Between April 2002 and April 2010, Chris de Burgh answered over 1,000 questions from his fans, submitted via his official website in a section called 'Man On The Line'. This section of the official website went offline many years ago, so the questions and answers are archived here.
1st January 2009 - Julia (58) from Melbourne, Australia:
Hi Chris, over the years you would have travelled to many parts of the world and seen many interesting places and would have done many exciting things on your travels, but is there a place that you have not yet seen or something that you have not yet done which you would dearly love to do, but due to circumstances still haven't got around to it? Best Wishes, Julia.
Hi Julia! I know your city of Melbourne very well and I have enjoyed the various occasions I have been there. Most recently, I believe it was about 2 or 3 years ago, on the way back from New Zealand, I did a concert there. One place that I would love to travel, but I don't think I'll ever get a chance, is to space. I'd love to see the planet Earth from above and I'd love to have the thrill of seeing our fragile planet from far away. For me that would be just incredibly exciting. Another thing that I have never done is parachuting, but I am not sure I'd have the courage to do that, because it looks pretty scary, even if you are parachuting in tandem. Places that I would like to visit on planet Earth would probably include the Southern part of South America, which I believe is very beautiful: Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. I'd like to see a bit of China and perhaps even India, because I have never been to either of those places, although to China I have been, to Hong Kong and to Hainan. But apart from that there are not a lot of places that I haven't been to. And I can't really think of any place that I'd rather go or be than in Europe, because in Europe I love the history and the culture.
2nd January 2009 - Sina (17) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi Chris, how are you? Certainly you will see my information when answering my questions and you will know that I am from Iran, but now I am in Taiwan, 6000 km away from my family. and I AM ONLY 17, so I cry sometimes, and I listen to your songs, giving me comfort. Thank you very much for your great songs and voice. Now, my questions! Well, I have read these notes saying " don't ask questions that were asked before and don't blah blah blah... and don't blah blah blah..., so I read all the archives and I found that my questions weren't asked before. So, I hope to get an answer this time, because I had sent questions before, but never got an answer. Anyway, I have two questions. First, I watched your "Beautiful Dreams" concert recently and it was fantastic, especially "The Snows Of New York" that I couldn't stop listening to it, how did you come up with the name "The Snows Of "New York""? I mean how did "New York" come to your mind? And my second question which is very intriguing and maybe "mysterious" to me and perhaps to many other people, is that why are there so many "chairs" on your shirt in that concert? Well, actually it is very beautiful and good looking, but I think you had something in your mind and you wanted to say something by wearing that shirt, didn't you? And by the way, where did you buy it? I really like to have one. Is it possible to have it online sold in your website? Thank you very much, Hope to see you soon in Iran
I have experienced home sickness and being away from your family, particularly at a young age, and it is very painful. And it's absolutely horrible, so I have great sympathy for you at the moment and for your situation. "The Snows Of New York" was based on an idea that I had about two brothers, living on a small farm in the West of Ireland. And one of them is about to leave for America to seek his fortune in the new world. And the other is going to have to stay and look after the farm. And I can see the dawn coming up and I can see the hillside, the stone walls, the two men who have been up all night talking about their dreams and hopes for the future. The reason I came up with New York as a destination is because that would have been for very many people from Ireland, particularly during the famine years of the mid 19th century, that's where they would have the first port of call, if they were going by boat. In my particular imagination on this song, as I was writing the lyric, I just felt that one of them was going to New York and if any of the people reading this have been to New York in winter time, it's very, very cold and very windy, and there is plenty of snow around. And I just felt that if you are lonely and away from home, to be in somewhere like New York and it's very cold and you are dreaming of being back home, it would, I think, inspire you to become fairly emotional. That's why in the song one of them is saying to the other "When you need me in the Snows of New York, lift your heart and think of me." The second question is about my shirt on the Beautiful Dreams video. There is no significance to that. It is one of several beautiful silk shirts I bought from an English company called Timney Fowler in the Kings Road in Chelsea. And I just particularly liked that one and I thought I would wear it for the concert, because it was light and comfortable to wear. And I think it looks pretty good on the film.
3rd January 2009 - Nathalie Ménard (42) from Marieville, Québec, Canada:
Hi Chris! First let me thank you for all the wonderful songs and music you have written over the years - It's really hard for me to pick a favorite, there are too many! I have to admit, though, that I have a particular soft spot for the few French versions of some of your hits, like "quand je pense a toi" and "c'est comme un reve". I want to know if you will continue doing this (I didn't see one on The Storyman, although I could not wait for a possible Canadian edition!), because it's really appreciated by the fans out here! We also can't wait to see you back here in concert (I know it's a bit selfish of us, but we do miss you lots!). Take care.
Thanks for your lovely words about my songs and of course you know full well that I love coming to Québec. I love to speak French and indeed I have recorded, as you pointed out, several songs in French. The most recent one I recorded in French was with Marie-Élaine Thibert, a French-Canadian artist who had enormous success with her album. And the one we recorded was an old song of mine called "Lonely Sky" in French. It did extremely well for her. I would very much like to return to concerts over in Canada and of course I will always be interested in recording not just in French, but also other foreign languages.
4th January 2009 - Sandra Beth Stanton (45) from Montréal, Canada:
I have noticed that some of your songs have two levels of meaning (A Spaceman Came Travelling, Just Another Poor Boy)...the basic story meaning but also a much deeper spiritual meaning...is this intentional on your part or coincidental..... just the way I am hearing them as a listener?
