Man On The Line

17th April 2002 - Cora van Leeuwen (57) from The Netherlands:

I always wanted to know how you started to write a song. What came first when you create a new song, the words or the music, or maybe at the same time?

When I write a song it is basically two or three different ways.
The first way is when I've had an idea that's been just stating for a while in my head. A bit like planting seed in a garden, and it grows. I think an example of this would be "A Woman's Heart" on the Quiet Revolution album. An idea that I had for quite a while which is based on listening and reading and hearing people around me talking. This applies to a lot of the songs I write. Just sort of tuning into the current information that's around and my own feelings about it. And this particular song is about the fact that it would be a big mistake for men to think that women do not think about other men. And, you know, the fact that women do think about sex and they do have phantasies just like men. This song expresses the opinion that it's very important for men to understand this and spend a bit more time understanding his own lover, his wife or his girlfriend.
The second way really is ideas out of nowhere that combine with a melody and a piece of music simultaneously. It's a bit like a musical clue that you try your best to figure out what does this mean. I wrote a song some years ago called "If You Really Love Her, Let Her Go" which is quite a paradox in itself. And it took a while for me to realize this is about the boyfriend of the girl saying to the parents "I'm going to take her with me anyway, she is going to come with me, but why don't you give her your blessing as she goes?"

18th April 2002 - Marc Griemmert (31) from Dortmund, Germany:

What happened to the old CdeB Band-Members (Ian Kojima, Glenn Morrow etc.) ?

Glenn Morrow died of non-Hotchkins lymphoma, cancer.
Ian Kojima is working in Toronto.
Al Marnie is running a guest house in Miami.
Danny McBride is a successful artist in, I believe, Western Canada.
And Jeff Philips is now living in San Diego, California.

19th April 2002 - Angela Owen (34) from Cullompton, Devon, UK:

I know you do a lot of work for Charity but do you have a favourite organisation and what were your reasons for choosing it?

I do a lot of work for charity, but the key thing I get involved with is charities involving children.

20th April 2002 - Jeri from California, USA:

Chris, you have tried your talents in film, can we then look forward to seeing your musical career told on the large screen someday?

Well, I think a lot of people in my profession that made that somewhat dubious jump from being great musicians into being very indifferent screen stars, I will not really mention them, but there are those who, I think, can successfully do it the other way around. I think from being a pop star into a screen star is a big thing. And it just shows that really it doesn't take a lot these days apparently to become a pop star, unless you got some kind of background and talent. But to be a film star you have to have a tremendous amount of training and acting ability. And there are very few people who can just walk straight into it as they can into the music business.

21st April 2002 - Sheila Gardner (41) from Hounslow, Middlsex, UK:

What other artists do you admire?

I admire many artists, but primarily I admire songwriters, people who can come up with very unique and different ideas. Of course I go back to the Beatles. I think Lennon/McCartney were just magical, majestic, awesome. Of course Bob Dylan was an early influence. And more recently people like Sting, Peter Gabriel, etc. I have always admired great songwriters like that.

22nd April 2002 - Sabine Kowalke (42) from Herrnburg, Germany:

Do you plan a video of your concert tour in 2002?

This is possible. Putting a video together is a big thing and preferably it's done when you're in the same venue for 2 or 3 nights, as that makes the whole thing a lot easier to do.

23rd April 2002 - Tina (19) from Windeck, Germany:

What was the most lovely gift you ever got from a fan?

Well, I love getting flowers from fans as I did recently in my shows in Russia. On the first show in Moscow it was International Women's Day in Russia. And I got lovely gifts from people. It's nice sometimes, when they write a short thing about themselves or put a photograph with the flowers. I can't really think of any special gift, but people have painted things for me and written me poems. It is wonderful to receive these accolades.

24th April 2002 - Linda Howitt from Glasgow, Scotland:

If I could visit one moment in history it would be when Buddy Holly first played the NY Apollo. Is there a moment you would like to visit for any particular reason?

Well, coincidently I happened to have been in America when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. I would have loved to have had the courage to be one of those early astronauts. I think, if I had been in the LM watching Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon and listening to him saying "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.", that would have been an incredible time to have been with those people. I'm a real space nut; I love the idea that out there somewhere there are other civilizations keeping an eye on us perhaps or are in a much earlier phase of their development.

25th April 2002 - Richard Jarman (24) from Manchester, UK:

How long will you continue making music and go on tour?

I think as you all know I love going on tour and making music is just utterly natural to me. It's as natural as breathing in fact. I've already got about six new songs growing in my head for another album after this current one. So for me it is an important way of expressing myself.

26th April 2002 - Michael Hirdes (32) from Berlin, Germany:

Do you support young unknown artists and if not what would you recommend?

I get a lot of tapes from unknown artists and I know Michael Hirdes has got a friend, I believe, from Turkey who has got a wonderful voice that I commented on when I received the tape. It's very hard to know how to recommend anybody move forward in today's climate because it appears to be based very little on talent but much more on how you look. A bit like a supermarket product where the wrapping is wonderful, but there is virtually nothing inside. Nevertheless I think true talent will finally emerge, if somebody is determined enough to make that talent heard.

27th April 2002 - Sven Rück (25) from Frankfurt, Germany:

Will you make a studio-record from "Hey Jude" and "Hotel California"?

I think it is highly unlikely that I will ever do a version of "Hey Jude" or "Hotel California". Mainly because the originals were very good.

28th April 2002 - Steve Bennett (35) from Winsford, England:

We all miss Glenn Morrow on keys, was the song 'Snows Of New York' written for him? If not, have you ever written a song with Glenn as the inspiration?

The "Snows Of New York" song was not written for Glenn Morrow. I started a song with Glenn as an inspiration which I haven't finished yet. It's one of those things I'm kind of waiting for more emotions as the further I get away from Glenn comes. He was such a good friend and maybe it's still a bit too soon for me to be able to write something about him, because he was with me for 17, 18 years. But I do have something in my mind.

29th April 2002 - Joanne Brown (18) from Coventry, England:

Where do you get your inspiration from when writing the lyrics, and are they of personal value to you?

It comes from imagination and observation. And quite often they do apply to me in a personal kind of way, but not very often, because I am like everybody else, I have a guard around me, a wall around me, and I don't like people to be able to look too deep in. But that's not to say I am not a very vulnerable person. And I like honesty in lyrics.

30th April 2002 - Ronnie (28) from Dublin, Ireland, now in London:

In concert, do you prefer performing with the band or an orchestra?

I love playing with the band, I love creating that excitement. I've had many many memorable concerts in Ireland and I hope to be performing in Ireland later in the year again. Playing with an orchestra is a memorable thing as well. I've done, I suppose, 40 or 50 shows with orchestras and I'm glad to be able to have more than one string to my bow, where I can actually do shows with quartets, or solo shows, or indeed orchestra and band shows.

1st May 2002 - Payam Nikdast (28) from Tehran, Iran:

Do you know that your lyrics have been translated to Farsi and been sold about a million?

I must stress that I have been looking at my website a lot and I have been so amazed by the things that people have been saying. It's an extraordinary feeling to know that you have touched people in so many ways and so many countries. Iran is one of them. And the answer to the question: I had no idea that my lyrics have been translated into Farsi. Iran is definitely one of those countries I would love to visit. Not only for historical reasons but also for the fact that I believe that music is an international language and deserves to be heard all over the world.

2nd May 2002 - Sahand Gavidel (18) from Tehran, Iran:

Why is it too hard to find your albums, concerts and video clips? Don't you sing these lovely songs for these poor guys, aren't we your friends?

Unfortunately I don't know how to get the videos and tapes into Tehran. It's one of those problems that you have to get to the record companies to answer that one. I'm sorry I can't help.

3rd May 2002 - Michael Selbach (30) from Duisburg, Germany:

I want to know the name of your brand-new album! Perhaps it's called "beagles"?!

This "Beagles" joke, it was actually just an aside when I was trying to put together an idea for Beatles and Eagles. Now it doesn't sound like the Beagles, this new record. It's actually hard; it has some really good stuff on it. I'm very pleased that it has some hard hitting stuff like "Bal Masqué" and "Guilty Secret". And there are some nice ballads on it too. I'm very pleased. And the name of my new album is "Timing Is Everything".

4th May 2002 - Cleopatra (52) from Australia:

Hi Chris, will you be putting more saxophone into your new album?

You know, I haven't done saxophone really recently. It has a great sound. I was listening to a song today with great saxophone on it. So perhaps on the next one I'll put something in.

5th May 2002 - Laura Young (38) from Sudbury, Canada:

When you come to write and record, how do you know in your head or heart which song "has that magic touch" that will make the album cut?

If something touches me, if something feels like the emotion is right and it makes me get the chills on the back of my arms, and there's something about it that feels absolutely perfect, or else alternatively if it's a song that really has me tapping my feet saying "gosh, I am looking forward to playing this one live with the band and giving it plenty of energy". Those are the kind of songs that I know will make it onto a record. Without sounding arrogant about this point , if I may sort of suggest that I am a bit like a painter or a furniture maker, is that you get to a certain degree of skill where you know that you're never gonna write a really bad song, because it doesn't even get past the first phase. So your skills, your knowledge, your creativity and hopefully your talent all combine to make it at least a decent song. But it's the really brilliant ones that are very hard to find.

6th May 2002 - Anne (19) from Belgium:

Ok, I don't know you very long but I was so impressed when I saw you on the night of the proms. So I listened to your cd from a spark to a flame and I was amazed, you know your voice and you use it totally. A question came up to me when I listened to your songs: why didn't you enter the eurovisiesongcontest yet? You would win certainly. Anne

Without being too rude about the Eurovision song contest, it is, in my opinion, strictly for amateurs, amateur songwriters and pretty well amateur or sort of newly discovered talent these days. There was a time of course when people like Abba would win it all or Bucks Fizz, but these days, I think, it is very limited now in appeal. Most people like to watch the voting, just to see who gets zero "null points" this year, but it's not anything that a serious artist should ever really get involved in, because it can be the kiss of death. I'm being quite rude about it, actually quite polite to be balanced as well. The Eurovision song contest gives a tremendous amount of exposure, but who can name who won it last year or indeed two years ago, or three years ago. Because people, they are overnight stars for a short time, and they drift off into the mass unconsciousness. It is not what it used to be, so I wouldn't get involved.

7th May 2002 - Claudio Correa (42) from Santiago de Chile, Chile:

Why you don't include the song "Flying" (turning around) in one of your successes or why you don't record it again (because it was a big hit in 1975)?

The song "Flying", which was a huge hit in South America, is one of my favourites from the earlier albums. In fact, it was on the first one, titled "Turning Round" and re-titled "Flying". Maybe I should, yes! Yes, maybe one day with an orchestra, I'll get round to doing it again.

8th May 2002 - Matthias Lenz (29) from Aschaffenburg, Germany:

What do the boys of your band in the time when they are not on tour with you?

The boys in my current band, they are all session players and they occasionally play on other people's tours when they are not working with me. But we always have a great time together.

9th May 2002 - Sue Shead (46) from London, UK:

Hi Chris, I would really like to know if when you are touring do you ever have the chance to go into the various cities and towns during the day and "see some of the sights" or is that impossible? Also what do you miss most when you are away from home?

I have been always known as a very good tourist. I always like to look around the cities that I go to, even if I've been there many times before. In Munich for example, I will always go down to the Marienplatz and walk around usually on my own because nobody sort of spots you then. And I look at the things and sights and sounds, because I always remember that for most people they never have a chance to go to these places. And if they do, it costs them a lot of money to go there, whereas for me it's part of my job, so I take advantage of that. I really enjoy the sights and sounds of the cities. For example I was recently in Russia. In Moscow I went again for the third time to the Kremlin museum which is absolutely staggering. And I walked around Red Square, this time surrounded by bodyguards, which was a pretty weird feeling. Wherever I am, yes, I always go round the cities. And what do I miss most when I'm away from home? I miss hugs, that's all, hugs.

