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.
18th February 2008 - Brenda Nyveld (45) from Walton, Ontario, Canada:
Hi Chris. I'm a big fan and have seen you in concert several times in Ottawa. I sincerely hope you are planning a return to Canada in the near future. I'm curious about the letter you purchased relating to the First World War. From what I've read, both your grandfather and great uncle fought in the war. Can you share with us what is said in the letter and why it is important to you?
As you know, Brenda, I have always had very warm feelings about Canada. Made many friends there and of course I had a Canadian band for 17 years, largely based out of Toronto. And I have done approximately 20 to 25 cross-Canadian tours. I have seen parts of Canada that most Canadians don't even know exist, or may have only just heard about. Very unusual places like Moose Jaw, Thunder Bay and so on. I have enjoyed every minute being in Canada and I look forward to being back there. I am aware also at the moment that in French Canada, in Québec, my duet called "Loin de Moi" features on the multi platinum album called Comme Ça by Marie-Élaine Thibert. It's a translation into French of my song "Lonely Sky", and it's on a very big hit record currently in that part of the world. Just getting back to your question about the letter: I have always been fascinated by the First World War, nowhere near as much by the Second World War for some reason. But the First World War it speaks to me, it echoes from the disaster, the tragedy. The almost beyond comprehension horror of the First War has been in my spirit and in my soul for as long as I can remember. I have many books on the subject, to the point where I almost feel that I was there. I can feel it, I can smell it, I can see it, some of the things that happened are almost part of my memory, which is absurd of course, because I wasn't there, but it feels as if I was. My grandfather, General Sir Eric de Burgh, highly decorated, wound up as chief of the general staff in India at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was very much part of the trench warfare in the First War. My uncle Tommy de Burgh was allegedly the first allied officer to be killed in the Great War in 1914, towards I believe the end of July. His body was never found. I don't know what to say, Brenda, except it's a part of history that resonates with me enormously. When I saw that a letter was up for sale, describing the events of the 24th and the 25th of December 1914, where the Germans stopped shooting earlier in the afternoon of the 24th, which is of course when they celebrate their Christmas. They put lights along the top of the trenches, they started singing Christmas carols, which of course were known to the English soldiers, and the English soldiers started singing them back. People very carefully got out of their trenches and met in the middle. They shook hands, exchanged addresses, they exchanged cigarettes. There was a famous game of football on the 25th, which was a very cold sunny day, which is when the English celebrated their Christmas. This letter is a description of what happened that day, what the soldiers ate, the Germans that they met, and how the Germans promised not to shoot back again that day during these celebrations. It's a letter that I have read many times, and each time it's very hard to read without tears forming in the eyes. I have read it to people, and they too have been astounded and astonished by this moment of history. It's well written, it's obviously a cultivated, educated man. It's on very flimsy paper, written in pencil, but as a remarkable moment in a remarkable war, and with the hindsight that we have of the horrors that came. We have no idea who this soldier was. He signs himself just as "Boy". For me it's a treasure that I hope will pass down through the generations as an example of one moment of humanity and what turned out to be the most gruesome and grotesque war of all time.
19th February 2008 - Helen Bryan (40) from Stockport, UK:
Hi Chris, I'm writing in connection with the song The Leader and the images shown during it. I have always found your trilogy-style of songs very thought provoking, and I have to say I have always been very moved by this particular one, the feel of the music and the lyrics alone are extremely powerful. I have always had an idea of the kind of pictures that would go with it but to hear it combined with Steve Bennett's images quite literally took my breath away. Its so easy to think we know what war would be like for those of us who have never seen it close up and I was shocked at how sanitised my ideas were when compared to the very real ones on the film. You have said in a previous reply that you'd like more people to be able to see Steve Bennett's work and that the only way to ensure the future safety of all of us is to continually teach our children the horrors of war. With this in mind, would you consider putting the music and the images together on something like You Tube which is accessed by society as whole and very much so by the up-coming adults of tomorrow. Thank you for your time, your words and your music.
The strange thing about this song is that I initially had the idea, as some people may have read in the past, by looking at a picture in France, when I was having lunch with my band. We had just flown in from England into a very small part of Brittany, I think it was, in Northern France. And there was this extraordinary picture on the wall of 5 or 6 men really from Stone Age time, standing on a beach, with their back to the painter, starring out to sea, slightly looking into the sky. And these men were just wearing furs and so on. They were expecting something to happen. I was so struck with this picture that I went on to write the song "The Leader", which of course has very strong biblical references. Anybody who looks at the book of revelations in the bible will discover quite a few references that I bring into my song. For example the pale horse, the leader on the pale horse, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It's like an apocalyptic dream that me, I am putting myself in the position of one of those men starring into the sky those thousands of years ago, and I see this vision, a vision of the future where extraordinary things are happening. And I see the battle, I see my land in flames, and I realize that in this particular battle there are no winners. And clearly what I am referring to is the prospect of nuclear war, which was and has been a very real prospect during my lifetime. There have been dramatic moments for example, the Cuba missile crisis in the 60s. More recently we have countries who are claiming to make the bomb. It is a no-win situation in nuclear war, the stand-off between the Russians and the Americans for example again during the time of the former Soviet Union. These weapons are still around. And the film that Steve Bennett put together, I remember watching in my little home cinema with the sound really up loud, and I was totally stunned by what I saw. I think he has put together a fantastic montage. And what is even more impressive is that Steve knew exactly what I was thinking in my head, without really knowing. He just understood the music. And I know he is a long-term fan and I have enormous admiration for what he has put together. He has got the idea absolutely dead on. In particular what I found shocking was seeing the wave, I think it is called the sound wave, after the bomb dropped, before the actual explosion destroyed people and destroyed everything. There is that sort of shock wave that comes before it. And everybody who has seen this in my concerts is completely knocked out by it. So congratulations Steve! I am not sure if this can ever go on public release. Again that would be a question for management and Steve himself.
20th February 2008 - Mark Pearce (33) from Stockton on Tees, UK:
Hi Chris! This question may be a bit personal but you might answer it. I was really shocked not to see you at the ten year celebration ceremony they had in September for Princess Diana. I was looking out for you amongst Cliff Richard, Elton John and Bryan Adams. Did you get an invite to the service? It seemed that some people who were there were not even at the original funeral service back in 1997. I am sure the Princess would have wanted you there since she loved your music and used to walk around Buckingham Palace listening to the Into The Light album. Plus the song you wrote for her A New Star In Heaven. Do people forget these things? Are you hurt that you were not invited?
The quick answer is, no I wasn't in the slightest bit put out or upset that I wasn't invited. I could tell from those people who were invited that really it was family and close friends and a lot of charity colleagues, people who were involved with Princess Diana in charitable ways. I am sure that for the possibly thousand people who may have been there, there must have been 20,000 who also felt that they maybe should have been invited. And I have to say I didn't give it a moment's thought. It didn't bother me in the slightest. My connection with Princess Diana, although it was friendly, it was not as deep as quite a lot of other people who were involved with her on a more regular basis than I was. There are people out there who feel that the Elton John song using a melody that already existed was possibly not as original as my idea for "A New Star Up In Heaven Tonight", but that is completely out of my hands and it's a question for somebody else to answer. I have absolutely no problem with my situation, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet such an extraordinary lady at all.
21st February 2008 - Simon Kennedy (26) from London, UK:
I've always been a fan of your work ever since I was given a copy of 'Lady In Red' on cassette. I literally played the cassette over and over until it wore out but fortunately by this stage your music was on the digital medium of CD. Despite having always been a fan of your amazingly emotive and powerful music I had never been to your website. Today was the first day that I had been to the website and it is a truly wonderful virtual space full of hope and love. The guestbook was the area that intrigued me the most and in particular the comments from those who had reached out to you from Iran. My question to you is why are you such an inspiration to those in Iran? From what I understand you've never played there, which is a travesty in itself, yet the people of Iran have embraced you as one of their own. In my eyes you are a true citizen of the world and a real inspiration to us all but the Iranian people seem to love you in a way that I've never seen before for ANY musical icon. Why, in your opinion, is this? Kind regards, your ever faithful fan, Simon.
This is a wonderful question. Having read your question several times, I am again inspired to say that I have no idea why people in Iran who love my music are so full of their love for me, they embrace me as one of their own. Thank you for saying I am a true citizen of the world, because often people ask me "Are you Irish? Are you English? What are you?" And I say actually, I am international. I don't feel that I have necessarily a country that I want to ally myself to. I feel a far greater interest in being the universal person, a citizen of the world, because after all there is very little difference between people around the world. I do admire cultures of the world and how significant they are to defining boundaries, cultural and geographical. But for me my interest has always been universal. As you probably understand by now, we have been given permission to perform there, and I can't really say if and when that is likely to happen, because there are an awful lot of questions to be asked and indeed answered. But I would like to take this opportunity yet again to thank all my dear friends and dear fans in Iran. Thank you for your love and support. I sincerely hope that I can make a visit there. Outside of politics, outside of the posturing that goes on between leaders in various parts of the world. I am much more interested in ordinary people, and ordinary people's lives like my own.
22nd February 2008 - Michael Chernyak (20) from Moscow, Russia and Geneva, Switzerland:
Hello Chris I was wondering if you wrote the Song "Moonlight and Vodka" during your stay in Moscow or after. During your stay there, did people recognize you on the streets? Have you been back to Moscow in the recent years, if yes did you get the inspiration for any of your other songs there?
Let me say first off that every time I go to Russia I am recognized. And I love being there, although language can be a difficulty. I feel a great warmth from the people I have encountered in Russia, and as you may know I have done several tours in that part of the world and indeed will be returning to Moscow and St. Petersburg early in 2008. The song "Moonlight And Vodka" probably came from the result of a visit to Russia. I really can't remember, isn't that terrible? But what I was imagining was a spy who has been ordered to stay in a certain place and he is just dreaming of being back in the heat of Los Angeles, probably where he came from. He is a California boy and he is making remarks about where he is at that moment, which is Moscow. But there is an ironic twist in this, which is he is getting very much sucked into the lifestyle there, and he obviously likes it as you can tell from the lyrics, particularly the dancing girl, that sort of thing. And he is clearly a regular in that bar that he is describing. So things can't all be bad, he is just kind of generally having a bit of a moan. But it's a fun tune and I know that this was very popular right across Russia some years ago, and probably still is. The final bit of the question about any other songs - yes, two that spring to mind would be Natasha Dance which is again a Westerner's view of the extraordinary history that he sees in the eyes of the girl that he is in love with; her dreams, her hopes, her aspirations. And also you can tell a lot about the background of a country by meeting its people. I have always felt that there is a melancholy in Russian people that you can see the bright side of, the cheerful, the happy side, and then the melancholy which possibly kicks in when the deep dark winters are there and the extraordinarily brutal history in some respects that Russia and the Soviet Union have had over the last few hundred years. And I think you can always sense that in people from the country. But really to say very strongly, I have always loved being there, but I have kind of noticed, having read the history of that part of the world, that I think there is still an echo in the hearts and the spirits and the eyes of the people that live there. Another one would be Leningrad, which is on the Storyman album. And again, that would have been from my various visits to that wonderful and most beautiful part of the world, which I highly recommend for people to go and visit. Maybe not in the cold times, but St. Petersburg is gorgeous.
23rd February 2008 - Oliver Sievers (35) from Bad Soden-Salmünster, Germany:
Dear Chris, I have a somewhat technical question. In Gymnich I managed to be present at the sound check, not for the first time. I fancy that at all sound checks I attended there were songs by Dire Straits audible for a relevant period of time. My question: *is* it fancy, or are the songs of Dire Straits really played on a regular basis during the preparation of shows? And if it's true, why? Is it only the good taste of the crew, or are the songs of Dire Straits convenient in any way for a sound check? Best Regards, Oliver, Ulrike, Florian & Jessica
This is a technical question. This has actually nothing to do with me unfortunately. What happens is the sound technicians will put out the equipment for a show, and when you are talking about many tons of equipment having to come in early in the morning to be all set up and then removed after a show, I have huge respect for what a road crew can do and achieve in a short period of time. Prior to the band sound check they will always play a song or a piece of music that they are very familiar with to test out the acoustics in the particular venue that they are working in. I remember when I was playing the big open airs during the 80s, particularly in the football stadiums, my soundman would play a song by Toto called "Africa", which was always one of my favourites, and I always tried to get there early to listen to this booming sound of Africa coming out of the huge speakers, very exciting. Kenny Thomson, my manager, also is a marvellous sound engineer, and he had his favourites that he would play to set up the equalization of the sound system.
24th February 2008 - Cindy Ward aka El Cindo (40ish) from New Brunswick, Canada:
Hi, Chris. I won't bore you (and the other readers) by saying how great I think you are (YOU ARE); how wonderful your music is (IT IS); how awesome it was to see you in concert a few years ago (IT WAS); and how I can't wait for that concert experience again (I CAN'T). I won't to discuss something "out of this world." A few months back I was watching a program on American TV called Supernatural (if I remember correctly). These 2 gents were tracking down alien abductees and getting their stories. Oh, it's a fictional show, as far as I can tell...'cause I didn't hang around for the credits to see if it was reality based. Anyhow, this one abductee was very embarrassed by his abduction experience because the aliens forced him to -- wait for it -- SLOW DANCE! Well, in typical TV fashion, the show promptly flashed to a darkened room with glittering disco ball spinning overhead and the beautiful strains of "Lady in Red" playing in the background. The shot then shifted to the human and alien in a somewhat-uncomfortable clench as they slow-danced to the music. MY first thought: "Wow! Those aliens have great taste in music!" Now, I could bombard you with an array of existentialist questions (or I think I could), but I was just wondering if you'd heard about this particular episode, and what's your general take on the whole "is there life out there" question. Personally, I think it would be a pretty dull and empty universe if we humans are the only inhabitants -- intelligent or otherwise. Keep up the great work, Chris! You rock, roll and everything in between! ~Cindy
This is a wonderful question from Cindy Ward, also known as El Cindo from New Brunswick. You sound like a very bubbly and full of life lady, Cindy, and I loved reading what you said. I had no idea that "Lady In Red" was used in the background. It is used a lot in films and on TV. I wasn't aware of this one. I am just laughing looking at your question. It's not a question, it's a comment. It's a lovely explanation of something that you saw. But just getting to the point of the question, is there life out there? Well, I am sure there is! I think in our arrogance we can't imagine for a moment that we are the only living beings in the Universe. We are discovering more and more about the Universe all the time, new planets, new galaxies, new possible life areas. I am told by what I read that scientists believe that life is only possible where there is water on a planet. But that is assuming that life is based on our life form and everything else on our planet. It is quite possible life could be generated from completely different scientific and gas based objects. By this I mean that the make-up of life as we know it depends on water and oxygen, I presume. But other life forms could be generated from completely different scientific make-ups. So who knows what's out there? I think we all wait in sort of hope and fear that something will be discovered one day. But so far we are not being told much. So far I don't think so. But that said, there seems to be a lot of evidence pointing at the existence of UFOs around the place. And I certainly would believe that these things exist.
