherever I happen to be, particularly if I have gone somewhere for the first time. But if I am in a place on a holiday where I have been before then I usually have the chance just to chill out and relax.
27th March 2007 - Stephen Johnston (43) from Canada / The Netherlands:
Hi Chris, I have a short question. Do you meditate?
The answer is, Stephen, yes and no. I don't do Yoga. I have done Pilates quite a bit, but that's slightly different. As far as meditation is concerned, that is not something I do on a regular basis. But I find that as a writer there is an area that I get into with my head, it's almost like playing a game with your own subconscious. It's like trying to tease a mouse out of a mouse hole. It's to get your subconscious to connect with your conscious and get all those extraordinary, weird, interesting and imaginative ideas out of that area into the conscious mind. And the only way I can suggest that we all know what this feels like is that just before we go to sleep many of us experience that sort of thing when your brainwaves just relax a little bit and you start imagining what if. You know, you go into those weird sorts of areas. And that's an area where I need to be in if I am writing. I need to be in a situation which is very quiet, no phone calls, no interferences, no interruptions. And it's the same feeling as you are drifting off to sleep, if you suddenly hear a car horn going outside or somebody banging at your door, you suddenly wake up with a jerk. It's an uncomfortable feeling. So as long as you can avoid that kind of interference, you can get to that mental state and be totally relaxed. I do live a fairly stressful lifestyle, but I do like to think also that I am a very calm and pretty placid person most of the time.
28th March 2007 - Gabriel (23) from Mexico City, Mexico:
Dear Chris: One of "the things I must do before dying", is go to one of your live performances. In order to carry out this goal, first, I've been saving money (slowly because I've many others expenses to cover) because you only sing in Europe, Canada and sometimes in other interesting places but not in Latin America..., I've been also buying your live CDs by internet, because it is practically impossible to find your CDs in Mexico (if a Mexican reads this statement surely would know this) and this is why I can't complain you of visit my country for a performance, but believe me, in Mexico we know and sing not only "The Lady in Red", we know more songs. Since I heard for the first time "The Lady in Red" it became my favourite song and the national anthem of my dreams, I've been praying and hoping that one day I can be able to live a lovely history like the one you tell us by that masterpiece, and then I heard "So Beautiful" and hoped the same, after that I also heard "The Head and the Heart", "This is Love" .., so finally Chris, my question is: Why on your concerts (that I've heard in CDs and in consequence I think that it happens every time you sing live) you sing very few "love" songs and sing a lot of the "protesting" songs (example "The Revolution")??? Chris, maybe you'll think I'm crazy, but I'm not in war and I'm not protesting anything, I only know that I'm deeply in love and I think that you too and also many people around the world that are hoping to see you in a concert in order to hear your beautiful love songs and not the other ones. You have a gift that mostly everybody would like to possess, you have the gift to express love feelings with the help of music. These days it is impossible to find real singers that sing real love songs, you're one of the few I know, please, don't stop writing these greatest songs and please, sing them in your concerts, you'll see that the people will chant louder the love songs than the others!!!! Give us the opportunity to believe that love is not an impossible dream. Thank you very much for the time you take for reading and answering my message and sorry for my bad English. Hope to see you soon in a concert, Gabriel.
Gabriel, what a wonderful question you have sent me! It's more than a question; it's a statement for your interest in my music and your sadness that Mexico seems to only know "The Lady In Red". You asked me about the love songs. Well, as you probably are aware I put out an album with an orchestra in the mid 90s called "Beautiful Dreams" which had a lot of love songs on it. And just after that was the "Love Songs" collection with a big heart on the front. You may have that one. I think perhaps you are not seeing the setlist that I do or getting a full understanding of the songs that I do in a concert. Because the shows I do with a band, you are right, a lot of the songs would be fairly strong rock songs. But in the solo performances I do concentrate much more on love songs. I can give you an indication. If I am looking at the "Live In Dortmund" CD, I would say "The Same Sun", "Five Past Dreams", "Here For You", "Rainy Night In Paris", "Songbird", "Carry Me (Like A Fire In Your Heart)", "The Words 'I Love You'", "The Lady In Red", these for me all come under the headline of love songs. "The Journey" is a love song for somebody who has died and it's about love. Love between man and woman is a very complex area and it's one that poets, musicians, songwriters, moviemakers, writers have tried to understand for generations, for centuries. And mainly it's complicated because there is so much variance on this particular theme. For me I am more interested in the things that begin love, not necessarily go on throughout love, or towards the end of love and relationships. "High On Emotion", which is a full-on rock song, that's a love song! It's looking across a crowded room and connecting with somebody. But I think I know what you mean, Gabriel, about pure love songs. "Here Is Your Paradise" would be another favourite of mine, that is a strong love song. And from my "Storyman" album I would say "The Grace Of A Dancer" is a great love story, "The Shadow Of The Mountain", "Spirit" is a love song about a man dying and giving love to his children. "The Sweetest Kiss Of All" about how love conquers all. You see I really am a romantic. But perhaps those kinds of songs you are thinking of I am not doing too often for the reasons I have explained. And finally, if you ever have a chance to come to one of my concerts, Gabriel, I would be delighted if you would be my guest. And bring a friend or anybody you like and I'll look after you. Because if you come all the way from Mexico City, you deserve to be looked after.
29th March 2007 - Jerry Sheahan (31) from Dublin, Ireland:
Dear Chris, I met you and 2 of your children outside your house in Dublin in 1991 when I was doing a project about you for my Leaving Certificate. In this day and age, would it worry you that a fan could just turn up on your doorstep? Thank you for allowing me to do the project about you (I got an A) and thanks for all the music over the years.
I remember that, when you came to my house in Dublin and we talked about the project for your Leaving Certificate. And for those of you who don't know about the Leaving Certificate, this is at the end of the Secondary school in Ireland, we take the Leaving Certificate. It's a bit like the baccalauréat in France, we cover a number of subjects, say 8 or 9 different subjects, and then you achieve points and it goes to a total up to a maximum of 600. Those points then help you to achieve third level education. My son Hubie for example recently achieved 505 points, which was the highest of any boy in his 6th form class. And he is now studying English in Trinity College in Dublin. Well done getting an A on that particular project. There was a time where I suppose I was much more accessible to people ringing my doorbell. I moved from where you found me in Dalkey, where people could just easily walk to the gate and see me in the garden and stuff to a much more secluded spot in Enniskerry in County Wicklow. I am not particularly concerned about stalkers. But they do happen. And unfortunately there have been several incidents in the recent past and indeed some years ago, where people have felt the obligation to have more than just a short conversation with me, they really want to have a much stronger connection. I don't want to make any comments about the mental state of these people, but I have found in the past that some of these people are distressed and feel that they know me an awful lot better than they actually do, because of the words that I write in my songs. This is a phenomenon that does not just apply to myself, but obviously to a lot of other people in public life. So we do take precautions and I am of course surrounded by the latest technology gadgets of security systems and so on.
30th March 2007 - Terry Kemp (41) from Perth, Australia:
Hi Chris. What is the story behind "The Ballad of Thunder Gulch" please? I have heard a good copy of this catchy song and was wondering if it is indeed you singing - it sure sounds like you. Was this ever released or was it pinched from the studio by an employee - or something else. It's obviously a completed track as there are harmonies, clear production and the whole bit. Thanking you in anticipation.
This was a one off special production and recording for a friend of mine in Ireland called J.P. McManus who is highly respected and highly successful in the horse racing world. And he asked me if I would consider writing and recording a song to celebrate the victory of a horse called Thunder Gulch in the 121st running of America's premier horse race, the Kentucky Derby in 1995 in Louisville. The song was for the owner of the horse, Michael Tabor. So I agreed and had a bit of fun writing this song, which is very complicated when you are writing a song about how a horse out of several in a field of runners manages to get to the front. Only 100 copies of this CD were made and it has become a collector's item. The race itself is known as the run for the roses. And the whole production was as professional as any of us could make it.
31st March 2007 - Stéphanie (20) from Bordeaux, France:
Dear Chris, First of all, I apologize for my English. A few years ago, I was brought to know your songs thanks to the guitar player Phil Palmer. I was immediately taken by your music and it's always a happiness to discover your albums. I strongly hope that I will see you one day in concert. You have co written a song with Phil: 'What You Mean To Me', can you tell us about this collaboration? You must know each other for a long time as Phil was already credited on your vinyls since the 80's... But since how long do you know each other? Will you work again together? Thank you very much for your answers. Et juste un petit mot en francais, je vous souhaite plein de bonheur pour votre nouvel album et la tournée à venir...
Hi Stéphanie! Thank you very much for your question and your few words of French. You come from one of my favourite places in France, because Bordeaux produces some of the greatest wines in the world. Having just spent a wonderful few days in Paris, I have had the opportunity to speak French on a regular basis now and it is such a wonderful and romantic language. I love it. To your question about Phil Palmer - he first started playing on my records in 1982 on the album "The Getaway" and he has played on just about every album since then that I have made. He is not only a very dear friend; but he is also one of the finest guitar players in Europe in my opinion. For example if you listen to the solo in the song "The Leader, The Vision, What About Me?", it's absolutely amazing. If you listen to his solo at the end of the song "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)", that's Phil again. He did lots of wonderful work on other records like "High On Emotion", "The Lady In Red" - the list is endless. And I am delighted that you had a chance to meet with him. And I am sure that you found him as much of a caring, gentle person as I do. We were working on my album "The Road To Freedom", and I just proposed to him that we try a collaboration just for fun. And the song "What You Mean To Me" came out. It's just a light-hearted love song that takes us back in the memory of the singer to a place where he and his love used to go many years before. And this is like a return, a trip down memory lane. And I very much look forward to working with him again.
1st April 2007 - Robin Thibeault (47) from Pointe-Claire, Québec, Canada:
Hi, Chris I have been a fan of yours for many years, I feel you are a very special person and that comes across every time I see you in concert. I agree that Eva Cassidy sounds like an angel when she sings, but so do you. I was wondering if you had ever heard of Martin Page. As far as I know he has only one album "In the house of Stone". I like his lyrics and sound. There was some blurb written about you and him. I was wondering if you could shed some light on it. With thanks for all the great music, and blessings to you and your family. Robin
Thank you for your remarks about me and of course Eva Cassidy has got an amazing voice. And thank you for saying that I too have a good voice. I have never heard of Martin Page, so I looked him up on the internet and he has only one album "In The House Of Stone and Light", which was recorded quite a long time ago I believe. But apart from that I know very little about him, but I presume he is a talented man and perhaps one day I'll have a chance to listen to some of his music. Thank you, Robin.
2nd April 2007 - John Voorpostel (51) from Toronto, Canada:
Let me start by saying I have been a fan of yours since 1977, when I first heard your classic Spanish Train album, own all your CD's, and I'm eagerly awaiting The Storyman. I've also been to all your concerts here from your visit to Massey Hall (was it 1978?) when you did a great rendition of The Painter, partially in a strait jacket, to your last visit at Thomson Hall, where you showed your deep spiritual side in a tribute to your mother in law, and in fact throughout the concert, shone through. Your spiritual depth and its reflection in your lyrics is one of the things my wife and I talked about on the way home. As a reasonably talented amateur singer songwriter myself (I like to say I do it to take a vacation away from myself), I appreciate your talent and skill and all the hard work you put in to entertain us in all you do...which leads into my question. You have certainly been an important inspiration to my own efforts, and given there are fan tribute albums by you fans performing your work, would you be open to your fans putting together an album of songs inspired by you? It would be a wonderful gift back to you, and perhaps Ferryman can release it and any profits can be directed to a charity of your choice. Is something like that possible?
Again, thank you very much for your wonderful comments and the fact that you have enjoyed my music all of these years. By now you will have heard my current album "The Storyman" and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as the previous records. I remember that occasion when I performed the song "The Painter" in a strait jacket, because it brought a bit more humour to the song and the fact that the singer in the song is completely mad and off his head. I remember also the moment that I dedicated a song to my wife's mother, Marie Morley, who died, I believe, the day before I sang that song or maybe that was the day of the funeral. She was a lovely lady and meant a lot to me. And of course I had tears in my eyes when I sang the song that I dedicated to her. I love the idea of people putting together songs, inspired by my work. Whether or not it becomes a release, I guess, depends on the demand and the quality and various other commercial restrictions. But generally speaking I think this is a wonderful idea, because I love people to have the challenge of writing songs and see that it's actually not as easy as it looks. And I am sure, John, that you know yourself that, being a songwriter, it demands a lot of patience. Not just creative ability, but also lyrical ability and the idea of coming up with something new is often at the forefront of songwriters' imaginations. But this would be a very nice gift back from the fans and perhaps you could contact some of the other people you have come across on the website who also put together very good fan tribute albums and maybe something could come out of this. Excellent idea!