Hi Sandra Beth! Of course as I have mentioned many times before, I love being in Montréal, full of great memories and great friends. I have had fantastic concerts there. The audiences are always amazing and very warm and very affectionate. The songs you are referring to ("A Spaceman Came Travelling" and "Just Another Poor Boy") do have deeper meanings. The first one refers to the possibility, and this takes you into the realm of "What If", what if the star of Bethlehem was a space craft from another world with a message of love and peace coming from other beings to the Christ Child who has just been born. And it just has another look at the famous Christmas story. The second one was a reflection on how Jesus must have been considered and looked upon. At his time many people did not like him and those who believed in him and followed him, must have thought he was an incredible deity, somebody who had extraordinary powers, miraculous powers. But for others he was just another poor boy, just another fellow. And I think the key line in this song is the soldier who says "Who was he anyway? Just another poor boy!" I think when you look at the arrival, the emergence of Jesus in his time, he would not have stood out from the crowd initially until later on in his life and then of course the extraordinary events that preceded his crucifixion and indeed afterwards to create the Christianity we now know in the world today.
5th January 2009 - Thirza Leuhof (32) from Zoetermeer, The Netherlands:
My daughter is 8 years old and she loves your song 'raging storm'. I translated it for her and she was very emotional by the words, you and Kristyna sing. I explained to her that the woman in the song is going to die and that you both will meet each other in heaven someday. It is really a beautiful song, but we want to know what you are singing about? My daughter thinks that Kristyna is going to die......
I think that you probably got the story slightly wrong and indeed in the album "The Storyman" I have put in the imagination and the story that I believe is the background to the song. Quite simply, it was about a man in a war-torn country, walking through a bombed out village and he sees emerging from a broken-down building a little girl of about the same age as your daughter, 8 years old, clutching her teddy bear. And she is bruised and blooded. And it transpires that her parents have both been killed in the bombs. And a passing stranger takes pity on her and brings her back to his home to live with him and his family. He has children of the same age. So the song really takes place about 10 or 11 years later, when the girl has grown up and the guns of war are still in the background and he, her sort of stepfather, tells her it's time for her to go and find her own feet and her own place in the world. Although he loves her dearly like a father, he knows that the time will come when she must leave. But she says that they will meet again, and they probably do. So it's not such a sad story as you and your daughter may have thought it to be. It's a positive, hopeful one.
6th January 2009 - Donna Rigglesford (38) from East Sussex, England:
Hi Chris, What is your favourite song and album of all time? Thank you for your music for many years and hope it continues. Keep up the good work.
This question is almost impossible for me to answer. I have so many favourite songs and so many favourite albums. I think a lot of it depends on the mood that I am in, whether I want to be nostalgic, whether I want to be excited. And I presume here you are asking me about other people's music. If I were to be asked about my own, again it depends on exactly the same criteria: mood. Sometimes I listen to a song like "The Simple Truth (A Child Is Born") and play it really loudly. And I just float away. I think some of the guitar playing on that record is absolutely extraordinary, by my old friend Phil Palmer who has played on all the albums since The Getaway in 1982. Other times I like to listen to The Beatles for example. Recently I listened to their album version of "Let It Be". And I remember when I was just a teenager playing that song very, very loudly down in my parents' castle in Wexford during the summer when we had guests to stay. And I get chilled again listening to the guitar solo in the middle of the song. So I think it all depends on how I am feeling, to be honest. In the classical world there is lots and lots of beautiful classical music that I love to listen to. I'd say one of my favourites is a version of Handel's Largo which starts with a massive organ introduction, and it sounds absolutely beautiful. It is very, very moving.
7th January 2009 - Ayhan Yildiz (38) from Balikesir, Turkey:
What is the story of "A Rainy Night In Paris"? So it's still hurting my heart.
The story behind "A Rainy Night In Paris" is really about two people who have met and fallen in love in the world's most beautiful city, and certainly the world's most romantic city, Paris. And I think they say all those supportive things that lovers say to each other when they are about to be separated. And he is about to fly away across the other side of the world. I like to bring in a little bit of French here into the song. "She gave him words to turn to when the winter nights were long. 'Nous serons encore amoureux avec les couleurs de printemps.'" which means essentially they will meet again when there are flowers on the Champs Elysées. They both say to each other we will meet again in the spring time, but the sad part of it is, they probably won't, because in her eyes he sees the words of love are only words to please. And I am afraid this is something that people often do. They don't do it to hurt, but they realize that in fact the love they have for each other may not survive the difficulties of being so far apart.