10th May 2002 - Christian Craughwell (17) from Galway, Ireland:

You seem to be recording, writing and touring constantly. How do you ever find time to relax? P.S I do a radio show on Flirt FM 105.6 (Campus Radio) I play one of your songs every week-you're the man, keep them coming!

I actually find a lot of time for leisure. When I am at home in Ireland, I enjoy being with my family and friends and just sort of being quiet. I tend to lead a rather bizarre life style. When I am at home, I am moving along at zero miles an hour. And when I am on tour, it's like a hundred miles an hour all the time. But in between that I do find plenty of time for relaxation. And I give you best wishes to Flirt FM 105.6 Campus Radio!

11th May 2002 - Johan (19) from Potchefstroom, South Africa:

I was just wondering if the song "Man on the Line" from the album "Man on the line" was based on a true event. Was there really someone phoning your wife?

No, this was not based on a true event. It was just based on a fairly bizarre idea. I think this was an example of a song that came out of nowhere. "There's a man on the line", I thought "what does this mean?" It also has a double meaning about humanity. On the line, here we are at a critical point again in human history. No, it wasn't based on anybody phoning my wife. But who knows, somebody might…

12th May 2002 - Thomas Schilb (35) from Tallahassee, Florida, USA:

While listening to The Leader Trilogy I get visions of the Battle of Armageddon and the leader seems to be the Anti-Christ "Our leader on a pale horse". Is this the idea you had and if not will you explain the idea behind your excellent song. Thank you for all your stories.

I am very glad that somebody has picked up on the Leader Trilogy. It is the Battle of Armageddon. Funnily enough this one started when I went to Normandy on a trip and I was in this restaurant, we just arrived. And I saw this amazing picture on the wall of six or seven warriors with their back to the picture, looking out to sea. They were just dressed in animal skins and fur, and holding spears, looking towards the sea as if waiting for some Messiah to come. I was really moved by this picture. In fact about two months later after I had begun writing and recording this song, I contacted the hotel to see if they would sell me the picture, but they wouldn't. It was no surprise, because it is a great picture. And I transfer that to modern day times. Initially it sort of started with the time of Stonehenge, but as with a lot of songs with me, I wanted to get the idea that there is a modern parallel. The old-fashioned one was back in the times of ancient men and Stonehenge and looking out in the sky. I don't know if you remember the end of the film "Raiders Of The Lost Ark". There are extraordinary things coming out of the ark like ghosts. I suddenly had this vision, that's why the second part of the song is called "The Vision", of Armageddon in the sky. And if you read the last pages of the bible, there is a very good description of the leaders and the pale horse and the four horsemen and the apocalypse. The purpose of this was, this was the time when Ronald Reagan was rattling his sabre and threatening nuclear war and it was a reality. And I thought, what is the point of starting a nuclear war when there is nothing left at the end of it, which is why in the third part I am shouting as loud as I can "What about me? And you? And the ones that we love? Well, what about us?" It's all very well for our leaders to have these extraordinary ideas about threatening. Again we have it with Bush against Iraq. You know, this could unleash ferocity and a catastrophe on an enormous scale. So that's what this song is all about.

13th May 2002 - Karin Koch (30) from Hüfingen, Germany:

Why does the cover of "Into the light" look like "Flying Colours" and vice versa? Was it by accident or purpose? It's funny, I always mix them up!

Actually they do look like reversed. "Flying Colours" came after "Into The Light". "Into The Light" was supposed to have been releasing colours of music, something that has been in the dark, released into the light. "Flying Colours" was that feeling when you're in an aircraft and you're going through turbulences, and when you break through the clouds, suddenly you're in open sky and you see the sun for the first time and it's smooth flying. That was the feeling about that.

14th May 2002 - Marian Pantano (47) from Sydney, Australia:

Greetings from Sydney Chris, I was wondering about your song 'Fire on the Water' where it says "There's a place and an ancient fortress, High above the worries of the world....... " Was there some place or story in particular that inspired these words? This song, particularly those words, are of interest to me due to an unusual happening in my life after which I heard this song for the first time and it stunned me! Thank you for your wonderful music and for using this wonderful gift to give to others, Love Marian.

As I was writing the song "Fire On The Water", I always look for mental images in my head to have a reference point. And there is a place indeed where I have been, that's very famous in Brittany. I believe it's in Brittany, called Mont Saint Michel, which is an ancient monastery. And that's the sort of place I had mentally in my head when I was writing "Fire On The Water", because it's there in the sea, which is only accessible at low tide, and otherwise you walk across the sand to get there. So it really wasn't anything that particularly applied to me, but I love the idea fire on the water, because they are two opposites that attract, as often happens in human relationships.

15th May 2002 - Ruth Orenstrat (24) from Düsseldorf, Germany:

Have you ever thought of co-writing a song with one of your fans who is a singer/ songwriter as well?

Well, I suppose I have, but usually I feel that I am able to write the words and the music and most importantly come up with the idea. And there is one extremely successful singer, who also plays the piano, a world wide star, but he hasn't written, as far as I know, any songs at all. He is just a very good melodic composer. And he is very fortunate to be supplied with such a fantastic series of ideas whereas I come up with my own. And once you get your own idea, you want to express it in your own way, which is why I tend to write virtually everything myself.

16th May 2002 - Bernhard Sereoj (40) from Mainz, Germany:

What brand of aftershave or eau de cologne do you use?

Currently I am using Armani. How's that?

17th May 2002 - Gale (54) from Canada:

Dear Chris, would you and could you tell us pretty please, what the names of some of your new songs will be? It would be nice to have them to look forward to. :) Gale

The names of some of my new songs? Right, Gale. I'll give you some titles here. I have mentioned "Guilty Secret". "There's Room In This Heart Tonight" which is a song that I have had from the past but I have changed a lot and added to the lyrics. We've got "If Beds Could Talk", "She Must Have Known", "Save Me", "Bal Masqué". And there's a big ballad called "The Best That Love Can Be".

18th May 2002 - Richard Barry (21) from Alness Ross-shire, Scotland:

Will Chris de Burgh's daughter Rosanna or sons Hubie, Michael follow in your foot steps in the music industry?

I think it is highly unlikely that my boys or my daughter will follow in my foot steps in the music industry, because it has changed so completely. But I certainly am not gonna stop them. I think it's really important for everybody to give something a try. There's no point saying "I could have been a brain surgeon", "I could have been an astronaut", "I could have been a rocket scientist". But you've gotta give it a try, if you really feel that you have an ability. It's better to have lost in vain than never to have tried at all. Actually that's another song on my new album, it's called "Another Rainbow".

19th May 2002 - Sean Kingsbury (31) from Albany, New York, USA:

What do you consider to be your most inspiring concert during the last few years?

This is difficult to answer. I think probably I point at one of the concerts I would have done in the open air in England with my band in the grounds of a beautiful palace or castle. But you know, a lot of them are so memorable, they sort of drift into one. There's also the concert I did for the victims of the fire in Volendam in Holland, that was an extraordinary night for me, very emotional.

20th May 2002 - Cecil (37) from St. John's, New Foundland, Canada:

Will there be a new live album after the 2002 tour?

There will be a new live album some day, but I am not sure it will be after the 2002 tour.

21st May 2002 - Sabrina Schmidt (26) from Lüneburg, Germany:

I have been in many many pubs in Dublin and Surroundings (one of my favourite pubs is "The Bleeding Horse"). My question is: what is your favourite pub in Dublin or Ireland and why?

I live in a little village called Dalkey, and I go very rarely to be honest. If I go out, I go out with a couple of friends to either Finnegan's or The Club, here in Dalkey.

22nd May 2002 - Birgit (42) from Braunschweig, Germany:

Hello, how much time do you spend together with your children - when you are at home? This is a question my twin-daughters want to know. We all saw you in the last concert in Braunschweig and since that evening they are big fans of you... like their mother. Thank you very much and all the best. Carolin and Isabel (my girls) want me to give their regards to your children.

When I am away, obviously I am away. But when I am at home, I am home 24 hours a day. I am a 24 hours a day Dad. I take my kids to school every morning, and I am there for them when they come home in the evening. I look after them, you know, I am always there as a Dad. And I kind of feel that spread across the year I am probably around more than most Dads who get up very early, go to the office, and come back late. And I always keep weekends for the children. I never do anything at the weekends apart from of course with them, like taking them to football matches or rugby matches.

23rd May 2002 - Tarek (32) from Cairo, Egypt:

Chris, you are extremely popular in countries like Egypt & Lebanon, but there have been some rumours that you have feelings against Arabs and Moslems (songs like Crusader); what is your comment on that?

Let me explain, because I have seen this rumour before and I'd like to completely deny any problem that I have with Moslems and Arabs. In fact I have a song on the new album called "Lebanese Night", based on the night that I was out in Beirut a couple of years ago. And there are so many very pretty ladies. I mean, it is an extraordinary place apart from the historical side of it. Full of really nice people, guys and beautiful women. And I was just thinking about how it must have been for the girl in my song, who is nobody in particular, but could be anybody, how it must have been for that person growing up in the war years in Beirut. And this then applies to children in war zones everywhere, be it Israel, be it Palestine, be it the North of Ireland, it's basically aimed at all children, what they must have to go through. Living amongst landmines that blow them apart or living in war areas that the wars have been created by their parents and people like, you know, the older people who have left a dreadful legacy for the youngsters.
When I was writing the song "Crusader", I was not drawing very strongly on historical facts, but nevertheless, what happened was when news of what had happened in the Holy Land reached the capitals of Europe, they decided to put aside their differences and all get together to fight the Crusade. That was the interesting thing to me. If something were to happen as happened recently in Afghanistan, people who would not necessarily get on particularly well, they all came together to fight one enemy. And that I find fascinating, even back in the 12th/13th/14th centuries. So there is absolutely nothing at all against Arabs. And somebody started this very bad rumour about me years ago and I would like to take this opportunity on the internet to say I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of offending anybody with "Crusader". It is just a historical look at an extraordinary event. In fact, as we all know subsequently, the Crusades were really not a religious war or a very honourable war in any way. It was, I think, shown later to be very much based on making as much money and spoils and gold for the people who were involved. So, just to reiterate: "Crusader" was a song based on history and based on events that I described and I very much like the friends that I have made in Arab countries and I look forward to returning to them in the future.
And incidentally, while I am on this subject, I'd like to talk about Moslems as well. I've always held a view on two very important things for me, which is: never ever make a judgement on somebody else's relationship with their wife or their husband or whatever. I think you should never make a judgement whatever it may be on how people live together or why they are not getting on together. You know, what happens in somebody's home is entirely private. You should never make a judgement or indeed hold a strong opinion about that. And the second thing is about religion. You know, if you listen to my song "Up Here In Heaven", it's notable for the fact that there is a war ceremonies or remembrance ceremonies going on in two distinctly different areas. Both of them were fighting, say, many years before. And the soldiers, who have died, are all up there in heaven. Every denomination, you know, Japanese, German, English, Taliban, and they are all saying "Hold on a second, why were we fighting for our particular God, when there is actually only one God?" And that's my point. Religious wars have been fought for centuries about something nobody can prove for a start. And be it Moslem or Hindu or Christian, everybody should be allowed to believe what they want to believe. It's really important. I think if tomorrow everybody was tolerant about what the man next door wanted to believe, I think the world would be a completely changed place. When is that enlightened one gonna come upon us? Who knows when.

24th May 2002 - Tim Broderick (34) from Boston, USA:

Why is your music not more aggressively marketed in the United States?

I had a very big song with "Lady In Red" and prior to that "Don't Pay The Ferryman" and "High On Emotion" were hits. But I have no idea. It's not exactly a mystery to me, so I can't really go into it, as I do know why. But you've got to remember that it's frustrating when you know you've got something that people want to hear and would like to hear, when the money men between you and the market decide that they don't want to invest a lot of money. It's frustrating. But you know, I have done well in the past in America, and I hope to do well again in the future. It is the world's biggest market and they are English speaking and it is a bit of a mystery to me why I don't do better. But funnily enough we do get radio reports back and I get a lot of radio play in a significant number of areas in America. I think, if I spend more time there, it would be slightly easier, but who knows? The day may come.