3rd April 2007 - Dieter and Ulrike Röckle (46 and 45) from Starzach, Germany:
Thanks for your marvellous concerts you gave through the years. You are a fantastic singer and songwriter. Last time on our way home from a concert with you we spoke about stalking. So Chris, can you tell us: did you ever have problems with stalking people? When do you think, this is a huge fan and when starts stalking for you? It would be great if you will read our question and answer it. Looking forward to your Storyman Tour and see you in Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Have a good time, take care of you and all the best. Dieter und Ulrike
Thanks for your comments about my singing and song writing abilities. Well, I think it's quite clear to me and my management that we can tell the difference of somebody who is a genuine fan, somebody who loves the music, comes to all the concerts or comes to many of them. But the line that is crossed when it becomes obsessive is a line that we have seen happen before and I hope it doesn't happen again, but people in many public positions have this problem to deal with. I won't actually go into specifics about the incidents that have happened to me in the past, because very many people may read what I am saying now and perhaps feel uncomfortable about it. But I will just say that I am sympathetic, but there is a line that has to be drawn between the public life and the private life of anybody who is in the public eye. And I am no different. I have always been very polite to my fans as long as they understand that there are public moments and private moments. Even on tour I demand my privacy, particularly if I am tired. And I can't be available to all people all of the time. But I never forget my manners and so far I don't think I have told anybody to f… off or words to that effect, although there have been times when I have been sorely tempted, I can assure you. But I just feel sorry for people who become obsessed with public figures. And I hope that eventually they see that their behaviour is just not compatible with social connections. Thanks.
4th April 2007 - David Lawrence (31) from Cambridge, UK:
Hi Chris, I was just wondering, why is it that on recent albums you've taken to using backing singers? I only ask because I always thought that the harmonious layers upon layers of your voice we used to hear were the most wonderful trademark sound, one of the many factors that made your albums so special. So personally, I'm disappointed to hear other peoples' voices in their place! Is it something you do now for reasons of time constraint or convenience (if so, fair enough!) or it is an artistic decision? If so, it might be interesting to see how many people agree with me on this one! Thanks, Dave
For many years, David, I have really enjoyed doing all my backing vocals. And I still do a huge amount, even if it's not to the forefront as it used to be in the past. I am still doing lots of block vocals to build up the sound of a track. I have a very wide vocal range, and it's something I can do very quickly, particularly if I am with a producer, who also likes to work quickly on vocals. And I can put together a very complicated vocal pattern in two or three hours. Then it sits on the record, and if other people are added to that, at least it's a good basic bed of vocals for people to sing on top of. I began to think that there was something a bit strange of having a very identifiable lead voice with very identifiable similar voices behind him, which is why I actively looked for using other singers probably around the time of "Quiet Revolution", if not a little bit before that. But I do like it, because it adds a totally different texture, believability and feel to a song. That's my personal opinion, but as David has suggested, maybe other people would like to add something to this.
5th April 2007 - Orla (30) from County Wicklow, Ireland:
I first saw the video for Ecstasy of Flight on MT USA with the late Vincent Hanley. If my memory serves me right, it was set in something like Victorian times. My question is this, do you ever feel like you were born out of time? I listen to your music in work and I feel like I'm going back in time. Sorry if this seems odd.
Hi Orla! You and I both live in the same county and I know that you'll agree with me when I say it is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. It is known as the garden of Ireland, our county Wicklow. The "Ecstasy Of Flight" video was transported back to Victorian times, because having discussed this with the director of the video we felt that this is an opportunity for somebody in the time of say Charles Dickens to become that kind of night person who is so different during the day. But I think we all know in our hearts that we like to try and be somebody else. And in the song I become not exactly a sort of Dracula star, a monster, but I become the person that I dream of being during the day. I am sure there are a lot of people who are working in a job they feel is dull and uninteresting, and they love to live. They come to life perhaps at night. Obviously there are reflections that this could be like the werewolf syndrome where people literally change into something totally different. But as far as I am concerned it is not an era that I feel particularly attached to, that time. But there are moments when I do feel strongly transported back to previous generations, previous centuries even. Not that I felt that I lived previous lives in any particular glamorous form. I am not one of these people who says "Oh, I must have been Napoleon in a previous life.", or something like that, because there are billions of people on the planet. And why just choose a few of the famous ones to have been near or actually have been in previous lives. But I do have a feel for the medieval times, a feel for the 16th century. Not a lot prior to that, I have to say. And a very strong feel to the early part of the 20th century.
6th April 2007 - Thorkild (38) from Norway:
First of all Chris: Thank you for the music. It has meant a lot to me, ever since I "detected you" at the age of 17 in 1985. After listening intensely to everything from "Man on The Line" working my way back to the Girl With April in My Eyes, your songs have helped me through difficult times, and lifted Good Times it Even Better. So, inspired as I was, I went to Ireland in 1989 on a "Pilgrim Voyage". (Quite a journey from Oslo, Norway). I think I found The Satin Green Shutters, right outside Glendalough, and I went on to look for the De Burgh castle, in Tomhaggard. Right behind The Country Churchyard, Where Peaceful Nuns Flew, I found a small pub and asked for the way to the castle. A nun (!) didn't hesitate: "Get in the car. I'll take you" The nun took me and my pal up to the castle, we walked up the yard, and I could not believe my eyes when I saw a beautiful old woman working in the garden...she looked up at us...and she was looking exactly like you! Yes, it was your mother! She was so sweet, invited us in for tea, and inside we met Mr Charles Davison, who tore us a little drink of whiskey...before your mother took us up to the room that once was yours, with all the silver and gold records on the wall. You might think I'm joking, but I'm not. I got plenty of pictures of the fantastic incident (that I would be happy to mail you). My question - 17 years later, is simply: How's Mum?
What a wonderful story! And there is not a lot I can add to this, except to tell you that my mother is 80. She is in very good shape, although she did have a serious incident last year where, although she has been around animals and has adored animals all her life, she was letting an Aberdeen Angus cow, a new mother cow, into a field with two calves. And the mother decided that she wanted to take a run at my mother and knocked her over, sent her flying flat on her back and really hurt her. It was a very long and drawn-out, painful problem that took months to get over. As with all elderly people, any accident like that is quite a shock. But she is now in good form and is walking much better. And she lives in the castle where I was brought up, and the one that you refer to in your wonderful story.
7th April 2007 - Vincent (41) from Tokyo, Japan:
I just finished reading Shakespeare's King John. Are you related to Hubert de Burgh, who under John and later Henry III wielded much influence in 13th century England?
Yes, Hubert de Burgh is a relative of mine, going back many years. His family tree goes back to Normandy in the 11th century where Arletta de Burgh was King William I (the Conqueror)'s stepmother. And she married his father, I think. The de Burghs have been at the top end of many interesting historical happenings down the centuries. And Hubert de Burgh was King John's chief justitiar, that's chief lawmaker. And as you have discovered, or if anybody else cares to read King John by William Shakespeare, they will see that Hubert de Burgh was the man who was ordered to blind the prince in the Tower of London. And he refused to and let the boy go. Much to his eternal credit, to be honest, he was a good guy. Although I am sure all families have got that black sheep in there somewhere, there has been interwoven into history in Ireland and England and France the de Burghs in different guises like the name of "Burke" or "Bourke" or "de Burgo". They are still very obvious to anybody living in various parts of those three countries, because there are plenty of those people around.
8th April 2007 - Chris Raymond (55) from Twickenham, UK:
Hi Chris, This just occurred to me so I'm going to ask you... When your children were very small and still in nappies did you help out with the changing bit or were you the sort of father who managed to wriggle out of this little chore? Your fans might find it of interest to hear your answer? Btw I try not to think of more questions but they just come into my head and so I have to ask.. Thanks. Chris R xx
Here is somebody I know very well and have met on frequent occasions, a great supporter. Chris, very briefly, yes I changed the nappies. And I was happy to do that. I was at the birth of all my three children and of course that was incredible. An amazing experience and I think it forges a very strong lifelong bond. Not only being at the birth, but also being highly involved with the upbringing of the children, which includes the messy stuff as well. And I don't have a problem with that. I have been very happy to change all three of my children's nappies on regular occasions. If nothing else to give Diane a break from those frequent and necessary occasions.
9th April 2007 - Lance Johnson (37) from Arizona, USA:
Hi Chris, I hope that everything is well with you and yours. I was wondering if the woman in the bath on the cover of "At the End of a Perfect Day" was anyone special to you or was it just a hired model? Thanks! Hopefully I will be able to get back to Europe or Canada sometime in the future to see another concert. Dortmund in 2004 was special for many reasons: meeting all my mailing list friends, the sound check, the long concert, Cesar singing Patricia, the live CD, and my wife getting the last hug from you at the end of a perfect concert.
Yes, Lance, I remember seeing you at the Dortmund show and of course hugging your wife. I am glad that you had a chance to see what I think was one of the best live shows that I have ever given. And as many people know by now I was unaware that the Dortmund show was being recorded until afterwards. And the recording was so good, we put it out on a live CD. And I think it shows an excellent reflection of how wonderful the crowd in Dortmund at the Westfalenhalle can be. The lady in the cover of "At The End Of A Perfect Day" was a hired model. I wasn't at the photo shoot. I did all the other ones of course. And as you may remember she is lying in a bath staring up at a picture of me. When I look at that cover, I think it is a little bit corny and different and a bit strange. I think it could have probably been better under the circumstances. But when you are struggling for ideas to represent a title like "At The End Of A Perfect Day", isn't it a nice idea to be luxuriating in a nice hot bath and staring at a picture of somebody you admire or love. And that's what we came up with.
10th April 2007 - PaiLin (33) from Taipei, Taiwan:
From my imagination, you should be a very "organized" person. What I mean "organized" is you always "plan" to do everything. Have you ever done something crazy or what is the craziest thing you can remember now? Can you share it? You are very Western style, have you ever wanted to /tried to understand Eastern life style? Especially the religion. As I understand, the wars in Asian countries only fight for the land. But in Western, it seems they fight for the belief. How can you make sure you got the right belief? By the way, I like your songs because you usually didn't put the answers in your songs, at least for the songs I have ever heard. It makes me feel you are not asking people just to follow your step, experience, etc. Somehow, everybody got a different situation. At last, I hope you can understand my poor English.
I remember visiting your country many years ago to do concerts, and I very very much enjoyed it. It was an amazing experience. And I can say that your question is also amazing and it's most interesting for me to reflect upon. I am fairly organized in a lot of things. I like for example to organize trips abroad, family holidays. I always manage to visualize every step of the way, every little detail. And my family are always amused, I think, on one hand and grateful on the other that I put so much thought and effort into getting the thing absolutely right. But I do crazy things all the time. I can't specifically say what, but my family and my friends know me for being - the word is not impetuous - but suddenly do something mad or crazy or weird or different. Just for the fun of it, just to live! You know, every day you have to live, and you can't just live by a straightforward set of rules. You've got to break the rules sometimes. You don't have to break the law, but you can break the rules! Because I have the ability to travel all over the world, I try to understand, assimilate and have compassion for the variety of beliefs and superstitions and cultures all over the world. You mention religion and any student of history will realize that a huge amount of warfare and pain and misery is caused by religion and religious wars. Then again you have to balance that with the comfort that religion brings to people. I have always stressed in my own beliefs that everybody has the right to believe in what they want as long as they respect another man's belief. And there is a well-known saying which I hope I can accurately quote, which is: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I am not familiar enough with the history of Asian countries about just fighting for the land as opposed to Western people fighting for their belief. I think it's a mixture of both of them for both areas. I am glad that you appreciate that I don't push an answer at people. I always leave that part of it open and exposed, almost like a blueprint that you can put your own imaginative ideas and answers onto, right at the end of the day when it comes down to the lyrical content.
11th April 2007 - Antanas Dzimidavicius (21) from Vilnius, Lithuania:
Thank you for your music. ;) I'm not afraid to say that I'm Catholic and I really really enjoy the songs that are very close to religion. Such as "The words I love you", "Rivers of Abraham", "Spanish Train" and many others. Are they really close or is it just my mistake? Where does the inspiration come from to you to create such wonderful music? Can you mention some songs you find really important for Christians to hear?