8th January 2009 - Andrew Stokes (23) from Dublin, Ireland:
Hi Chris. I don't know if you have come across my name on this page before as I have asked you a question on this site but from studying the archives, I don't think you have gotten the chance to reply. Maybe you might get to read this one! First of all, as I have mentioned before, your music was introduced to me by my older brother who brought home the 1985 album "The Very Best of Chris De Burgh" from Golden Discs. As he was the one who introduced me to you words, I have the ownership to that memorable record today which still plays on my record player. I would just like to ask you, does any of your music or anybody else's music remind you of a time, person or place? For example whenever I listen to that record of yours, it always takes me back to those days when I lived in Inchicore and when my brother would be listening to that record in the living room of our flat. Also your album "Flying Colours", which my brother had on cassette tape, anytime I listen to any of the songs on that album I just think of Inchicore or even when I'm passing through Inchicore, I always start singing "Tender Hands" or "Sailing Away" to myself. Sorry for going on a bit but I just wanted to explain what I wanted to ask you. Your Dublin fan and friend, Andrew. (p.s, you winked at me in Gleneagles in 2005 on stage and shook my hand - thanks)
Yes, Andrew, I am very familiar with your name. Thank you for the support and indeed the questions down the years. In terms of what music does to remind us of time and place, indeed this is very important, and I think it's the same way that many of the senses do take us back to somewhere that we have been to before, like a quick sight of a ship or a boat in the harbour might take us back to a childhood memory. Smells as well, of cooking, of summer smells, of something in a garden, a rose, can catapult us back to another time. And the same thing with music, yes I entirely agree with that. For me there are many, many pieces of music that take me back to where I was. And I think that is the wonderful thing about music. It becomes for many people the footsteps and the footprints of their lives. It's the way that you can suddenly remember where you were when you heard a song first and for me there are many, many instances of this happening. Other people's music, and in particular when I listen to my own music, I remember the circumstances of the writing of the song, how excited I was about it, the recording process, all the difficulties you go through when you are trying to make a record. A tiny example of this is when I recorded a song that I have written for my eldest son, when he was born, Hubie. It was called "Just A Word Away" from the "Flying Colours" album. I was singing that just with voice and guitar, live. And at the same time there were people outside who were demolishing large sections of that part of London, right outside where the studio was. And we could pick it up all through the studios. Soundproof, we could still hear this hammering going on. So finally one of the guys went out and spoke to a member of the demolishing crew and said "Look, we are trying to record a song inside." And it turned out that these fellows working were Irish and they said "Oh, it's Chris de Burgh!" and they put down tools for about 45 minutes. So we finished the song that you hear on the record and they started to work again almost immediately afterwards. It's incidents like that which are wonderful to remember and of course I think it's the best thing about enjoying the music. Not just for now, but for future memories.
9th January 2009 - Natasha (22) from Moldova:
What is the history of the song Natasha Dance?
The background to the song "Natasha Dance" is that I started playing the piano one evening and I was playing a selection of chords that reminded me of Russian music. And following a recent trip there I was thinking about how the history of a country must be reflected in its people of today. Not just because of what they have learned in school and learned from living in their country through the culture and the artistic history, but also I suspect through the DNA that we all have, taking us back through some kind of race memory to a previous time. The Russian history in particular has been in some respects brutal, when millions of people have died in various wars and famines, even in the most recent 20th century. And I am suggesting in this song that I am a visitor from outside, from the West, who has met this beautiful Natasha and has fallen in love. And they are lovers and I am describing a scene where they are in her apartment and it is quite sensual and erotic, and he looks out the window and "the rain is running rivers on my window and shimmers on the streetlights down below." I immediately had a vision of looking down from the second floor of a man wearing a rain coat and a hat standing underneath the streetlight, possibly he has something to do with the security services. Maybe this man is following me, I don't know, but it's just part of the movie that I had in my mind. And the key to this is that when she "whispers of a life I have never known" and "when you dance, will you tell me in a story, the joy and pain of living in your world", which means that when she dances, in my song, I feel that what she is doing is demonstrating her joy of being alive and in that country, but also the pain that she brought into her life from the past as I have just suggested. And then of course we go into the next part of the song where he wakes up and thinks that this has just been a dream and she was never there at all. And then she has left roses on his pillow and she will come back again to dance for him again. And in the dance she will really release all her inhibitions and all her emotions and teach this man about her own country and her own life, which is so fascinating for us from this part of the world.
10th January 2009 - Sophia Trummer (43) from Stockstadt, Germany:
Hello Dear Storyman, Last night I looked up your name in the book of names I have on my shelf and consulted the internet on your namesake, St. Christophorus. ("The Golden") Legend tells that he as a ferryman once carried the Christ Child across a river which got swollen and difficult, Christophorus afterward complaining about the weight he had to carry, but then recognising the child as his true king, the moment of his conversion when the child said "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work." Christopher is also the patron saint of travellers today. This has been completely new to me (!) and I am having a smile on my face. Here are three questions: When did you first come across this legend and the meaning of your namesake, have you been addressed on this topic already, and what do you think about the saying "nomen est omen"? Have a wonderful time. Love, Sophia
A question from Sophia, another great supporter - thank you for that! Very interesting question. I knew about the legend of St. Christopher, but I was unaware that he was a ferryman strangely enough. And I didn't refer to that in my song "Don't Pay The Ferryman". I thought St. Christopher was just somebody who helped the Christ child. But you'll notice that in my other song "The Risen Lord" about a man who believes he has met the Lord and has returned from the grave, almost like the good Samaritan, you'll notice that I come up with a lyric that he believes that he has felt the weight from another world. This is almost the same story. Based on an interesting old saying which is you should be kind to all strangers, because you never know if it is maybe Christ who has returned in the second coming. So there is quite a number of things in your question which I have referred to in my songs. And I am aware also that St. Christopher is the patron saint of travellers, even to this day. Your questions are - the legend I have known for years, and I have know being Christopher that's what it refers to. The reason that I am named Christopher is because in Argentina St. Christopher's Day is the 13th of October. And my mother was unable to give birth to me until the 15th of October, but they liked the name. And in Spanish it is called Cristobal, and I would have been called Cristobal for the first few years of my life living in Argentina. And the saying "nomen est omen", I presume means the way you are named is some kind of omen for the future. I think there is a lot to be said for the possibilities there, but also numerology is another interesting area to predict destiny.