25th February 2008 - Kiet (39) from Cleveland, Ohio, USA:
Thank you for some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. For the past year, I've been listening to The Road to Freedom and The Storyman... over and over and over again. Stunning lyrics, master storytelling, and of course strong, deep resonant vocals! Here is my question - if you had to choose only one, which would it be: writing music, singing music, playing music, or producing/arranging music?
Hi Kiet! Thank you so much for your wonderful message and question. I remember playing Cleveland many years ago, probably when you were just a youngster. But thanks for your remarks about my music. The Road To Freedom and The Storyman, certainly those two records represent the way I feel at the moment, the way I am, the way I have developed as a musician. I am glad to say that it appears that my voice is getting better than ever. I can still hit the same notes, and it's achieving a kind of depth and a broadness that perhaps wasn't apparent 20 years ago. Certainly when I listen to my old records I think gosh, my voice has changed completely! To the point where when I hear songs like Spanish Train, I think that I really should go and re-record that with the voice that I have today, because my voice sounds kind of thin back then, and I think it's also got something to do with recording techniques having improved as well. But just getting to your question, I think singing is the one thing that really makes me happy. I like writing songs, I like playing them, you know I like performance which is also singing. That is the one thing that, if I had to stop everything else, I would keep on singing until basically I fall over. Producing and arranging, that is kind of hard work, but it's not as inspirational and fun. Singing is great, so anybody out there who enjoys singing, just keep doing it! Because medical evidence has shown that singing is really good for your spirit and for your physical body.
26th February 2008 - Alison Bellerby (44) from Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK:
Hi Chris, I love the Storyman and also love the earlier albums particularly Crusader and Spanish Train. I was wondering if you had ever thought of re-recording some of your other fantastic story songs such as the Tower and Girl with April in her eyes etc and putting together a similar package with the stories booklet? Love Alison x
Hi Alison! Lovely to hear from you. It is always delightful to see you in the audiences at my concerts, and I hope to see you again very soon. Your question is about the Storyman and indeed older songs which were stories like "The Tower" and "The Girl With April In Her Eyes". I feel it would probably be a mistake to re-record these songs, because there is a certain magic about the way they were initially recorded. And I think people in terms of nostalgia would very much like to remember the songs as they were originally. That's not to say there isn't a chance to re-record some, as I have done myself in the past. But I think those kind of story songs, specifically I think "The Tower" and maybe even "The Girl With April In Her Eyes", they had such a certain something about them, that it would be the wrong thing to do to re-record them. However, I would be most interested in writing the stories behind these particular tunes. For example I have always seen my songs as stories in the mind, which translate into films in the mind. And I would love for people to enjoy the same films that I see when I have written these songs. "The Tower" is a very strong movie in my mind. "Spanish Train", even, God love her, "Patricia The Stripper". Those kind of old songs, maybe one day I could write the stories to accompany them for perhaps a completely new generation of people to enjoy.
27th February 2008 - Ian Durrant (50) from London, UK:
Chris, if you were reincarnated, what or who would you want to come back as? Love Ian
Well, I have to admit that I am most interested in the whole aspect of spiritualism and reincarnation. And I have a very strong feeling that this is going to be part of something we will all discover sooner or later about where our spirit goes. Perhaps to a pool of spiritual drops in a massive ocean that return as energy into alternative bodies. There are a few things that I would not like to come back as, which for example I wouldn't like to be a slug particularly or some really ugly fish at the bottom of the sea. My choice, I think, would be a domestic cat, who has complete freedom most of the time, particularly if you are lucky enough to have a cat flap and a cat litter box inside the house. But cats are so independent and can do what they want. Usually they get well-fed, can curl up in nice warm spots but can roam around as well at night or during the day, whenever they want.
28th February 2008 - Billy Johnson (54) from London, UK:
Just a short one Chris. What 3 things couldn't you live without?
Short answer: 3 things I couldn't live without would be a piano, reading glasses and a good strong pair of walking shoes.
29th February 2008 - Ammar Ouwaida (31) from Montréal, Québec, Canada:
Hello Chris. I have related questions in two parts; 1- I would like to know more about "The Seduction of Lady Jane Seymour", what it meant to you, the circumstances that made you write it, if it has any symbolic meaning and message. What do you think this song added to the previous women you sang about/for? How different or similar it is? 2- You have a whole repertoire of "women theme" and I am personally thrilled by this variety; "Patricia the Stripper" (my best ever), "So Beautiful" (another great powerful sensational song), "The Lady in Red" (no comment...ask the World about that one!), "You are the Reason", "Blonde Hair, Blue Jeans", "Natasha Dance", "The Seduction of Lady Jane Seymour", "A woman's Heart", "She must have Known", "You Look Beautiful", "The Girl with April in her Eyes", "Girl", etc. *How do you "choose" or "model" your women? *What do you think of this variety in this "women" theme you perform? *Apart "The Lady in Red", which song you like to perform more than any other and why? *Who is the closest to you, and if those women were all real, and you were still a single/bachelor, which one would you have taken as your beloved one, your lifetime partner (besides "The Lady in Red" again) and why? *If I am excluding "Rose of England" and "Songbird" is that those two were written in homage of two women gone away...Thank you for your distinguished art...quite inspiring, unique and illustrious!
As everybody knows, I am very fond of going to perform in Québec and indeed the whole of Canada, and in Montréal in particular, because I have so many great friends and great memories of Montréal, and I really look forward to returning there as soon as I can. Also, I know Ammar's name very well, he is a frequent correspondent to the website and to the mailing list, and I know that he is a strong fan. This is a very interesting question. It's, I think, more interesting to read the question than probably you find the answer to be perfectly honest. But I shall try to answer it as well as I possibly can. One thing I should say before I start responding to this question is that a lot of things have changed in the world of the internet. And one of the things that we have become more aware of in the last year or so is that journalists and in particular unscrupulous, cynical journalists have not only started setting up bogus blogs and websites and then creating a situation where they can actually write stories about this bogus stuff. And it's a complete hoax, the thing is fraud from beginning to end, but this is what journalists are up to, some of them. Secondly they have begun to look at this kind of question and answer website, so they can pick out bits and pieces to write stories about, again often in a cynical and aggressive way. So it has made me very very cautious, unfortunately, about answering questions in depth, because essentially what this turns out to be is a free interview for a newspaper that is looking for quotes and things to write about. Now that said, I have been greatly supported by many newspapers and journalists around the world, so I am really just referring to a few of the bad ones. Which moves me on to answering your question, Ammar, about my feelings about women. I have always felt extremely comfortable in the company of women, and I have found that they are, of course, complex creatures. But I think men perhaps are regarded as more simple in terms of complexity. Women are, if anything, more feline or cat-like, difficult to, as it were, pin down. But it's a great thing to try and deeply understand the way women are, and endlessly fascinating. I have, as I said, always enjoyed the company of women, and that's why I write songs about them. Because, after all, love is a story that everybody knows, beginning to end. They know the mutual attraction stage, they know the tears, the broken hearts, they know about the excitement and thrill of new love, and the endurance of love as well. Love is the most powerful binding force that the world has ever known or will ever know. It is very unlikely that women bring countries to war, which is why I am very much in favour of women being leaders. They understand the whole process of being a family unit, they understand how important it is to start civilisation with the family unit, far better than men do. I would say in terms of the song that I most like to perform, is a song that has got a beginning, a middle and an ending, which is what I try in all my songs, and this one would probably be the song called "The Head And The Heart", because there is a situation that I can see very clearly. And it wasn't about me, it was about somebody I know quite well who was in the process of breaking up. And they went away, as many people do, for a weekend, to try and sort things out. And eventually things did get sorted out. Whether the correct way was to go with your heart or your head is down to the individual, but I really enjoy singing this song, because it is very emotional and it's a great release.
1st March 2008 - Anirban Banerjee (25) from Kolkata, India:
Hi Chris, I have loved almost all of your songs (although I am partial to the more operatic, soaring numbers like Storyman, The Traveller, Snows of New York, Don't Pay...etc.). First I want to tell you how much I regret that I will probably never see you live, because you don't tour in these parts, but I try to buy as many CD's and DVD's as possible. I have even managed to "convert" some of my friends to becoming your fans. Anyway, my question is, when writing songs, how do you shift from something soft and sweet and romantic like, say, Lady in Red to something pretty spine chilling like Spanish train. You are seen as a sweet romantic singer so are those songs done to break the mould or is there a particular thought process behind them.
Thank you so much for trying to encourage people to listen to my songs in your country. I have to tell you I would be very interested in visiting India to perform, because of course this is a culture and a tradition that is incredibly important to the world civilisation and its growth. It's also in the modern day terms a vastly important country for commercial reasons, for cultural reasons. So it's a country, as I said, I'd love to visit. And I know that I am fairly well known there, if not very well known, but I think mainly for the song you refer to. Yes, I am referring to The Lady In Red. But I have always been interested in diversity. And in music, especially in the songs I write. I think, if I had just written romantic ballads for the last 30 years, I think my career, to be honest, would have come to a fairly swift end. There is always room for more romantic ballads, but I have always been interested in other styles of music and other ideas right from the start. For example I admired Paul McCartney so much, because in one moment he could go from singing a beautiful song like "Yesterday" or "Michelle" into the belting of "Helter Skelter". That was a vocal style that I wanted to achieve. And also in terms of the songs that I write, I wanted to present a complete rainbow of styles. I think that keeps your career going a little longer hopefully, but also prevents you from being put in a particular little box, which is not a bad thing at all. So there is, I suppose, a particular thought process behind the way I write. But it's really things that appeal to me, things that I want to write about.
2nd March 2008 - Angela Haigh (52) from near Gretna, Scotland:
Hi Chris. I have been listening to your music since the 1980s, and have enjoyed many of your shows, mainly indoors, but also the picnic shows. Your music has helped me at many times when things have been bad, but I also enjoy it ... full stop. Anyway, my question. Nigel Slater has recently had a series on TV, chatting to well-known people about how food has influenced them through their lives. The final section, called "Final Feast" is what inspired me to ask this question: What food would your "final feast" include, who would you invite to share it, and why? Thanks!
Hi Angela! Another very familiar name to me, and we have of course met in the past. I adored the picnic shows with the orchestras and I would really like to do some of them again. Of course when you are doing those in the beautiful locations in England during the summer months, you're always at risk of a bit of the old English rain, which tends to turn up from time to time, usually at about 8 o'clock in the evening on a summer's day. Your question is about Final Feast, which is not something I particularly want to consider at this stage, because I am feeling full of health. But I suppose my feelings would be that I'd like to spend, if I had to, a final feast with the company of my family, just my family. I would let them put together a meal based on the stuff that I like, and I would probably choose a few very fine wines to accompany this particular end meal.
3rd March 2008 - Marian Ott (33) from Cape Town, South Africa:
I have been a huge fan of yours since the late 80's. I woke up one Friday morning and made decision to buy a CdeB tape. I remember the only song I knew of yours at that time was "The Lady in Red" and the tape I bought was "Spark to a Flame". I was pleasantly surprised to find I knew a few of the songs on the tape and was instantly hooked on your music. I went back to the shop the following week to get "Into the Light" and since then I have been a keen collector of your work. I have also thoroughly enjoyed three of your concerts here in Cape Town and am looking forward to seeing you here again one day (soon I hope). Today I happened to be browsing through a magazine and came across an article on famous people and their "entourages". Some famous folk seem to require a whole host of people to follow them about making sure their hair, make-up, clothes etc are perfect also they have lawyers, managers, nannies, personal trainers etc. The size of these groups of followers can be astonishing. My question to you is: Do you have a large "entourage" and what are some of the things these folk do for you? Many thanks for taking the time to answer your fans questions. I believe you are truly unique.
I have fantastic memories of performing in South Africa. One of the very early concert tours I ever did was through South Africa, I think it was the mid or late 70s. I'm enormously impressed by the country and the people, and I am very happy to see so many extraordinary changes in South Africa. It is, for those who have never been, really one of the most beautiful places in the world. Especially if you go down to the Cape or up East Coast to Port Elizabeth or Durban. And I know there are problems there, there is no country in the world that doesn't have difficulties and problems, but I think South Africa is a place worth visiting and worth enjoying because of the diversity of interesting places you can go and things you can do and see. And of course, as you know, I am a wine lover, and some of the greatest wines that I have tried do come from South Africa. This is a question about entourages. Well, I have a very small entourage, because I am not into that kind of rock star bullsh*t. In fact you may have heard about what rock stars demand backstage in their dressing rooms pre concert. Well, I am very simple. I like a few bottles of water, maybe a chilled bottle of Coca Cola which I take a few sips of for that extra kick of energy just before a show begins perhaps. And that's about it! Maybe a kettle, if I fancy some hot water and honey, which is also good for the throat. I can't eat anything before a concert, because it is uncomfortable to be a singer when you are eating. In terms of entourage, if I am doing a solo tour, I usually just have Kenny Thomson (my manager), Chris Andrews (my personal assistant for many years). And that would be about it. If it's a band tour, clearly we have got quite a few more people what we call back line crew on the road, and also the sound and light technicians. We've been very fortunate to have come across an excellent company out of Augsburg in Germany who do my concerts all over Europe. They are called YOU sound. I remember when I went to South Africa on one tour, we had a little addition to my backstage rider, which was I wanted to taste a different white and a different red wine every night after the concert, just to try a few of the fine wines of South Africa. And that proved to be a very popular choice. I didn't manage to finish them all every night of course, but I certainly shared them with my friends. But I think this business of having a whole host of people doing make-up, lawyers, managers, nannies and so on, I think if you are one of those people that requires that kind of buffer against the real world, well that's worth doing I suppose. But of course you have to remember that it is very expensive to bring a lot of people on tour with you.
4th March 2008 - Russell Cozens (34) from Guildford, UK:
Hi Chris, I have been a fan since an early age and have enjoyed your music from the early days through to the current. I saw you at Earls Court and the concert was truly amazing, the best I have ever seen, I remember that every person in the audience was standing and singing with you for the entire concert, something I have never seen any other artist achieve. I have a friend who I grew up with singing your songs as we drove around, we both lived with our parents and so the car with our choice of music was the one place where we could feel free and alive, we listened to your songs so many times and knew every word and so would sometimes sing alternative lyrics to make each laugh, like in "Missing You" we would sing "When the one you love is in front of your flies!", do you have any alternative lyrics that you sometimes sing?
Hi Russell, thank you so much for your wonderful question! Reading it really brought back so many memories of those shows that we used to do in Earls Court. I remember doing two shows there, and to this very day I am convinced that the most fun you can have is getting the audience up on their feet and dancing along with you. Even recently I did a solo concert in Switzerland to a group of real estate agents, and their guest of honour was Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor. And everybody said to me "oh, these are Swiss people, they won't get on their feet, they won't be dancing by the end of your little show", and I said believe me, they will. Because in Zürich, in the Hallenstadion, it was always one of the best audiences that we had. But Swiss people perhaps have this tradition of being a little bit reserved. But not a bit of it! In fact towards the end of my solo concert one of the first people up and dancing was Gerhard Schröder, and everybody else was on their feet dancing and clapping. And it's such a satisfying thing to see. Russell, I love your comments about singing the songs driving around, living with your parents and listening to stuff in the car. And I love this idea of the alternative lyrics. When I do a concert I am singing up to 34 maybe 36 songs, and occasionally, as people in the front row may have recognized, I forget the words. And I can see them singing along the correct words, and I just kinda make them up as I go along. I got a lovely letter recently from a couple with small children who love to sing the song called "Ship to Shark" instead of "Ship to Shore". I don't deliberately make up words, but these things happen, and I am amused by the alternative lyrics that other people come up with. Perhaps this could be a comment what other people have come up with in the guest book. You know, alternative lyrics, I'd love to know!