Yesterday's question and hopefully my answer dealt with religion in various forms in various parts of the world. And of course there is nothing shameful at all about admitting to be part of a certain religious belief or another one. But if you enjoy the ones that I bring this kind of attention to, it's not because I am a big fan of organized religion, but I do believe in the spiritual content and the spiritual context of the human existence and the human experience. "The Words 'I Love You'", if anybody were to ask me what I believe, I will say, but that does not mean that I am going to stop another man believing whatever he wants to believe in. "Rivers Of Abraham" refers to two distinct occasions many centuries apart, where people are being sent off to take the seeds of humanity and break new ground, open new territories, create new horizons. "Spanish Train" is a reflection on the never-ending fight between good and evil, as represented in mythology by God and the Devil. No, you are not mistaken, but I have always had a keen interest in the parallels that go on between good and evil, the adjacent positions and the similarities in many cases between good and evil. But clearly how one particular style of living is far more open to being understood as good and it's much more obvious in human context what is actually bad and what is evil. The inspiration comes from the ability to look deep into my own heart and to think myself into other people's situations. I think this is the key for me. It helps to be able to be seriously in touch with your own emotions and spiritual beliefs.
12th April 2007 - Tamara (36) from Ottawa, Canada:
Dear Chris: I first got really interested in your music many moons ago now, while in high school. As with most teenagers, I listened to a tape handed to me by a friend, and I while I can't say I was hooked from the start, there was something about your music that caught my attention. I was particularly intrigued by the songs steeped in historical events, such as Crusader and This Song for You. After high school, I went on to earn a doctorate in history, so looking back, it's not that surprising that your music struck a chord with me (excuse the pun!) Throughout my life, I have carried your songs with me, and they often spring to mind and I happily play them again. In fact, I have on occasion used your music as a teaching tool. I confess, I am significantly less familiar with any of the material you've produced over the last few years. In July of this year, my husband and I travelled to China to adopt a wonderful baby girl. She is a beautiful little one, with a ready smile and warm laughter. We feel honoured and lucky to have her in our lives. I was recently listening to Crusader again while playing with our little girl, and it occurred to me that songs such as this are a wonderful way to introduce history. Given your strong interest in history and the rich tapestry of Chinese history, I was wondering if you have ever written, or considered writing, a song related to Asian or Chinese history? I've searched the list of recorded songs, but nothing jumped out. Thank you for your time, and your music.
My Canadian fans will know that Ottawa has long been a favourite place for me to perform. It's also an absolutely beautiful city and I have been there in all seasons. In the cold winter days and snow everywhere; in the beautiful fall times when that trip from Montréal to Ottawa is so memorable, looking at the colours of the leaves; and in the hot summers. A wonderful place, I can highly recommend it, it's a wonderful place to visit. I liked very much your story and I was touched when I read about your beautiful little girl from China. She is certainly lucky to have you in her life too. "Crusader" has in the past received a fair bit of criticism from various quarters in connection with the historical accuracy and the words that are being used. Well, I can assure you that no offence was ever meant by some of the words, but armies throughout history have traditionally had cooks and women attached to them, and I don't suppose that was any different back in the middle ages. But this is not based on any knowledge that I have or facts, it's based on that well-known phrase "poetic license". Although I did a fair bit of research on the Crusader story, the reason that I wrote the song was not about the event itself, but the background to the event where warring nations can come together and put their differences aside to fight the common enemy. And I think if you can step back from the historical account of "Crusader", remembering that a lot of these crusades had virtually nothing to do with religion, they were just money gathering exercises, to make as much cash as possible for the combatants as well as the kings and queens they represented. To step back and recognize the fact that we in the world today are now currently facing a similar situation with global warming and the fact that our planet is under serious threat from our behaviour on the planet. So it's an interesting, almost like a United Nations attitude. Now we have to form to find a way forward to put aside our mutual differences and recognize that we are facing a danger far greater than we have ever faced before. In answer to your question - no, I have yet to write a song about Asian or Chinese history. But the way that the Storyman album evolved, with ideas jumping out from all over the place and different eras and different countries, there is every chance that I might tear my attention to that part of the world.
13th April 2007 - Fatima (22) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi dear Chris. I love your songs very much because you with your poems saved my life. When I was 17, I lost my father, it made me very sad and it was the end of the world for me until one day at my friend's home, I heard "For Rosanna". I was listening to it and I was crying, because your voice was very emotional. Then I bought all your albums. I listened to all of them and I found out that I must begin to live again because it can be beautiful. Now I have the best feelings. You changed my life and now I am a lucky girl. Your poems made me happy and strong. Thank you very much. I always pray for you to be stronger and better than before. I hope you come here very soon and I know everything comes to the waiting heart. And now, my questions: 1. What do you do for your voice? What do you eat and drink and what don't you? 2. Have you ever sung a song in other languages? Thank you again, with the best wishes, bye.
This is an absolutely lovely question and comment from Fatima in Tehran, Iran. Let me stress yet again my desire to visit Iran to bring the gentleness, the vision, the peace that exists within me and with my music, in my spiritual attitude and my non-confrontational attitude to your country. And to stress again I am politically unaligned. I have no strong feelings either way. All I know is that I am a member of the human race. And now is the time to try and bring about a greater understanding of the differences between cultures and people. I can't really say too much more about the sadness that happens when a parent dies. I know it full well myself. But I am happy for you that the release of crying helped you through this difficult time in your life. You've said to me in your comment here that you found a chance to live again and that my music made you happy and strong. When it comes down to my voice, I am not too fuzzy about my voice. I am just very lucky that I can sing three hours a night, five or six days a week. But the one thing I have to have is lots of water. And there are various things you must do with water. If you are taking in alcohol for example, you must compensate for that. If you are at high altitudes like 6,000 ft, that's 2,000 meters, you must add even more water into your body. And as far as eating is concerned, I don't have a particular diet. Although if I am on tour I avoid hot and spicy foods, because yet again they can dehydrate you and cause you problems. And I hardly ever eat certainly two hours before a show, nothing, just water. And as far as songs in other languages - yes, I have recorded in French and in Spanish. And who knows, I might even try Farsi or another language that attracts my attention.
14th April 2007 - Les Partridge (60) from London City, UK:
Hi Chris. I have loved your music for many years now, and each new album brings new delights. I eagerly await The Storyman and being in Birmingham in November to see you perform. A few weeks ago I had a fantastic surprise at my 60th birthday party when the lights dimmed, the floor was cleared, and my wife took me to the centre of the floor to dance to Lady in Red, our favourite song. This was immediately followed by Five Past Dreams and we sung through every word as we danced in a dream. Thank you so much for the gift of your songs. The question I would like to ask is, Lady in Red has been sung by many other performers over the years. Have you heard any version that you have liked as much as your own version. I enjoy "The Shadows" instrumental version but nothing beats your own. All the best for the forthcoming tour.
By now you will have seen hopefully my performance in Birmingham. And I also hope that you enjoyed The Storyman as much as I do, and as much as I have to have recorded it. I loved the story of your 60th birthday party and the two songs that you danced to with your wife. I have heard many versions of "The Lady In Red", and I have been in many places where the bands performing it or the singers performing it have either known that I was in the room or sometimes haven't known that I was in the room. I remember one time in Malta, there was a guitar player strolling around in a restaurant. And he did a version of actually two or three of my songs, including "Lady In Red". And he was playing the wrong chords. I asked, if I could borrow his guitar, and he was very surprised because he hadn't kind of recognized me at that point. And I said "Now it goes like this.", and you should have seen his face! When he suddenly realized that not only was I the writer of the song and the singer, but I was also showing him the correct chords. But the most memorable version I have ever heard of "The Lady In Red" was by a Steel band in Barbados on the beach. They did a version of "The Lady In Red" and again they were not aware that I was there listening. But it was wonderful to hear that and to see the happy smiling faces as they played. I went up to them afterwards and I thanked them. And they gave me a copy of their cassette record. This was just great. But, you know, I wouldn't make a judgement about other people's performances, but I suppose at the end of the day I really prefer mine.
15th April 2007 - Jim (46) from Ayr, Scotland:
Hi Chris, I guess you've heard it a million times but I've got to say thanks for all of your fantastic music and emotionally expressive lyrics. Your ability to take a single moment or experience in a person's life and turn it into a song never fails to impress me. One of my personal favourites that brought back my awkward teens vividly was "Diamond in the Dark". Oh how I silently prayed for the DJ to play that slow love song to, as you say, begin what must be. Anyway, what I would like to know is have you ever considered writing a song about one of, and arguably the greatest of Scotland's heroes, Robert the Bruce. I ask because, not only was he such an impressive individual who almost single-handedly changed the course of history for a whole country and its people but who was also married to a lady of Irish descent called Elizabeth de Burgh. This lady was by no means a trophy wife but an influential and effective Queen who stood by, encouraged and supported the great man. Of course, the surname could be mere co-incidence but then again..............Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks again for many years of enjoyable listening.
Jim, I had to smile when I read about being in your awkward teens and really wanting the DJ to put on a certain song so you could go up to a particular girl and ask to dance, which is, I think, one of the reasons why "Lady In Red" has done so well down the years, because it is an instant jump up and on the dance floor for a close cuddle or indeed a grope with the person you fancy. When I was a teenager I was in an all boys boarding school. And the closest you ever got to see the mythical creature, a girl, was on a Saturday when we could go down the high street at Marlborough and you'd see girls walking up and down, girls in coffee shops and so on. I was always a naturally shy person and it probably was one of the reasons that I took up playing the guitar, because that way I could rather more easily meet these fabulous, mystical creatures called girls. Robert the Bruce did marry Elizabeth de Burgh, and if you go up to the Heraldic room in Edinburgh Castle, at the end of Princess Street in Edinburgh, you'll see a crest where on the left-hand side traditionally it is the male, and I think, if memory serves me, it would have been a rampant lion, although I may be wrong about Robert the Bruce's crest. But on the right you'll see a red cross on a gold shield which represents the de Burgh family. That particular shield came to them from the times of the crusades. And Elizabeth de Burgh was a very important person. There are actually a number of well written books about this powerful lady. The surname is not a coincidence, she is an ancestor of mine.
16th April 2007 - Roberta Wittmann (49) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:
Hi, I have been a big fan of yours since the Spanish Train Days. My husband and I have attended all of your concerts in Halifax over the years and have been thrilled with every one of them. I wonder if you feel that different places expect to hear certain songs. I find in the Maritimes people expect to hear Spanish Train and Patricia. Is that the same in other places or does each place seem to have their own favourites? Looking forward to your next concert here. Thank you for the pleasure your concerts and music has given us.
I've said before on MOtL how much I have enjoyed being in Halifax. It is an extraordinary place with an extraordinary history. And I have also mentioned in the past the wonderful books that have come out from the authors in that part of the world. Yes, it would be something that I have to pay attention to wherever I go. It's that if I am in a country where a particular album has been a major hit, I will make sure that I sing a few songs from that particular album I find out beforehand. If it's a place I haven't been before, or alternatively recognize the fact that certain songs are popular in that part of the world, then I will definitely come back to them. And I knew very well that "Spanish Train and Other Stories" was a big big hit record, multi platinum selling album in Canada. And certain songs are very well known most the way across that wonderful country. It's not just in the Maritimes, where people expect to hear "Spanish Train" or "Patricia The Stripper", it's virtually right across Canada. And I look forward to returning to Canada soon. It's a place I love very much and I've got many wonderful friends there and I have great memories of tours right across Canada.
17th April 2007 - Susan McDonald (36) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:
Hello Chris! This past weekend saw Halifax play host to the biggest concert to play here ever. The Rolling Stones played to 55,000 people on Halifax Commons. It has made me wonder: what was the largest audience that you have played for? Thanks for your answer, and hopefully we will see you back this way again someday. :o)
Hi Susan! Yesterday I spoke about your wonderful city. In answer to your question, I have done two shows to around 120,000 people. Several to about 90,000 people and quite a few more to 50-60,000. It's very exciting and to the complete opposite of what most people might be feeling. That is very nervous, standing out in front of such a large crowd. I always feel very excited, because it is going to be a thrilling and memorable experience. And those shows certainly were thrilling and memorable. And indeed back in the mid 80s when I did a round of these big concerts, there was an Irish band who were up and coming, who were trying to make a name for themselves in Germany, who were the act who performed just before me. And they went on to big things all over the world. They were called U2.