25th May 2002 - Munroe (30) from Berwick-Upon-Tweed, England:

I'd like to ask Chris what was the last CD he bought.....

Hmm, that is a difficult question. I am not very good about buying CDs. I think Dido probably, but that wasn't very recently. But I think she's terrific. She's a great artist and a fresh sound. I don't know, if she would have been so significant 25 years ago, when there were a lot of singers/songwriters around, but now she sounds fresh and different and she writes about things that are appealing to ordinary people. You know "I like to wake up in the morning beside you", and "I miss you when I'm gone". Just things that most people think about, but can't really express. Which after all is what songwriters can do, to express in words and music what other people can't really say.

26th May 2002 - Veronica Thompson (44) from Greenock, Scotland:

I like to listen to your music whenever I feel in a romantic mood and also when I am trying to seduce my husband after a long and busy day at work. What makes you feel romantic?

Well, Veronica, I can't tell you how flattered I am to think that you are using my music to seduce your husband. What do you do with the CD? Hit him over the head? That might do the trick! Anyway, I am very flattered to hear about it. What makes me feel romantic? I think the key is atmosphere. Creating a warm, cosy, comfortable atmosphere, even if you're out for dinner with your partner and I felt that a lot of women would like to have the feeling that they are being wooed mentally, not just physically. Because men are sometimes particularly good at being too physically aggressive whereas, I think, a woman would like to feel that she is worth something, worth a lot in fact. A woman likes to feel that she is wooed in a romantic, gentle, respectful way. I think what can happen subsequently, you know, you go home and make love. You have to remember, a woman gives herself to a man, generally speaking that's the way, and if a man tries to take too aggressively, he can really turn off the woman. And I think a partnership has to be very much about a man and a woman having mutual respect. I think the man must always show affection primarily and mental stimulation before he starts anything else. What makes me feel romantic, I suppose, is beautiful music and beautiful atmosphere. And I hope, whatever you get from my music, Veronica, manages to make your husband feel the same as you do.

27th May 2002 - Art (33) from Malone, New York, USA:

I would like to buy a new guitar soon, and wondered what you would recommend to play so I can get your sound as I play along to your music.

I have always enjoyed Ovation. I have a number of guitars. I've got two Ovations, a six string and a twelve string. And a gut string Ovation. I also have three guitars, one six-string and two twelves, made by the Guitar Factory, which is in Tampa/Florida, I believe. They are stunning hard body guitars that are amazing. One chord can fill an entire stadium. But the Japanese like Takamini, they make very good models, twelve strings, six strings as well. And of course you can't go wrong with a Gibson or a Martin.

28th May 2002 - Laura Lind (12) from Edmonton, Canada:

I would like to be a songwriter; can you give me any advice on what I should study?

The best thing you should do to become a songwriter is study chords on a guitar or a piano and their relationship to another. Most songs, if not all pop songs, are written on chords. Unlike the great geniuses of the classical times, we have to rely on the building bricks of chords. Look at the chords, play along with as many songs as you like, and understand the relationship between the melody and the chords. Learn from great songwriters. The more you play along with other songs, the more you begin to realize what makes them work. There's an absolute host of conventions into great songs where the melody should begin, whether it should become off the beat, on the beat, around the beat, the highest notes that would usually be the choruses. There's an absolute mass of them. But the only way you are gonna learn is by playing along with other people's songs and then trying to write your own. Good luck!

29th May 2002 - Scott Whitaker (37) from Rockwood, Tennessee, USA:

With all due respect to your touring band, if you could choose your dream band of established star musicians, who would they be? P.S. we miss you in the states; a live DVD in region 1 format could help fill the void!

The dream touring band wouldn't be any musicians that I would particularly select, but the key thing to touring in a band is to have friends who are also brilliant musicians. And that is particularly important, because when you're on the road for months and months, you have to be able to get on with the guys you're playing with.

30th May 2002 - Kevin Klimowski (39) from West Des Moines, Iowa, USA:

What are your strongest memories of touring the U.S.A. during your Crusader days (1979 - 1980)? This is when I first saw you in concert! Here in Iowa!

My strongest memories were that it was very hard work. We lived on a bus for 6 to 8 weeks in a go. We got bus fever and went crazy. The concerts were great fun, worth doing, very well worth doing. And I remember being really amazed at the number of fans that I had in the States, even back in the early 80s.

31st May 2002 - Birgit Görbing (39) from Gemünden, Westerwald, Germany:

New song texts deal with sex, drugs and violence; and the kids like it. What's your opinion to such topics, also as a father?

Kids like it, of course they like it, because it's revolutionary, it's going against everything that parents stand for. This has been going on for centuries. And in more recent times the Rolling Stones shocked parents at the time because of the way they lived, the things they believed in, the qualities that they wanted to live their lives with. And nowadays they are parents and they are just as shocked as any parent is for the current thing. People go through this phase and they come out of it. My feelings of course about sex, drugs and violence are that anybody can write a shocking song like Eminem or these kind of guys. Rap songs, anybody can do that. It's nothing unusual, it's just like swearing in public or shouting in church. Anybody can do it, but most people don't bother.

1st June 2002 - Perry (29) from Oslo, Norway:

What are you singing about in "don't pay the ferryman" it is not really about a ferryman is it?

Oh, it is about a ferryman, but it's got a bit of that allusion to ancient Greek mythology, when the ferryman with the ferry, there's the spirits of the dead across the river to the final resting place. But my song really is about destiny and creating the sort of strange cinematic feel. Not quite sure what's going on, but I can certainly see the video in my head, and there certainly is a ferryman in my song.

2nd June 2002 - Alireza Kousha (22) from Tehran, Iran:

There is nothing worth dying for (up here in heaven) - do you really believe it?

There are obviously people who even nowadays believe it's worth killing themselves and bringing death to many many others in suicide bombings. They think it's worth dying for their cause. Personally, I don't, but then again I have never been put in the situation of having to defend my homeland or indeed my family more importantly. I presume that, if I was pushed into it, yes, I would consider giving up my own life for that of my children or my family.

3rd June 2002 - Brian Morton (35) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:

On the last few tours you have been playing these 12 string solid body guitars. What kind of guitars are they and who makes them? Also having played many types of guitars over the years (Guild, Ovation, Gibson and Rickenbacker to name a few) what do you look for in choosing a guitar??

The solid bodies (the ones I mentioned earlier) are from the Guitar Factory in Southern parts of the States. What I look for in choosing a guitar is, because I have small hands, I like a fairly small neck on a guitar. And a good action. Obviously has to be beautifully in tune from the top to the bottom. And easy to play. And obviously has to sound good.

4th June 2002 - Tina (19) from Windeck, Germany:

Will you do further duets in the future and do you intend to do one with Shelley Nelson again?

I would love to do further duets. In effect on my new album, "Timing Is Everything", I have … well, I haven't done a duet with Shelley Nelson, but she has done a lot of singing on the album. And hopefully in the future I may do another one with her or maybe somebody else.

5th June 2002 - Alice Perry (12) from Falmouth, Cornwall, England:

Are any of your children musical?

All my children are musical. But whether they go into business, I don't know, it's a different question.

6th June 2002 - Carol Ann Sampson (36) from Bear River, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Chris, why is it that you do not wear a wedding ring? Is it a personal preference? Does it get in the way of playing guitar? Do you normally wear one at home? Just curious because if my husband didn't wear his, I would be so miffed at him! Love your work and loved meeting you in 2000 in Halifax.

I prefer not to wear a wedding ring. It does get in the way of playing the guitar and the piano. I haven't worn one for years and years and years. It's got nothing to do with not being married or pretending anything, it's just a preference.

7th June 2002 - Sally (15) from Plymouth, Devon, England:

Are your lyrics based on real life experiences, or just creative?

Real life experiences, perhaps. But that would have applied to me very rarely. They are usually from observation, other people's experiences or maybe even watching what's happening in other people's lives. And of course there is a lot of imagination as well.

8th June 2002 - Ruth German (32) from Leicester, England:

What was your inspiration behind the lyrics for Saint Peters Gate?

If we are judged at Saint Peter's Gate after our death, it doesn't matter if, as I say on the stage, if you are a king or a prince or a dictator or an ordinary common person like myself. Sooner or later we have to stand for our judgement day. And really it was looking at people like Hitler, Milosevic, Stalin. Wouldn't it be fantastic to think that everybody that those guys have murdered is waiting for them on their judgement day? It's a song about revenge, but I made it into one of my story songs as well.

9th June 2002 - Shahir (21) from Torbat Jam, Iran:

I'd like to know if you listen to your own songs? "listen"?

Yes, I do. Not frequently, but sometimes when I'm in the mood, I sit down and have a good listen. And sometimes I even walk away thinking "Gosh, that was pretty good", you know. Sometimes I get quite proud of what I have done.

10th June 2002 - Ralph Busch (44) from Hamburg, Germany:

Will the "beautiful dreams"-video be re-released on DVD someday, too?

Hopefully it will be released on DVD some day.

11th June 2002 - Goretti (27) from Uganda:

What inspired you to start singing and why do you sing that kind of music instead of any other type say may be R&B?

I started singing, because I wanted to and I could. The kind of music I sing, I think, suits my voice. For R&B, I think, you've got to have a bit more of a husky voice, a bit more of a rock orientated voice.

12th June 2002 - Tillman Graach (22) from Augsburg, Germany:

For years I've wondered what the lyrics of "Heart of Darkness" are about. I love this song and its mystic mood, but still I don't quite get the message of the lyrics. Is there any connection to the novel "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad?

Well, of course, this does refer to the Joseph Conrad book "Heart of Darkness", which is the story of a man's search into himself to find the soul. And in that book the Congo River and indeed "Apocalypse now" is an allegory for moving deeper and deeper into the heart of yourself to find the man Kurtz, who is the horror and the horror. He has created the absolute, ultimate horror within himself that all men and women are capable of. And in "Heart of Darkness" it's actually not just about that, but it's actually going through death and finally it's like a near-death-experience, going to see what's on the other side and coming back again. Based in a little Cornish village on, I suppose, referring to a book I loved called "Moonfleet", one of my favourite books about a boy hearing the storms and the ships crashing onto the bay and people lying in their beds, waiting to pick up all the salvage the next day. But "Heart of Darkness" is a journey, as it says in the lyrics, "a journey of my life" and of course death.

13th June 2002 - Lyubov (27) from Moscow, Russia:

At your recent Moscow concert on March 8, 2002 you were asked again and again by not one woman to sing "Lonely Sky" and you answered '"It's tomorrow's song". Are you always that principled? :-)

I have to balance my concert. And if I have done a few ballads already, particularly solo, it's difficult to come back to a song like, for example, Lonely Sky. I am not too rigid about these things, but when I said "It's tomorrow's song", I think I did actually sing it the following day. If I didn't, I apologize, but I usually do that song. But when you're doing a solo concert, you have to be extremely aware of the dynamics of the concert, how it works, how songs follow each other. And if you sang too many ballads or quiet ones, one after the other, it does affect the movement of the songs and the concert.

14th June 2002 - Katarzyna Chojnacka (26) from Warsaw, Poland:

I've been to you concert in Warsaw and after this I had the feeling that you are fascinated by Russia. I would like to ask you what are the reasons of your fascination?

I'm not fascinated by Russia, but certainly in the times that I have been going there. We forget here in the West that for centuries the Soviet Union was the most powerful organization of countries on the planet. And I find it interesting going across there into Russia and the former Soviet Union, because historically it was impossible to go there and now it's been opened up since Glasnost and it gives us a chance from the West just to see what's going on there. And I am also particularly interested about what it must have been like growing up there, as I refer to not only in the new song "Lebanese Night", but also in "Natasha Dance", about looking into the eyes of a young woman and wondering what it must have been like growing up in a very difficult society at the time.

15th June 2002 - Sarah Brown (36) from Leeds, UK:

Hi Chris, are you at all religious?