11th January 2009 - Andy Bertaut (37) from Dublin, Ireland:
You have done something rare in music: you have written a sequel to a song!! (more than once the borderline/say goodbye was amazing!) The one I wanted to ask about, though, was Spanish Train/Devil's Eye. I've always loved these but felt somehow the story wasn't finished. The Lord shows up to foil The Devil when he takes over the TV channels...but we never know the outcome. Have you ever thought of turning this into a trilogy and telling us what happens next?
The "Borderline" / "Say Goodbye To It All" sequel was interesting, because I wanted to explain what happened next in "Say Goodbye To It All". Also I have done a sequel to "Lady In Red", which is "called Five Past Dreams", which was the second part of that song. For a long time I have been considering doing a sequel to my song "Love Of The Heart Divine" to explain what happened after the girl waving goodbye to the young man who is going off to fight in the Great War, the First World War, and she feels the baby kicking inside as she stands on the station platform. I have often wondered what happened next. But I do have a very good and strong idea of the next part of that particular story. I won't reveal it here, but it's quite a tear jerker and I think it will work very well in a song. I'll get round to that at some stage. As far as the Devil is concerned, yes, he is omnipresent and he had a bit of a good time in "Spanish Train" by cheating. This is based on the premise that if there is this extraordinary, supernatural war going on between good and evil in the shape of God and the Devil, there are times when evil is definitely winning. I don't think anybody can dispute that or disagree with it. Then in "The Devil's Eye" I just got this idea of maybe as we are watching television, maybe the Devil himself is watching us trying to manipulate. There is no doubt at all, also I am quite sure that particularly the American military, knowing the power of television and the power of mass hypnosis, they must have considered at some stage using television information for propaganda, and I am sure it still goes on a lot, which is why I urge people not to believe anything of what you read and only very little of what you see. Because you have to remember that when you are watching a news programme, you are 1) watching what the editor of the news programme has decided you are going to watch and his particular political affiliations and meanings, maybe in disagreement with what you believe, but that's you are being told is fact and 2) we are being told a tiny amount of actually what is going on. But many people believe that they are in possession of all the facts and therefore they can make judgements on for example what is going on in Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran or any other part of the world, whereas the real truth is very difficult to find, in my opinion. I think the Devil maybe resurrected as it were in the internet. I think the internet is such a powerful tool now, and you never know, he might make an appearance some time by taking over the internet, which will be a scary thought.
12th January 2009 - Manuel Fraßmann (29) from Freiberg am Neckar, Germany:
Hi Chris, first of all I'd like to say hello to you and everyone. Thank you for the wonderful music. The great lyrics and divine melodies already touch my heart for almost 20 years of my life. Since I was 21 years old I try to create songs by myself. I'm 29 years old. 3, maybe 4 years ago I woke up deep in the night, everyone was sleeping. Only the dream I had was in my mind. And in this dream I was in a CD store. I was listening to some CDs and searched for some rare songs from CHRIS DE BURGH. Suddenly, there is it. A little older one. Maybe from the end of the 80s. But I don't know the songs on it. I was listening to 3-4 songs. Immediately I fell in love with the melody. It was the perfect melody that a song ever can have. And then I woke up. But the melody was still there. I realized that the song isn't there on any album from Chris de Burgh. I thought it's interesting but I was too tired to get my guitar and write down the melody. And when I woke up again in the morning, I couldn't remember anything. Nothing was there anymore. Now it's 4 years ago. And sometimes I'm dreaming of the same CD store, holding the CD in my hand. But unfortunately I dream only parts of the dream. I think it employs me still and charmed me a goose-struck. And finally my question: Do you have an advice for me, Chris? Perhaps you've lived the same adventure in one of your dreams!? I say thank you for your answer. Even now I'm already excited to listen to you new album "footsteps". Thank you for your heavenly, over not to say, divine music. Best wishes, Manuel Fraßmann
Well, I have quite often had those dreams. In fact quite recently I had a dream where I heard this amazing melody and I couldn't place it in the dream, I couldn't understand where it came from. Of course what happens is, unless you are very lucky, when you wake up the memory is gone and the melody as well. It is very frustrating when that happens, to be perfectly honest. But it does happen, and it has happened to me quite a few times. I suppose what you can do is try to provoke the dream to return by when you start falling asleep. Go back to where the dream began and see if anything comes back again to you, to remind you what you heard and saw the first time.
13th January 2009 - Atteya (28) from Pakistan:
What was the theme and story behind the track I'VE BEEN MISSING YOU?
The idea I think, if you have another look at the lyric, it's fairly well explained in the lyric about what is going on. But I had this idea that this couple have had a row. Most couples I know do have arguments. And men are not particularly good at apologizing. So in this particular idea in my imagination the man has decided that he really owes an apology and he has booked a favourite restaurant and he has invited her, the girl that he has had the quarrel with, to come over. And she walks in and she is amazed at what she sees, because he has got the flowers and he has got the wine and the music is playing romantically. It's a very romantic song! So he basically says "I am sorry". You know "you can break a heart with just a word or two, and take a lifetime to apologize, when the one you love is in front of your eyes". And he is obviously aware of the fact that she is lovely and that other people are going to think she is beautiful too. So he is realizing that she is an independent person and can end their relationship at any time. But he is kind of basically saying "Listen, I am really sorry for what happened. This is our favourite place and it's you and me and let's see if we can get back together again." And he is saying "Now that I found you, I am never letting go."