18th April 2007 - Paddy (40) from Lurgan, Northern Ireland:
What are your fondest memories of touring with Horslips?
A wonderful question, very short! Horslips, for those people who have never heard of this band, was an Irish band who reformed quite recently after many years of having split up. And they were a Celtic rock band that, when I was at University in my late teens/early twenties, were the biggest thing around Ireland with their Celtic rock, which was sensational and very exciting. The name came from putting together various phrases. They sat around apparently on a drunken night trying to come up with ideas for the name. And somebody said "The four horsemen of the apocalypse", which then became switched around and mashed up into Horslips. But I have many wonderful memories. For example the National Stadium in Dublin where I did my first major Dublin show, although it was only 2,000 people. I was the opening act and I wore this sensationally stupid Captain America's Stars and Stripes satin suit outfit, which I had been persuaded to wear by a friend who probably wanted me to fall flat on my face. I was Chris Davison then, and I didn't do too badly. But I think the suit could have left at home. I still have it, funnily enough, hanging up in my cupboard as a memento. Because prior to that I had just been singing in a restaurant and at my family home Bargy Castle during the summer to the guests. And I never really stood on a concert stage before I had met up with Horslips. So that was a very very interesting start to my professional career. As far as memories are concerned, I have not many. But being with them all over Ireland, particularly in the West of Ireland, in very strange and small venues, was something that I can't forget. And also how friendly those guys were. Travelling around the country in small vans, it's the Rock'n Roll lifestyle. Very uncomfortable, but lots of laughs.
19th April 2007 - Tom Huiskamp (21) from Utrecht, The Netherlands:
Hi Chris. I was wondering, as I listened to 'A spaceman came travelling' the other day, technically speaking the music should have started again by now...since two thousand years have passed. Did you ever think of writing another song about the spaceman and his beautiful music? Love your music! I can't wait to hear you perform your new songs in December! Take care, Tom
The "Spaceman Came Travelling" idea was one of those "what if" ideas. What if the scene of the nativity was visited by a spacecraft and a spaceman from a benign planet that was keeping an eye on our world. And visited when the birth of Christ became part of our history. Furthermore I was and still am very fond of an Irish poet called William Butler Yeats and amongst his poems is one called "The Second Coming", which I can strongly recommend everybody to have a look at. It's not just the use of the words and the inexorable movement of the words, but it's a very powerful and strong historical reference as well as current to his day reference to what was happening in Ireland. Indeed in later years in my song "Where We Will Be Going" I refer obliquely to one of the last lines in that poem "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born." What a wonderful phrase! And he believed in what was called the gyre, where history is interlinked with time. And things happen every 2,000 years or so. You're quite right, Tom, to say technically speaking the 2,000 years are up. But we are talking a minor few years here and there. Who knows what may happen in years to come. And maybe the spaceman will be returning again. Maybe he is just on the edge of our solar system. Keep looking out the window at night, folks!
20th April 2007 - Doris Gentz (41) from Munich, Germany:
Hi there Chris! The future is here and here we are pushing buttons, clicking mouses, lights are blinking, funny beeping sounds all around us. I am not even gonna start talking about mobile phones. Technology is "sadly" leading our lives. Kids used to climb trees and scratch their knees, now they move their thumbs up and down on some Gameboy toy. Anyway.... I sound old-fashioned, although I am not thaaaat old. How do you feel about all these futuristic machines and gadgets? I am sure technology helps you record and mix your songs. But in my taste I'd rather listen to a classic guitar with a tapping foot giving the rhythm, than all this electronic stuff. Do you agree... or am I sounding like my grandma? :) Thanks for answering, I'd really like to know your point of view. Your fan since 1979 - Doris.
Interesting question, Doris! I couldn't agree more that things have changed where technology is now taking over people's lives. It affects everybody, old and young, the way we live, the way we perceive the world, the way we see the world and understand it is technology driven. Well, this is the era we are living in. And it makes me sad to think that, when I was a lad, there was virtually no TV. In fact, I didn't have TV in my house when I was growing up. My brother and I used to play outside, we used to make things, climb trees, cook things in the outdoors, camp outside. All these wonderful outdoor pursuits are now being superseded by indoor pursuits, the same ones that you are referring to. About machines, gadgets, and things that you click with your thumb. And game toys. And I strongly believe one of the reasons why we are all over Europe in the Western World experiencing an epidemic of obesity in children is because, not only are they given the wrong foods to eat, because the foods are being made to taste so attractive by the companies who are making them and trying to seduce the consumers into buying more of this food. Well, on a certain point I can't even say it's food, it's just sugar pleasing or salt pleasing in the short term for the children. But it makes them fat and unhealthy in the long term. And rather than active lifestyles which to be honest have to be encouraged not only by schools, but also by parents, it's a difficult problem, but on the other hand every generation changes. And there hasn't been a generation yet where the older people are not looking down at the younger people, saying "Oh it wasn't like that in my day. How things have changed for the worse!" But this is going to happen with the current generation of youngsters. They'll look back on their own children and say "Oh, I can't stand the way they are not doing this, that or the other." It's just part of life and the way we move. But I will say one thing which is going to be a problem in the future: In the past there has been so much memorabilia left behind by previous generations in terms of letters, of photographs, all that kind of stuff. Now that kind of memorabilia will no longer exist for future generations, if they persist in using the internet, text messaging, e-mails and photographs that never get printed from your camera or from your picture phone. And I think that is such a shame that somebody somewhere is probably working out how to make a commercial enterprise out of this and maybe somebody reading this might come up with an idea of how to protect family memorabilia for the future, given the fact we are now living in an era of totally disposable digital information. Somebody will come up with a great idea of reminding future generations what a family was all about in terms of pictures, maybe video messages, something like that. Futuristic machines and gadgets are here to stay and we will all benefit from them one way or the other.
21st April 2007 - Andrea Wiers (37) from Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland:
Hi Chris, as I am sitting here in my home by the sea near Gorey reading through your web site I remember how it actually happened that I came here, all the way from Nuernberg, Germany, 8 years ago. I was just 16 when a friend of mine took me to your concert in Nuernberg (Into the light tour). I liked your songs right away and remained a real fan of you since. You actually made me look at this beautiful country and after I had been here for a holiday I knew there was no other place in the world I would rather want to live. As things do not always happen so simply in life it took many years until I finally managed to carry it through. Now that I am here with my family and horses I know that this was the best thing that could have happened to us. You once said you would like to believe that your music can change things and sometimes it happens, even only little things or for somebody like me. I wonder on all your trips all over the world did you ever think of living somewhere else than in Ireland? I couldn't imagine this I would say. I wish you all the best for you tour and mind yourself. Andy
Andrea, this is a lovely story about how you went to one of my shows in Nürnberg, and then decided that you had to come and visit Ireland. You absolutely fell for the place and adored it and moved into North Wexford, which is a very pretty part of the world, near the sea. And as you say you are living in the countryside with your horses and your family, and I am sure you are very happy living there. It's a place I pass through regularly on my way down to see my mother in the South East of Ireland and back again up to where I live, in County Wicklow. As far as music changing things, I think it only applies when you want something in your life to change. We are open to it when you are allowing your inner spiritual world to be affected by something externally. And that's what music can do and people who are perhaps dissatisfied with their lives can be emotionally moved to do something different by music, or indeed by anything artistical or cultural, maybe even a photograph or a play or a picture. But as far as I am concerned, yes there would be a number of other places where I would probably have wanted to live apart from Ireland. But circumstances have made me appreciate where I am living now and my family are there, my friends are there. I also have the ability to travel all over the world. It's the place I regard as home and the place I adore coming back to.
22nd April 2007 - Jacqueline Ebner (48) from Erskine, Scotland:
Hello Chris, I am writing this on Friday 13th October '06 and it got me thinking about superstitions. The number 13 holds no demons for me, whether it is Friday or otherwise because my daughter was born at 13 minutes past 13 on 13 Dec '81. I've always regarded the number 13 as lucky. Are you superstitious in any way? Love, as always, Jacqueline xx
Hi Jacqueline! I know you well. I know that you love the way I say your name in the French style. There was a time I was superstitious. I always put my shoes on left foot first. And you know these silly little things that you do prior to say an important engagement or even a concert. And one day I think I was reading something about "Don't let the superstitions take hold of your life." Another example is, if you saw two magpies, that would represent in English poems joy (one for sorrow, two for joy). If you saw only one that was a bad thing. And I started thinking about this, what on earth does this have to do with magpies? That is ridiculous! So I managed to throw away just about all the superstitions that I had and it made me feel far more comfortable and accepting of fate and destiny. It is nice to know that there are perhaps good angels out there looking after our welfare, but I think a lot of people who feel imprisoned by too many superstitions, they would do well to sit back and say "This is absurd, this is completely ridiculous. I should get rid of all these and I will be a much freer person."
23rd April 2007 - Sophia (41) from Stockstadt, Germany:
Hello Mr. de Burgh, A new question: Did you ever think about writing a song about a maze, a maze as a synonym for all the struggles and "wrong paths" in life? I am thinking about a beautiful round one, built with two-meter high plants, in the middle a beautiful Ginkgo-biloba tree, this sight always being a reward for anyone who managed it. This maze actually existed. We have a large English-style garden park nearby, and I often go there for a walk. Last night, it was almost dark, I spontaneously decided to walk it. When I came to the entrance, there was a metal barrier, and after climbing over it, I realized in the darkness that it was gone - they had levelled it to the ground. It was no longer there, only the Ginkgo biloba tree was standing there lonely and sad. I had to cry. Childhood memories, I knew it by heart, you could have put me inside it with bound eyes - I would have found my way.
Sophia, I have every sympathy for what you are telling me about the maze. The way life can go, you make a choice, like in my song "Don't Pay The Ferryman", to go left or right or forward or back. It does become an interesting lifestyle choice occasion. I haven't looked at the idea of doing a song about a maze yet, but this is an interesting idea. But I can totally sympathize with you, when you return to something that you have loved, perhaps in your childhood, a place for example where memories are so strong and you discover that it is gone. That can be deeply upsetting. I can just see in your wonderful comment about this English style garden park and you have returned to revive your memories, and it's gone. It certainly brought tears to my eyes too, because architecture and beautiful scenery, beautiful parks are created in my view to make people happy, to be not just functional, but also to add to people's enjoyment of life. And when something is savagely taken away, particularly for commercial reasons, this is deeply upsetting.
24th April 2007 - Tom Hannon (28) from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK:
Hello Chris, have you ever been bungee jumping?
Well, Tom, quick answer: No. I have never been bungee jumping. I would have liked to have done a parachute jump. And maybe there is still time, but I think I would be pretty scared. And to be honest, my insurance wouldn't cover it because of my career as well. But nevertheless I have admiration for people who bungee jump, plus a large dose of me thinking of how foolish and foolhardy they are. In fact a guy I know broke both his ankles recently bungee jumping. People have been hurt. But some people who have done it think it's the most amazing high that you can get. Then again I think a parachute jump would be pretty exciting too.
25th April 2007 - Joseph Cotter from Cork, Ireland:
Chris, was playing an old tape to myself the other day and my (13 year old) daughter asked who the singer was.. She couldn't believe that Miss World's Dad was famous once upon a time! The song was one of my favourites, "The girl with April in her eyes" and songs like that - so accurately described as 'The Storytellers' put you up there with Jim Croce and other incredible songwriters who could take something so ordinary and somehow transform it, almost through poetry, into something so magical. For me, sadly, success was the ruination of you! Now, I listen to songs like "Borderline" that are truly timeless and I wonder if you had a good film-maker would they bring you "Instant stardom" to a whole new generation......Any chance you'll do the Opera House some time? And any chance you'd release some of those haunting lyrics as a book of poetry? They read just as well as they're sung. Hold that thought! I want 10% of the royalties!!!