Organized religion leaves me pretty cold. But nevertheless I am a deeply spiritual person. I am quite sure that there is another dimension that none of us is aware of, or only fleetingly aware of. But organized religion, as I said earlier; it's entirely up to every man, how they prosecute their own religious feelings and sentiments and how they proceed with them. And it's never right to criticize somebody for believing in what they want to believe in. And if you want to believe in that a cat is the most powerful creature for the afterlife, well, go for it. But, as far as I am concerned, yes, I do go to church. I bring my family to church; I was brought up going to church. But organized religion is made up by men and not, in my opinion, God.

16th June 2002 - Nathalie Bhoedjang (30) from The Netherlands:

When will your new album be released?

The new album will be released in September.

17th June 2002 - Mark (36) from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

When you compose do you do that mostly on a guitar or piano?

I tend to do the faster songs, the more powerful rock songs on the guitar, and the more ballad-orientated songs on the piano. Mainly because I am not a particularly good piano player. Or indeed guitar-player.

18th June 2002 - Hande Erkmen (32) from Istanbul, Turkey:

I believe all with my heart that your lyrics are all based on your real life stories. If it is possible could you please tell what the story is for 'FATAL HESITATION'? This song is so special for me. Thank you and looking forward to seeing you in Istanbul once again.

I wouldn't like to say that all my songs are about personal things that have happened to me. But I can certainly imagine this one, because I started writing this tune about "the cafes are all deserted". And it suddenly struck me that it's like a puzzle. That here I am, in summer like Bournemouth, or indeed here in Ireland, Bray, on a cold November day, it is very miserable weather, and it's raining, and all the tourists are gone, only to come back in the summer. And there is one guy left behind, that's me, and I am sad about the fact that the girl that I really should have hung on to left and flew away. And that is the fatal hesitation, means that I should have moved when the chance was there. And one line I like is "I saw you again this morning, walking down the beach, and though you are a thousand miles away, you were only just out of reach", which means that you often see people you think are the ones that you're looking for, but they can't just possibly be. I am glad you like that song.

19th June 2002 - Jeanne Darche (27) from Ste-Thérèse, Québec, Canada:

Do you still sing "For Rosanna" for your daughter?!! It makes my sons go to sleep every time!

Yes, from time to time. But she's nearly eighteen now and gets a little embarrassed about these things.

20th June 2002 - Sergio Carloni (42) from Buenos Aires, Argentina:

What situation brought you to write "You are the reason"?

I was thinking not about myself, but I was thinking about people who, for example, started a business on their own and it collapses, and he goes off onto the edge of a cliff and maybe even thinks about suicide, maybe fleetingly. He is sitting there thinking about why his life has collapsed around him and his failure to himself and his family. The one rock in his life is his wife or indeed his girlfriend. And he turns to her, and holds her, probably with tears in his eyes, saying "You are the reason I stay in the fight".

21st June 2002 - Susan (37 1/2) from Madison, Ohio, USA:

I'm bantering semantics, but in the trilogy song "Revolution" off the album "The Getaway", how do you come down from a valley? (I know,I know).

The valleys don't necessarily have to be at sea level. Valleys, for example, in the Alps are way up there at 12,000 feet. A valley is the bit between the mountains. And in my song, they are coming down from the valleys, because in Ireland for example in the Wicklow Hills, the valleys are a good 600 or 700 feet above sea level, maybe more. And that's where all the action is taking place, at sea level.

22nd June 2002 - Mike Smyth (39) from Bournemouth, UK:

I have to ask, which part of the job gives you the most satisfaction - composing, recording, performing etc?

Well, composing is hard work. But it's very exciting when you're starting a new song. And this new one for example, "Guilty Secret", I was driving home in a car on a Sunday with my son in the car and I suddenly had this idea about "Guilty Secret". Who knows where it came from; maybe it was from an advertising holding. And it was something in my head and I was banging on the steering wheel, and by the time I got home, I ran in and grabbed the guitar and most of the song came through. Those kinds of moments are really terrific.
Recording is hard work. I can't say that I enjoy it that much, but it's good and I really enjoyed the last two albums that I have made with Chris Porter.
Performing is probably the cream of the crop. I really enjoy that. It's bringing things to life. And I love it.

23rd June 2002 - Sharon Barker (37) from England:

Having heard you sing Beatles tracks so brilliantly at concerts, such as Hey Jude and the Long and Winding Road. Would you like to or is it likely that you will work with Sir Paul McCartney?

Sir Paul McCartney is my hero and nothing would give me greater pleasure than one day singing with him, or indeed just meeting the guy. I have met a couple of the Beatles, but not him.

24th June 2002 - Hans Bierens (29) from The Netherlands:

Do you like The Corrs and is it possible that you will do a duet in future with Andrea Corr?

I do like The Corrs. I wouldn't say I'm mad about them, but they play good music, they write good songs. But I think they are much more aware of their Irishness. It's somewhat forced at times and I think the music is more based on how the girls look and how they sell themselves. I don't think there's anything very enduring about their music and I am sure they will probably agree. But they are very successful and I wish them a lot of luck.

25th June 2002 - Tracey Upton (29) from York, UK:

To Chris, the 'Angel of Music' - You are a man of endless musical talents and I have often wondered if you had ever considered composing music and lyrics for a musical? Granted, Andrew Lloyd Webber has produced some amazing works, but your contributions would be just as fantastic. Your music and lyrics are so moving and some have the gift of touching your very soul. So go on, any chances of you thrilling the theatrical muses of the country as well as loyal Chris Fans such as myself?

I have often thought about composing musical lyrics for musical. I unfortunately can't read or write music, so I wouldn't be able to write an orchestral score. But the idea of being involved in a musical is very exciting. And I am looking forward to the opportunity one day of doing it, maybe even being involved in a film as well.

26th June 2002 - Kathy Joynson (46) from Liverpool, UK:

Have you been watching the programme "Pop Idol"? What do you think of that kind of method of finding the stars of the future? Do you think it's just a gimmick or a pretty good idea?

Well, I have mixed feelings. You see, "Pop Idol" is an interesting idea. I come from the point of view that just about anybody can sing. That's the first thing. So if you are interviewing 10,000 kids, you are going to get a lot of good singers in that lot. The only thing they haven't thought about is that they have usually never thought about a career in the music business. So it's a good way of getting talented people to the front, who may otherwise have not considered a career in the business. On the other hand, the downside is that they are likely to last a very short time. They are like I said earlier a supermarket product, very much a product of the times we are living in where it's everybody wants on the instant. And then they'll reject that and move on to the next instant thing. But the most cynical part of it is the amount of money that is being made by the managers, the record companies and the television stations. The actual stars themselves really don't do well out of it. And I think it is going to be the death of the pop industry, this kind of thing. It means that genuinely talented writers out there, genuinely talented singers who don't get a chance to go on television, don't get a chance to get their hairdo done a particular way and they don't get a chance to be dressed in a certain way, it does mean that the art of song writing is slowly and surely being killed of. And I am not surprised to see that record sales are plummeting, particularly in countries where they are doing this Pop Idol thing. Although they sell a lot of records initially, it really is in my opinion a seriously bad idea for encouraging creativity.

27th June 2002 - Solange (37) from St. Bernard, Québec, Canada:

Connais-tu plusieurs chanteurs(euses) quebecois?Les aimes-tu?

Unfortunately I haven't been to Québec for quite a long time, but I remember one time the great French-Canadian singer Celine Dion, she opened one of my concerts.

15th July 2002 - Deborah Thompson (30 something) from Belleville, Ontario, Canada:

If you could affect change on just one issue, what would it be, and what song would be the catalyst?

This is a very difficult and deep question. Particularly because of the fact that I am just a songwriter and it's not possible, in my opinion, for individuals to change the world. It's collective thoughts that perhaps individuals can put into painting or poetry or music that attracts the attention like a magnet can of other people's opinions. I suppose in the past I've been drawn to the way that war affects individuals. When you see statistics of the numbers of people killed in wars, millions and millions for example in the last century in various kinds of wars. These are all individuals. They were all once upon a time little babies, they grew, they were loved by their parents, brothers and sisters. And so my interest has always been in children in times of war. And one song I wrote from the album "Flying Colours", called "The Last Time I Cried", preceded by a song called "The Risen Lord", they were together, what I had in my head was a man watching a video, 50 years after the second world war, of what happened during that terrible time. And he watches a scene where a train is being packed with refugees to head off to the prison camps. And the soldier is pointing his gun at this small boy. And as this man looks at the soldier, he realizes with horror that that actually is him, it looks just like him. But it could not have been him, because obviously he was only a baby when all this happened. But it looks like it could be him. And when he looks at the little boy that's having a gun pointed at him, he realizes again with horror that that looks like it's his own child, who is asleep in his arms at that point, maybe aged about 6 or 7.
And I suppose the answer to this question is I would be really interested to know how the change of the warlike aspect of human beings, particularly in men, that would be a prime and most brilliant thing to achieve. I know it's in our genetic structure and our make up why we fight, but if there was a way of dissolving that, particularly in this enlightened time that we are living in, where there is a much more spiritual attitude towards life. I think that would be the major change I would go for.

16th July 2002 - Mark Stepanuik (30) from Winnipeg, Canada:

I was just wondering in your earlier music what made you use biblical references and history in your music?

I have always been fascinated by biblical references, not only in literature but also in church music obviously, and in icons and pictures. And it's only actually relatively recently in the last few centuries that we've drawn away from virtually every painting that you find in the renaissance time for example wasn't just... It only became naked ladies later on. But a lot of them, in fact the majority were of Christ in various scenes, you know the cross, or being born with his mother, the Virgin Mary, and so on. It's kind of very much around us. And historical and biblical references, I think, bring an extra dimension for example in my song "Crusader", "Spanish Train", loosely based on a poem by John Milton, the English poet. The poem was called "Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained". I am kind of fascinated and interested in that period and I think it brings a colour to music that gives it far more than just one dimension.

17th July 2002 - Susan from Madison, Ohio, USA:

I am curious about a song (?) title I ran across somewhere on the web several months ago attributed to you called "Michael and Me". No one seems to know about it, so is it a possible title for a song that changed (Like The Son and the Father, as in it changed to that), or am I experiencing a bad Weird Al moment?

It was never actually called "Michael And Me". But the song "The Son And The Father" was basically, I had my newborn at that time son Michael in my head. Because I wrote a song for Hubie called "Just A Word Away", my older boy. And of course for my daughter who is now 18, Rosanna, "For Rosanna" in 1986 on the album "Into The Light".

18th July 2002 - Billy (36) from Düsseldorf, Germany:

If you really like a new song and people around you don't like it that much, will you put it on an album, and did you ever regret to have released a song?

Well, if I really like something and others don't, I usually listen to opinions, but also I listen to my own heart as well. Ironically I had it the other way round, early in my career. I never forget, during a playback of my album "Spanish Train And Other Stories", or actually prior to that, I never thought "Lonely Sky" was a good song, because a couple of people, right early on in the recording process, they didn't like it very much. So I thought that it's a lot of rubbish, but we record it anyway. But at the playback to the record company, they thought it is fantastic, and now it has gone on to become a very popular kind of classical Chris de Burgh song. So, without sounding big-headed, I have to say that I've got skill in song writing now, to the point where I think it's unlikely that I ever turn out a really bad one. But it's turning out the really good ones that's the difficult part.

19th July 2002 - Francine Carriere (38) from Cornwall, Ontario, Canada:

Do you have any special interests or hobbies that do not pertain to the music industry?

Well I'm a very well rounded person and in that respect I am interested in a lot of things, in politics, in history, in sport. When we were in the middle of the world cup, I watched every single match I think. I enjoy playing the odd round of golf, although it is not as much as usual because I have been very much involved in this building project in County Wicklow in Ireland of this old house. We have renovations going, and it's really a gift for future generations, I think. The work that we've done there will ensure that it will be enjoyed by families yet to be born for the next 250 years. But generally speaking I am not like a stamp collector or anything like that, but I do have wide interests. And when it comes back to music, I listen to music but not a lot. I don't think about it too much, unless I am actually working on something. I am not obsessive about playing the piano or the guitar. Days can go by, if not weeks, without me touching either of those instruments.