14th January 2009 - Lynne Smithson (57) from Yate, Bristol, UK:
Would you ever consider doing the TV programme "An Evening With" that has been shown from time to time with different stars? Not sure if you have ever seen one, but the stars sing their popular songs and answer questions from a celebrity audience. I would like to know your views on this type of TV show.
I know this particular format that I have seen on television called "An Evening With". I have seen them with people like Elton John and Dame Edna Everage. And basically the idea is to fill up the audience with famous people who admire a particular performer like Tom Jones. And there is great interaction with those people in the audience and the artist. It's a very kind of friendly style evening. I haven't been asked to do one, but I can certainly tell you that I would agree immediately if there was a chance to do it, because I think it's a really nice retrospective for an artist to go back over his old hits and have people that he knows and who admire the music to be in the audience and to support him.
15th January 2009 - Angela (37) from Bayreuth, Germany:
Hi Chris! First of all thank you very much for these wonderful concerts last summer. And of course thank you very very much for this unforgettable evening in Eltville! It was an absolutely overwhelming feeling there - wow - I had goose-pimples (is this the same as in German?) all the time. Not enough words are existing... thank you! Now to our question: My children Jennifer (11) and Fabian (8) want to know what pets you have at your home (including colours...), also the names of them. You mentioned your dog in Fulda, but unfortunately we didn't understand the name. Thank you.
Strangely enough Bayreuth in Germany is not only a very beautiful town, but it means a lot to me because in my home here in Ireland I have cobblestones that I found in Bayreuth beside the railway station. And I brought quite a lot of them, I think about 350 tons of cobbles to put all around my home and it looks fantastic. So every time I have visitors who haven't been in my house before I tell them the story behind the famous cobblestones that I got from Deutsche Bahn. It took me about a year to persuade them and also with a friend in Heidelberg who helped (Jürgen Nödel) and we managed to get these cobbles to come all the way to Ireland and now they have a very good home indeed. I am delighted to hear that your children Jennifer and Fabian are interested in my music and also in pets. We have a dog and her name is Milly. Milly is a 13 year old black Labrador. She is very gentle and a very placid kind of dog and she is terrific fun. She basically transformed our lives when she came into our home 13 years ago. And we always like to think that she chose us from the litter of pups that we went to see. I think Rosanna was totally besotted by this little puppy and we said "oh yes, this is the one", because I think I had resisted having a pet in the house for quite a while. But this little dog was wonderful, and she is a great laugh and we have such fun with her and play games and kick balls around and she chases and loves swimming in ponds and lakes and rivers close-by. I think life would be very sad if she wasn't with us anymore. Pets do have that impact on people, they become part of the family.
16th January 2009 - Justin (23) from Coleraine, Ireland:
Hi Chris, I hope you are well. I'd just like to start by saying thank you for all your great music over the years, absolute pure talent! I have been a fan since I first heard my dad playing your records in the early 90's. I have recently seen you in concert for the first time in Bundoran, Co Donegal with my girlfriend and we thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I am very pleased to hear that you are releasing a new album, however, having learned that your new album is a tribute to your musical inspirations over the years, my question is, what inspired you to produce an album almost totally comprised of other artists songs? Have you always wanted to do an album like it or was it just a recent idea? This is not a criticism in any way because i am really looking forward to buying and listening to this album as I have never been disappointed by any of your previous records and I'm sure you won't disappoint with Footsteps but I thought this album to be highly unusual as every one of your past studio albums material has all been written by you except for a few songs on your Beautiful Dreams album. I have to admit as a long time devoted fan I did feel a little disappointed to learn that there is only a couple of pieces written by you, although I love any song sung by you as I do enjoy your live versions of Hey Jude and American Pie etc but I was just very surprised to find that you only produced two songs on the entire 15 track album. I'd be forever grateful if you could explain what inspired you to record an unusual album like this. I look forward to the Footsteps album and seeing you in concert again very soon. I wish you every success with Footsteps and your albums in the years to come, thank you again for your wonderful music and powerful lyrics, thank you for taking the time to read and hopefully answer my question, God Bless...