It made me laugh, to be honest, and made me smile several times, reading your comments and questions. And the fact that young people know my daughter probably more than they know me, well, that's the way that generations go and I haven't got a problem with that. I am glad you like the older songs. There are a lot of people who are similar to you, Joseph, because they prefer the older stuff. But in fact I have to say that I think for to say that "success was the ruination of you", I think that's completely over the top. Because millions and millions of people got to know me through my later music. And they can still go back and enjoy the earlier stuff, because all my music is still available. It's just the way I have grown as a writer. And I certainly wasn't going to stay in that era of "The Girl With April In Her Eyes" or indeed "Borderline", because I wanted to move forward. I couldn't just sit in that one place all of the time. And I hope you understand that. "Borderline" is a timeless song in my opinion. Thank you for saying that as well. There are people out there who have approached us to make films out of quite a number of these songs including "Spanish Train" which would be very interesting. The last question about lyrics is that I am not sure that song writing lyrics when written on a page are as anywhere near as good as when they are accompanied by a melody. Because that's what they are designed for. And they might look a bit banal or indeed dull if not accompanied by the music that they have been set to.
26th April 2007 - Gael Colin (36) from France, living in Croatia:
On your last fantastic album, you are singing with Kristyna Myles and Hani Hussein for duets. Can you tell us if you actually proposed to them to sing with you or do they ask you to cooperate with you ? How do you work this kind of cooperation? Do you do the lyrics together? Do they have an influence over the music? Tell us more about your recipe for a good duet please? Do you think of someone else for a live duet during your tour for example? Thank you for your answers.
We actually proposed both, Hani Hussein and Kristyna Myles and indeed for the song "Lebanese Night" we approached Elissa to sing with me on those songs, because I was looking for a specific kind of a voice and, in the case of Hani Hussein and Elissa, a particular language ability and of course an ability to sing. And both of them were in my opinion absolutely terrific. As far as cooperation is concerned, it was a question of me talking or indeed meeting with all these three artists. And recently I have even done a duet with a French Canadian girl in French of my song "Lonely Sky". More will be heard about this song shortly, after we have done a video clip for it. But many times we are asked for duet opportunities. And I look very carefully at whoever the artist is to see if it would be a good idea. And if it's a foreign lyric, I give the writer of the lyric a very clear idea of what I want them to write. For example I do not write Arabic, but I gave Hani Hussein and his lyricist a strong indication of the point of the song. I sent them the story of "My Father's Eyes" and I had several conversations about what I wanted the lyrical content to reflect. As far as influences over the music, yes I am always interested in their input. Particularly if it involves music and instruments from their part of the world. The recipe for a good duet has to come back to two key elements. 1) a fantastic song and 2) a fantastic singer to sing with. When I did my live tour before Christmas and recently again in Sheffield arena, Kristyna Myles joined me on stage for the song "Raging Storm". I think that went down very well, certainly judging by the standing ovations she got every night.
27th April 2007 - Julia (57) from Melbourne, Australia:
Hello Chris, Recently when holidaying in the UK my husband Sam and I visited the historic dockyard at Portsmouth, we spent a fascinating few hours there. The three ships of interest were, the Ironclad ship HMS Warrior, Henry V111's Flagship the Mary Rose, which is still undergoing preservation treatment, and Nelson's Flagship HMS Victory. What a treat that was to go on board the Victory and tour this famous ship, also to view the badly damaged main sail which is kept ashore in a museum at the dockyard. You seem to be inspired by the sea and have written quite a number of songs depicting this. I was wondering if you have you ever visited this historic dockyard at Portsmouth? Your song "Discovery" is one of my favourites I might add. Congratulations on yet another superb album "The Storyman" Best Wishes Julia.
Hi Julia! It was a pleasure to meet you when I was down in Australia last year. And also I hope that you and your husband had a great time not only in England but also in Ireland, when you went there for your holidays. I envy you visiting that historic dockyard at Portsmouth, that must have been absolutely amazing. I love those kinds of places and recently I spent a few days in Paris going round all the museums with my wife, where we could possibly get to in four days. I remember at the Place Invalides they had a huge amount of weaponry down the centuries and the canons. And I am not surprised that the badly damaged main sail has been kept, because not only of its historical significance but also it gives an indication what a canon ball can actually do when it hits a ship or part of a ship. They are huge canons and the explosive power of those things must have been terrifying to witness. I have never been to Portsmouth Dockyard, but I may be one day. "Discovery" was from my imagination about a sailor heading off to perhaps find a new world that had been spoken about at a time when many sailors thought the world was flat and they just fell off the edge. Laughable nowadays, but they didn't know the world is round. And then I jumped forward to the day when Galileo's prediction that one day a man will see the world from outside did come true, when the spacemen went up there, the astronauts, and saw our amazing planet from the distance. Thank you very much for your words about "The Storyman". And the sea has always been a huge inspiration for me for many years.
25th June 2007 - Sophia (41) from Stockstadt, Germany:
Hello Chris: Eight years ago I had a strange dream of someone whom I loved dearly, he was inside a room with glass walls, and looked at me with a very intense glance. I couldn't make any sense out of it, and dismissed it as 'odd dream'. One week later I got a phone call, and he had died - unexpected. Now this phenomenon is well-known. Probably we all had such an experience before. A friend of mine said to me 'This was not kind of a 'sending', it was just your subconscious which told you that'. This is also very likely to me, it might have something to do with intuition, perhaps. What do you think about that? Cheers, Sophia
I am not surprised that you had this extraordinary vision, because there are many people who believe in precognition, in prescience of events in the future. The cold hard world of science will tell us that these things don't exist, but if I were to have told a scientist a hundred years ago that people can talk to each other on the other side of the planet walking around or in mobile vehicles, I would have been laughed at and told that I was completely crazy. We are touching the surface of the spiritual world, the world of extra sensory perception, otherwise known as ESP. And maybe a hundred years in the future people will take it all for granted what you have just described. It's not just the subconscious. I think there is something out there that is precognition and strongly associated with intuition. There are some people I am sure who can pick these signals up much better than others, and you are probably one of them.
26th June 2007 - Jamie (33) from Inverness, Scotland:
Hi Chris, In the 1990s Bob Dylan did some "double bill" tours with people like Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell where each played for about 70 minutes and then joined together for the finale. Is this something you have ever considered/would consider and who would you like to go on the road with? Also, I know you have recorded a handful of cover versions over the years but, as far as I know, you haven't recorded a Dylan song. If you did, which one would you choose? Many thanks for all the wonderful songs and looking forward to seeing you in Birmingham!
The four people you have mentioned - Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan - they are all absolute superstars and wonderful songwriters, and I would have been thrilled to have been invited to join any of these people on a tour. Bob Dylan, for example, is a man I met and spent an evening with a few years ago, and I felt I was walking on air. He is such a huge hero of mine and such an extraordinary writer and performer, who is taking his own music his own way without paying virtually any attention at all to the modern requirements, the commercialism and the way to make records for example. He is unique and it would be a deep honour to be invited to tour with somebody like Bob Dylan. But it's not something that I have ever considered, but it may come up in the future. Maybe when I can no longer do a three hour show, it might be better to do a double bill, make it simpler. I did a double bill last year in New Zealand with Olivia Newton-John. She did the first half of the show, I did the second half, which was fun. But I always feel that I prefer to do the whole thing myself if possible. Who knows, that may change. I hope you enjoyed the show in Birmingham. And although I can sing many many Dylan songs, I have never recorded one. And again, that may change too.
27th June 2007 - Isabella (37) from Germany:
Hi Chris, I have two favourite singers of which I have almost all albums. The first one is you and than Simply Red. How do you like the music and the band?
How nice of you to say that I am one of your two favourite singers. Mick Hucknall from Simply Red is an extremely talented writer and performer and singer. Although I don't own any of his albums, every time I hear him singing, I recognize his distinctive voice and realize that he has substantial talent. And I am glad he has got the recognition that he and his band deserves.
28th June 2007 - Wendy Cullotty (40) from Birmingham, England:
Hi Chris, I hope you and your family are well. I would love to ask you a question about the album Quiet Revolution. I love this album, the songs seem really meaningful and deep. There are a couple that stand out to me: "The Same Sun" and "The Last moments of the Dawn". What was the meaning of "The Last Moments Of the Dawn"? Is it the obvious reason.....or is it written from the prospective of a man's first time with a beautiful woman and all the feelings that are going through his mind? Dare I ask if the song is written from something that you have experienced? I just love this album and there isn't really any info on the songs (or if there is I haven't come across it) I would really like to hear your thoughts Chris. Thank you in anticipation of you answering my question. Take care best wishes Wendy
This is somebody I know well too. Thanks for your question, Wendy. Yes, my family are fine and very well. "The Same Sun" is in my opinion one of the best things that I have written. I love the idea of it, I love the emotion of it and the Celtic feel of it, as I often have said when introducing it on stage. It feels like a Celtic prayer. And I like the idea that somebody on the far side of the world looking up at the moon can share that moment with somebody at a completely different place on the planet, looking at the same moon, and they feel connected. In that way, the same thing with the sun. "The Last Moments Of The Dawn", yes, it's a romantic song about two people who have been highly attracted to one another. They spend a very romantic evening and then a long night together and as the dawn breaks, perhaps they become lovers for the first time. It's a romantic song and I am very pleased with the visual imagery that has been created in this tune, not just by the words but also by the music. As far as have I experienced this, well that would be telling, wouldn't it? But many many years ago, probably.
29th June 2007 - Malcolm Wilkes (53) from Torpoint, England:
Your career spans 4 decades. If you could wind the clock (or not as the case maybe) which era would you say was (is) your favourite?
Hi Malcolm! I hope you and your family are well. It's good to see a question from you. Thanks for all your support down many many years. I think I could break the question down into the four decades. The first one was exciting and it was scary and it was depressing and it was emotional and it was extremely hard work and there were times when I felt like giving up because I thought I was getting nowhere. The second decade during the 80s was highly successful and everything that I had worked and struggled for for the previous ten years, finally came to some kind of fruition. The 90s were in my mind a different way of doing music. Particularly with the Beautiful Dreams album, the fact that my keyboard player Glenn Morrow died, which was a terrible blow to me and the band. And it meant that I wanted to start exploring different areas. As I grew older I tried different things. I do love classical music and orchestras and I loved doing the big orchestral shows in the stately homes and palaces around England. The 2000 era has been really, I suppose, dominated by a recognition that you cannot sustain a career at the same momentum as before. And I really enjoyed doing the solo tours, and I am looking forward to do another one in Germany this summer. Because I like those shows very much, I like the contact with people. It reminds me of where I came from, it reminds me also that when I write a song I try to make it as good as possible for one person to sing with one instrument. They don't necessarily need the full band and full orchestra, although I loved my band shows of November/December 2006. As the years go on, I feel that I am very fortunate indeed to still be enjoying a successful international career which takes me still all over the world.
30th June 2007 - Christina Martin (26) from Orpington, England:
Chris, if you were an ice cream flavour what would you be and why?
I have been asked some funny questions, and some strange questions, and some weird questions down the years, but this has to be the number one odd question. Which is great, it is a funny question. I had to think about this ice cream flavour. So I think I will probably be strawberry ice cream with a piece of mint ice cream on top. Now the reason I am choosing these two colours is because they are contradictory colours, but they are complimentary as well. And the strawberry maybe is representing my heart, my emotional side and the green might be the slightly wacky and weird side, sense of humour, looking for enjoyment out of life, fresh and crisp. And I think between the two of them, they should make an interesting flavour. I hope that answers your question.
1st July 2007 - Jacqueline (46) from Wirral, Merseyside, UK:
Chris, I watched you perform at Liverpool Football Club very recently and you sang tracks from your new CD....The Storyman. One particular track....."Spirit" moved me very much as it took me back to three years ago when my husband passed away unexpectedly. Do you believe in an afterlife?
Hi Jacqueline! I am very sorry to hear about your husband passing away three years ago. And I remember clearly performing at Liverpool Football Club in the trophy room for the radio broadcast. It was a wonderful moment for me and I am glad you enjoyed the evening. When I perform "Spirit", I always perform it with my heart and my soul. I believe that there are two options, when we reach the end of our days. One is total oblivion, or the other could be a fantastic journey. I am not sure if I believe in an afterlife. I would like to think that such a thing exists, but there has been a huge amount of circumstantial evidence, but no proof so far. But one thing is for sure: Sooner or later we will all find out the answer to this question.
2nd July 2007 - Mike McGibney (22) from Chelmsford, Essex, UK:
Hi Chris - been a fan of your work for over ten years know, thanks to my Mum's cassettes in the car! As a musician and songwriter, I would be interested to hear about your personal song writing process - how ideas develop, what medium you initially note your ideas on, what instrument you generally use ...right to what order you record things in the studio, etc. Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work. Mike. PS If you ever need young blood in the bass chair, let me know - especially for some of that fretless work!