5th March 2008 - Claudia Meister (42) from Eschenburg, Germany:
Hello Chris, looking at your homepage I wonder how many people from different countries of the world know you and ask for help and advice. I'm sure you are glad to be known and loved by so many people. Do you have the sense that you do have a responsibility for your songs and stories? Do you ask yourself if you are fulfilling these engagements? Does this make you anxious sometimes? Or don't you care about this?
Hi Claudia! Thank you for your question. This is one that I have actually considered a lot down the years. In particular when I receive letters where people say that my music has given them comfort through difficult times, through dark days, perhaps in times of bereavement and sadness, and perhaps also joy as well. Music is a very strange thing. Particularly when you enjoy it in your early years and you look back on those years as happy days perhaps with a lot of nostalgia. As a song writer and as a human being, I find my greatest joy comes from helping other people. I must explain what I mean by this. I feel that if music can provide the comfort and happiness that I have myself discovered in certain musicians, certain songs, then if that happens to other people through my music, I am extremely pleased and fulfilled to know that my music is connecting people in the way that I would wish it to happen. I wouldn't use the word responsibility. I think it's more of an ability to touch people musically all over the world. It's an awesome thing to be able to do in these days of mass communication. When I write a song, to know that the chance of somebody listening to the song in China, Iran, New Zealand, Russia, America, Canada or wherever and to react and feel the way I wanted them to feel listening to these songs, it's an extraordinary thing to be able to do. It's an honour to be in this position to be able to have ideas that grow in a very small room in my home or wherever I write the song into something much bigger and important in somebody else's life that I have never met and probably will never meet. But it is indeed an honour to be able to do that.
6th March 2008 - Alison Bellerby (44) from Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK:
Hi Chris, have your children ever taken part in dangerous sports or activities? And how do you feel about it? My son Mark who is now 15 is a member of a Kart racing team, and although I love motor sport it is very traumatic for me watching children tearing round a race track at 70 miles an hour !! But I think they do need challenges and excitement and it is better to do it in a controlled environment. I am really looking forward to the summer concerts, Alison xx
I know exactly what you mean, Alison. When I watch my children being involved in sports, for example rugby, which is a pretty strong contact sport, I wince every time I see a tackle going in. But then on the other hand, we can't put our children in cotton wool and protect them from everything. They have to learn for themselves, they have to learn by their own mistakes. It is the hardest thing to see your child going through a difficult time, when you know that they could have avoided it. But they will for sure not make that mistake again. I think in a controlled environment, particularly something like go-kart racing, it must be absolutely thrilling for your son to do this. Because I remember doing that too myself, go-kart, and I loved it. But it must be absolutely dreadful and terrifying for the parents. So if there are any youngsters reading these words, just remember that sometimes you can enjoy a particular activity, mountain climbing or paragliding or something that is in itself a real adrenalin rush, but it also can be very scary for your devoted parents who don't want anything awful to happen to you.
7th March 2008 - Chris Raymond (55) from Twickenham, UK:
Hi Chris, I love your version of "In Dreams" originally by Roy Orbison. I really love the album "Mystery Girl" by this artist and especially like the track "A Love So Beautiful". I would be interested to know if you are a fan of Roy Orbison's work in general and if you'd be tempted to record any other of his covers? Of course, he had a particularly unusual voice and I wonder if other tracks of Roy's would suit your vocal range? Thanks once again! Chris R xx
Hi Chris! Another familiar face and another familiar name, and indeed I remember seeing both you and Allison Bellerby at my Rock With Laughter concerts in the NEC in Birmingham before Christmas. They were enormous fun, particularly when I did my duet with Dame Edna Everage. She was wearing the red dress, and I was singing "The Lady In Red", and she came onto the stage and we started dancing together. Very memorable! And I think there are some interesting photographs of that particular occasion, which we actually did two or three times. This question is about Roy Orbison. Yes, I am a huge admirer of Roy Orbison. I loved many many of his songs, in particular things like Crying and Blue Bayou, which is beautiful. He did have such a stunning voice. And I am sure that people who come to my solo concerts know that I often finish with some of my personal favourites, which would include Pretty Woman. A lot of people don't realize just what a good song writer Roy Orbison was. He was an excellent song writer as well as being a fine fine singer. Maybe one day I'll record another of his songs. Perhaps go back to Blue Bayou, which has been recorded by a number of other artists, but maybe I'll give it a crack myself one day.
8th March 2008 - Charlotte (23) from Wales:
I have listened to your music since I was a little girl as my Mami started playing it in the car. I now drive my own car and more often than not, Spark to a Flame or another album of yours is playing. I have just purchased your latest album The Storyman and the love theme that threads through most of your songs in all its various form is clear. In light of this I was wondering whether you had ever read "The Four Loves" by C.S. Lewis? This book looks at love in all its different forms and I wondered whether the book or any of its contents had ever influenced you. It certainly influences the way I listen to your songs!
Hi Charlotte! I am delighted to know that a young lady who is the same age as my daughter enjoys listening to my songs. And as I said in an earlier answer, it is wonderful the way that nostalgia can bring you back to certain times and certain people and situations by listening to songs. And how comforting it is to know that during your life. Interesting what you said about The Storyman and the theme that goes through the songs in its various forms, because I am planning at the moment to record another album at some stage later in the year. And I was going to not only take the theme of love, but also another theme that runs right through, similar I suppose to the idea, the concept, behind The Storyman. At the moment it is early days, but I have come up with quite a few ideas for this particular new project. A quick answer to your question about C.S. Lewis and Four Loves: No, I have never read it. But I shall certainly have a look for it, because it sounds like it helped you. I am sure it will spark off my imagination too.
9th March 2008 - Francis Descôteaux (41) from Gatineau, Québec, Canada:
Thanks for your wonderful music. It always puts a positive spin on my day. What songs did you use to sing to entertain the guests at Bargy Castle?
I said recently that I loved going to Québec. I love Canada, and of course Québec City, for those who have never been, is fantastic in summer and indeed in winter, when you walk across the Plains of Abraham. It is a wonderful city, particularly the old city of Québec. My memories of Bargy Castle were quite simply that it was a wonderful way to grow up. In the summer time from around Easter until the end of September we would have guests coming to stay. And although it is difficult to have guests permanently in your own home, I most of the time thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I worked hard as the rest of my family did, because it was a family-run place. And in the evenings I, especially at the age of 14 or 15, would start singing with the guitar, because there was not much else going on. People would sit around talking. By the time I became a professional musician onto the stage I had sung hundreds and hundreds of these living room concerts. And you know what, I used to sing everything. I reckoned at one time I could sing and remember the words of more than 800 songs, and they would cover an extreme spectrum here of anything from old Irish ballads and folk songs right across to the most modern hit songs of the day. It taught me how to connect with audiences, how to look people in the eye when you're singing, how to be an entertainer. And I believe to be an Entertainer with a capital E is quite the greatest aspiration for anybody who is in the business of entertaining. That should be their greatest desire and hope.
10th March 2008 - Conny (23) from Germany:
Dear Chris I saw you in concert "Art on Ice" on TV for the first time. You sang songs "Here is your paradise" and "Lonely sky" for example. I've heard you sing them from the bottom of your heart. At the end of the concert I bought my first Album "Timing is everything" and many others from your earlier days. I love the song "Another rainbow" and many many others, the list is endless. I've never seen and heard a man before who is using wonderful words to express emotions in such a human way like you do. My life is always getting better when I listen to your music because your voice is gentle and powerful. On your new album "The Storyman" there are most wonderful songs I've ever heard. Especially "The mirror of the soul" and "One world" are such strong statements for love and understanding between people all over the world. "Raging storm" is the most beautiful love song you've written. Words cannot describe what I felt when I listen to "Spirit" I often have to cry. I can't stop listening to this album. And now my questions: Where are the photos taken that are in the booklet from "The Storyman" album? And will be there a continue to that album? Thanks for all your endless support and understanding to reach me and other people with your music and lyrics. All the best in the future and for your tour.
Conny, I am impressed as I was with the question two days ago by Charlotte from Wales, that you are also 23 years old and you love my music. And all I can say is when I read your question, I was very moved, because this answers everything that I was trying to express recently about what I feel that my music does for people that I have never met, people all over the world. And the things you have written about me, the way I sing, the songs, the songs that you adore, about love and understanding and love songs and so on, the reason I can sing like this is because I am very lucky that I can go into that inner space, that inner well of emotion very very fast. Anybody who knows me will know that I am an emotional person, not in daily life necessarily. But if I allow myself just to relax and go inside, I can become instantly part of a scene in my head. If it's a sad one, I can feel the emotions. If it's happy, I can feel exactly the same feeling as well. But very quickly, which is why I have always believed that as a singer you should wear a song like you are wearing a coat. How many times have we all heard people sing love songs and you just can't believe what they are singing. Because they don't believe what they are singing! But if you are writing the words for yourself to sing and you believe the words you are singing, then you can convey that emotion. And I think that is the greatest gift to be able to convey an emotion that you feel and you transmit that quite honestly and sincerely and genuinely to somebody else who is completely the other side of the world. What a fantastic thing to be able to do! I loved the fact that when you listen to Spirit, that you cried. Because I can tell you something, I can't say it in a personal way because a lot of people will be reading this, but as you probably saw in the booklet for the Storyman, I was inspired to write the song Spirit by something I read in a book called "All will be well". The information is there on the booklet. I remember reading this piece about the old man dying. It is only a short paragraph in the book, and I immediately felt the tears spring into my eyes, because I could see the situation, I could feel it. I could smell it, I was there, you know what I mean? I read it twice, and I have to say with the tears pouring down my face I sat at my piano and the song "Spirit" came in about 5 minutes, because I felt the emotion so intensely. And now when I sing it, I don't obviously have the same emotional response, because it is very hard to sing when there are tears in your eyes, your throat gets all constricted, but I try to convey that emotional feeling to others, and it seems to be quite a favourite to people as well. They feel the same feelings. So thank you very much, Conny, I loved your question. And of course you asked me about the photos. Well, the photographs for The Storyman album were taken in and around my home in Ireland. And maybe there will be a Storyman part two. Perhaps people could indicate whether they would think that's a good idea to continue on that journey with me into imagination as I did with The Storyman album.
11th March 2008 - Willemijn Breukelman (24) from Amersfoort, The Netherlands:
Hi Chris, I recently had a discussion with a friend about the song "Old Fashioned People". We were talking about: "Hurry home for tea before it gets dark". What do you mean by that line? Before the tea gets dark or before it gets dark outside? Good luck with your tour! Willemijn
The song "Old Fashioned People" was very much a song that I wrote about people like my grandfather. People who find that the world is moving so fast, that they find it difficult to understand all the relentless innovations and changes that happen. If you are lucky enough to have a grandparent, take a little time and go and talk to them about their past. Particularly young people will be absolutely amazed to think that they lived in a time when it was very difficult perhaps to have a telephone, certainly no television, the concept of mass air travel was just a dream. There is a lot of information in the head of an old person, which is why I strongly suggest you are going to talk to them. And maybe if you can, take a tape recorder down there. You never know. It might be something you want to listen to in years to come of your old grandfather or grandmother talking about times past. Because in this age of high technology one thing that is going to happen in the future is that there are going to be very few records of letters and photographs that people will hand down through the generations. Because it's all e-mail now and attachments and so on. It's important to remember your family background and your family roots. Just moving on to your question. "Hurry home for tea before it gets dark." Well I would hope that you'd think that it was "hurry home before it gets dark outside", because an old person walking home in the dark usually gets a little scared, unless they know exactly where they are or the place is well lit. It's just an expression to hurry home for tea and make sure you get home before it gets dark outside. It's the old story about English can be a strange language sometimes. I give you an example. If you read a line saying "the thin captain's biscuits", are we talking about the thin captain or the biscuits? Have a think about it.
12th March 2008 - Pam Sargeant (36) from Stoke on Trent, UK:
Hi Chris, I have been a fan for many years, have most albums, and have been lucky enough to see you in concert 7 times. My eight yr old son, is now also a fan, his favourite being Read My Name. I hate to say, many of his friends do not even know who you are, it really annoys me that you do not get airplay on the popular stations. My question is inspired by my son. He recently broke his arm in two places, by falling off school play equipment. He had to have 2 operations to put it right, the second to have a plate inserted. Have you or your children had any serious breaks? I was angry that I wasn't there at the time and at first felt I had let him down. I now know even if I had been there I couldn't have helped. Have you had any similar experiences?
Thank you for sharing my frustration about being on the airwaves in the United Kingdom, but it's all down to radio format and what is current and what is getting played. Although I can assure you, when I look at my world-wide play listings from the Performing Right Society, I am getting as much airplay now as I did 20 years ago around the world. So it doesn't bother me too much. But I am aware of what you mean. It is frustrating. And I am glad to hear that you have been a fan for years and your 8 year old boy. I said in an earlier question, it is very difficult to protect your children from everything. Accidents will happen. I am sorry to hear he broke his arm. This brings up another question in schools, because I am very much involved with a primary school where my children went to school. It's the insurance, and how schools have to come up with ever increasing amounts to cover insurance costs, just in case people get hurt in play time. Of course when I was in school, it was just part of being there. You know, people fell out of trees, broke arms and stuff. I was lucky, I didn't actually break anything, but I once had a finger dislocated which was really sore and had to be pulled back again to go into place. And that was really sore. As far as my children are concerned, we have been especially lucky, although Hubie, my older boy, has had a few fractures, wrist, fingers, collarbone. He had this habit of falling down and banging his head at exactly the same place, so he's got a few war wounds and battle scars just above his left eye. But he is a good-looking handsome boy, and I am sure it'll provide him with a chance to talk about what happened and why. But you haven't let your son down, if you weren't there for him at the time. It's very difficult to watch your children all the time. I know exactly what you mean. As I said earlier, you have to let them make their own mistakes and learn from them.
13th March 2008 - John Collins (47) from Birmingham, England:
Hi Chris, when I tell people I am a big fan of your music, they don't understand how you fit in with my other favourite artists, being Jeff Lynne/ELO, Roy Wood, Elvis Costello, and Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman. I always say that the common denominator is that they are all outstanding singer songwriters. Have you ever met any of these other artists and would you ever consider collaborating with them?
I am amused by your friends who do not understand why you can like Chris de Burgh and at the same time enjoy Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood. But as you say, we are all song writers. And this is what I like in common with so many other people in my profession that I admire. I like to listen to what they are doing. It's like perhaps being an artist, a painter, and admiring somebody else's work; and understanding it without necessarily liking it or going to buy copies of it. But down the years I have met all those people that you have mentioned, apart actually from Jim Steinman. But certainly Meat Loaf, I had great fun on tour with in Europe about five years ago. Collaboration is always a possibility. And I think it totally depends on the song, whether a female or male collaboration is a good idea. I tend at the moment to prefer female collaboration, because that allows me to write a song that involves a female and a male voice.