Very interesting question! You went to the Bundoran concert earlier last year which was terrific fun. I really enjoyed that evening, what a very unusual venue right on the cliffs in a large marquee and I was really delighted with the reception I got. As I explained to many people subsequently, it was like being in the RDS in the old days. The audience was fantastic. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The reason behind my album which has been released by the time you read this is that one thing that I have never been particularly good at is looking back on my career. I am very focussed on the future, focussed on climbing that mountain. But once in a while I think everybody should take a little time and stop and take the view and look around and see where you have come from. So literally Footsteps are the songs that I have always loved to sing and particularly the songs that have had an impact on me as a songwriter, songs that I have learned from. And I think it would be of interest to people who want to know where I developed from, this is sort of the beginning of my musical journey. And it's not that I have stopped writing songs or I can't write songs anymore. On the contrary! I have got loads of ideas in my head. But I have wanted just to tread water for a little while and look back and particularly when I just turned 60 to look back at my long, 34-year career and say "well, these songs not only influenced me at the beginning, but subsequently during my career". Each one has a story and I am sure by now many of you have heard the individual stories that have applied to each of the songs. Because each one of them has a particular meaning to me. There were times during the recording of this album, which was incidentally recorded in just eight days, which I can assure you is really quick. Everything was recorded live in the studio with orchestra, with band, with guitar. For example me and my son Hubie, we did Blackbird together. Him in one sound booth, and me in the singing booth. Just all we had was eye contact and were able to talk to each other obviously. Stuff like "The Long And Winding Road" and "Without You", all performed live with the orchestra, very exciting and very quick. But there were times when I wanted to know "Is this something that just I am the only person to really enjoy listening to this?" Because I get such a thrill listening to some of my hero songs and you know it's just a fantastic thing for me to be able to do. It's not just a bunch of covers, because I could have chosen any number of four or five hundred songs, but these ones had a particular importance to me. When the record was taken round to various record companies around the world, almost, I think without exception, they all loved it. They loved the concept, they loved the record, which is why it is getting such a push now, not only all over Europe, but elsewhere in the world. So obviously what I have done, in the opinions of some people certainly in the music industry, that it is going to appeal to many fans out there. So I will be very interested to see people's opinions in the future, once the record has been released and people have had a chance to listen to it at home.
17th January 2009 - Silvia (39) from Stadtbergen, Germany:
Could you please tell me the Latin lyrics for "The Mirror of the Soul"? I think i got most of them, but i am not sure...my Latin dates back to...well...some years ago!
Well I have noticed on the website that this song "The Mirror Of The Soul" has become a firm favourite with many, many people. And for me it was a very interesting idea to try and put across about the beginning of religion. Where do religions begin? They have to have a conception moment somewhere. And this is an ironic and indeed, as we say in English, tongue-in-cheek look at a bunch of monks in the 15th century who are trying to raise much needed cash. What I have done in the beginning is that I have put some Latin words in. And I was fortunately enough, although I didn't realize it at the time, to have studied Latin quite deeply at school, because Latin is the basis of an awful lot of major languages. And it's extremely useful to have that knowledge behind you, particularly with English language, which is the one I use most of the time. These are the words: AMOR SPECULUM ANIMA LUCET. LUCIFER EX INFERNO CLAMAT. NE NOS INDUCAT IN TENTATIONEM. AMOR SPECULUM ANIMA LUCET. What it means is: Love lights the mirror of the soul. The devil is calling from hell. Do not lead us into temptation. Only love can light the mirror of the soul.
18th January 2009 - Adrian Brittlebank (20) from UK:
Hi Chris, What sort of car(s) do you drive and why?
I can assure you in the early years I could not afford any kind of a decent car. And my first car cost me 50 pounds and it was a Ford Prefect, which was two doors, three forward gears and a reverse. And having a cheap car like that meant that I spent an awful lot of time underneath the bonnet, trying to figure out why it wouldn't work. So became quite a good car mechanic, obviously covered in grease and oil and an enormous amount of frustration trying to get particularly the electrics of cars working. Subsequently I had cars like Renault 4L which was bizarre. Those who have driven it know it has a very bizarre gear stick, which is beside the steering wheel. However I became a big fan of BMWs, when I could afford to get a BMW. More recently I think Audi is just a terrific car. In my opinion I think Audi and BMW make the best cars in Germany, indeed possibly some of the best in the world. I am not referring to Rolls Royce and Bentley, this is a different area. But I think I would prefer either of those two to a Mercedes having had a couple of Mercedes down the years, I am much more impressed with the driving capabilities of the Audi. I have an Audi S4 cabriolet and an Audi A5 as well as a BMW 7 series. They are all amazing cars to drive and very comfortable and I am quite a fan of cars and of driving.
19th January 2009 - Sina Mozaffari (20) from Iran:
Hi Chris. I have a question about your song "The Painter" in "Spanish train and other stories" album. What was your motivation for making this song? What did you want to say by making this song. Thanks.
When I was at secondary school, I had a very influential and charismatic English teacher called Dennis Silk. One day he asked me and my class to read a poem by the English poet Robert Browning. The poem was called "My Last Duchess". So it was two pages, and it was called a dramatic monologue. And we finished it, and he said now "Read it again, but start picking out the clues and what has happened." So we read it again and started to realize what happened. We read it a third time, and then the full impact of the poem became apparent. The man, if you read it, those of you who are reading this online, have a chance to read that poem, you'll notice that the person who is talking has apparently murdered his own wife because of a jealous rage. And I thought this is great, a really clever idea, so I put that into the song "The Painter". "This is my late queen", and the chorus is "Madam please do this and madam please do that". That's the idea behind the song in as much as it's not a direct lift of the words, but certainly the idea came from Robert Browning. He is a wonderful poet and he has written many great poems.
20th January 2009 - Lamine Bekkout (35) from Toronto, Canada:
What was the most inspiring book, or books, you ever read?