My personal song writing process can be approached in a variety of ways. The first one is the disciplined way, where I will go to my studio, my piano, my guitar with a project in mind and start sifting through the deep recesses of my subconscious for ideas that may have been planted in there over the last few months or indeed years. Alternatively I can get a sudden idea or a phrase. Or thirdly there could be a way of having something that interests me or upsets me or excites me that I want to write a song about. A current idea, for example, I am calling "chain of command". Because I always find it extraordinary how people will accept commands, particularly in the military to do things that otherwise they would not do ever, particularly if their own personal safety is at high risk. And indeed in like for example the First World War it was almost guaranteed that anybody going over the top of the trenches to run towards the enemy would be shot down in a hail of machine gunfire. Why did they do that? These are little things that occupy my head. I use tape recorders as a notebook. I have a 16 track recorder in my studio, which I build up ideas on. Thanks for your offer of the bass guitar. You never know, we might need one one day. But I hope not in the near future.
3rd July 2007 - Ryan Sparks (38) from Montréal, Canada:
Hello Chris, First of all I just wanted to thank you for all your fantastic music over the years and also for the interview for Classic Rock Revisited which you gave me a few weeks back. As you had another interview after mine, I didn't get a chance to ask you my final question which I'm hoping you'll permit me to do here in this great forum of yours. My question is this. Back in the 70's when you were opening up for Supertramp, I heard that a certain member or members of the band used to come out in a trench coat and flash you while you were performing "Patricia The Stripper", is this true and was this a regular occurrence? Thanks a lot. Ryan.
Well, I did a lot of performances with Supertramp down the years before I started in the early 80s or late 70s performing my own concerts as the headline artist. And things that go on on tour are the stuff of legend. I am sure many books have been written about various Rock'n Roll bands on tour and the ridiculous things that go on and the fun things. Well, I can tell you that I have been through all of them, and most of them I have read about other people doing them and it's just about all true. Although I have to make one point, it's that in a lot of the craziness that goes on on tour - when drugs were involved, I was never interested ever in drugs of any sort. But I'd certainly enjoy a few beers from time to time. During the shows particularly if it's the last night, all sorts of crazy things would go on. Like the drummer would start in complete blackout a song, and somebody would have put a whole lot of talcum powder on the drum kit. So when he hits it the first time, there's an absolute cloud of talcum powder that would fill the air, and the drummer would just disappear behind this shower of stuff. I mean, this is just one of many things that go on. And yes, a big burly truck driver who looked very fetching in ladies' underwear would occasionally wander across the stage and flash me or other members of the band during "Patricia The Stripper". His name was John Rivet and he gave us a lot of laughs down the years.
4th July 2007 - Caroline Perkin (47) from Bradford, UK:
I have enjoyed listening to your music for well over twenty years and it's taken me through many highs and lows in my life. The other Saturday night my son rang me from a 'Biker Bar' (why he was in a 'Biker Bar' I dont know, he's not a 'Biker' ) in Lancaster which was full of leather clan bikers. He was very amused because someone had put 'High On Emotion' by CdeB on the Juke box, not what he expected to hear! So how do you see the typical Chris de Burgh fan?
This is a funny story about your son ringing you from a Biker Bar full of leather clan bikers. The fact that "High On Emotion" was on the jukebox is of interest to me as well. But those people who can recall the original record, it is a very strong record and very exciting, very powerful. Typical fans? Really it is completely across the spectrum. I remember one night I was doing a concert in London, and right in the front row were these two punks with really weird hairdos and they had the leather gear and they had the pins through their lips and noses and all sorts of face jewellery. And they were really into it! They were the first ones to applaud and stand up. So it does take all sorts to enjoy music. Just because a certain artist attracts a certain kind of an audience that doesn't mean that he isn't appealing to fans all across the board. But I am glad to hear that your son enjoyed "High On Emotion".
5th July 2007 - Susan Clark (41) from Toronto, Canada:
Dear Chris, My husband and I are long-time fans and have enjoyed your music for many years. I heard on the news yesterday that you had the winning bid on a letter which went up for auction, written by a young soldier in WWI to his mother. I'm sure it must be very meaningful to own such a special piece of history. Could you tell me if this letter was an inspiration for writing 'This Song for You'? The news story also mentioned that your grandfather was the first casualty of WWI. Is this correct? If so, what was his story? Thank you for your time Chris, and thank you for creating such memorable music and lyrics. We look forward to seeing you in concert the next time you come to Toronto. Susan
Toronto is of course a city I know well, and I really enjoyed being there. The WWI letter that went up for auction, which described the events of the 24th and 25th of December 1914, just after the First World War started, have become legendary. The football match was the way that German and British soldiers met, and Irish soldiers indeed met in no man's land, exchanging cigarettes, addresses, autographs, memorabilia. This letter is just absolutely extraordinary. It's a first hand description of one of the true events of that catastrophe, which showed the humanity of people who understood that they were under it all human beings and they didn't have to kill each other on a particular day in a particular way. And hostility stopped for two days and then resumed afterwards. The song called "This Song For You" was written many many years ago on the "Spanish Train And Other Trains" album, and it was just really from my imagination, because I don't think many people realize that soldiers writing letters in that war were just like writing text messaging today. On any given day there were something like two million letters being moved around either from or to the soldiers at the front. To home, or from home back to them. There was a very very efficient postal service, unlike today's postal service. No, my grandfather General Sir Eric de Burgh survived being in the trenches for three or four years during 1914-18. However, his brother Thomas de Burgh was one of the very first officers to be killed in 1914.
6th July 2007 - Chris (36) from Taunton, UK:
I have always wanted to know whether the end of "making the perfect man" was inspired by Jeff Wayne's "the eve of the war" from War of the worlds. If so, any reason?
Making The Perfect Man" was not inspired by Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds. But if it was, it was a pure accident, I can assure you. But I have to say I have always enjoyed War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne. It's an excellent CD, and I feel that it's done very well down the years. Even recently I was listening to it and I know that it was out on tour as well. I didn't get a chance to see the show, but I believe it was very good. It's a very good record. About "Making The Perfect Man", I think if there was any similarity it was purely coincidental.
7th July 2007 - Daniela Braun (35) from Aachen, Germany:
Dear Chris, I went to the fantastic show in Dortmund yesterday (25th Nov, 2006). I noticed that you were suffering from some kind of cold and that your voice sounded a bit hoarse. And still you put on a fantastic show full of energy, you sang almost non-stop for nearly three hours, it was just amazing! How do you do it? I'm a teacher, and when I have a cold and have to teach 5 or 6 periods a day, my voice is gone. Is there a trick to avoid that? Is there any "wonder" medicine to forget about the sore throat and the cold for a few hours? And under what circumstances would you cancel a show due to illness? Has this ever happened (I hope not!)? I hope you'll get well soon. Thank you for many wonderful hours of music! Kind regards, Dani
Yes, the Dortmund show was fantastic. I really enjoyed that. The problem I had during that November/December tour was actually not a sore throat. I had a cough and it was a tickly cough that I could not shake, although I have been trying for several weeks to get rid of it. But every time I put myself in a situation where it was smoky or indeed sometimes the Wunderkerzen sent a very acrid smoke up to the stage. And that irritates the lining of the lungs. So if you try to sing when you've got a cough, it's very very difficult. Because you have to concentrate like mad, so you don't actually cough while you're singing. Nevertheless I was determined to enjoy the concerts and I did. As somebody who has never actually learned professionally how to sing - I have never been to a singing teacher - but I did find a way of making sure that I could breathe from the correct part of my stomach and out through my nose and into my nose down the years. Which means now I can do a three hour show for maybe 5 or 6 times a week, which is certainly unheard of in the opera world. If you have a cold, it makes things very difficult. And I am sure, Dani, that as a professional teacher, you try to think all of the different things of making your voice work. Talking is, in my opinion, much harder on the voice than singing, because most people talk in the wrong way, when their lungs are exhaling. But I think the secret with singing is to keep your lungs inflated as much as you can all the time. And bear in mind, to breathe in you have to breathe out. So that's where I start, I breathe out first and breathe in and fill the lungs to capacity. No, I don't have any wonder medicines, but I do love honey. Honey sooths a sore throat. And I drink lots and lots of water every day. That's part of my secret. Keep the larynx and the throat nice and moist. I don't think I have ever had to cancel a show due to illness, although I hurt my back a few years ago and we had to postpone the show. We actually had two shows and we put all the people into the second night. I believe that's what happened. But it's a very very rare thing for me to cancel a show.
8th July 2007 - Judith and Annie Sens (29 and 54) from Volendam, The Netherlands:
Dear Chris, Last week we watched Ready Steady Cook. It was great to see you and Ronan Keating together in one programme. You and Ronan are our 2 favourite singers. We'd like to know if you know Ronan's music and what you think of it. Love, Judith and Annie from Volendam
What can I say about Volendam? I am thrilled about the support I have always received from the wonderful people in Volendam. And as you know, I went up and I sang in your church to raise funds for the victims of the terrible fire that killed and maimed and disfigured so many young people on the millennium New Year's Eve. Yes, Ready Steady Cook was great fun. I learned something extraordinary in that. I always thought I was a good cook when it came to meat for example, but watching a professional chef at work in 20 minutes creating a three course meal of high standard was awesome. He gave me this trick about cooking meat, where if you like fillet steak for example, you put the meat in a very hot pan and sear both sides. Well, I knew about that bit, but I didn't know about the next bit, which is: You take it out of the pan and put it on a tray, so that the juices can drip down, away from the meat, and you put that tray in a low oven for 5 minutes. And then either you can serve it straight away if people like meat rare or you cook it another little bit and then it just tastes delicious! Ronan Keating lives in Ireland. I know, he is a king golfer like myself. I come across him from time to time. He is a very nice lad. I wouldn't put myself at the top of his fan club. I think professional musicians don't necessarily do that very often to each other. But I respect him for what he has done and I wish him the best in the future. The fact that I am a professional song writer and it is something that he is becoming more and more involved in down the years, is a really good thing. And I hope that his song writing skills are honed down the years, because you can only improve, and I apply that to myself as well.
9th July 2007 - Gabi Kühner (40) from Teningen near Freiburg, Germany:
Dear Chris, several times I heard that you get on a train during a tour and journey across Germany. I remember that this happened in 2003 after your concert at the Zelt-Musik-Festival in Freiburg. And now I heard that you also get on a train after the Storyman-concert in Dortmund 2006. I wonder what the reason behind you get on a train? Where is your private jet? Why do you often travel separate from the band? And finally, do you have a railway compartment on your own? Thank you for all the concerts for the last 25 years. I never have missed a tour of C.d.B. since 1984. The Storyman-Tour was absolutely great. It was a pleasure to visit the concerts in Frankfurt, Dortmund and Stuttgart. Thank you so much for all, especially the chance to attend the sound check in Dortmund. Brilliant. In everyday life your songs and your concerts are like an "energy drink". Keep it up. Hope to see you again in 2007, maybe around Freiburg/Germany.......that would be great. Bye Gabi / Teningen / Germany
Freiburg of course is one of the most beautiful towns in Germany. I strongly recommend anybody who has never been there to go and make a visit. I love trains is the simple answer. I'd much prefer to be on a train for 3 or 4 hours than in a car. Although having a private jet is an option, but it's also an extremely expensive option. And it's unnecessary. Because it means sometimes getting a plane in from the United Kingdom or from Ireland, just to take you for a short trip somewhere. So the best option for me is trains. I find them great. No, I don't have a separate compartment. And I think Deutsche Bahn are excellent as well. Usually I travel with a couple of colleagues and because of all the band instruments, the various baggage requirements, the band tend to go on their own in a coach. Meanwhile, because of my preference for the rail network rather than the road network, I go by train. And I will be doing that a lot this summer. So if you are on a train somewhere going up and down Germany, and you see somebody looking like Chris de Burgh, it probably is.
10th July 2007 - Riccardo Carelli (17) from St. Petersburg, Florida, USA:
Dear Chris, I love all of your songs especially Spanish train and the Devil's Eye. In the Spanish Train God is just doing his best to win against the devil in a poker game, in the devils eye is the aftermath of the game and the devil turns the earth into a moon, but he notices that God has discovered that he cheated and his coming to fight. I was wondering if there is a song for this third encounter? And thank you for so many wonderful songs.