20th July 2002 - Dirma (22) from Rimbey, Canada:

Where in Nigeria did you live, and do you still follow the country's news?

I lived outside of Lagos, and I have to point out that I was really only 7 or 8 years old. I don't remember an awful lot about it, well, a fair bit. Certainly the heat and the market places and so on. Yes, I am interested in how the country is progressing and I hope to go back to Lagos one day.

21st July 2002 - Debra Gardner (47) from San Antonio, Texas, USA:

You once said that the name de Burgh is in your family and that you are descended from the twelfth-century ones. I gather that since you named one of your sons Hubert that this must include that twelfth-century Hubert de Burgh. Have you run across any other de Burghs in your travels that you know you are related to or is it a rather small bunch by now? Also, I gather that your other last name is Davison. Are you descended on that side from Queen Elizabeth I's poor secretary who got no thanks for carrying out her wishes but spent some time in the tower and lost a lot of his savings? As you can tell, I'm a bit of a history buff and have wondered this ever since I heard your name. Best wishes.

There is well documented family history on the de Burgh family which starts by Pippin the Great, who was, I believe, the father of Charlemagne, Charles The Great, or possibly the son of, I have to check my book. That name really stamps from about the ninth century, and it goes on through Norman, English and Irish history, as Burgh, de Burgh, de Burgo. They were kings and barons and earls. A lot of marriage into the de Burgh family, like for example King William the I, William the Conqueror, who conquered England in 1066, was married to a de Burgh from Normandy. And he name Hubert de Burgh is very much a family name. In King John's time, his chief justitior, the chief lawmaker and basically top man after the king, was Hubert de Burgh and the name is very much a family name. The Davison name, I am unaware of what happened to Queen Elizabeth's secretary. But that is from my father's side of the family and I believe it originated in Scandinavia.

22nd July 2002 - Marie (23) from Tehran, Iran:

Hi, Chris. This is a very special moment for me. I loved your music the moment I heard it, when I was around 12. But your first song that really touched and spoke to me was "Carry Me". It was so sad and glad at the same time, and so eternal, to me it sounded like a "tribute to life" , its ups and downs, the pain and the joy of it. My question is this: Does it come from a personal experience? Is it dedicated to anyone in particular? What were your own feelings when you wrote it? There's one more thing I want to say and that is: thank you so much for the gift of your music.

Let me say at this point, I am really thrilled by the amount of messages I read on the website from people all over the world and from Iran. Not just in particular, but I know that this is a country that I am popular in and I was speaking to some Iranian people recently about my desire to go back there and they gave me the feeling that it may not be possible at the moment. Certainly not to go there and play and sing. But it's certainly a dream I will like to continue with, and I would love to do it some day. And again I want to point out that I read everything that goes on the website, including the chatrooms, the messages, the Man On The Line section and the guestbook. It is just great to see the interest, and I very much hope that people will carry on doing this, and acknowledge that I am reading what they are saying, and I hope they like the new album.
The song "Carry Me Like A Fire In Your Heart" was written for a friend of mine, whose wife was killed in a riding accident, where she and a companion drowned in a river, which had become flooded. My friend's wife, who was also a friend of mine, her body was found 3 or 4 days later. I remember going to see my friend Mark and he believed that she may not have died. She may have been kidnapped, because he was a high profile businessman. And he was trying to be the strongest man in the country, as it were aware all around him. The grief flowed, because most people really believed that she had gone as it transpired. What I was saying to him in that song "Carry Me Like A Fire In Your Heart" is to say that "I am always here to you, after you have stopped grieving, you've got to let the love flow through your life. And we need you here. I know she's gone and you will meet her again in the next life, but you are currently still in this one and we reach out for you." And it's been used a lot, this song, during funerals, and it's great to hear that it provides comfort to those in distress. In fact, I played it after the funeral. I never thought I'd record it, but I did it on a piano to 40 or 50 people. And the only people in the room who weren't crying were me (because when you try to sing and cry at the same time, it's difficult), and my friend Mark who didn't cry. But when I finished the recording, and I sent him a copy, I heard subsequently that he and his family found great comfort from it, and wept a lot and it helped them to grieve.

23rd July 2002 - Mehrnoosh F. Ordoobadi (15) from Iran:

Hi Chris, I've always wondered what are the three books you'd bring to the solitude island with yourself?

I would take #1 the London Times World Atlas, because I'd want know where I was, and I am fascinated by the world, having travelled so much around it, and this is one of the most amazing atlases of all. It covers the stars as well as the planets and the world itself. Very interesting.
The second choice would be the collective works of Oscar Wilde, who I feel is the greatest writer in English, in my opinion. He is not only a fantastic playwright, he also wrote wonderful children's stories like "The Selfish Giant", and I just love his books and his poetry. He also wrote the play "Salome" in fluent French which is an astounding achievement for such an extraordinary play.
And the third one I would bring, it would be my favourite childhood book which is "Moonfleet", which you have probably read about in the past.

24th July 2002 - Malcolm Wilkes (49) from Cornwall, England:

When and where was the very last concert you did with your former band? Danny, Jeff and the others? They went so quietly I would have given anything to see them for the last time had I known? Have you played with them since the sad death of Glenn Morrow?

That would have been, I think, Dortmund at the end of our concert tour of 94/95. And it was a very tough time for everybody, because Glenn Morrow was very ill. In fact, he was in such pain from his cancer that he found it very difficult to even walk up onto the stage and play the gig. So he showed immense courage right to the very end. And since then I have briefly met most of them in Toronto a few years ago. I know that Jeff is living in California, Ian Kojima is in Toronto, Al Marnie is down in Florida and Danny McBride is living as an artist successfully at the West Coast of Canada. And Glenn of course died.

25th July 2002 - Louis Picotte (39) from Granby, Quebec, Canada:

Do you find it easier to write songs when you are sad or unhappy or experiencing tougher times or do joyful events inspire you more? Thanks for taking time to answer.

Sometimes I get emotional about things. Like I said earlier in "Carry Me Like A Fire In My Heart", or even earlier, I got very emotional about "The Last Time I Cried", because that was a song that came out during a plane flight when I was reading about the butcher of Lyon, who was being trialled for his part in eliminating a lot of people who go to these prison camps. And by the time I got there I had already written down a lot of the words. Generally speaking, I need to be in a fairly even mood. But I've got a very strong imagination, where I can imagine myself being very sad or the opposite, very happy. And I can put myself in those moods through the songs and indeed that's what I am trying to convey in my music.

26th July 2002 - Helen (28) from London, UK:

Martyn Joseph supported you at the first live concert I went to (Birmingham, 1992). When will he support you on tour again?

I am very fond of Martyn Joseph. Indeed I spoke to him a few weeks ago. I hope it might be an opportunity for us to work again in the future.

27th July 2002 - Ian McDonald (37) from Surrey, BC, Canada:

I imagine a lot of thought goes into choosing a name for an album. How do you come up with the names and do you have any interesting stories about how an album name was chosen?

Coming up with the title for an album has been sometimes extraordinary difficult. It means writing down as many thoughts as you possibly can on a piece of paper. What I try to do is reflect the feeling of the album, the mood of the album. Tied into that, it is very important to be able to give the marketing people some kind of phrase or tool that they could use to create a strong visual image. Back in the good old days of vinyl records, you could have a very nice big visual image, but now the CD is smaller, more limited, and has to be more powerful and direct. For example in the 80s, I had two albums with the titles of songs on it, which actually reflected the album. One was "The Getaway" and "Man On The Line". And the next ones were "Into The Light" and then "Flying Colours". "Into The Light" was the feeling of this music erupting from a box in the colours that were actually on the cover. And it is the feeling of the music was in the dark, and now it's been born into the light. And "Flying Colours" is that feeling of going through turbulence, particularly when you're flying. You know the feeling when you are flying up through heavy dense clouds and suddenly you burst through into the sunshine and it's absolutely cloudless and it's a blue sky. Kind of colours that you never even imagined in the greyness underneath. That's the feeling I was trying to convey with "Flying Colours". Subsequently we had "This Way Up". That was a feeling. And it is also something you see frequently on boxes and freight, which is a sign saying "this way up". Then we had "Power Of Ten", which was the tenth album, and it is also a mathematical word "the power of ten". The most recent ones, "Timing Is Everything" and the one before that "Quiet Revolution", both of which are title tracks.

28th July 2002 - Jorn Wagemakers (18) from Odijk, The Netherlands:

What is the name of the first single of your new album Timing Is Everything?

The first single of the new album is called "Guilty Secret".

29th July 2002 - Rayan Chibani (17) from Lebanon:

Hi Chris, I am Lebanese and I heard that you made a song named "Lebanese Night" with Elissa (Lebanese singer). Is that true and did you enjoy working with her? Waiting to see you in Lebanon soon.

Yes, Elissa does appear on my song "Lebanese Night", which I wrote following a visit to Beirut. It is nothing necessarily just to do with Lebanon. It's actually about children being caught up in terms of war, which I referred to earlier. It was terrific to work with Elissa, a very talented lady, and it was a pleasure to meet somebody like her, who is so well known in her area of the world.

30th July 2002 - Ana (22) from Santiago, Chile:

Dear Chris, first of all thank you for your wonderful songs, it's nice to see that someone sings to love the way you do! I would like to know something about the song "you look beautiful" did you really run into an ex girlfriend before writing it? Cause it happened to me and I have to tell you that every word you say in your song applies to what I felt then... Thanks for making, through your songs, our lives better.

I am just trying to remember why I wrote this. No, it wasn't about an ex-girlfriend, but again I am referring to my rich imagination. If I were to run into an ex-girlfriend, this is, I am sure, how I would react. It's really about two people who are in love in their late teens, say early 20s, and they fell apart, because they just weren't ready for one another. And they meet again, say 4 or 5 years later, and they both had different experiences with different people. And suddenly they are both more mature and realize the spark that brought them together in the first place is still a spark that could easily turn into a flame, as I said one time in the song "High On Emotion".

31st July 2002 - Chris and Stewart Williams (50/52) from Essex, England:

What kind of books do you normally read and what book are you currently reading?

The book I am currently reading is called "Bird Song" and I love reading. But I must admit, because I am so busy at the moment, I find it difficult to find the time to sit down and read, because, I am sure like a lot of people, I feel guilty about giving away the time to sit down and read. But bedtime reading is always nice. Although there is another thing I like to do at bedtime, and no, I am not talking about that. I am talking about just lying back and reviewing the day, running it through my head to ensure that nothing jumps out of my dreams to disturb me. But yeah, I read quite a bit. Thank you for the question.

1st August 2002 - Gabi Knobloch (34) from Berg-Starnberger See, Germany:

Hey Chris, my question is very simple: Do you speak German a little bit and can you write in German language?

I speak German only a very little bit. But having been there so many times during the last 20 years or so, I do understand quite a bit. So if I am in a bar for example, and I am listening to conversations, or in a restaurant, I can actually understand a lot of what's being said. So this is aimed at all you German fans: I do know what you're talking about, and I am just smiling about that. I think it's nice to be able to get a smattering bit of a foreign language. I speak French fluently, and I am not so bad at Spanish. And English I am quite good at too, as you may have noticed. And no, I can't write in the German language.

2nd August 2002 - Seth Phipps (20) from Bath, Somerset, UK:

I am really keen on the Spanish version of The Lady in Red, but confused by one of the lines, "mis calves del amor". The closest translation I can work out is 'My bald spots of the love'. Is this what it means? (If so, is it a joke or a euphemism?), or have I got it totally wrong? Also, is it fair to say the tone is remarkably different to the English version? I've only just got into your music, so I don't know if I'm missing something obvious.

"Mis calves del amor" - I really don't think that's what I sang. Because "my bald spots of the love"..? I nearly sang the translation. But I haven't got a copy of this unfortunately. I probably have to find it somewhere to check, but I think the tone is different to the English version. But I'll have to check it again to find out what it was exactly. I may have been mumbling there or got it wrong.