14th March 2008 - Rian (29) from Cape Town, South Africa:
Hi Chris -- while growing up I pretty much only listened to your music. Now that I am a musician myself my wife keeps telling me she can hear how I model my voice after yours. I went to 3 of the concerts you did in South Africa, and you may even remember me. A few years ago you did a show in the Bellville Velodrome, and during the familiar "audience participation time", I came up and we sang "Discovery" together. We ended up doing the whole song together with you harmonizing over it -- it was one of highlights of my life! Anyway, after selling my entire collection in desperation a few years ago (biggest mistake ever!) I have now started building up my CdeB collection again through the wonders of eBay. I started with Best Moves and Spark to a Flame, and it's amazing how, after so many years, I still remember all the lyrics word for word, and emotion and memory that goes along with it is so strong. My question is this -- what are your thoughts on the link between song, emotion and memory? Are there songs/musicians that can instantly take you back to a certain time and place? Can you share some of those emotions with us?
A very interesting question here and I am delighted to hear that you are going back into my catalogue and repurchasing stuff, even if it's from eBay. I remember the Bellville Velodrome very well, because there were a number of incidents that happened during the performance there, including a lady in a shimmering red dress who came up on stage during of course The Lady In Red, and I did a little dance with her and then accompanied her back to her seat. She was a remarkable beautiful looking woman. I remember you coming up and singing "Discovery" with me, which was a moment I am sure that you have remembered as well as I have. Going for the harmonies, yes I remember that. The question is.. well, I, like everybody else, am totally affected by songs that I remember by the past. I could give you many many examples, listening to Peter Gabriel doing Salisbury Hill, driving along the coast road with the windows wide open. I just think it's a great song, so I was shouting my head off and singing along with Peter who is an old friend from the past. Listening to The Byrds' version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" in a little record shop at Marlborough where I went to school. I would have been about 13 or 14 and I was amazed by that song. It just sounded fantastic. I was totally gripped. And it really brought me into music. But apart from that there are hundreds if not thousands of pieces of music that link me back to a certain time and place. And the emotions really range from nostalgia, you know that slight feeling of melancholy, maybe I remember a girl that I was in love with as a teenager. For example I remember a song that goes "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off you …". As I said many many times, I am taken back in time listening to songs that remind me of certain periods. And also my own songs! Whenever I listen to one of my songs I am immediately taken back to perhaps the day I recorded it in the studio, almost watching what happened, all the funny and strange thing that happened, the difficult things that happened, the difficulties of creating and recording in the studio. I give you two examples: "High On Emotion", I had a completely different verse to that song that just didn't work. So I went back into the studio and I got to the piano and I whacked out on the piano the verse that is part of this well-known song. It took me a few minutes but I was full of emotion at that point myself and I wanted to make it work. Another example is a famous one, "The Lady In Red", where we recorded the song for three or four days, maybe longer with a small band and it just wasn't working. And we had to wipe the tape and start again. These things remind me of situations when I listen to my songs.
15th March 2008 - Niall (40+) from Dublin, Ireland:
Hi Chris, A big fan in many ways - not only your music but your charity work as well. It is over 20 years since the great days of the RDS concerts in Dublin - many happy memories including asking a most beautiful lady to hold my hand during " Lonely Sky" - I would appreciate your thoughts on those shows and the chances of seeing a repeat performance. Also can you remember a band playing with you called RAF - I still to this day remember a song called "Warm Welcome on a Cold Night" - are they still around??? PS - the lady did hold my hand - for the next 3 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hi Niall! Nice to hear from you, and also to hear from somebody who was at the amazing series of concerts that I did in the RDS in Dublin. I have a small statue in my studio, given to me by the Royal Dublin Society aka RDS, celebrating more than 250,000 people coming to my concerts in that venue across the years that I have performed there. And they were fantastic, weren't they? I think if you have been watching Sky at all, there is frequently a repeat of the Dublin concert that we filmed. So if you want to remind yourself of what it was like, there is a video cassette available, Live In Dublin. I've looked at it recently on the TV and it just brought back incredible memories of those fantastic shows. They were just extraordinary, weren't they? And I am delighted to hear that you managed to hold that lady's hand, I hope not all the time for three years! I wonder what happened after three years. But the band called RAF, yeah, I remember them. I asked them one day why they call themselves RAF, and they say it's because we want to be rich and famous. But sadly they are not around anymore. I think they changed to a different band or different members went different places. As I have often said, one of the advantages of being a solo performer is that you can't split up. Another thing is, keeping a band together is a lot more difficult than being a solo artist, but then being a solo artist means that you are on your own and everything has to stem from you. All the television or the radio or the press interviews, this kind of thing I am doing right now, it all starts from the same energy point, which is me or whoever that individual artist is. Thanks for reminding me of those great great nights in Dublin!
16th March 2008 - Laurent Tomassini (32) from Titz, Germany (originally from France):
Hi Chris, As you know I met Dagmar in 2005 creating the French CdeB website. Regularly I get mails of fans telling me how they met them and how much you are important in their lives. Sometimes they consider that you are a kind of witness of these love stories. Do you get like we've done recently some feedbacks about love stories that born upon your magical words and music. What is your feelings each time you read about them ?
Hi Laurent! I remember meeting you last summer with Dagmar. Thanks for creating this French CdeB website which is excellent. I urge everybody who has a little time to spare on the internet to go and have a look at Laurent's website. It's a funny thing, I have often heard of people meeting in concerts. In fact one of my dearest friends here in Ireland met his current wife at one of my concerts! Since then they got married and have had three children. It's nice to bond people and bring them together in a certain situation, either at a place like a concert hall, or having a mutual admiration and respect for a third person or an artist. You know, it's like going to an art gallery and loving the paintings of Van Gogh, as I do, and meeting somebody who also shares the love of the paintings of Van Gogh. In fact, as I am talking about this, I am certainly thinking this could be an idea for a song. Because the couple then go outside and as they are about to say good-bye, he says to her "Well, can we meet again?" And she says "Why don't we go and have a cup of coffee? Tell me about why you love Van Gogh." And they go to a little Parisian or Amsterdam café and start talking about their love. And they suddenly realize they have got a lot more in common. And they meet a week later to go out to the cinema. Anyway, my mind is taking over, and my imagination is as well! But these things do happen, and I am delighted that I am a part of them.
17th March 2008 - Sophia Trummer (41) from Stockstadt, Germany:
Dear Chris, Today I read in the MOtL 2002 that you have been into Salisbury Cathedral at least 30 times. What I would like to know, if you had to make a list of what you like most about the Cathedral, what would be on top of it? I do not mean something like atmosphere, peace or quiet here. Something firm and solid. Have a good time. Love, Sophia
Hi Sophia! A name I know well. This is a question about Salisbury Cathedral. There are many reasons why I love going into cathedrals. They are places of peace, of reflection, of sometimes joy, sometimes melancholy. It's a very good way of reflecting on the human condition. And recently I was walking around a graveyard very close to where I live, and looking down at the grave of a young girl of 23 years old, who died in tragic circumstances. Because she was a beautiful young woman, the same age as my daughter, they knew each other, but this young girl got caught up in a lifestyle that eventually killed her. And I can strongly urge anybody who knows somebody who is living in front of themselves all the time, running away from reality and not connecting with reality, to just go and spend half an hour in a churchyard one day and look at the grave stones, and look at people from the 16th or 17th century and think about how we have got here, and how short the lifespan is, and how we must get out there and enjoy life and live for every day. Just think about how fortunate we are even to be on this planet. And those are the things that I think about when I am in somewhere like Salisbury Cathedral. Although people who know me well will know that virtually every city I go to, if I have time to walk around I will always find a cathedral and go in. I just admire the architecture, admire the stain glass windows for example. And in Salisbury Cathedral what stuns me about this place is it was started in the 12th century and how those people built a place like that across the centuries without the instruments and mechanics of modern building and modern building techniques, is absolutely awesome. Apart from that you think about the thousands and thousands of people who have been through the cathedral down the years, and there is something I refer to when I went to Notre Dame Cathedral in my song "Lonely Sky", 'Lords and Ladies lie in stone, hand in hand from long ago, and though their hands are cold, they'll love forever'. And sometimes I have been lucky enough to listen to a choir practicing or going to an organ recital, but all in all it is an experience of almost walking out of your own life into a piece of living history. I find it very moving and very stimulating.
18th March 2008 - Tom Huiskamp (21) from Utrecht, The Netherlands:
Dear Chris, when I first kissed my girlfriend I probably could've been shot and wouldn't have cared a bit. I may have even congratulated the assailant on his marksmanship. The extraordinary feel I got that moment is simply indescribable. What would be the moment in your life that you could define as one of those key defining moments when you could've been hit by a meteor and merely would've shrugged? Regards, Tom
Hi Tom! I love this description of you when you first kissed your girlfriend! It's very accurate and the French have a good expression for it as well. It's when something happens, maybe it's eyes across the room or maybe it's kissing for the first time or making love for the first time. It's called the "coup de foudre", which means a thunderbolt. It's that moment that Ernest Hemingway referred to in his book "For Whom The Bell Tolls", when the two had made love. The man in the book used an expression that has become a part of the English language. He said "Did the earth move for you as well?" That was when they had made love. These are the moments that we never forget. And I am certain that these things happen to me, but I don't think this is the place to tell you about them. But that first kiss, when your knees go to jelly and your body is just flooded with a mixture of adrenalin and, I believe, morphine, to bring you to that sort of glow of love that scientists have been able to identify as one of the reasons why it's not just sex appeal that keeps the human beings on the planet, it's the desire to have that feeling that keeps us wanting to procreate and reproduce to make sure that human beings stay on the planet. So I hope you'll have that feeling again Tom. Perhaps not with this girlfriend, maybe with the next one. But there are key-defining moments in everybody's life.
19th March 2008 - Claudia (33) from Kiel, Germany:
Hello Chris, your music has been part of my live for many years now. Through personal reasons I recognized you wrote some songs about being in love with someone who is in someone other hands like Guilty Secret or She Means Everything To Me. A few weeks before now I'm sure might have been thinking quite different from today. How do you see a situation like this, if two people can't help the way they feel for each other but one of them is still (even if not in a happy one) long-time relationship he feels bound to?
Hi Claudia! Very interesting question, and I am sure many people reading this will know exactly what you are talking about and how you feel. It is part of the problem of long-term relationships or indeed short-term relationships where you wonder are you with the right person. You feel that you have the right to happiness and why should you spend perhaps the rest of your life with this person. This particularly applies to couples who are in their later years and maybe the children have left home and they are looking across the breakfast table at each other and thinking "Oh god! Another 25 years of this or whatever maybe." And they'd leave. Some people just snap and say "I can't stand this any longer". I was talking to somebody recently, a young woman with a young child, and we were talking about healing. And she said to me "Can you heal a broken heart?" And I said "No, I don't think I can." But I gave her a little advice to have more sympathy, I suppose, if it's possible for the reasons why her husband left. You know these things always happen, because there are two people involved. But if you find, like Princess Diana, there was a third person in her marriage, it can be extremely difficult. And it puts you in the position of on the one hand feeling like you are betraying the person you are with and you are trying to cover up yourself and your feelings all the time, and on the other hand thinking that you should be allowing yourself the chance to break free and go off with somebody who has really captured your heart. It is very difficult as I have mentioned in "Guilty Secret" and "She Means Everything To Me". This is something that doesn't just happen once in a while occasionally, it happens a lot of the time for reasons that are so numerous. Human relationships are an endless source of interest and amazement to just about everybody who follows them and studies them and is involved with them. Sometimes a friend will ask for advice as happened in the last few years about a situation, and I knew both people involved. I just said to one of them "Well, listen, you've got your life to live. And if you are seriously unhappy and you want to go, just go! Set yourself a target and make sure you are doing the right thing and just go. Go where your heart believes. That's very very important. But also don't hurt anybody else if you can possibly avoid it."
20th March 2008 - John Bennett (38) from Dublin, Ireland:
Dear Chris, I have been a big fan since Best Moves in 1981, so first of all thanks for the many great songs you have recorded over this years. They have taken me through some bad and good times. I loved the box set 'Much More Than This' you've just made available through the website. There's an unreleased song on disc 4, called 'Because I Love You' which I thought was a brilliant song. My question is when was this recorded (sounds like 1970's) and why didn't it make it onto an album? I think this song is up there with 'Nights in White Satin' and 'Without You'. Can you tell us a bit about it please? Keep up the great work. John Bennett
Hi John! You're from Dublin, and nice to hear that you have been a long-term fan as well. As you know I am continually writing and recording. This is what I do. And it is very hard, unfortunately, for my memory to remember the inspiration behind every song I have written. And I have just been looking through my record collection, as I sit in my studio in Wicklow, looking at the dusk coming in. I haven't actually got a copy of "Much More Than This", the box set you are referring to, that I can put my hand on. I was going to find the song and play it. I have to tell you the honest truth here. I haven't heard that song in many many years. I knew it was on the box set along with the other ones, but unfortunately I didn't listen to it as I was involved in other things at the time. Thank you very much for enjoying this song. So what I'll do is, after your recommendation, I'll go and have a quick listen to that. "Nights In White Satin" and of course "Without You" is one of my favourites. I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I am such a huge fan of that song, that a lady who has become a firm friend, came up to me after I was singing that at a sound check and said "I was the girl the song was written about all those years ago". I was amazed of course. She knowing my love for the song gave me a photocopy of the original handwritten lyrics with all the mistakes and the crossings out and stuff which is pride of place in my recording studio. Just to finish your question. I am not quite sure why it didn't make it onto an album. It's possible that it didn't suit the format of the very first album or indeed the second album that I made, Far Beyond Those Castle Walls and Spanish Train and Other Stories. But there are quite a few songs that don't make it onto records that I review from time to time. And I'll go back and have a look at this one!
21st March 2008 - Andy Sands (37) from London, UK:
Hi Chris, I hope you are well! I was wondering, you see I often feel like Yossarian in Catch 22. You know - the only sane one! Which literary figure do you identify with? Love Andyx
I know that character in Catch 22, Yossarian, who feels as if he is straight into a madhouse and he is the only sane one. And here is a question I think everybody should ask themselves from time to time. It's how will you know if you are going mad? I think this is the problem Yossarian had. Seeing all this bizarre stuff going on, which is an extraordinary movie, if anybody has never seen it, go and watch Catch 22. And I've actually just got the book back in my home and I intend to read it again. Many people have heard me talking in the past about one of my very favourite books of all time, which was a book about smugglers in Cornwall, about two or three hundred years ago. And I wrote a song called "Heart Of Darkness" which was loosely based on a part of this particular book, which is called "Moonfleet" written by J. Mead Falkner. The character in this book is a young boy in his, I suppose early teens, and his name is John Trenchard. He was 15 in fact, when the story began. I am just holding it in my hands now, it immediately takes me back to the incredible mystery and imagination of reading this book and where it took me as a boy when I read it. In fact I've read it several times since. And I can't wait to start it again to be honest. I think maybe I'll read this one before Catch 22. It takes place in the year 1757, I just noticed. The adventures that he had affected me enormously, when I was growing up reading this book, as of course many other things did. But he in particular made my imagination go absolutely wild. And I could see everything that happened, as if it was in a film. And that of course is my intention as a song writer and in particular during the last album, The Storyman.