I am glad you like "Spanish Train" and "The Devil's Eye". As you know, the background to these two songs started initially with my interest derived from a book called Paradise Lost by an English writer called John Milton in the 17th or 16th century. And of course, if there is a cosmic battle going on between God and the devil, it looks like the devil is doing a pretty good job of it at the moment. Looks like he is on the winning side, but anyway the whole thing is that it's just a fantasy in my head. And in "The Devil's Eye" imagine that there is a camera in every television watching us. Because the whole idea of the most powerful propaganda tool in history, which is television, not attracting the attention of not just evil men, but also of governments who wish to brainwash their citizens, must have certainly occurred to many many powerful leaders. And you just don't know what use they are making of television, for example using mass hypnosis to get ideas into everybody's heads. So the third encounter probably should start bubbling away in my head fairly shortly. We'll see what happens next.
11th July 2007 - Jacqueline Ebner (48) from Erskine, Scotland:
Dear Chris, In the technological world of sms, email etc., I feel that the written word is a dying art. English teachers must despair when they see the shortened form of writing used by young people today. Don't misunderstand me, I use sms and email frequently, however, I enjoy writing letters and do so as often as I can. I also like to write in Calligraphy for special occasions. To receive a hand written letter still gives me great pleasure. As a man who makes a living from the English Language, I wondered if you had any thoughts on this. Love, as always, Jacqueline xxx
Hi Jacqueline! Nice to hear from you again. Look forward to seeing you in the summer. I have said this before about one of the difficulties we will be facing. I believe that the British library now has been approached or has instigated a programme of keeping people's e-mails and SMS as part of living history for the future. Because in the electronic digital age photographs, letters, everything like that, that you will usually erase eventually will not be left to future generations as part of their culture and as part of their family background. So I entirely agree with you. I like receiving handwritten letters and I like writing handwritten letters too. And I do that still quite a bit. But I also regret the fact that it is a dying art. And I think we will be sorry about this in the future.
12th July 2007 - Stephen (33) from Toulouse, France:
Do you intend to publish a sheet music on the album "The Storyman"?
Usually this is something we leave up to the publisher. But I would very much like to see sheet music for "The Storyman". Also given the fact that six of the tracks were recorded with a full orchestra. And a lot of the sheet music is actually available from those orchestra sessions. So I hope in time that these will be published.
13th July 2007 - Tom Huiskamp (21) from Utrecht, The Netherlands:
Hey Chris. Loved the concert at 4 December! I've been to a lot of concerts now, including Dido, Katie Melua, UB40, Bryan Adams, Queen, Golden Earring and the King Singers, and not one of them came close to the exhilaration I felt during your concert. The emotions you put in the songs were overwhelming! As for my question, how did you come up with the idea of the floating globe at the end? Is it man controlled or did it fly a pre-programmed course? As a science student I was particularly fascinated with it! Please continue making your wonderful music, and good luck with everything!
I am glad you liked the concert in December. You have made me feel very proud that you enjoy my music and my live concerts more than the other people that you mentioned. Well I think there are two reasons to this. One is the fact that I have always had enormous respect for my audience and I have never wanted to have a gulf between audience and performer. There must always be a bridge. And secondly is the audience themselves. You know, if I put a lot of energy into a show, I really love to see the response from the audience returning my energy. It is like a mutual thing. We are all having a good time. And I like to exude a very positive energy force from me when I perform to encourage other people to feel the same thing. The floating globe at the end was Kenny Thomson's idea, my manager, who saw this in a trade fair and thought it was absolutely perfect for our concert. It is a very clever device. And one of our road crew spent a lot of time learning how to fly it. And he got very good by the end. I loved the way it floated around and hovered above my head and then disappeared into the roof. It is a very exciting thing and it added a tremendous amount to the general feel of the concerts.
14th July 2007 - Barb Parknavy (41) from Columbus, Ohio, USA:
Wow! I haven't been to this site for a long time--love the updates and hope my friends from days gone by (especially those from Toronto and the young folks from Iran I used to chat with and send your music to) are all doing well! It seems to me that people in our age group were at the beginning stages of modern technology and have seen so much and managed somehow to keep up with it... (or as I like to tell my 16 year old niece, you can tell a lot about the extent of someone's experiences by counting how many ways they know how to make popcorn!!) What do you think has been the greatest impact of technology on society in general? And, btw, how many ways do you know?
I think one thing that does concern me is the speed at which things are happening. It is almost like it started with a snowball effect. Very slowly at first and now it is absolutely rushing down the hill, where things that were invented or came into the public arena a year or two ago, suddenly become almost immediately obsolete, and I am hearing amongst other things that CDs are tipped now to be the next useless item, because people will be downloading. Well, that's assuming that everybody has got internet facilities and access to broadband, but a lot of people don't. So I would like to think that CDs and even the revival of using vinyl records is a good thing. I think the downside of it is that along with television, constant 24 hours news, it's that I have noticed how people's attention span becomes shorter and shorter. The gratification moment becomes shorter. Younger people need to be gratified on a more regular basis. It's almost like a drug. You need a constant hit. New technology does that for you. Constant excitement, constant updates. You know, now we are getting mobile phones doing all sorts of incredible things for you. It's almost like the technology exists. It's not just been invented. I would say the Nokia phones for example have got technology stretching another 10 years in front of us that they are releasing bit by bit to make sure that the commercial aspect of the project is covered. So people will buy a phone and then almost immediately will have to go and buy another one, because it's updated. The key to this is stand back and say "What do I actually need? Do I need a phone to be all dancing or singing? Do I need a phone to do everything for me? Or do I need a phone just to keep in touch?" So that's my feeling about technology. I think the greatest impact of technology and society in general has been to erode the national and international boundaries between people and make us feel that we are indeed part of one world. And there cannot be too many totalitarian or communist regimes who can resist the full-on power of satellite information and technology, beaming down the internet, beaming down television and radio signals. This is of course a tool that has been used for the wrong reasons as well as the right reasons. But I think the young people all over the world are very very aware of how other people live and how much they want to be part of that.
15th July 2007 - Smailoula (25) from Algeria:
I love you Chris - The new album is very beautiful. The question: What about the wonderful song with the star Star academy Hani Hussein and how was the cooperation with Hani? Are you following the loss of Hani's father & what do you advise Hani in his new artistic career?
Thank you about my new album and the song that I did with Hani Hussein "My Father's Eyes", which is still a big favourite of mine. The song did very well at radio. I would like to think that Hani Hussein got a new audience to his music as well as mine, because already he has been successful. My advice to him is to accept the bad times, you know the quiet times, and concentrate on building a long term career. Because he is a good looking boy and I am sure that he has going to have a very good career in films as well as in music. I was sorry to hear about his father, yes. Just my advice finally to Hani would be that he is articulate, he is intelligent, he is good looking, there's nothing really to stop him writing his own script on success.
16th July 2007 - Angela Kausler (35) from Bayreuth, Germany:
Hello Chris, at first thank you for the wonderful Storyman concerts, I have seen in Bayreuth and Stuttgart!!! Last month I found this page and it is great. I have a lot of questions... The first and shortest one is: Is there available a story to "Day after Day"? I like the stories very very much and it will be great to get it. Thank you very much, and greetings also from my daughter Jennifer (9)!
I'd like to say hello to Angela and Jennifer. Hi Jennifer! You are 9 years old and I am glad you like my stories and the concerts in Bayreuth and Stuttgart. I look forward to bringing some more of these concerts and stories all over Germany during July and early August. "Day After Day" was written without a story, because it was always going to be an extra track outside of the Storyman project. Not that I didn't like it, but it wasn't quite as much in the story mould as the rest of the tracks. Actually maybe the answer would be for you to come up with your own story for "Day After Day" about the couple who have fallen apart, because the husband or boyfriend has acknowledged, that he has ignored his wife or girlfriend for too long. And maybe you could just imagine the run-up to that song being written and what happened afterwards.
17th July 2007 - Stephen Shearer (26) from Perth, Scotland:
Hi Chris. I wondered how much control you have over the artwork on your singles and albums? I have often wanted to design one myself. I think covers like The Getaway, Eastern Wind, Far Beyond These Castle Walls and At The End Of A Perfect Day add a lot to these particular albums. The artwork for me adds an extra dimension to the music if that makes any sense. Do you think this is important? Cheers, Stephen
Yes, I have always been extremely involved with all the artwork on my albums. I am involved not only with the concept and design and the colouring and the lettering, the shape of the letters, the title itself of course, the running order, the credits on the back and the spelling and the commas and explanation marks and whatever, and the grammar in all the lyrics. It's a situation I have felt very strongly about for years. If my name is on it, it's got to be as good as I can possibly make it. So this definitely applies to all the covers like "The Getaway", when I had this idea of a man running out of the darkness of a bad storm through an invisible line to a beach where everything is good. This is the same concept really behind "Into The Light" as well, out of darkness into the light. Yes, I think it adds that extra something. And I do believe that, although we are in an era now of multiple download facilities of music, people will miss those extra human touches, because after all you are getting closer to an artist when you buy a piece of his music with his face on it and his information and his involvement.
18th July 2007 - Chris Raymond (55) from Twickenham, UK:
Hi Chris, I've been doing some decorating and though I hate the preparations (so tedious!) I find the wallpapering and painting quite enjoyable. It gives me a great excuse to put on my favourite music which I play pretty loudly whilst I work.. (I wonder which artist that might be?!) How about you? Is decorating something you love or hate? Would love to hear from you again! Chris R xx
Hi Chris! I have said in the past that I find some housework fairly tedious. I don't mind doing the washing up, but I am not particularly keen on ironing clothes, but I have to do that from time to time, particularly if I am on tour. In my early years, when I couldn't afford to hire a painter and decorator, I did a lot of painting and decorating. I even laid floors. I have done a cork floor in my first apartment, and that stood the test of time very well. And it took days and days, and I had very sore knees. So I have great respect for these kind of traits when you can put up tiles for example around bathrooms, or carpenters and men and women who use their hands to create things that are beautiful, and very very useful in the home. So the answer is, nowadays I tend to be a person who designs a decorating project rather than gets involved hands on.
19th July 2007 - Dawn Hooley (38) from Liverpool, UK, now living in Melbourne, Australia:
Hi Chris, I was just wondering what your thoughts are on Liverpool FC being bought by two American billionaires, George Gillett and Tom Hicks? Do you think the club will be better or worse off for being owned by foreigners? Personally, I don't mind as long as we win the Premiership soon! Please visit Down Under soon. Love Dawn xx
I'd like to say a very warm hello to Dawn and a hug from up here to down under. It's great to hear from you. I hope you are enjoying your life down there. Liverpool FC being bought is a very good thing, I have to say. For the last few years Liverpool FC, as I know most people know by now, is my favourite club to support and I have been there many times, doing lots of things for the club. I know a lot of the players. And it was always coming third or fourth in the premier league and this just wasn't good enough. And I think when the big money came in to Chelsea from Abramovic, the Russian billionaire, things changed dramatically for them. In a way it is very sad, because home-grown talent is being ignored in Britain for the simple reason that to be in the football premier league brings in so much money, anything from 30 to 50 million pounds a year from television rights and the general running of the clubs and administration, that no club is going to take a chance now on an unknown quantity or a newcomer. What they want to do is buy the best. And they go around the world to buy the best. And I think that is a real shame. But nevertheless, if you want to compete at the highest level, you have to have support like the support Liverpool FC has now from the two American billionaires Gillett and Hicks. I think the club will be better off and they seem to be committed to the club and they seem to have a good knowledge of the game and a desire to win. And that's fine with me.
20th July 2007 - Alwyne Jenkins (64) from Swansea, Wales:
Have you ever recorded" Without You" written by Ham& Evans both of the group "Badfinger", which I used to be the former manager of as "The Iveys". I read your tribute to Peter Ham at the Tribute night at Swansea library.