3rd August 2002 - Katherine Paiva (16) from Ontario, Canada:

My English group is analysing your song, "The Sound of A Gun" and were wondering if you could give us some insight on the construction of the poem and how you came about writing such a powerful piece of work?

"The Sound Of A Gun" really is a song I wrote during a lot of the very troubled times in Ireland. And I think that song came from the album "Man On The Line, so that would have been the early 80s. And there was a lot of terrorist activity going on, a lot of people being shot at random, people's families being destroyed, the children getting caught up in it all. And the keyword in this song, Katherine, is the word "only", the word "Only the sound of a gun". It's an ironic use of the word "only". Because it's a shocking thing to hear gunfire, particularly in a country certainly where I live, where guns are virtually banned apart from sporting activities. And to hear it in streets for example, particularly when the weapon is used to kill, it's a shocking thing. And it's like the mother is saying to the child "hush child, go to sleep, it's only the sound of a gun". It's like they got so used to this going on that they are trying to live through it. It's a bit obscure at the beginning: "I have seen the diamond stylus, cut a groove from north to south". That is an oblique reference to what was happening in the country that I live in, how it tears people apart, how one murder on one side of the divide can cause the same happening on the other side, as we see at the moment in this Palestine-Israel conflict.

4th August 2002 - Gabriele (35) from Heilbronn, Germany:

One of my favourite songs is "Discovery". What made you write this song? And now that it's possible, would you like to fly as a tourist into space to see the world from outside?

I wrote this song from the point of view of a sailor in the 15th century who is about to leave his love. It's a very visual song for me. I can see him getting out of the bed at dawn, going down to the harbour to board his ship that would take him round the world and away from home for maybe a year. And this was a time of enormous courage, also it was driven by commercial interest, but nobody really knew what was on the other side of the world. This was also a time when a lot of people thought that the world was flat and you fell off the edge. And that's referred to is when they discovered that their horizon was limitless as they went further West in their ships like Columbus and Vasco de Gama. They found that of course the world must be round because of the way it was shaped with the horizon. And round from the East Indies where spices were the currency of trading. And it's just a gentle song. And then when they return on the ship, as the ship founders in the bay, he realizes where he is at night, as the storm comes. And he looks up, and his girlfriend or his wife has left a candle in her window every night to show him the way home. It's a love song as well as everything else. And then we have the feeling that one day Galileo, one of the great thinkers of his time, said "One day man will leave the planet and look down from the outside". Of course that's exactly what happened, when the Apollo missions went up and the Soyus and the Sputniks from Russia and America. And it's a looking forward way of looking at how our world is developed. And the point behind it is that without these brave men, heading off to space or heading off to unknown worlds, we would really not discover anything which is why I called it "Discovery".

5th August 2002 - Modestas (33) from Lithuania:

Dear Chris, do you like to go for an angling or hunting?

Well, unfortunately, although I was brought up in the country, I never showed much of an interest for fishing. Although I did a bit of coarse fishing off boats out at sea. And certainly killing birds or animals just for sport never appealed to me. I think it's despicable in my opinion to actually people enjoy killing little birds and beautiful deer. There is a necessity in some cases for what we call cull, which means that if there are too many animals to support all of them on a section of land, then you have to unfortunately remove some of them so that the others survive. Hunting, I am wondering if you mean horse hunting as well. I did a bit of that when I was young, ponies and horses. But I never was that drawn to it.

6th August 2002 - Barbara Murrell (34) from Hertfordshire, England:

Hi Chris, Have you ever thought of writing a song from a gay perspective? You are so perceptive in your writing I think you could do all your gay fans a real service by writing such a song. Or do you feel that could be seen as promoting the wrong thing?

Actually, curiously enough, I never have seen me writing a song from this perspective. It has never occurred to me until this very minute. But it certainly appeals to me, because I have absolutely no problem about how people's genetic make up has turned out, or how they want to live their lives. It's completely up to them. And I must admit I always get very offended by how the media attempt to align our points of view with their own, which is to raise a lot of fuzz and drama about, you know for example, how couples split up. What happens in somebody private life is utterly private. And if that's the way they want to live, we must let them live like that and be tolerant. And this applies to so many things in life. For example religion. If people stopped killing each other because they disagreed with somebody else's religious faith and point of view, the world would be one hell of a safer place. So, Barbara, that is an interesting question and I will certainly address it. And another thing somebody once asked me to write about, which was from the point of view of an adopted child. The child who has been given away for whatever reason by the father and the mother, usually the mother for adoption. And how this particular area in their lives can haunt some adopted children for a long time.

7th August 2002 - Andy Claridge (21) from Warwickshire, England:

I'd like to know, when you are recording tracks in the studio, how much of the backing (keyboards/bass etc...) is notated? Do you give the musicians a lead sheet and they do the rest, or do they play what's written note for note? Are there any instances where you wish they had played things slightly differently!!?

Well, unfortunately I can't read or write music. So what I do in that circumstance is something completely different. On my most recent album "Timing Is Everything" I stood in the middle of a small recording home studio with Chris Porter, surrounded by a drummer in a sound booth closely, a keyboard player, a guitar player, and subsequently a base player. And the base player in fact was the drummer, so when I said subsequently, I meant that he put his part on afterwards. And I stood in the middle of the room with a guitar, shouting into a microphone as loudly as I could with as much emotion as I could get into all the songs. And hopefully got across the feeling and the intentions that I wanted to get into the music. There's something I've also done on a frequent basis which is write out for the musicians the story that I have in my head for the song in question, so they can have a better understanding of what I'm trying to achieve. Then subsequently, at a completely different place, elsewhere in the world, I put the vocals on.
The last part of your question, well this always happens. Even if I listen back to some of my older records, I think "oh, what a pity I didn't do such and such". But what you do is, on a certain date, for example when I finished "Timing Is Everything", I walked out of the studio, gave Chris a hug and said "Right, that's it. Finished, mixed, on this day, at this time, at this moment in time. We cannot come back and change anything. That's it." You have to make a decision, and you stick with that decision. And there might be a few moments of regret in years to come, but very very few.

8th August 2002 - Gabriele Krzemien (45) from Hannover, Germany:

I tried to buy your biography written by Tony Clayton-Lea, but it was out of print very soon after it was published. I looked for it in so many book-stores in Germany and even in England. Will it give a new edition in the foreseeable future?

I'm sorry but I have no idea what the background is, whether it is available for sale or not.

9th August 2002 - Cesar D. Quintero (29) from Madrid, Spain:

Hi Chris! I've noticed that in your late albums you explore a little less the Medieval/fantasy/historic side on songs like "The girl with April in her eyes", "Crusader", "The tower" that in your first albums, which had this magic feeling overall... Have you lost interest on these themes? Can we expect to see some more of this in the future? Thanks for being there! Cesar. P.S. Give a hug to Diane, Rosanna, Michael and Hubie! :)

In earlier albums I did the medieval, fantasy, historic side. I suppose to a certain extent I was getting caught up in attempting to be a little bit more aware of my obligations as a live performer. In the later albums I was very much writing songs for a live performance in big venues, because I was doing the football arenas and big places, like the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund. And that coloured the way I wrote songs. It doesn't mean that I no longer want to go into these medieval themes, but perhaps, most likely in fact, I will return to those areas. I found that I was getting branded as some kind of weirdo, medieval sort of religious freak or fanatic because of my interest. But that didn't cover the whole spectrum. Stuff like "Crusader" and "The Girl With April In Her Eyes", they were just gentle looks into the past. And I think having been brought up in an old castle, it certainly helped me to fantasize about those times and put their romantic feelings into my songs. When I go back to listen to songs like "The Tower", it's such a beautiful old-fashioned, medieval feeling. It is tempting to return their one day. Perhaps on the next album. I have already got plans for the next album and am writing songs for that one.

10th August 2002 - Christine (26) from Portland, Oregon, USA:

First and foremost, I have to say that I have been a voracious fan since 92' and been completely in love with the power and honesty I feel and hear in your music. If you were to suggest one of your songs as a wedding song for a couple, which would you choose? I am getting married next year and would love any ideas you might have. Best to you, Chris, and know that your US fans LOOOOOOOVEEEEEEEEEE YOUUUUUUUUU!!!

Thank you for support, I am glad you're a fan. Well, I think "In A Country Churchyard" is often played at weddings. And more recently, one of my favourites is "Love Of The Heart Divine" from the album "Quiet Revolution".

11th August 2002 - Morten Rose (27) from Denmark:

Hi Chris, when did you record your first music video/clip ? And what song was it ? - It is very hard to find your music videos, couldn't you take a serious talk with A&M Records, so we could get a video with all your clips?

Hi Morten! I've been into your website, and it's very interesting! Thank you for all the help that you've given me and to all the fans out there on the internet. It's a very good site, congratulations!
My first music clip was a short film. I believe that was my first one, if I can remember correctly, it was for the whole song "Crusader", the nine minute epic, or whatever it was in length. We have a plan to get all the videos together that I have done, starting from there up to the present day and present them on a DVD. And by the way, A&M Records no longer exist, it was bought over by another company which was then bought over by another one and another one and another one. So there are fond memories from A&M Records, but they no longer exist.

12th August 2002 - Colette Gifford (29) from Whitby, Canada:

One incredibly witty question (or attempt at such): You've obviously done a lot of live shows around the world, what's been the craziest thing to happen to you on stage?

Just about everything that could possibly have happened, has happened. From equipment failing in the Cardiff Ice Hockey Arena. One side of the system failed. So I climbed off the stage, walked through the audience, had a word with the sound technician, threatened him with a chair (in a very light-hearted manner I might say), and walked back to the stage again, got on and it worked. I think, as a stage performer, you have to be ready for just about anything. As they say about coming to Ireland to visit: "You've got to expect the unexpected." I've had people jump onto the stage in Russia for example, and I suddenly found somebody pushing flowers into my face and hugging and kissing, unexpected things like that. I often have arguments with security men, who refuse to let people get up and dance and sing and express themselves. Even now I have to remind them that it's not their concert, it's your concert, you people out there who have come to the concert. And one bossy security man, walking round with headphones on and earpieces can actually ruin the vibe for everybody in a concert. So I've actually clipped people over the head, I've shouted at the security men to let people go. And I always ask my assistant Chris Andrews to make sure, if that happens, that the security men are pulled off from the front of the stage to the side, so that people can come up and dance. It's very important for me to have that happen. But apart from that, just about everything that could have happened has happened.

13th August 2002 - Chris Raymond (51) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:

Hi Chris! Ages ago we heard that you were having a property in Wicklow refurbished as a new family home. We never heard the outcome... Have you moved and settled in there? Also would you ever return to Bargy Castle and make it your home?

Yes, I am refurbishing house in Wicklow and I hope to move in very soon and Bargy Castle will remain in the family as long as possible, as long as I have anything to do with it. Because I have spent a considerable amount of time and money making it comfortable for my mother to live in and as a family home for the future. Because I am firmly committed to the idea that architecture and beautiful homes must be protected for future generations.

14th August 2002 - Neb Abed (30) from Tehran, Iran:

Is it true that your mother always wanted you to become a priest or is it just a rumour here in Iran? R.S.V.P Thanks

My mother never wanted me to be a priest, it's just a rumour. No, I have never had any interest in becoming a part of organized religion. Although I am sure a lot of people do, I have different believes.

15th August 2002 - Brice Johnson (39) from Dubuque, Iowa, USA:

I noticed your fascination with rain, is that your favourite weather, or do you just like the mood it creates? Your biggest US fan since 1982.

My fascination with rain isn't particularly a wanted fascination. It comes from the fact that here in Ireland it just rains a lot. Because we are close to the prevailing weather fronts coming in from the Atlantic and that's why Ireland is known as the country of the forty shades of green.

16th August 2002 - Rebecca Bright (27) from London, UK:

Chris, many of your songs contain a theme generally relating to a quest or an adventure or a situation where good is trying to overcome evil. I've always wondered if you have a love for fiction/fantasy books such as 'Lords of the Rings' for example? Any words would be inadequate for all the joy you have brought me but thank you, I love your work and your concerts are fabulous!