22nd March 2008 - Kathrin (28) from Murr, Germany:
Hi Chris. At first I have to say thank you for your great music which touches my heart every time I listen to it. And now my question. As a florist, I have the opportunity to make flower bouquets for some artists, who are performing in Stuttgart. If I should make some for you, which flowers do you prefer?
I would be delighted to receive a bouquet of flowers next time I am performing in the Stuttgart area. I suppose one of my favourite flowers is a very predictable one. It's a rose. But many times I have been handed roses to the stage and I have clutched the stem too hard and of course the little spikes and thorns go into my hands and it hurts. But the smell of them is outstanding. And particularly old roses! I am very lucky in my home here in Ireland we managed during the rebuilding project which went on for nearly seven years to preserve a lot of the old roses around the original house. And they are growing up the house. And in summertime they smell absolutely wonderful, and in autumn. Some years ago I was given in a little plastic container a single rose to plant, and the rose was called Rosanna. So we planted it and it's now huge, climbing up a wall and it produces many many fine roses every year and they smell absolutely wonderful.
23rd March 2008 - Christina Martin (27) from London, UK:
Hi Chris. I know that you are quite a spiritual, religious person. Accordingly I was wondering what one question you would like to ask God?
Well, Christina, this is a very interesting question. And I am sure I could think of dozens and dozens of questions, all beginning with the word why. But the question I think, if I had the chance to ask God, assuming incidentally that this is one God, a God of the world, that I personally refer to in a song of mine called "Up Here In Heaven", which refers to old soldiers who have been killed and their spirits have gone up to heaven and they discover that in fact they have all been mislead; that the God that they have been killing and dying for doesn't exist and in fact there is only one God. This is something that clearly came from my imagination, because this doesn't actually happen of course. But sadly, the route of an enormous amount of pain and terror and death down the centuries has been put firmly at the door of religious differences. So I would ask God: "How come there are so many Gods in the world that many people follow, many people believe in and would die for? How come you are allowing this to happen? Because you surely would be the one being that would be able to intervene and stop the bloodshed and bring peace to the world by trying to help everybody to understand and have respect for any person's beliefs, but it doesn't have to go so far as murder and bloodshed and terror and war." And I would be very interested in his response as to why he hasn't come down and said to everybody: "Listen, believe what you want, but don't kill somebody for that belief!"
24th March 2008 - Brian Morton (41) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:
I saw a reference online to the fact that you and the late lamented singer/songwriter Nick Drake were at Marlborough College together... Do you have any memories that you can share about him? Also Drake was quite famous for playing in alternative guitar tunings.. My own favorite is DADGAD, have you ever thought about writing a song in a different guitar tuning?
Hi Brian! That's a name I know well. Also an area that I know very well, performing in the Hamilton area for many years as part of my Canadian tours. And I am sure a lot of people are unaware of the fact that the Hamilton Ontario district is known for some terrific wines, and in particular dessert wines. The name of Inniskillen comes to mind. Referring to Nick Drake, yes I remember him in Malborough College walking around, probably playing sports with him. I think he may be a year in advance of me, can't actually remember too clearly. But he was known as kind of an interesting sort of a guy who played guitar and he probably played guitar in bands at the same time as everybody else including myself who wanted to put little bands together. But to be honest I didn't know him well, and although I knew his music subsequently very well and he was in some ways an inspiration to me to go into the music industry, because I realized it could be done the way that he did it. I really didn't know too much about what happened subsequently to him in later years, and his sad suicide as well, which of course I learned about afterwards. Alternative guitar tunings is not something I do a lot, I have done in the past. But Brian, I am going to try this DADGAD tuning, it sounds interesting, because the key of D is one that suits my voice very well. So I'll give it a try.
25th March 2008 - Sophia Trummer and Chris Eggert (41&31) from Aschaffenburg & Rostock, Germany:
Dear Chris: First of all, thanks for a most wonderful Rostock show on July 25, 2007 including the very special moments. Here are the two questions we came up during the time we had together. As far as we can recall, you have never recorded a song in 3/4 time; That does not necessarily mean a valse, but any other work that this measure fits? And then, who played the excellent drums arrangement on the studio version of "Living in the world"? Thanks for all the questions you have answered over the years, Sophia and Chris.
Hi! Two familiar names again! Thank you for your response to my Rostock show. I remember it well and it was a wonderful evening. A song in 3/4 time? They are quite rare. I am not sure, if I have recorded one or written one in 3/4 time, but I think I have. Without taking the time to go through the 200+ songs that I have written and recorded, I can't come up with a quick response to this question. Maybe somebody else out there will be able to go through the whole lot and find out if I have done a song in 3/4 time. I'd be interested to know! But it's not exactly a rhythm that you would use in our style of music, which is not to say that I am not going to try it. Or perhaps I have tried it in the past. But it is, as you say, more associated with valse, that sort of area. And the drum player on Living In The World from the album Quiet Revolution would have been Tony Kiley, who is still my drummer and he is a very fine drummer and a very nice fellow.
26th March 2008 - Steve Bennett from Winsford, UK:
Hi Chris, as an ex rhythm and lead guitar player myself, I must admit that you have been very lucky to have worked alongside some great guitar players including Tim Wynveen and Danny McBride. In my opinion, the one person I think has shaped your 'sound' the most has been the very-talented, Phil Palmer. I know that Phil has been a session musician on your albums since the early 1980's, but I am not aware that he has ever toured live with you, if so, is there a reason why not and would it be a possibility in the future? Also I know that Phil can play jazz as well as rock and has worked with numerous artists, including Wishbone Ash, Joan Armatrading, Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Dire Straits, Tina Turner, Bryan Adams, Pet Shop Boys and George Michael, but is there any addition information you could add on a more personal note about this incredible musician? Thanks for all the great music down the years Chris and congratulations on 'The Storyman' a really great album and hopefully one of many more along 'The Storyman' theme.
Hi Steve! How are you doing? You are, I am quite certain to say, the same Steve Bennett who has been putting together such fantastic films for our live concerts and I know that you have been a long term supporter. Thanks for that, and thanks for all your help and assistance. Also I am sure we'll be collaborating again in the future. Tin Wynveen, Danny McBride, both great players and I think in particular Danny McBride was an outstanding player. Tin Wynveen, for those who may be interested, has gone on to become a novelist and one of his books is called "Angel Falls", which is excellent. I strongly recommend you read it. I met Phil Palmer for the first time in 1982, during the sessions for The Getaway. We got on immediately, and I think he is for me one of the greatest guitar players, not only from the United Kingdom, but just about anywhere. As you say he can play just about any style brilliantly. The funny thing about Phil is that he is a very modest humble guy. He doesn't have the attitude that you sometimes find amongst lead guitar players. He is a modest and background kind of a fellow. And I never forget seeing him on television one time. On his left was Eric Clapton, on his right was Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, right in the centre was Phil. They were playing something for a major TV show or an outdoor show, and Phil has actually been the backup second guitar player to both those great guitarists. And he is just a very nice man with a lovely family. He often comes and plays stuff on my albums. I think he has worked on every album since 1982. If you listen to his guitar solo for example on "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)", or "The Simple Truth" or "The Leader", "The Vision", "What About Me?", I mean he is absolutely outstanding. It makes my hair go up in the back of my neck and it gets me really thrilled every time I hear the way he plays. He is not just a wonderful electric guitar player, he is also a very very fine acoustic guitar player. And a lot of the acoustic guitar playing that you hear on my albums in the last 20 years have been Phil Palmer. Thanks also for the Storyman references. Again Phil would have played on The Storyman, and I am sure he will be playing on my next records as well. And if you are reading this, Phil, you are a great fellow! Let's have dinner again soon!
27th March 2008 - Chris Eggert (31) from Rostock, Germany:
Dear Chris: Just today somebody mentioned various options of cracking an egg open at the breakfast. My most favourite way is to pass behind somebody and crack it open on their head. You are up for a laugh if the inside of the egg is nice and runny. It is known you are a champ of practical jokes. Which would you choose for the best you have ever played on somebody? Or which really good one has ever been played on you by whom? Thanks for the laugh, Chris :-)
Hi Chris! The thing about practical jokes is they have to be unexpected and you have to have other people watching, so you can have a real good laugh, particularly ones that go on and on for a year. For example one year when we were on tour, Jeff Philips at the beginning of a tour took off a hat that he was wearing, a cowboy style hat and threw it in a bin, outside an airport in Québec City in Canada. I saw him do this and I took it out of the bin. And a year later, at the end of the tour, I put it on his drum kit as we started the final show, and his face was unbelievable. The best egg trick I did was this thing about if you hold it between your palms and push really hard, it won't break. So I pretended I did that and somebody said "Oh, I can do that." They tried very hard. So I said "Put it between your knees and see what happens." So this person put it between his knees, the egg burst and the egg went straight up in the air and landed right all over this person, all over his hair, his legs, everything. It was a very good one. And we all had a good laugh.
1st December 2008 - Anastasia Timusheva (25) from Russia:
Dear Chris! I'm certain that you've thought about it already. But... Wouldn't it be nice to record a cover-versions album? Just you and your favourite songs, the songs you know deep in your heart. And another question is from my friend - have you ever thought of being the voice of any audio books? We think that your voice would fit perfectly. And thank you so much for your music. I know you've heard it so many times but... thank you!
By now, Anastasia, you will know that I have already recorded a new album of covers, called "Footsteps". And this is an album that I only thought about making earlier in the year. And at this point I should reassure everybody out there, who thinks maybe the only reason I am doing cover songs is because I can't write my own songs anymore: This is absolutely not true. It's just that I felt I wanted to have the chance to look back at my career so far and look at the inspirations and the creative influences that have helped me along my way. As far as your question about audio books is concerned - no I haven't been approached. But of course this is something I'd be most interested in doing. And finally just let me say it's great to be back doing Man On (the) Line. It's been a very busy year with lots of travelling and an exciting time ahead. And I very much hope that the project "Footsteps" is going to be widely accepted and understood and enjoyed. Because as far as I am concerned, I absolutely love it. But that's probably because they are my favourites songs, whittled down, I may say, from about three or four hundred down to just a handful.
2nd December 2008 - Jacqueline Ebner (50) from Erskine, Scotland:
Hello Chris, In February this year I celebrated my 50th birthday. My philosophy is that age is just a number, it is how you feel inside that is the true test of age. I am very fortunate to enjoy good health and I certainly look after myself to make sure this continues. However, when people ask me how it feels to be 50, I reply with a twinkle "like an experienced 25 year old" : ) Do you have any plans for your 'big' birthday this year? Love, as always, Jacqueline xxx
Hi Jacqueline! Nice to hear from you again. I scarcely believe that you are 50 incidentally. You look a lot younger than that. Because I know that you are one of the many fans who have joined us this summer for concerts in Switzerland and in Germany. As far as age is concerned, when I was 30 I used to think that people of age 60 were very very old and getting ready to retire, learn how to do the gardening, play a bit of golf, take the dog for long walks and spend the afternoons sleeping or reading books. Well that idea about people of age 60 and over, I think, has changed completely in those intervening 30 years. Because now we can see that people who are 60, 70 or indeed 80 have a lot more to contribute to life and to society. And as for me, I have always felt that the face in the mirror may change, but the spirit inside is still exactly the person I was when I was 18, 19, 20. A bit more experienced perhaps, and a bit more wisdom hopefully. But I still have the same absolute love of life and enjoyment. And I love to have fun and make jokes and spend time with my friends and my family. And of course that will never change. So as far as my "big birthday", which happened on the 15th of October, I in fact spent a week in early September. There were ten of us, a long term dream of mine to rent a rock 'n' roll tour bus and we did have such a bus. It was a double-decker with bunks upstairs and a large bedroom at the back and video lounge and DVD player, kitchenette, toilets, all that sort of thing. And I took these friends, who were all from Ireland, apart from Chris Andrews, my personal assistant from the UK, I took them to a place that they probably would not have chosen as a holiday destination, but which I know very very well down the last 25 to 30 years, and also a place I really love: of course Germany. And we went to Cologne, stayed at one of the best hotels in Europe, possibly in the world: the Hyatt, with a beautiful view across the river Rhine to the cathedral. We moved on to Mainz and I did a concert in the Kloster Eberbach, which was absolutely stunning, in a 12th century monastery and those who were there, seven or eight hundred people, will remember that solo performance in such a beautiful place, with candles all the way down the walls. And one of the reasons for this particular birthday trip was to do a bit of wine tasting. Well we did plenty of that, all over the place, and great restaurants, trips on the river, Heidelberg for example, into the Pfalz, where in a place called Deidesheim we had one of the best meals any of us has ever had. Then we finished in Bebenhausen near Stuttgart. It was an eye opener for my friends who have walked away from Germany thinking this is an absolutely stunning place to visit, which it is! That is how I celebrated really my birthday as far as a major celebration is concerned. But on the night of my birthday I just went out for a quiet meal with my family, which was absolutely lovely.
3rd December 2008 - Oliver Sievers (36) from Bad Soden-Salmünster, Germany:
Hi! I have an additional question to your answer of 28-Feb-2008 [editor's note: 3 things you cannot live without are a piano, reading glasses and a good strong pair of walking shoes]: can you explain why you prefer the piano, not the guitar? Regards, Oliver
Thanks for the secondary question, Oliver. The preference for a piano is that I find a piano is a very emotional, very lyrical, very beautiful, romantic instrument. But you can also play good rock 'n' roll stuff on it as well, whereas it is difficult to do both things with a guitar. I think a nice piano on a desert island as the twilight comes in on a beautiful island sunset, it would be a fantastic thing to have. Just to be able to play a few chords and a few notes. And then if I am feeling a bit like dancing for example, I would pound out some other stuff on the piano.