This song "Without You" is in my opinion one of the greatest love songs ever written and recorded. It was sung by Harry Nilsson and subsequent attempts came nowhere near being as good as the original. The two men who wrote this song, Ham & Evans, as you, Alwyne, would know, were in a band called Badfinger and they were one of the early signings to the Apple group, run by the Beatles. They had hits like "Day After Day", "If You Want It, Here It Is, Come And Get It", that was the theme from a movie called The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers. I was a huge fan of the band Badfinger and many people are probably unaware of the tragedy behind the writing of the song "Without You", where both the writers committed suicide allegedly, because the song had made so much money but they were in desperate financial circumstances. I actually used to sing it a lot not only live during concerts, but also during sound checks, and one day I came across the young lady that the song was actually written about and for. She has become a firm friend and she gave me a handwritten copy of the original lyrics of "Without You", of which I am very proud of. It's a copy, it's not the original, but it is a copy in the original handwriting. The song was recorded by an American producer called Richard Perry and his engineer in the studio that day was called Robin Geoffrey Cable who went on to produce my first two albums "Far Beyond These Castle Walls" and "Spanish Train And Other Stories". When Nilsson sings it and he jumps the octave to sing really strongly 'I can't live, if living is without you', you feel an immense shiver (I do), and you suddenly realize that this is totally believable. Mariah Carey and her version, I do not believe the way she sings. All I am hearing is vocal gymnastics. But when Harry Nilsson sings it, it's just absolutely awesome. I suppose one day I should consider recording this song, because it is one of the greatest ever written.
21st July 2007 - Shahram Azami (32) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi. I always wanted to find if you know that the light year is a measurement of distance (not time) and why did you use it in "a spaceman came travelling" in that way?
Yes, I was aware that the light years are a measurement of distance and not time. And when I used the words in "A Spaceman Came Travelling" 'When two thousand years of your time has gone by', I tried to define it in a more positive way. Right at the earlier part it was 'light years of time since this mission did start', well this is what we call poetic license. I was aware of the fact that it wasn't a measurement of time, but I couldn't come up with another word succinct enough to describe exactly what I was trying to get across.
22nd July 2007 - Claudia Schreiber (34) from Solingen, Germany:
Dear Chris, I'd like to ask 2 questions....one is about recording songs-when my band and I went to the studio, we were asked to sing every word 3 times, and they told us it's usual to do so to make the sound get better and that it is impossible to just "copy" a single recording to have 3, one coming from each side (right, left, middle). Now my question is: is this right? Because I found it quite difficult to sing 3 times exactly in the same way, breath at the same moment, etc.-and I never recognized even 2 different voices in any CD recording of you or any other artist....is it just the good mixing or do you have to repeat and repeat until it's equal? The second question is about this wonderful song "At the war memorial" about what happened on rememberance day,...I am glad to have a copy of the radio/TV transmissions and wonder if you will ever "officially" record it? Thanks for answering and for just being there! Yours, Claudia
This is from an old friend from the past. The way I tried to do it in the studio is to record about five or six complete full takes of each song and usually we either use the entire take or if one word doesn't come out correctly or doesn't sound as good, we lift another word from somewhere else. The technology today is a lot easier to do that, and as I am sure a lot of people now know it's possible for somebody who can sing completely out of tune to sound terrific on a record. And then they go off and allegedly perform live and of course they are just miming. So you don't actually have to have any talent at all sometimes to be a modern singer. But what I like to do is to do a full performance. It is difficult, but with experience, Claudia, you'll get the ability to breathe in the same place each time. But I don't understand why you have to record each word three times (right, left, middle), that sounds a very strange way of doing it to me. So it's important though, particularly if you are coming back to a song some time later to maybe change something a little bit in a song, to try and get the same vocal sound. So it's better to try and get one full performance as I did on the six tracks I recorded live in Abbey Road Studios for the Storyman. And all of the album Beautiful Dreams. Your second question about "At The War Memorial", no I won't be recording this. It was a one off and I don't even have a recording of it. So I am not sure what has happened to that. It was an instant moment of response and revulsion about the murdering of innocent civilians who happened to be at a war memorial ceremony.
23rd July 2007 - Wendy Cullotty (41) from Birmingham, England:
Hi Chris, I must just start by saying thank you for answering the "fans"/"friends" questions i think i not only say that from my point of view but from others too. I've just been reading some of the MOTL questions that are from WAY BACK:) :) and one thing that stands out is the way you are able to see things in a way that women do. The lyrics from A Woman's Heart are superb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow you seem very tuned into a woman's thoughts, wants and needs. Is this something that you have gathered over the years with experience or have you always had the ability to do this??:) I would love to know this....:):). Thanks again Chris keep up the good work. Best wishes Wendyxx
Hi Wendy ! You are somebody I have come across many times and read things from many times. Thanks for your words. I am not sure what it is about my understanding of the female mind, because it's allegedly an area of enormous difficulty for men. But I have always felt very very comfortable in the company of women, and I have always had this capacity and ability to put myself in somebody else's shoes, indeed whether that would be a man or a woman, to try to understand how they would feel. And this is something I often tell my kids. You know, how would you feel if such and such a thing happened. And I think it is really important to try and see somebody else's point of view, not just in the more personal sense but in a broader sense. If you look around the world, if for example you disagree with somebody's point of view, which is held strongly, you've got to understand that that view is held strongly for a reason. For religious reasons for example, economic reasons or cultural reasons. If somebody has a strong point of view, you've got to respect that and try and put yourself in that person's shoes and that's what I try to do with women. You know, if you listen to my song "Day After Day" it's the man who finally sees the light. He has actually managed to understand how his girlfriend or wife is actually feeling. It's really important to be able to put yourself into somebody else's position. That, I think, is for me one of the reasons I can write songs like "A Woman's Heart". And I suppose the experience comes with desire to understand how women feel. Because there are only two species of humanity on the planet and that's men and women. If you can't understand one of them, it makes it a fairly boring thing only to be able to understand your own maleness or femaleness.
24th July 2007 - Tom Green (34) from Los Angeles, USA:
Dear Chris - I've been a fan of your music since the 80s when I heard your song "Don't Pay the Ferryman". Incredible! My question is: Were you not playing an Ovation 12 String back then? What has happened to that guitar and why have you switched since then to another 12 string? On the AOL SESSIONS concert I see you are playing a Takamine! Thanks for taking the time to answer so many of these questions from your fans - Tom in CA
Nice to hear from you, Tom. When you were just a youngster, I was living in Topanga Canyon in California, which is outside of the city of Los Angeles, up in the hills. It was great fun. "Don't Pay The Ferryman" certainly had an impact in the States, because that was a top 40 hit. I remember Meat Loaf ringing a radio station in New York. I just sang it live at 9 o'clock in the morning, and this guy rang and said "Who is that guy? That was fantastic!" Subsequently I went on to make good friends with him in years and years later. Actually one of the early ones was a Guild 12 string that I actually bought in California. An absolutely gorgeous sound, when you can hear on the song "The Girl With April In My Eyes" from my album "Crusader". Then I got an Ovation 12 string, which meant that I could go on stage. But the Ovation 12 string sound is a bit thin for live performance. So I got several guitars now, which are hard body, electric acoustics from the Guitar Factory in Florida. And these guitars are absolutely awesome. When I played in the Live Aid concert in Berlin last year, 150,000 people - one chord and bang, it filled up the whole place. It was great. I also have for acoustic work a variety of guitars, but the Takamine 12 string would be my favourite.
25th July 2007 - Sabrina Schmidt (31) from Lüneburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, How are you? I've a question about your song "Ballroom of romance". During my stay as Au-Pair in Ireland I've seen such a ballroom you've mentioned in the song. It was called "Dancing under the rainbow". I saw this kind of "barn" with a big coloured rainbow in the front during one of our journeys in the northwest of Ireland, in the middle of nowhere. And Fiona told me that in the 60-70ies these places were quite popular for young people on the countryside to go out on the Sunday afternoon to make appointments. Which experiences have you made with ballrooms? Have you been there? And can you remember any friendships? In the North of Germany we had something similar that we called "Danz op te deel" (this is low German and means dance on the floor). So it would be interesting to learn something about the young Chris de Burgh. By the way the song "Ballroom of romance" is one of my favourites, but I've never heard it live in concert. And it would be perfect for a new interpretation on the coming summer concert tour (I've tickets for Nörten-Hardenberg :)) Take care and see you in summer! Sabrina
Lüneburg is a place I remember so well. One of the biggest concerts of my career, Rock over Germany, was to 120,000 people with my band. It was fantastic. Your question is making me smile, because it is making me remember when I was a youngster. Because you are quite right, in Ireland in the rural Ireland of the 50s and 60s and possibly even later than that, the only way you could kind of get to meet people was either in a pub or in church. So there were these dances, and they were unintentionally hilarious. There had always been a mirror ball in the ceiling and the guys would sit all the way along one side and all the girls across the other. And some of these places would not allow any alcohol. You should have to drink orange juice and so on. Sometimes you could have a few bottle of Guinness or something, you'd sneak it in. And you'd go up to a girl across the other side of the room - "would you like to dance?". Like in all these dances, you always wanted to make sure that you had somebody to kiss when the night was through and finished. It actually was great fun. I didn't go to too many of these things, but in later years when I put together a small band, we used to play at these kind of dances and play at hunt balls, which were like ballroom dancing things where people would come in from hunting and go to a dance. I don't remember any friendships, but I do remember one night coming back from one of these things on a bicycle without the light on. And I was arrested by a vigilant policeman and had a bit of a problem then. But it was all a laugh. Those were the days. As I said, this was about the only way to meet people of the opposite sex if you are living in a rural country. We used to do "A Ballroom Of Romance" with the old band quite a few times. I am surprised though subsequently we haven't revived it. But I enjoy this song.
26th July 2007 - Sophia Trummer (41) from Stockstadt, Germany:
Hello Chris, I just listened to your "Road to Freedom" album. And I wonder, just imagine you have to choose: Freedom or Peace. What would be of more importance to you, your first choice. Well, somehow I think you are a rebel - what do you think? Love, Sophia
Another name I have come across many times on the internet. Freedom or peace? That is a very interesting question. I have just been to a series of lectures and exhibitions in Trinity College Dublin about Ireland's involvement in the First World War. Why so many people volunteered to fight, something almost approaching a quarter of a million. And of them 35,000 or so were killed. Irish men, Irish women who went to fight 1914-18. The reasons they went to fight, and the reasons why people fight is in my opinion twofold. One is protection, protection of yourself, your family, your life style. Or the second way it is in aggressive way. We just read history and we can see there are plenty of countries that aggressively try to take over other ones and many other countries have tried to defend themselves. So it's an aggression and defence situation. I think peace is preferable to freedom, but this gets into a very interesting concept of there are people in for example former communist countries who had a peaceful life, but it was one that was dominated by the state and there was plenty of terror involved, state run terror. But it was peaceful, and you didn't have to do too much for yourself, because it was always taken care of. But there was no freedom. But when they get freedom, some people yearn for the peaceful days. So I think it's a conversation that really one should have around a table with a lot of friends and a few bottles of wine. To discover whether if you had a choice of the one of the two, which one would be preferable. My preference would be a combination of the two of course: peaceful freedom.
27th July 2007 - Vern Hines (45) from Auckland, New Zealand:
Hello again Chris. The Storyman is sensational, right up there with Into The Light, but different obviously. Spirit is my favourite, very different for you I think, but a genuine CdeB story. Raging Storm and Mirror of the Soul are a close 2nd, in fact Mirror of the Soul is one of your truly great stories--EPIC. My question is when you were down here the papers reported you as staying on an Island in the Hauraki Gulf. I'm wondering if it was Great Mercury Island. I'd be interested to know as I do a lot of diving around there and love the place. Thanks again Chris. Kind Regards Vern
Well, Vern, it would have been about this time last year that I went down to Auckland, New Zealand for the first time. We did it in one hit. I went Dublin - London, London - Dubai, Dubai - Melbourne, Melbourne - Auckland. And I got there in the afternoon. I went to my hotel, slept for an hour and then went out to dinner in a wonderful restaurant down by the docks. There were loads of restaurants in that area by the waterfront. And then the next morning I got up and some friends of mine arranged a helicopter trip and a picnic to an island privately owned which could easily have been the Great Mercury Island. I am sorry that I can't remember. But it was an extraordinary event, because we got up into the air, and the pilot knew that I was interested in flying helicopters, so I took the controls for quite a long time. I flew about twenty minutes outside of Auckland and came to this private island. Landed on the beach, went for a swim, had a barbecue all afternoon, plenty of Rose wine and then the guitars came out. And I spent the whole afternoon and early evening singing until we went back again. My impressions of New Zealand were absolutely phenomenal. I think it's a fantastic place to visit. I liked the slightly oldy worldy feel of it. Of course also modern communications are there as well. But I stayed in some beautiful places and I met fantastic people and of course the wines are terrific as well. So I envy your life style in New Zealand, particularly with the weather that I encountered when I was there. And I look forward to going back.