Well, I brought this theme in initially with Spanish Train, the struggle between God and the Devil. And, you know, if you believe that this cosmic struggle is going on, it is quite likely that evil is getting the upper hand and those of us who believe that good will win must keep on fighting for this to happen. I have never actually been mad about Lord Of The Rings, although I saw the movie and I quite enjoyed it. I didn't enjoy it as much as Harry Potter, which is in its own way, I think, more believable I suppose in the fight between good and evil, and that's what it represents anyway: the dark forces against the forces of light. I think this is present in everybody's lives.

17th August 2002 - Delia (41) from Thorne, South Yorkshire, UK:

Hi Chris, have you ever thought of doing a duet with Cliff Richard? Lots of luck with the new album!

Well, I am quite a good friend of Cliff Richard. In fact at a private dinner at the Bayrische Hof in Heidelberg last year, Cliff and I did actually do a duet with a piano accompanist, Peter Oxendale. And we were singing "The Long And Winding Road" and Cliff was not too familiar with the words. So every line I whispered in his ear what the next line was and we sang it together. That was great fun. But yeah, maybe one day.

18th August 2002 - Billy (36) from Düsseldorf, Germany:

Hi Chris, do you have a favourite movie that you can watch all over again without getting bored?

There's a film that's gonna be the first film that I watch when I get finally to my new home, having spent six years working on this place, and it will be "2001 - A Space Odyssey". In my opinion one of the greatest films ever made, and I never get bored or tired watching it.

19th August 2002 - Naomi Barrett (21) from Sheffield, England:

Chris, have you ever thought of writing a novel instead of song lyrics? Many of your songs seem to be telling different stories and I wondered if there was a bigger picture behind some of them, like Spanish Train for example? Looking forward to seeing you in Sheffield in November!

I love telling stories, but I am also using the skills that I have developed as a melody writer and as a lyricist, which means condensing ideas into much smaller and more precise forms instead of writing a novel which is a very big portrait, a very large way of telling and expressing an idea. What I try to do is the absolute opposite, trying to condense it into a small area. I don't think I'd be a particularly good novelist. Maybe but I haven't tried, I suppose. Who knows, I might turn my hands to novel writing one day, but it is a different skill which I have not trained at.

20th August 2002 - Martin Travers (34) from Farnborough, Hampshire, England:

On the sleeve of the Getaway album you say: "For Diane - A VERY special MWA!". What does this mean ?!

This is just a private and secret message.

21st August 2002 - Tillman Graach (22) from Augsburg, Germany:

There's an allusion to smoking pot in "Watching The World". Have you ever made experiences with drugs?

When I was in University, just about everybody was smoking weed or cannabis or grass. And I certainly was one of the people who tried it. I enjoyed it, I suppose, but it was a fairly limited experience with this particular drug. I have absolutely no problem with anybody else smoking it, and however I do have a problem with anything more serious, particularly chemical drugs. I would never ever try them. I wouldn't be interested. I think life itself is a drug that I can get high on just about any time. Smoking anything, if you are a singer, is pretty disastrous, in my opinion. It not only affects the voice, but more importantly it affects your breathing.

22nd August 2002 - Les Partridge (54) from London, UK:

Hi Chris, I am one of your older fans who has loved your music since the very early days. However, the song that touches me most is Love Of The Heart Divine. Every time I hear it, I get that lump in the throat and I would love to know what inspired you to write such a beautiful song.

I'm glad that you like "Love Of The Heart Divine". It's one of my very favourites, actually not just from the Quiet Revolution album but possibly of all time. What happened was, I was playing the piano and this idea, this sentence came out "And he laid her down in a field of corn and the sun was on his back". And immediately I started getting this vision of a couple obviously in a field. A hot summer's day, a field of corn, an innocent world, and the idea of a young couple who had grown up in the same village somewhere in the Southwest of England started coming into my mind. In about 1911, don't ask me why, but this is what happened. And they grew up, and during their teenage years they had been to school together, they were very friendly, they became boyfriend and girlfriend. And just before the First World War broke out, they get married. It's a very pretty country wedding. And then the war breaks out. And at that famous scene, I am sure we have seen in many movies, with the soldiers leaving on the trains, leaning out, waving their hats, and everybody is on the platform, their wives and the children and the mothers and fathers waving. It's a very emotional scene, plenty of tears. At that point, as the train pulls out of the station on this great adventure that all these young men thought that the first world war was gonna be, she felt the first kick of the baby. And I think the irony of this is that we now know with history that the First World War for everybody involved was an absolute disaster. So this was an age of innocence where, you know, getting ready to fight for Lord Kitchener. And it's young love. What isn't expressed is what happened next. It doesn't really matter what happens next but for me it's a very emotive song and, as I said, one of my favourites.

23rd August 2002 - Marion Bressel (23) from Regensburg, Germany:

Has your 1984 song "Sight and Touch" been inspired by George Orwell's novel "1984"?

The song "Sight and Touch" wasn't really inspired by George Orwell's novel "1984", more it was, I suppose, in the back of my head was a film that I had seen called "Fahrenheit 451" which is an absolutely tremendous film about a future time when books have been banned because they cause people to deviate from what the state wants them to think. And in "Fahrenheit 451" we have this hero in it who believes that books are right and must be preserved. And in fact away in the forest there are people learning books by heart to pass on to the next generation. And I like that film a lot. I didn't say to myself "yes, I must write a song about this film", it just kind of drifted to "Sight And Touch". And again like a clue I thought about a time when "Sight And Touch" was such a rare thing that people had babies by state control and emotion and sexuality was crushed. It's a future time and of course I hope this never happens.

24th August 2002 - Alireza (18) from Tehran, Iran:

Do you like football (soccer)? If you do which team do you like and who is your favourite player?

I love football, absolutely love it. My team that I support for many many years is Liverpool. And I've gone to many matches at Liverpool, met a lot of the players. And I'm friends with people like Markus Babbel, Michael Owen, Dietmar Hamann, Robbie Fowler who used to play for Liverpool. A lot of these guys have been to my concerts in the past and I love to meet them after football matches in the players lounge at Liverpool.

25th August 2002 - Cleopatra (52) from Australia:

Hello again! A little bird told me that you are very partial to fudge, and it got me thinking about the song 'I want it and I want it now', which I call the chocolate song! Everyone knows you are a football fan, so I wondered if this song is in some way a self portrait? Best wishes, Cleopatra

Yes, Cleopatra. I love fudge. In fact, my Mom used the make the best fudge. It was really white and crumbly and tasted of butter and sugar and it was delicious. And in fact when I was younger I used to make it myself. "I Want It And I Want It Now" which you may call the chocolate song is really about nowadays kids who just can't wait for anything. It's a very fast moving world. And I was thinking about these days when people say "I don't want it tomorrow, I don't want it next week, I want it and I want it now".

26th August 2002 - Teddy Tsao (41) from Hong Kong, China:

Chris, you've composed a lot of songs either published or not. I just want to know which one is the most favourable song you've composed so far?

Well, I have written and recorded something about 165 songs. At the moment it is almost impossible for me to say, my favourite song would be such and such a song. I obviously have my own personal top ten list of favourites, but some of them, I suppose, are more spiritually inclined than others. Others tell a really good story like "Don't Pay The Ferryman". The one I mentioned "Love Of The Heart Divine" is a favourite. There's no in particular one favourite song. I suppose, if I was asked what was my number one, it would be "Spanish Train". Because it set in motion a whole series of styles of writing, primarily the story song and the allegorical song, where you are looking at a particular problem and creating an allegory which is another way of saying it in a different form, in a story form.

27th August 2002 - Scott Whitaker (38) from Rockwood, Tennessee, USA:

Who would be your top ten pick of all time greatest songwriters?

I don't really have a top ten, but I would suggest that Paul Simon is in there, Stevie Wonder, maybe Steve Winwood, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Paul McCartney, John Lennon. How is that for starters? And as you may notice all these guys that I mentioned are of the older school, the more classic school of song writing. And I really haven't heard any absolutely fantastic, brilliant new songwriters, although I am quite taken with this girl Dido. But time will tell what a great song is and who a great songwriter is going to be.

28th August 2002 - Simon (42) from The Netherlands:

Many albums and /or songs are written by you...but what really makes me curious why you never wrote a complete Xmas album....Don't you just have the "drive" to do so, or is there a special reason why you don't?

As we all know, Christmas comes and goes very quickly. It's also the time of extremely high commerciality. This is where those really interested in selling a vast volume of something over a short time, they really get into it with television advertising, radio advertising, press advertising. And the idea of me putting a lot of my effort and time into a short period where people might buy a Christmas album is not appealing. I just got lucky that I wrote "A Spaceman Came Travelling" that has been used very much as a Christmas song on hundreds and hundreds of compilation records.

29th August 2002 - Daniela Braun (31) from Aachen, Germany:

Have you ever done a recording of Beatles' songs? (Apart from the one on Beautiful Dreams)?

I have never done a recording of any other Beatles song apart from "Girl" on Beautiful Dreams. But there was a time I think I could probably have sung every single one of them. And I have done "The Long And Winding Road" live with full orchestra for example, and in my concerts, as you may know, I usually finish up with "Hey Jude" and maybe with another Beatles song in there earlier.

30th August 2002 - Susan (37) from Madison/Ohio, USA:

How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to sing for a living?

My parents had heard me singing at the castle hotel that we had during the 60s and 70s, and they supported me in as much as that they didn't understand the music business, and neither did I, because I was really not supposed to be going into music business. But they said "Give it a try, see how you do, and if you fail, well, so be it. At least you have tried." And that has always been one of my mottos, you know, give it a try. And I say to my kids if they want to try something "yeah, try it". There's no point being a grandfather and saying "well, I could have been a great singer, I could have been a great heart surgeon or an astronaut." Just give it a try. If you feel, you can try something or do something, go for it. And there's no shame in failure as long as you have given it your best shot. And that was my parents' reaction as well.

31st August 2002 - Michel Pinard (40) from Montréal/Québec, Canada:

Chris, how do you prepare "psychologically" for a concert...? Is there any days where you don't feel like performing? Merci Beaucoup !!! All the best!

When I am on a long grinding tour, when I am doing like 5 or 6 nights on the trot, three hours a night, travelling a lot in between for 3 or 4 months in a go, yes there are some nights when I don't feel like performing. But I usually manage to convince myself that however bad I am feeling, it's not fair to go out on stage in front of thousands of people who have paid good money for their tickets and are now expecting me to be at my peak best. And that has always been my attitude and I am sure it always will be. As far as preparing for it, after a while of doing the shows I am fairly prepared anyway. But before the concerts I will always warm up my voice a little bit and I like to look out at the audience to get a feel for the night and the crowd to see how we are going to do. But apart from that I am very relaxed backstage, I am never nervous.

1st September 2002 - Chantal (39) from Ottawa, Canada:

Borderline has always been my favourite song. The words have so many meanings. Could you please tell what inspired you to write this song?

The song "Borderline" was inspired in 1982 by watching all the veterans coming back from the Falkland Islands war and another example of two leaders Galtieri and Thatcher waving their fist at each other and threatening all sorts of things, but the people who get caught in the middle are the young soldiers. And some of the outrages that were done, for example the sinking of the ship General Belgrano was absolutely disastrous. Thousands of young men killed. And I watched this victory parade going on, and in the background, almost out of view, were the young men and women who were victims of absolutely terrible burns, in their wheel chairs, paralyzed, and also the families of those who've been killed. And they were kind of shuffled away to the background a bit. And I thought "no, this is not right". And that touched my heart, and I suppose that's why I sat down and wrote a song called "Borderline" about those who are on opposite sides but love is an all conquering feeling. And maybe, as you may have heard in the next song "Say Goodbye To It All", the couple gets together and they go to the West of France and they have a child. That's just the way things are for me in my head, and I get emotionally inspired by things like for example the song "The Last Time I Cried", which I spoke about before.

2nd September 2002 - Kwashirai Chigodora (28) from Gaborone, Botswana:

Do you love the sea, solitude, the rain, the wind and down weather? You are soulful & loving but realistic, aren't you?