4th December 2008 - Louise Lupton (43) from Sydney, Australia:
My question is in relation to your 'trilogy' songs. I'm interested to know which is your favourite. Do you deliberately set out to write a three-part song or does it evolve into an epic? The Mirror of the Soul is my favourite and the first time I heard it I was absolutely blown away and had goose bumps all over. I've heard it so many times now but am still amazed at the story and the way you sing it. (In fact the whole Storyman Album is absolutely brilliant!) Have there ever been any videos made of your trilogy songs? PLEEEEASE put out a video collection for the fans that never get to see you!!! Thanks, Chris for taking the time to answer my question(s). Can't wait for the next album (The Storyman Part 2, hopefully)
I have written a few trilogy songs. The first song would have been "Crusader". And once the story begins to develop, I like to make it grow, make it more than just a three minute tune. I became even early on fairly bored with the three minute tune thing. And secondly it makes great sense, if you are doing concerts. Rather than doing 30 three-minute-songs, if you can put in a couple of what we call epics or trilogies in there, it adds a bigger definition. And it helps me, I suppose, to stick to this idea that I had right from the start, that my records are more like books to be enjoyed in future years, not just kind of like throw-away-records that are like yesterday's newspapers. Another one that I really enjoyed was The Revolution / Light A Fire / Liberty trilogy, that was on The Getaway album. That was again, the story began about the people waiting for the revolution to begin, and then what happened, and then during the battle, and then what happened subsequently. So it made very good sense again. When I reflect on when I was at school, my English teacher used to say: "A good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end." And I haven't forgotten that, even in the shorter songs. I think my favourite one would probably be "The Leader". And those who have seen that in the concert will remember Steve Bennett's astounding video that went with it, which is very moving and absolutely right. The first time I saw it I was stunned and I had tears in my eyes watching it, because Steve got the idea absolutely right and dead on. And also the way that began was me looking at a picture in a small hotel or restaurant somewhere in Brittany. Looking at a picture a local artist had painted of a group of warriors from Stone Age times, standing on a beach, staring out to sea, waiting for something to happen. I immediately had this idea of a leader arriving. I put in references from the book of revelations and the idea behind it was: In a nuclear war there are no winners. Everybody loses. And that's why we must choose our leaders very, very carefully. Finally "The Mirror Of The Soul", I would say again is a very strong contender for a favourite trilogy of mine. This one grew out of an immense dissatisfaction with the way that people will pay lip service to whatever religion they believe in, without asking questions. Now I have always contended that any man's belief is his own to have and he must be proud of it. And if that's what he wants to believe in, nobody should interfere with him for his right to believe. That is the important thing. Everybody should have the right to believe whatever it happens to be. So I felt uncomfortable about certain aspects of organized religion, where I began to ask myself where did these things begin? I mean, it wasn't a bunch of people on a spacecraft from planet Mars, these were human beings like you and I who started a religion for whatever reason. They started it possibly for personal reasons, for deeply spiritual reasons, for reasons to subjugate women for example - there is a lot of historical evidence of this -, to advance their own self-importance, to make money for themselves. But I think primarily the reason that religions began was for the deeply spiritual and believing reasons. I may be sounding a little cynical here about the other reasons, but a good study of the historical aspects of the world's major religions will show, I think, that a number of these particular points could have been in evidence, certainly during the last 300 years. But I would say the initial birth of religion was done for absolutely the right reasons. However in my song "The Mirror Of The Soul" I set it, as you know, in a monastery in the 15th century. And the monks are looking for a reason to raise more funds, much needed funds maybe to put another roof back on the monastery or whatever, and this extraordinary stone comes flying out of the sky. I won't go through the story now, it's all there in "The Storyman". But the idea behind it was that the last part of the trilogy is the important one, where only love can light the mirror of the soul. Because love is the strongest bonding power that humanity can have. And I think that's really important to have that as a powerful part of all religions that love and tolerance and belief in a man's right to believe. It's terribly important to respect all those things.
5th December 2008 - Sheghi (19) from Iran:
Dear Chris, I'm a 7 year fan of yours and here is something I really wanna know. Tell me, when in Iran how did you see our ethnic dishes? Did you ever try them or no you just ate different kinds of Kebab? And also how did you see our people's behaviour towards yourself? And after all did you enjoy your trip to Iran? Thanks a million. Sheghi
I had the opportunity to visit Tehran at the end of May 2008, following a highly successful concert in Istanbul, which I absolutely loved with the band. But I went on to Tehran just with two technicians and two people representing my management, mainly to see for ourselves what was happening there. Because I suspect that if I had immediately gone just to do a concert there I would have been accused of being naïve, which I can assure anybody reading this, I am not. Neither are the people around me, naïve about Iran and the history and the current history. We spent a lot of time researching this, indeed years working on the possibility of going to perform there. As far as your questions are concerned, Sheghi, the first one is the food. I had the opportunity to eat lots and lots of different dishes and I think our hosts probably felt that we would be more comfortable with the kebab style, you know with the chicken and beef and lamb. And we had lots of salads. But I had an opportunity to try various things, of course don't ask me what they were called! But there were extraordinary flavours and it was very, very tasty indeed. I enjoyed the food very much. I look forward to returning and enjoying more of it. We did try as much as we possibly could. The people's behaviour towards me was outstanding. It struck me that not a lot of people would actually recognize my face, but when they heard the name, if I was in a restaurant and they heard that Chris de Burgh was in the restaurant, the whole place would just stop. And everybody comes over to shake my hands, smiling and endless photographs and autographs. It was lovely. The people could not have been nicer and more hospitable. And they were genuinely happy that I was there. And indeed we were looking at a number of different venues to play concerts in Tehran, and we asked the manager of a football stadium "How many tickets do you think we could sell for a Chris de Burgh concert in Tehran?" And he looked at us and said "I think we could easily sell a million tickets, such is the popularity of that artist." Which is a pretty extraordinary thing. And I can't wait to go back to be perfectly honest. And in answer to your final question, did I enjoy the trip? Very much indeed. It couldn't have been more amazing than it was and it's definitely a place that I intend to visit again as soon as possible to perform.
6th December 2008 - Joy Newbery (40) from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, UK:
Hi Chris, been a big fan for years but strangely I've never heard you sing Forevermore live, why is this? My husband and I had it sung by a choir in church when we renewed our wedding vows on our 25th anniversary.
I am delighted to hear that you've renewed your wedding vows on your 25th anniversary. I wonder, can you actually be 40? It looks like you married very young! But congratulations on doing that. I don't know why I haven't sung Forevermore. I know I did sing it a few times, possibly in solo performances. But I'll make an attempt to go back and have a look at that song again. And maybe remind myself of the words and include it in the next series of shows that I do.
7th December 2008 - Ann Ball (48) from Redditch, Worcestershire, UK:
Hi Chris - we were at the Pigalle Club - what a fantastic evening! The acoustics were really good there and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance. When will you know if and when the film will actually be produced? The story line sounded really good.
Yes, the evening at the Pigalle club was wonderful. I really enjoyed that intimate setting. The band felt that they played better that night than they had for a long time. And the point of it was to discuss the new film "Through These Eyes". To answer your question, the hardest thing about film-making is raising the funds, unless it is an absolute block buster with Brad Pitt and all those kind of people. So we are looking for a modest amount. And we've been very pleased with the result of the Pigalle club evening, the commitment of a number of people. But of course the moment they start advancing their funds and their money, we get hit by a major recession, so we are not quite sure what's going to happen, but we are confident. It will eventually get made.
8th December 2008 - Annette Raison from Perth, Australia:
Hi there Chris, Thanks for being part of my musical journey for such a long time and being the only artist that both my husband and I agree on! I have always admired the amazing relationship you seem to have with your fans. Obviously you have not always been famous so I was wondering if you can remember back to what it was like to be a huge fan? Have you ever asked someone for an autograph? Is there someone now you would still ask for an autograph or that you think you would get nervous just being around? When is enough enough for the amount that you give to your fans? Keep up the wonderful storytelling. I have learned so much from you!
Hi Annette! I have always thoroughly enjoyed my visits to Perth and so many people around Australia think that Perth is the back of beyond. This may be true geographically, but I just thought it was the best place that I came across in that vast country. I loved the outdoor life, and I had so much fun down in Observation City and over in Freemantle. And I very much enjoyed the people there and the lifestyle. And memorable concerts that I did in Perth, and it's a place I would really like to return to. I envy you living there. Your question is about being a huge fan of somebody. Well I am sure when I was younger there were people in my industry that I remember meeting. For example George Harrison from the Beatles. And spending an evening listening to his stories, just him, myself and a well-known English discjockey called Alan Freeman. And George Harrison was telling stories about the Beatles. I don't think I had a chance to ask him for an autograph that day, but I was certainly pretty nervous about meeting him. I am also a big sports fan, and I find particularly football, there are men who are just awesome. As a Liverpool supporter I have had the chance to meet up with people like Michael Owen, who used to play for Liverpool. And Steven Gerrard, the current captain. And many of the players. But I regard Gerrard as one of the finest footballers, not only of this time but of all times. One of the few men who can motivate an entire team just by his actions. And he is an incredible football player. And meeting him, as I have done from time to time, I always feel strange, and I feel a little bit nervous. But it's a very funny thing. When you do meet another famous person, you immediately feel comfortable with them, because they know you are not about to ask them for an autograph and similarly the other way round. But from time to time if I am with one of my children who really want an autograph, then I feel obliged to ask somebody famous. But thank you very much. About the storytelling, I was amused to read that I am the only artist that your husband and you agree about.
9th December 2008 - Ute Schäfer (42) from Frankfurt a. Main, Germany:
Dear Chris, if you would buy a painting, what kind of painting would you prefer? Abstract or not? Which colours do you like? If you like concrete paintings, what kind? I am happy to see your concert on 10.8. in Schwetzingen, it is my birthday. Greetings from Ute
The kinds of paintings that I like are realistic paintings. I have often found that a lot of modern art leaves me absolutely cold. And to be perfectly honest, I have no idea why people pay such outrageous prices for what appears to be a large splotch of paint. Many years ago when I was staying in a hotel, I can't say where it was, but I was staying in a hotel, and up on the wall was a very, very large painting, completely white and lots of lumps on it. And at the bottom there were two red splotches. It was untitled. And I actually wrote with a permanent marker in good handwriting "Les fraises d'hiver", which means "winter strawberries". And I am sure every time anybody looked at it subsequently, they went "oh yeah, I see winter strawberries". For years I have had this dream of having an exhibition in an art gallery of weird modern paintings that tend to be colours and splotches, and general stuff that a monkey could have done. And every week or every day change the titles, so people could look at them and say "I understand what the artist was getting at here. Ah yes, this is sunset in Madagascar." And the next morning you could change the title to "the attack of the tomato ketchup people" or whatever it happens to be. Because I think a lot of modern art is, in my opinion, complete nonsense. Therefore I much prefer realistic art. That said I do love the French impressionists, who are artists who are putting across an impression. In particular Vincent van Gogh. I am sure in his time, when his paintings were around, people looked at them in horror, thinking what is this man doing? But it is a matter of complete amazement to me that even the more realistic of his pictures like the apple blossom tree, why this was not appreciated for what it was! It was a stunning piece of painting. So I hope that answers your question. And I hope you enjoyed the concert in Schwetzingen on your birthday.
10th December 2008 - Monika Kluge (47) from Mellrichstadt, Germany:
Hallo mein Freund, do you think the stories you tell in your songs could be inspired by lives you lived before this time? All the best for you, Monika
Now this is a very interesting question, because there are those out there who are scornful of the idea that human beings have any more than just one mortal life. But the evidence appears to point pretty strongly at there being something else beyond there. Not only are there mediums, professional and even amateur mediums working, who claim to be able to talk to the spirits of the dead, and the spirits of the dead talk to them. But they can often provide detail in astonishing depth about somebody they have never met. I suppose a cynic might look at this and say maybe they are doing a bit of mind reading. But it gets even better than that when you suddenly realize that a medium or a psychic is talking to somebody about something they knew nothing about until they check back and they find out that perhaps their great grandfather was a guy who played the accordion or something. So what I am saying is details do emerge from areas that certainly science is unable to explain. As far as I am concerned, my belief is yes, there is something beyond the grave. And there is plenty of circumstantial evidence about what we call NDEs, which are near death experiences. Many people who have experienced a traumatic event like a car crash or a heart attack have all spoken about floating above their bodies and seeing people working on them. I know recently there was an experiment in the major surgery of a public hospital of placing items towards the ceiling, above the bed where they perform the operations. So these items could not be seen from the ground. You actually had to be floating up in the air or up on a high ladder to see them. I believe that subsequently people who are experiencing NDEs did actually manage to say what they had seen up there. But then again we are back in the area of scientific knowledge, and unfortunately there is always this gulf between science which claims to know everything, and the other people who have beliefs. And I think until there is proof and evidence beyond contradiction about former lives and past lives, then it's always going to be difficult to convince people. I often wonder where the stories that I come up with in my songs come from. But I have no idea where they come from, to be honest, Monika. But I do have a very rich imagination, and perhaps it is from previous lives? I have a great affinity to certain points in history and areas that have affected me in the past much more than other times. And I cannot explain that, perhaps it is through education. I don't know.
11th December 2008 - Jan Barris (73) from Belleair, Florida, USA:
Chris, your music is incredibly beautiful, intellectual and inspirational. And your performances are electrifying. I am certain that many of your compositions will be appreciated for generations to come, like the great works of Shakespeare. But many of us have unanswered questions about particular songs. I keep wondering when you will publish a reference book of stories behind the songs. I know it would be difficult but there are aspects of the music that we need to understand in depth if we are to fully appreciate these great compositions.
How very nice to hear from you. And I note your age, Jan, this is very complimentary, the things that you are saying about me and my music. And I had to read this several times to see how good you feel about my music. Thank you so much for that. I have often wanted to put together a book referring to what I had in my mind behind the songs, when I wrote them. I believe this would be a very good idea. You see, every time since really the early 80s, when I made records, as many people actually do know by now, I wrote down a short movie scenario of what I saw in the song, like in "Don't Pay The Ferryman" for example. And then the band that I was working with in the studio could understand exactly what I had in my mind. And I took this idea and amplified it during my album "The Storyman". And I am very pleased with the way that worked out. And I think a lot of people benefit from having some idea of the movie that I was seeing in my mind behind songs like "Mirror Of The Soul" or "The Grace Of A Dancer" and "Leningrad". And I think this is a very good idea of yours, and something that we should be working on and hopefully bring to some kind of fruition.
12th December 2008 - Chris Raymond (57) from Twickenham, Middx, UK:
Hi Chris, I can't remember if you've been asked this easy question... Do you snore? That's it! Just yes or no will do! Thanks! Love, Chris R xx
The answer is, I have no idea! So Chris you will have to find out for yourself. But I will say that I am sure most people from time to time do snore a little bit. But the difficult one to live with, if you are sleeping with a bad snorer that is called sleep apnoea where literally somebody stops breathing for a few seconds and then suddenly makes a terrible snorting sound, which wakes them up and also their partner in the bed So that doesn't sound like a very pleasant thing.
13th December 2008 - Shatner Mohanty (23) from Cuttack, India:
Is it easier to sing while playing an instrument?
I have never visited India, and those people I know who have been there, talk about it as a magnificent country, rich in history, rich in colour, rich in culture and certainly one of the booming economies of the world at the present time. Singing and playing an instrument I find very simple. I don't know why this is, but it's like looking in front of you when you are walking. If you are walking along a country lane and you look in front, you will immediately note if there is a puddle or if there is a hole in the ground or if there is something you are going to trip over. The thing is when you are playing guitar or piano and singing at the same time, part of your brain is always thinking that little bit ahead, about where do I move my fingers now. Your voice kind of follows behind. It's not difficult to do at all. Perhaps it is not difficult for me, because I have trained myself over the years, but it has never been a problem for me and I have always enjoyed the whole process of singing and performing and playing something at the same time.
14th December 2008 - Ariane Bergman (37) from Cologne, Germany:
I'm being your fan since the very early 80's, sometimes reading the MotL-sites, but the following is my first question at all. I would like to know, why there are no saxophone parts at your songs anymore. I loved them a lot. Thanks for answering and best wishes.