I'd like to say hi to Lamine and say that I have always loved being in Toronto. As you may be aware my four members of my old band came from Toronto, so I spent a lot of time in that city. And I particularly liked the area around Yorkville and of course down by the lake. So I had lots of fun times there, some great restaurants and of course some great concerts, even the big ones in the Maple Leaf Gardens, which I think has now changed its name. It's a very difficult question to answer, the most inspiring book or indeed books, because I love reading and I have been inspired by so many books. I am just looking up at a bookshelf now, you know I am looking and thinking "I love that book, and I could read that one again". But I think one that amongst many that started my visual imagination working would have been the early books that I read of "Adventures in Africa" by a writer called G.A. Henty, very old-fashioned Victorian-style books. The books of Joseph Conrad for example are very, very interesting. And I would say then one really was really outstanding that I mentioned in the past, it was called "Moonfleet". Moonfleet was the story of a boy who was living in Cornwall several hundred years ago. It was all about smugglers and all exciting stuff like that and ghosts and coffins underneath the church. Extraordinary things that happened to this boy. And one song that I wrote as a result of "Moonfleet" would have been "Heart Of Darkness". Just a bit of it, about "I took the old track down", about sailors and smugglers and all sorts of things that happen. In the beginning of the song certainly I was influenced by that particular book. And another short story that I really recommend people to have a look at is one by Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde wrote some stunning plays and poems. And his children stories, which I think are in a book called "The Happy Prince and Other Stories" are absolutely beautiful. And there is one in particular that is awesome, and it's called "The Selfish Giant". And I challenge anybody to sit down and read that story out loud to their children in bed and not react emotionally to the amazing idea of what Oscar Wilde came up with towards the end of that story. It's absolutely beautiful. But as I say, I find it impossible, as you can probably tell, to actually decide on one particular story or one particular book, because I love so many.
21st January 2009 - Leslie Partridge (62) from London, UK:
Hi Chris, Very much looking forward to your new album "Footsteps" and your version of songs from your musical idols. I will be at the Royal Albert Hall in May next year enjoying your concert and even though I am getting on a bit will rock with the rest of them! My question is this. I have just been looking at an interview you did back in 1981 for Musical Express when you said "You cannot stand factory froth made groups like Boyzone and Westlife. Not one new star will be around in 10 years, let alone 25. Both groups are still around, Ronan Keating has enjoyed huge success and Stephen Gately has enjoyed a good theatrical life outside Boyzone who are currently enjoying a comeback. Would you now not concede that they have earned their stripes ? Surely with these manufactured groups, if there is talent that can be explored and improved upon, that these people deserve a chance to prove themselves?
I look forward to performing in the Albert Hall, obviously not just my own material, but hopefully a few songs from the album Footsteps. I was quite puzzled by what you say I quoted in the Musical Express in 1981 about Boyzone and Westlife, because Boyzone was not formed until 1993 and Westlife not until 1998. So I am not quite sure what you are referring to here. I stand by my original comment. Real talent will survive, but this, what I described as factory froth, the thing is I have been possibly proven wrong, but you have to remember that both of them slipped away both these bands in I suppose the late 90s or the early 2000's. Both of them have made a comeback. Now that was unexpected, so I must be forgiven for not anticipating a massive commercial comeback that both these bands and Take That have done. Nevertheless I come from a separate song writing ethos, which I believe is based on imagination and emotion. And I find quite a few of the songs by these bands I mentioned pretty lacking in that area.
22nd January 2009 - Nicolas Larek (30) from France:
After being support act of some tours with Supertamp, and knowing the band well at this time, which bandmate was the most impressive for you and what is your best memory touring with them?
I think by the time I finished as a support act for Supertramp, I reckon I have done about 150 shows with them. Starting on a solo basis, one guy with a guitar, which was pretty daunting, I can assure you, standing in front of a crowd of people who have come to see a major act like Supertramp, and one guy with a guitar having to perform often before even the advertised show time. And then I put a small band together in Canada, starting with Glenn Morrow, and then adding a couple of the Supertramp road crew, including Jeff Philips on the drums. But I really enjoyed working with these guys. I wouldn't say there was any one particular person I would take out as most impressive, because I liked them all, got on very well with them all and I think one of the last shows I would have done with them was in 1983 when we did a major tour around Europe in big football stadiums. I learned an awful lot from Supertramp: their imagination, their stage shows, the visuals that they put on. They were on a par at that time with bands like Queen and certainly Pink Floyd. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to spend so much time in their company and learned so much from such a class outfit in terms of sound and vision and visuals. I don't have any particularly best memory from touring with them. Many of them were fantastic, and for me at the sort of second part of my career, having started in 1974, and started with them in about 1978 or 1979, and carried on for another 4 or 5 years, the chance to then effortlessly move up from support act to a main act on my own was great. As I say I am very happy that I had the opportunity to work with a band, such a good band as Supertramp.
23rd January 2009 - Soane Lidia (50) from Argentina:
I was reading about your new album, and it says in the article that it will be released in the central part of Europe first and then, next year, it will be done in the UK. It just called my attention because the UK is your country and, well, why not there first? Thank you for all your songs, they are really moving. Now after 30 years I still enjoy them and I'm showing my grandson most of your compositions . He has fallen in love with "The Road to Freedom" (he's only five years old, and although it is sad as he says, he loves it). Besides I am an English teacher and I was working "Lady in Red" with a group, now they would like to know more about your songs and you as well. It is as one person told you in one of the questions: with your songs we bridge generation gaps and get closer to our students, sons, youths.