Your question about saxophones is an interesting one, but to be perfectly honest, when I had a band with a saxophone player in, I tended to use the saxophone in the recording studio. It's not something that you hear very often these days. It does mean that if you wish to reproduce the sound, you really have to have a sax player with you on stage. Although that said, I have often heard keyboard players playing saxophone parts, but it just doesn't have the same impact. So when Ian Kojima and the other members of the old band went off to do their own things in Canada or America, it just seemed very difficult to replace particularly Ian who was a multi-talented instrumentalist. And he also sang. He could play keyboards, guitar and saxophone! It would have meant getting another member of the band just to play saxophone. So we took a view on this and decided that maybe it wasn't such a great idea after all. But I do like the sound of a well-played sax, I must admit.
15th December 2008 - Mary Kate (40) from Everett, Washington, USA:
Chris, my husband and I were moving today and wanted some good music to pack boxes to. I told my hubby to pick anything and he pulled out Man on the Line to listen to. While I haven't listened to it in years, EVERY word of every song came back to me. Some? Making me mist up. I apologize for forgetting how talented, how emotionally gripping and artful your songs are. Listening to the music as I go through my head of my favorite songs by you, most of them deal with water - the Island, Ship to Shore, etc. I was wondering... what is your connection to the water? I suspect it is why I love your music so... I hear the water in almost every song. Anyhow, I wanted to thank you again for your amazing music. My husband inadvertently reminded me of the beauty of your music, now I must go and get your newer albums! I have some glorious catching up to do. Peace to you - your music changes lives and hearts.
This is a lovely question! Just reading it made me smile, because I can just imagine the difficulty of packing up to move house. Because having done it about 5 or 6 years ago to move to where I currently live in Enniskerry, it's a huge amount of work. And to have a piece of music blasting out as you pack stuff up must have been great fun for you, particularly if it takes you back in your memories. I have always loved being close to the sea and whenever I am far from the ocean it gets to me. It makes me feel strangely uncomfortable. Even large bodies of water like lakes, although they are beautiful to look at, they don't give me the same feeling as when I am beside the sea. I have not only loved to be beside the sea on a beautiful sunny day with soft sand like talcum powder between your toes and the lapping of the waves. It is also thrilling to be at the sea shore when it's a wild windy day and the waves are crashing down and you can barely stand up right because it is so windy. And you can see the seagulls motionless in the air as they ride the wind, not going forwards but certainly not going backwards either. I mean seagulls, their sense of balance must be incredible to be able to do such a thing in the teeth of a roaring gale. The sea has featured a lot in my songs, but not on purpose, I have to say that. When you think about that more than two thirds of the planet is covered by water and we are physically made up of a huge amount of water that is affected by the moon, and the tides - I feel that we are people of the sea. Also the fact that the main way of getting around until air travel from continent to continent was by the sea. So it's kind of in us all, as a friend of mine recently said as a joke: "I have the sea in my blood and I think I know where it gets in."
16th December 2008 - Cathy Lavers (43) from Halifax, NS, Canada:
Can you please explain the inspiration behind This Waiting Heart?
A few days ago I answered a question from a lady from Perth, Western Australia. One of the places I mentioned in that particular answer was an area called Observation City, which is a 24 or 26 story hotel built by a major Australian entrepreneur called Alan Bond, during the Australia-America-Sailing Cup. I hope I got that right. But there was a suite in it called "Australia II", and even now I can see the colours in that room, which are aquamarine. And you have this incredible view down the beach from the 24th floor in this beautiful open planned suite with a big white piano and views across to Fremantle, where a lot of the action was taking place in this, I think it's called the America's Cup competition. And one day I was sitting at the piano and I just got the idea of the song "This Waiting Heart". I had this image of tribesmen or sailors rowing a wooden boat up a river, and they were singing this song, right at the beginning of it. And that's why the first lines are "Out on the water I can hear them call", it's almost like a tribal feel to it. It's sort of Amazon or somewhere like that. I have no idea where the idea came from and why I particularly chose that, but this is what the melody was suggesting to me. And I remember playing it to Jeff Philips, my band member and drummer, and he picked up what I was talking about. Hopefully that's what was conveyed in the song.
17th December 2008 - Tage Andersson (31) from Atlanta, GA, USA:
Chris - First let me say I've been a fan ever since I heard your records playing at a good friend's house back in 1993. The song was "Transmission Ends" and I was completely glued to the stereo speakers. I wanted to play that song over and over to catch every word. The thought came to my mind back then, "Is there an Afterlife? Or it this all we get? One time around." It is now 2008 (15 years later) and I've finally gotten the courage up to ask you. What do you think about an Afterlife?
Here is another wonderful question from the United States of America. And may I also take this opportunity to congratulate America and the American voting public on having recently elected Barack Obama, because I do believe that this man and his administration will make a great change to the way that America deals with the world and is perceived by the world. A man who clearly is more interested in negotiation rather than confrontation. "Transmission Ends" was a song that I wrote as what we call a stream of consciousness, very much in the style of James Joyce, where one idea leads to another, not necessarily with a logical connection. But as the man is sitting on this sea shore up on a cliff, I can just see the wavy sea grass moving, and it's a lovely summer's day, and he is sitting there with his girlfriend and he is just musing about life. And this develops into maybe later that evening as he sees a shooting star go flashing in the night, he starts to wonder "I wonder if there are other intelligences who have just seen the same thing that I have just seen." And then he has this appalling vision of seeing the planet from a distance, way out, and imagining he is on a space craft, on a Jupiter mission for example, and because of the time difference to send radio signals, it's taking sort of 8 to 10 minutes to get the signal. And as he and his crew have left the planet Earth say a year or two before, there has been terrible difficulties between nations and a nuclear war is being threatened. And in fact, what he sees, the speed of light, he sees a bright flash in the distance. And 7 or 8 minutes later he gets the transmission "This is station planet Earth, we're closing down. Transmission ends." And every time I see this particular film in my mind it gets me very emotional and I can see it so strongly and powerfully, which is why at the end of the song he refers back to himself. He comes back from this vision of seeing this happening from outer space, back to the girl that matters terribly to him. "I am always going to love you, until the final day, until the final hour, transmission ends." Then we get this beeping sound which we have heard from heart monitors in hospitals. And as people have noticed, when it goes flat line, when it turns off, it stays that way with kind of space sounds behind it, and then it revives again. And this is the way I always like to write songs, with some kind of hope for the future. Not just leaving people with a bleak landscape to observe. A few days ago I did answer a question about my beliefs about the afterlife and I pointed out then that there is no absolute concrete evidence, but a lot of circumstantial evidence that there is something existing beyond our credibility and our understanding. And I am quite certain that there is another dimension. The fact that it hasn't been proved by a scientist means absolutely nothing to me. Because if I told a scientist 100 years ago that people would be able to walk on the moon or they would be able to talk to each other while they are walking around on each side of the planet, he would have told me I was mad. Therefore you can't count anything out in this particular respect and in this particular discussion.
18th December 2008 - Daniela Gloatz (46) from Berlin, Germany:
Dear Chris, still very impressed by my experiences from the concert in St. Petersburg there is one thing that moves me: I have seen a lot of your concerts back in the 80ies and during the last years here in Germany. But on this one I became aware for the first time of the fact how much the success and the atmosphere of a concert depends on the audience! I wondered how does it feel for you? You stand in front of the people, you give your utmost and every energy you have on the stage to get us "High on emotion" and the audience is sitting there listening to the music, some are clapping their hands, some are not. Is there a difference from town to town, from country to country? Do you feel during the concert the change of emotions from the audience? Or do you feel "well I have to do this or that more to get them"? And I came aware of the fact that you are the only person in the world who would not be able to sit in the audience and watch a Chris de Burgh concert yourself.. Have you ever realized that? Do you wish to do so? All the best to you and keep on going to make us so lucky by your music and your concerts!!! Daniela
This is a lovely question about St. Petersburg - which if the readers of this MOtL have not been to, I strongly suggest a visit. Not only is it a very, very beautiful city and I have been there in all sorts of weathers (very cold and lovely and warm), but it's worth seeing for the architecture and of course for the Hermitage museum. I can tell within about 3 seconds of the houselights going down at the beginning of a concert exactly what is going to happen during the evening. Some places you can feel the audience very excited in the minutes leading up to the beginning of a show. And if we are playing a piece of music like the Storyman theme or When Winter Comes, and they hear that and they start cheering, the anticipation is great. And you know that it's going to be a very smooth concert where I as a performer and a band leader I don't have to push too hard to get things to happen the way I want. But sometimes when the houselights go down and you just hear only a little applause, I realize that this has to be treated in a slightly different way. The worst kind of concerts that I certainly have been to where somebody rushes out on stage right from the start and says "Everybody clap your hands!" and of course, if people don't, then you have lost them. And that is not a good thing to try and do. You must always feel the way your audience wants to be and of course never ever be nervous, which I am not thankfully, but some performers are. The closest description to performance is seduction. And you are gently seducing your audience to come with you and make sure that by the end of the night you have achieved everything you want to and everybody goes home happy and thrilled and wakes up the next day feeling elevated and excited and indeed high on emotion. There are differences from town to town, but more so from country to country. But I think it all depends on the profile that you have enjoyed in that country. If you are a major star in a country you are going to get a lot of excitement. If for example, as I very much hope, I get a chance to perform in Iran, I am quite sure the excitement there is going to be enormous. Some of the countries, there is no point naming them here, but some of the countries can be a bit stiff and even cold in their response, but incredibly even after a performance where you think "well, they didn't like that very much", people come and say "this is the best concert we have seen this year". It's just that people have a different way of showing their excitement and their respect and their appreciation.
19th December 2008 - Ursula (31) from Switzerland:
Dear Chris, One enchanting thing about your music is the stories which are told. I think therefore you kept the precious gift that every child has but most of adults are loosing during lifetime: Imagination. One of my favourite saying says 'imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited'. But the thing I admire most about you is your capability to put situations, feelings and sociocritical matters into straight words - even into lyrics! To come to my question: When I watch you at concerts or read about you in the news or in the list, then you have this image of being perfect, to have no fault. Always amiable, patient and liberal. But nobody is perfect. So please allow me to ask a bit provocative: What would you say is your weakness of character? I wish you all the best, Ursula
Thank you very much for your most interesting question and of course this comment that imagination is more important than knowledge. Well certainly imagination can take you into realms that knowledge can't even dream about going into. Because imagination is the ability to fly anywhere with your mental capabilities: do anything, be anybody. It is the one thing that possibly separates human beings from just about every other mammal, it's this ability to imagine and then create something behind the imagination, which is why the human race is so extraordinary in its creativity and the good things that they have created. I think the bad things are the weapons that we have made, the things that we have created so we can kill as many other fellow human beings as possible. I find that madness. But it's funny you should ask about perfection, because of course nobody is perfect. I am probably not the person to ask about whether I have weaknesses and things that are not perfect about me. I am a pretty relaxed person. But there are things that get me irritated like everybody. An example of this is that I live in the greater Dublin area in a village that is about half an hour from the city centre, but my broadband capabilities for my internet access are absolutely dreadful. I have done everything I possibly can to change this. Ireland claims to be a country that is at the forefront of technological innovation and education, but sometimes it drives me crazy and I get really irritated and annoyed when a particular service that has been promised doesn't come through. Similarly, if I am in a restaurant and I get bad service, I don't like that at all and too many people are scared of saying something, but I don't. If I need to complain, I always complain by praising some part of the meal and then saying that the other part was dreadful. Maybe you should ask other people around me. I wouldn't like to think I am an irritable person all the time, but there are things that really get me at it. As far as my moods are concerned, I am in a business that is built on disappointment. Things always go wrong. So I have gotten used to that. I am not a pessimist. Neither am I an optimist. I am a realist, which is just sort of somewhere in the middle. I would like to say that one of my strengths is summed up in this word "empathy". Empathy is the ability to see and feel what it's like to be in somebody else's shoes or situation. I think that can give you a terrific understanding of people around you and maybe those who you have never met. Because with a strong imagination I can imagine what it would be like to be somebody in that particular set of circumstances. As for weaknesses I don't possibly act on this enough to give some people the sympathy that they deserve. Another one would be the fact that I am not particularly good at looking back at my career and what I have achieved, which is why I went and made a record called "Footsteps" which covers my career to date, the songs that I loved to sing.
20th December 2008 - Chris Williams (56) from Basildon, Essex, UK:
Hi Chris, just a very quick and simple question here.................how do you feel about people putting 'your concert' video bits on YouTube? I'd be very interested in your answer!! Thanks for a great summer 2008 tour......even if it was wet and cold at most of them!! Love and hugs, Chris(W)thebluehealer xxXxx
Firstly I'd like to say here, Chris, thank you so much again for organizing that amazing book which I am looking at right now, saying "Happy 60th birthday wishes Chris" in gold on the front. And I am wondering when I see the gold letters whether it has anything to do with that song "Saint Peter's Gate", that was lying on the bed of the character in the song. Thank you for your question. I am sure I will be seeing a lot of you and the other super fans next year during our concerts. You know this thing about putting videos on YouTube, I suspect it is a difficult question for me to answer, because part of me is saying I don't approve of it. But on the other hand I think it's a very good thing for people to see possibly what an event that they were actually attending and enjoyed or other people who weren't there have a chance to see and perhaps come and see for themselves. The internet has changed drastically and dramatically the music business, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. For the bad I would suggest that internet piracy is still a huge issue and is causing a lot of people a lot of headaches. Not just the record companies, but spare a thought for people like me who can spend months and months taking time out to write songs and spending a lot of my own money making a record only to have it pirated. This is basically stealing the money from me. And that's not such a great thing. But the good thing on the other side is that the internet means that a lot of people can be aware of what is going on in live concerts for example. I know that already a large number of the concerts that are on sale for me next year are selling extremely well, and I would put this down to the internet and its availability of information. So YouTube does help that. And next time I look at YouTube and look at some of my stuff, I will have a smile and remember the event that it was recorded at.
21st December 2008 - Christa Korzenietz (53) from Landshut, Germany:
Hi Chris, first of all many thanks for this wonderful open air-concert in Landshut last Sunday. When you came down the stage during "Lady in Red" you passed me, and first I thought you posed for a photo but later on I was pretty sure that was an invitation to dance, because I have worn a red suit. Well I could kill myself now, was probably the only chance in my life. I'm a bereavement counsellor for the last 15 years after I'd lost my husband through a car accident and since then I often use some of your songs to give comfort to this selfaid-groups. I translate the words into German for them, because these your words have helped me so much I wanted to share this experience with others. Songs like "Carry me like a fire in your heart", "Songbird" und "Same Sun". Especially the last one means a lot to me, to me it is like my lost husband would sing this to me from heaven above. I know that you are an Ambassador for the Untied Nations, to me you are an Ambassador for Heaven or Spirit, sent to us to give so many comfort through these words. And this is my question: I know that you are a religious and spiritual person, do you feel that you get this inspiration from the world of spirit? I'm a very spiritual and religious person too, since the death of my husband I was seeking and searching my way and tasks in life and through this I try to help know adults as well as children, to cope again with life after the loss of a parent or partner and so on. And sometimes words come out of my mouth and I wonder where this all came from? I work as a translator in Stansted Hall (Spiritual Center near London) in the German Week and I'm a Healer within SNU, anyway don't bother you with my story, but really sometimes these words are out of these world, and you yourself are an angel heaven sent to me. You touch so many souls with your songs, thank you so much and I hope to get an answer. Well if it is meant to be I will get an answer. I'm looking forward too. Love and best wishes Christa
I think this question is a stand-alone statement. I think it reads absolutely fantastically well. And I couldn't really have answered this question any better than the way Christa has put it. But I'll attempt to answer some of the parts of this and make a comment about the other parts. Landshut was the last concert on my summer tour and it was absolutely fantastic. I loved every minute of it. What a beautiful setting, beautiful buildings and the people hanging out of the buildings above me to the side, and a large enthusiastic crowd! Yes, I probably did want to dance with you, there may have been a difficulty getting my guitar out of the way or something at that particular moment. But what you are saying about being a bereavement counsellor and how sometimes you feel that you are being inspired and helped by a spirit, another power to talk to people and give them comfort. I know exactly what you mean, because there are times when I wonder where on earth my words come from. And you mention specifically "The Same Sun". I adore listening to the song and I adore singing it, because it takes me somewhere where I never believed I was intending to go. I felt like I was on a journey and I was being transported there by a different kind of imagination that was helping me and inspiring me and pushing me. You ask are you a religious and spiritual person? Well, I would take out the first word there. I am not actually particularly religious, but I respect other people's religions. But I am definitely a spiritual person. I had the opportunity to go and see a lady recently from England who is a psychic healer and a spiritualist medium, called Margaret Hurdman. And I urge everybody reading these words to click on her website, because her gifts are quite extraordinary. And to see things happening in front of your very eyes and here people gasping in astonishment, when they are told things about their background and those who have died before them, trying to contact them, it is really incredible. So part of my brain is still a little sceptical, because human beings always want to find reasons why things happen, but I certainly feel that there are other powers helping us. And certainly in my life I have been incredibly lucky, extraordinarily fortunate to have achieved what I have achieved and to have a wonderful family and lifestyle and friends around me. But keep on doing what you are doing. I am sure that the angels are looking after you.
22nd December 2008 - Ian McDonald (43) from Vancouver, BC, Canada:
Hi Chris, I have a problem. I have come up with a chorus to a song, not much really, just four simple lines, a little melody and a fantastic title. It popped into my head after a visit with my Mom who has been missing my Dad since he died a few years ago and has been waiting to see him again when her time comes. I know you have some great songs on the subject, The Journey, Carry Me, etc, and so does Diamond Rio, God Only Cries For The Living, I Believe to name a few. Like you, I cannot read or write music, I can't even play an instrument or sing, (actually when I sing I sound like bagpipes on helium), but I know a great song when I hear one. So my question is, what do you think I should do with it? Thanks, Ian.
This is a name I am familiar with from the past and I am sure you are still enjoying living in one of the most beautiful parts of North America. My advice to you, Ian, about this particular melody line and song is get somebody who doesn't sound like a set of bagpipes to sing it for you and perhaps record it on a video recorder. And then if you feel that this could be of comfort to other people, watching or listening, then you should post it onto YouTube. And if you do that, maybe you could let the website know and we could all have a look and feel what you felt about your mother missing your Dad who has died. And the feelings and the emotions that come not just to songwriters, but to everybody are worth preserving and worth sharing with other people who need to have their own grief helped by others who are going through the same thing.
23rd December 2008 - Randy Whitten (50) from St. John's Newfoundland, Canada:
Hi Chris. I've been a fan of yours since Spanish Train and have been going to your shows since we were 'both' young during your first show here in April of 1979. I've always said the best Chris De Burgh song that you never wrote or recorded is "A Criminal Mind" by Canadian performer Lawrence Gowan. Have you ever heard it and are you familiar with his music? Hope to see you back here soon. All the best.
Whenever I see that name of your city, I smile with so many memories and reflections about this wonderful part of Canada. It's been so good to me in the past. And I have been to Newfoundland and in particular St. John's many, many times and always enjoyed the rugged landscape, the humour of the people, the great feelings that we inspire during concerts. I think one of the recent times that I was there was a solo show and just a terrific night. I am very fond of that part of the world. You asked me about Lawrence Gowan. If memory serves me correctly, he was involved with the Princess Diana tribute concert that I performed in, it must have been about 8 to 10 years ago. And it was in the grounds of her former home, where her brother, Charles Spencer, lived, called Althorp. I remember, and I am sure it's the same guy who played the piano, that a group of us went into the main house and my wife and I stayed there after the concert for the night as guests of Earl Spencer. This guy, Lawrence Gowan, played the piano and he sang loads of songs including Beatles Songs, and I think he sang "Martha my dear" and played the piano brilliantly. Now the song that you are referring to, I don't know, but I'll have a look at it and I'll see if I can agree with your point of view about it
25th December 2008 - Wendy Louwrier (40) from Leidendorp, The Netherlands:
Dear Chris, my best friend (a woman) has a tough life. She has been diagnosed with cancer twice, but fortunately is healthy again. During her illness, she managed to take care of her two little sons (3 and 6 years old) and her husband as well as she could. I admire her for her strength and the courage to fight back. My own life was not so easy either. My husband left me and my kids, 5 years ago, and that was a hard time, but I listened to your music a lot and that helped me through difficult times. And when I was listening to your music, a lot of things came clear to me, and pieces of a puzzle came together. A lot of your songs helped me to figure out how my future life should be. But now my question: my very best friend, the one I told you about, is not very fond of your music, and I don't understand that at all, because I think it would give her power and strength too, and it will make her happy, like it makes me happy. She doesn't need music in her life. Can you imagine that? And do you have any idea how I can make her enthusiastic about your music? I miss you in Holland, please come back soon! Lots of love and thank you for your wonderful and inspiring music, Wendy
I have spoken about many of the other places in the world that I enjoy visiting and the Netherlands is of course a place that I have been to many times and I have enjoyed performing there and meeting the fans in Holland. Your question is a very interesting one. Firstly may I say how sorry I am that your own difficulties happened 5 years ago, but I am delighted that my music helped you through a tough time. As far as your friend is concerned, well that is completely different, because you can't impose a taste from somebody although you know in your heart that it will help. It's possibly one of two things. Either she just doesn't like the music, which is entirely possible. After all this is one of the great diversities of life that people do not all like the same thing. Or secondly maybe she doesn't want to listen, in case it takes her to a place inside herself she is scared to go into. I don't know her, but it's possible. People who have been deeply hurt and scared are very afraid to return to that place and look into their own hearts, because it can be very difficult and very traumatic. But it sounds like she is a good friend and maybe you can help her to go to that place. If it's not my music that can help, perhaps she likes classical music. I think one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written is the Largo by Handel. That for me is a sublime and almost spiritual piece of music to listen to. But maybe you could let Astrid know at the website, whether you are successful in persuading her to listen to some of the songs that have moved you so much and helped you in the past.
26th December 2008 - Monica Ganguly (34) from Wuppertal, Germany:
Hi Chris, I have got an old article from the beginning of the 80's and it reads that you are a good chess player and try to teach your wife Diane playing it. My Dad could also play chess and sometimes we played. Unfortunately, I couldn't play anymore since his death. Are you still playing chess? Regards, Monica
Thanks very much Monica for your question about chess. Of course chess is an incredibly complicated game. I don't play it particularly well. I haven't played chess for a long time. It was one of those games, I suppose, when I was a student, somebody would have a draughts board or a chess board and spend the evenings by laughing a lot, possibly drinking too much and trying to play chess. But it's not something I was particularly good at. I can't even remember if I tried to teach my wife. Probably not, because her sister was going out with my friend Paulo, who was very good at chess, and maybe she learned through him. But there is a picture on the front of my album "Best Moves" where there are two pictures of me playing chess with myself. And if you are a chess player, if you look at the board, you'll see that a move is about to happen that is going to cause a checkmate.
27th December 2008 - Christina Martin (28) from London, UK:
Chris, I hope you are well. My question is, do you ever serenade your wife? Or do you draw a line between your job of singer songwriter and your home? I suppose I am also asking because I'd love to be serenaded with one of your songs, they are brilliant!
What a lovely question! I am sure if I had the opportunity to serenade you, I would love to do that. But as far as my wife is concerned, I kind of tend to wander around the house sometimes with a guitar on, or if there is a melody that I am working on in another room on the piano, it does drift around. So by the time I have made a record, my family have often heard quite a lot of the melodies that have been created. But I don't necessarily sit down with them and play them my new song, because I am quite sure they would all start laughing or something. Possibly not laughing, but I think the best place to hear them is either from a record when the song is completed or live, because quite often when you are just composing a song, there is an awful lot more that has to be changed and added or even reduced from the original piece of music.
28th December 2008 - Doreen Gardner (51) from Kirkbymoorside, Yorkshire, UK:
Hi Chris, would you take me through a typical day at home? I.e. meals, favourite tv etc.? I have been a fan for 23 years.
Well, Doreen, I can't really tell you there's a typical day of Chris de Burgh. Until recently, until my youngest could drive and got a driver license, I would take him to school every morning, leaving the house shortly after 8 o'clock. Then I would love to take some exercise like a good strong walk or indeed a swim. And then take care of stuff during the day, phone calls, pay bills, send e-mails and those kinds of things. Maybe meet up with some friends at lunch time or indeed maybe just go somewhere local and have a bite to eat. During the afternoon, if I am working on an album I would go to my studio. But I'm not bound to be in my studio. I am not one of these people that I have read about recently, and I think it's so sad that some of these guys spend 9 to 5 in their own composing studios. I could not do that, there is too much going on in my life! I like reading, I like sport on TV for example, if it's golf or football or tennis even, I like to watch that. I watch movies at home on DVD. If I am away on tour, my life is completely upside down and it all depends on what is happening on that day and the amount of travelling. But I do like to lead a busy life.
29th December 2008 - Sophia Trummer (42) from Stockstadt, Germany:
Dear Chris, I had the idea to ask you this question because you say that you use to drink a lot of water during the day - so I guess you know very well the importance of water. I have held this story back for some time - partly because I was afraid of people's reactions and their comments, and partly because I thought I would need it some day. Now this day has come. I would like to tell you a beautiful story about New Zealand and ask you the question subsequently. The story is true. Here it is: When I was on my first visit to New Zealand, and on my last tramp, the Dusky Track which is in one of the remotest places there, in the South West of the South Island (James Cook gave the Sound its name), I was on the fifth day walking up to Centre Pass. Half way up, finding a nice spot for a break with a great view of the valley, I suddenly realised that I had no more water. Only little was left in my bottle. With all the scenery, I simply forgot to fill up my bottle down in the valley at the stream. A nasty situation, knowing that you can survive a long time in the wilderness without any food - but not without water. It's a matter of a few days, and you have to be found rather quickly, if something happens. So I had two options: Either backtracking down to the stream, which would have meant adding another 3 hours to a day's tramp which was already 7 hours, or take the risk and climbing up the Pass, perhaps not finding a stream there. And while I was thinking about that, I heard a small noise. I looked beside me and saw some drops of water falling down from the rock I was leaning on. "Now this is nice, I thought, but not enough to fill my bottle!" Suddenly the drops became more, and finally it was flowing, just slightly, but it was. I instantly put my bottle there, and after about 10 minutes I had my bottle filled with water. I shouldered my backpack, said good-bye to the view, had a big "Thank You" in my mind, and when I turned round to go on, and looked back, the running water suddenly turned into drops again, and ceased. People may have many explanations for this. A small rock must have shifted, perhaps dividing a small stream - and shifting back again, because the water ceased after a few minutes. Or it was an act of God, or an act of Angels, or.... As for me, my common sense at this moment simply told me "Don't think, just take it". Now my question: As so many people seem to search for a proof for the existence of God in life, or hunting for miracles as this one obviously has been - Now is it not only a matter of belief? What do you think? Love, Sophia
A great story from Sophia Trummer with a question at the end about the existence of God and the existence of angels. Well, I have my own personal strong beliefs about this particular issue, but I do think that sometimes when people send out a message in their minds similar to prayer that you need help, I think quite often if you open your eyes and listen with your ears and internally in your brain, you will hear and see the answers. And what happened to you with the water was one of those moments. You may not even have noticed the drops unless you were desperate to have your water bottle filled. But it happened for you, and you walked away thinking that this is some kind of act of miraculous proportions and it probably was. But I think it was because you were sending out the signals that it actually happened, and I think this is what we need to do when we want something particularly to happen and change. The power of prayer and the energy behind that request will work.
30th December 2008 - Rob Lump (39) from Kent, UK:
Hi Chris. Which up and coming singer do you think is the natural heir to your musical legacy?
It's a difficult question to answer, because I am not one of these people who has his ear to the current modern sounds. And I have very little idea who is the up and coming next Chris de Burgh. Possibly it could have been James Blunt, but he has gone very quiet. I am sure there are quite a few people out there who are extremely talented and play guitar and sing, but I think what I'd be looking for if I was looking for an heir to what I have done, I would look for somebody with imagination and the ability to think, as we say, outside of the box. Not just follow the well-worn trodden path the current music business is demanding, but be original, be different, be yourself! Because by being yourself you can achieve an awful lot more. And it's much more satisfying. Even if you fail, at least you know you've done it on your own terms. But I do also believe that it's going to be extremely unlikely that people who are in today's music business will be able to have a long-lasting career as long as I have had, because there are so many different circumstances involved. However if somebody out there is reading this and feels that they have the chance to have a 34 year international career, well, I wish you the very best of luck.
31st December 2008 - Sabine Brettschneider (41) from Marktoberdorf, Germany:
Dear Chris, your music has accompanied me for many, many years. Actually the first concert I've ever been to in my life was on the Getaway Tour in Munich. And although my musical taste has changed dramatically since then, your songs still touch my heart and I always enjoy listening to them. I visit this site from time to time and I am very deeply impressed by your answers. They are so detailed, sometimes profound, sometimes funny and always very warm hearted and honest. I just love reading them. Doesn't it take a lot of time to answer all these questions? I'm sure you are very busy, how do you manage it?
A lovely question! I love to read about the early influences and how you enjoyed my first concert in Munich on The Getaway tour. And you say that your musical taste has changed - I wonder whether you've gone more classical orientated in your musical desires or whether you've gone into sort of hard rock. But nevertheless when music is being part of your musical journey and takes you back to places that you love to remember, then it's very important and has a tremendous effect. It certainly has on me, when I think about the songs that influenced me. It makes me sometimes quite emotional, remembering that I was listening to that song for the first time when I was, say for example, 15 and full of dreams or 20 with a heartache or whenever it happened to have been. Answering these questions is wonderful, because I know that a lot of people enjoy reading these answers and it's a connection that was referred to earlier in a question about connecting with my audience. I really enjoy connecting with my audience, because some artists believe that there should not be a bridge between the stage and the audience and I am the absolute opposite. From the very moment I am on a stage I want people to relax and feel comfortable in my company and this is one of the reasons why I have often been in the audience, or invited people from the audience to come up and sing with me. You know there is no difference between me and anybody else. I just happen to have an ability in one particular area, but everybody has an ability or a talent. And my one happens to be entertaining and song writing. So sharing these gifts is a wonderful thing and part of it is what I am doing right now which is talking directly to people all over the world. To finish the answer, yes it does take a lot of time and energy to answer these questions. It also involves a lot of time for Astrid, so I am extremely grateful to her for her help in getting the MOtL questions and answers onto the website.