Let me just say from the start that Argentina was the land of my birth. My father's family moved to Argentina to become farmers in the early 1900's. I have a very emotional attachment to Argentina and our estancia there, where my aunt Joan still lives. And she is well into her 90s, so obviously there must be something about Argentina that helps people have a long life. It's not a country unfortunately that I have managed to visit too often, it is a very long way for me. But one day I am absolutely certain that I will be able to go there and perform. I love your question and your comments about your five year old and "The Road To Freedom", because yes, you are right, there are some sad tunes on this, but they are thoughtful, particularly the first three: When Winter Comes / The Road To Freedom / Snow Is Falling. Your question about why central Europe first and then the UK, this is a decision made by the record companies involved in the release of this album. Although Ferryman, my own label, is the prime mover in the release of the record, the other record companies, like for example in Germany and quite a number of countries in Europe is called Starwatch, based in Munich. They were so impressed by this album that they wanted to advertise it on television. In the UK, unless you start advertising on television by around mid October, you can get totally lost in the Christmas rush. So we decided to leave it until next March, which is when the record comes out. I am delighted that my songs are helping your students so much. I was wondering if you knew that I have done "Lady in Red" in Spanish ("La Dama De Ayer").
24th January 2009 - Angela (41) from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK:
Hello Chris. You have been married for a long time now. Have you and your wife considered re-newing your vows like most celebs or do you not do things like that?
By the time you will read this, I have celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary. And sometimes people say in this profession "How can you stay married for so long?" and I joke that I am very good to my wife, I stay away from home a lot! But in fact I think one of the secrets is to give each other space and time, to be aware of each other's feelings, to have a great sense of humour, to be affectionate and to regard your relationship as a partnership. As far as renewing vows is concerned, I certainly wouldn't do that just because other celebs are doing it. It's a very personal thing, and I know that there are people who do this quietly or go away to a different country to possibly renew their vows or go back to the original church. I am not quite sure why people do this, to be honest. It may be just a romantic idea. It might be something that people feel they need to do. But as far as I am concerned, this has never been an issue with me and my wife. We haven't even discussed this. I am not sure that either of us would be particularly keen on doing this. The original wedding still resonates well in my head, and in hers as well.
25th January 2009 - Beatrix Ouwerkerk (58) from The Netherlands:
One night you were spending the evening with George Harrison and some friends at his home, and he told you about his Beatles time. Later George wrote a song about "being overexposed and commercialised". Did you feel the same in the A&M years, after the first rush of eagerness to be a famous singer was flown? Or were you able to keep it all in your own hands? Do you feel more free now that you've got your own Ferryman Productions?
An interesting question! May I say that I am very familiar with your name, Beatrix, and also I love going to Holland to perform, and I hope to be there again soon. George Harrison felt fame in a far greater way than I ever have. The heat of being in The Beatles and then subsequently setting up his own Dark Horses record label, which was allied with A&M records, brought him back into the musical world with great records like "Living In The Material World" and another, which was a three-album-set with George Harrison sitting on a black-and-white in the garden of his home, wearing gumboots, and I think there is some kind of a garden gnome there as well. I have the record, but I can't remember the name right now. Oh wait, I have just remembered the name, it is "All Things Must Pass". I had quite a lot of independence right from the start with my record label, because they were a record label that wanted to develop song writers as artists. For example Joan Armatrading, The Carpenters, Sting and The Police, Supertramp, Yes. Those were artists, Gallagher & Lyle as well, who were all song writers. So we were given respect and we were given freedom, and we were given a lot of support, not just one album, but throughout our careers. But now that I have got my own label, it means that I can actually do a lot more than I could do in the past. The original record company A&M was bought by the Polygram group and then by the Universal music group. And in some regards I was disappointed by the last few years of my involvement with a major label, because it seemed to me that as the record business is going into a slow down spiral, that a lot of the newcomers into the industry were not particularly interested in whether I had sold 40 million records or not. And I often felt that the input and dedication and enthusiasm for a new record release just wasn't there. So it was a breath of fresh air when I finally opened up Ferryman Productions and had far more control along with my long-term friend and manager Kenny Thomson over what we call product, i.e. everything to do with career.
26th January 2009 - Bogdan Sulek (38) from Cracow, Poland:
Hi, Chris! All the best for your 60th birthday! Welcome again to Poland, which you visited so far few times mostly around this part of year, near Christmas. I want you to ask what are your edition plans after "Footsteps"?
Yes, I have been looking forward to being back in Warsaw last December. By the time you read this, I have already performed on one of your major television shows, which is what we have in the UK and Ireland called "Strictly Come Dancing". It's a dancing show, and I would have performed on the Sunday night of the final. After Footsteps? That is an interesting question, because I like to think a year in advance all the time. At the moment there are a few options going around in my head, including hopefully this movie "Though These Eyes", and various new songs I have written for that. I find that every time I come back to "The Storyman", I look at it and think that it has got some very, very strong ideas and songs in it, and I don't really want to be compared by having a "Storyman 2" quite yet, and people might say "oh, it's not as good as the first one". It's a difficult album to follow in that respect. So I am looking at all sorts of things at the moment, and at different ways of using my song writing talent and technique and hopefully in the next few months I will be able to develop these ideas further.
This was the last answer in this particular MOtL section, so let me just say to all my fans out there: Thank you so much for your continued support and your affection and your dedication and your loyalty. I hope you enjoy Footsteps as much as I do. Also I hope that you'll come and see the concerts that we are doing in 2009, because as always they will be a lot of fun. And I hope as always you will walk away from the concert, or indeed dance away from the concert, feeling high on emotion