Interesting question. Well, the answer is yes, I used to and in fact I still do get a kick of going out onto a beach when it is really wild and the sea is roaring and it is foaming. And you can see sea gulls flying, trying to fly into the wind and not succeeding. And the rain is pelting down, it's cold. You just feel like you're in the middle of something so elemental. It's like being caught in an absolutely amazing storm of nature and the natural forces. And it makes me feel almost like much more of a part of nature than I am when I'm in my house or car or something like that. And I do like it. I don't like it too often now, but from time to time it's fascinating to be involved in something like that.

3rd September 2002 - Lyuba (27) from Moscow, Russia:

Dear Chris, many of your songs concern "war-ache"(Sailor, Borderline, Love of the heart divine,...). Where did this deep insight come from? It looks like you have had some army or even war experience. Is that true?

I don't know. I never had army or war experience, maybe in a previous life I was involved in something like that. But I have always had this terrible ache in my heart when it comes to the horror of war. It's curious I've met a lot of people who have the same feeling about the First World War. It's almost like there's this club. And I wonder how many of the fan club also have this feeling that they are drawn into the First World War, into the mud and into the guns and the horror of the whole thing. And it's almost like it's an echo in the back of my head. And I suppose having been brought up fascinated by history in an old castle some of the time, it's been something that's been part of my emotional make up and I'm quite sure I will continue to write songs, not only on the new album about that. But I have already written some new songs for a future album which are very very strongly about that particular theme.

4th September 2002 - Sarah Brown (36) from Leeds, UK:

Chris, how's your back these days? I was gutted to hear you had hurt your back and cancelled the 1st night of your Alton Towers gig years ago. Then joy as you managed the Saturday night with painkillers and a TENS machine and a man to help you lift off your guitar...that night was the best of my life - your most fantastic concert ever even when you sang some Beatles songs at the end notably 'Hey Jude'.

Standing on that stage was extremely painful, because I had hurt my back and I had actually been lying on my floor in my house for four days and anybody who has ever had lower back pain would know that it's one of the most terrible of all. You literally can't move. And any movement is just screaming agony. However I could still sing and so I was actually helped to my feet by a doctor and an assistant. I was put in an air ambulance and a helicopter with a stretcher at the other end. And I was helped onto the stage and I figured that, if I could still sing, that's alright. And people said to me "you must do a shorter show tonight". But I'm very stubborn and I said "No, I can't do that. I've gone through all the effort and pain of coming here, I am gonna do a longer show.", which is exactly what I did. And the painkillers and the tens machine.. yeah, you saw it all. But I am very pleased that I did that show. I do a lot of back exercise to strengthen my back, so it doesn't happen again. And it hopefully won't.

5th September 2002 - Billy (36) from Düsseldorf, Germany:

Having a well-known face can possibly be difficult now and then - have you ever considered to wear a T-shirt with "No, I just look like him" on it, or is it okay for you to be prominent and are you able to keep up a good deal of your privacy?

Living in Ireland, people ignore you. It's a funny thing. They make a big effort NOT to pay attention to celebrities. But when I go to other countries, recently I was in Portugal, you know, people come up and ask for autographs. Also in Germany and Switzerland, Canada, Russia, you name it. I always feel that if you're going to put yourself out into public then you've got to take the consequences of being recognized. But there are ways of not being recognized. One of them is just walking round the streets as if you know exactly where you are. Keep your body language a minimum, as if you are a local. And that way you don't walk with your head in the air, or surrounded by bodyguards. You can see lots. And every city I go to, I do that. Cologne is a favourite city. I always walk across the bridge to the cathedral and often go into the cathedral or just walk around into the museum. It's my freedom too, I need to have that.

6th September 2002 - Deb (36) from Winnipeg, Canada:

How does it make you feel when you're performing and your audience sings with you? Emotional? Surprised? Is it a wall of sound coming back at you?

I feel extremely emotional when people sing back at me from the audience. I am very flattered and it's almost like I've done my job. I've put across the idea and the emotion of my song, and people have come to the trouble of learning the words. It is an extraordinary feeling, there's nothing like it. It's a feeling of joy, I suppose. Not power, but in control. You're not controlling the audience, but you are allowing them to receive back the energy they are giving me. I feel very much like a mirror on stage. I am just reflecting the energy that's coming towards me. I reflect it and change it and send it back again. And that's what happens.

7th September 2002 - Alireza (18) from Iran:

What do you do for keeping your beautiful voice?

Thank you about my beautiful voice. I don't know, but I suppose using it fairly regularly to sing and I drink lots and lots and lots of water to keep myself hydrated. And be prepared when you're singing high notes, be mentally prepared at least a minute or certainly 30 seconds before hitting that note, otherwise you can hurt your voice. And that has a lot to do with it.

8th September 2002 - Dave Doohan (36) from Ilkeston, UK:

Why do you always seem to wear black whenever you perform? Do you have many of the black tops or is it the same one??

Well, often the choice of what I wear comes down to the lighting technicians. And black is one of the colours that is good with light. And also, to be honest, it's a very flattering colour. If you sweat, as I do, on stage and lose a lot of fluid, it's not a very clever idea to have white or anything that shows it. There are a number of issues here. It's got to be a light garment. It can't be tightening the throat. It's got to be lose. And black silk is often one of the best. I have many black tops here.

9th September 2002 - Caroline and Michelle Hardwick (45 & 19) from Gloucester, England:

We think all your songs are fantastic and are looking forward to your new album. Do you have a personal favourite song from your new album?

This album is not in my opinion as deeply a spiritual album as the previous one may have been. It's much more a fun album, not light hearted, but certainly upbeat and good humoured. But there is one song I like a lot: Lebanese Night, which reminded me of a recent trip to Beirut in the Lebanon, where I went to the same restaurant two nights running with the band. Outdoors under the stars, listening to music, listening to the waterfalls, watching the beautiful people, young men and young women, really good looking people, and they all were brought up, now here's a familiar theme, during a war, the war in Lebanon. And I started thinking about children who grew up in war zone areas like Belfast, or Palestine or Israel, and how their fathers and mothers leave them with this legacy of hatred and pain. And Lebanese Night is also involving a duet with a wonderful singer from the Middle East, called Elissa, from Lebanon. I like the sentiments in this, I like the picture it creates, because it reminds me of somewhere I have been and I like the sentiment involved as well.

2nd October 2002 - Brian Morton (35) from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:

Two thoughts.. I'm curious about a song called "Snow is Falling" that you were playing on tour last year. It doesn't seem to be on the track list for the new album TIMING IS EVERYTHING. What process do you go through and how do these songs get cut during the recording sessions, and lastly what songs didn't make the cut from earlier albums! Are there unreleased songs from EASTERN WIND or CRUSADER for example??

This is a song that I started writing earlier this year and I in fact performed on several occasions just to see how it would go and how it would work. And those who heard it, thought it was wonderful and liked it a lot. It's really one of those unusual things where the song wrote itself and I was just the vehicle, you know, the channel for the music. It's about people who have been murdered and been buried in graves. A lot of people, like an entire village. And their spirits are calling out to be found. Not just so they can have a decent burial, but also so their loved ones can know exactly what has happened. This is something that has been in my mind very much, sort of an Eastern European feeling to the song. It will definitely wind up on the next album which I hope to start around the beginning of next year. I had never intended to record this song for "Timing Is Everything". It's the wrong kind of song for that album. "Timing Is Everything" is essentially a cheerful, up, fun record, as depicted on the front cover.
There are unreleased songs from Eastern Wind or Crusader, but they are buried in the vaults, so I have no idea where they are. I tend to take the view that, if they don't get recorded, there is a reason for it. Either they wind up on another album, or else they just weren't good enough.

3rd October 2002 - Oliver Schäfer (34) from Berlin, Germany:

When I visited your concert on November 1st, 1999 in Berlin, you sang the song "The Same Sun", which means a lot to me. And I had the impression that it meant a lot to you. Is that true and where came the idea for that song from? Does it have its roots from a personal story of yours?

"The Same Sun" is a song that I wrote for the Quiet Revolution album, just reflecting on something that happens to me a lot, when I am away from home. Particularly, if you are in a different time zone, like if you are in Los Angeles. When you wake up with the dawn in Los Angeles, the people that you are thinking about across the other side of the world, have already lived half their day, eight hours ahead of you. And it also strikes me that if you see our planet revolving around, we all, wherever we are, share the same moon, stars and sun. It's another pointer as to why we should be a universal planet with universal aims and achievements. It's very much a Celtic love song. The dreaming of somebody far, far away from you. It doesn't have a personal meaning for me, in as much as it's not about anybody in particular, but it's really about somebody you love far away, maybe a child or a loved one or indeed a parent.

4th October 2002 - Henk Kooy (50) from The Netherlands:

Diamond in the Dark is, I think a very melancholy song. What or who was it inspired on?

"Diamond In The Dark" was never intended as a melancholy song. It's more meeting somebody, and like a diamond shines in the dark, it's a feeling that this is somebody very special. You know, "Is it real what I feel? Is it love that's making me weak?", these are the first lines. And love can have a very powerful impact on people when it hits you for the first time with somebody new.

5th October 2002 - Brian (21) from Harare, Zimbabwe:

Does the phrase "trees are crying leaves into the river" hold any particular significance to you? That phrase has meant so much to my life. So please tell me what you were thinking when you wrote those words.

I came across this phrase "trees are crying leaves into the river" either from something I read or something I imagined. I don't actually recall. But it's the outset of autumn. And it's almost like the trees are saying "well, it's time for us to shed our leaves". And it's a strong image, a powerful image of the leaves slowly falling down into the river which takes them away to the sea. I was trying in the song "Lonely Sky" to create the feeling of someone who has met somebody very important in their lives, and the cathedral of Notre Dame is some place I had been just a little while before I wrote this song. And I was thinking about the Lords and Ladies in stone, and so on. And thinking about in "Lonely Sky" how freedom, when somebody searches for freedom, it may not be everything they wish it to be. And I just wanted to say "I'm beside you in your lonely sky".

6th October 2002 - J.P. Roy (40) from Montreal, Canada:

During your last show in Montreal, you said that you and the band would go to a specific bar to continue the party after the show, and you invited everybody. Did you really go to that bar and is that a habit of yours to meet fans after a show ? How do you like it when a fan comes up to you for a chat ? (boy, i should have gone to that bar...)

Let me say at the outset that the Montreal people have always been fantastic to me. And some of the most memorable shows I have ever done in my long career have been in Montreal. And I'd like to say a special "Thank you" to my friends in Quebec and Montreal City particularly.
If I say from the stage that I am going to a particular bar, it's usually because I am not going there. I don't mean to play around here, but sometimes it's quite fun to meet with the fans after a show, other times you just feel too tired. Sometimes it's nice to meet, you know, sometimes I have said "we are going to go to such a bar", and if people are polite, I would be delighted to meet them in a bar. So yeah, that's the answer.

7th October 2002 - Lore Müller (50) from Lohmar, Germany:

Hi Chris! What was your reason for recording the wonderful rare track "Room In This Heart"? Was it Brian Morton's version on the Tribute-CD? Why did you change it a bit? Can we hope for a recording of "Standing At The War Memorial" on your -hopefully- next album? Thank you for answering all our questions in such a personal way! And thank you for all your songs!

I got the idea for a recording of "There's Room In This Heart Tonight" from a friend of mine in Liverpool, Steve Bennett. A year ago or so, he sent me a copy of what I had done previously taken off the TV. When I had done this, it was recorded on a big fundraising concert. So, I am delighted I did, because it's a strong tune. And I'd like to thank Steve for suggesting I go back and have another look at it. I did actually change it around quite a bit, changed words, changed the format, but essentially it is the same song.
The song "Standing At The War Memorial" won't be on any album, I did actually say it at the time. It's a very personal and emotional response to a disaster, when a bomb went off in Enniskillen in the North of Ireland. And similarly, you may have heard that I sang a little tribute song to Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, who were murdered, aged 10 years old. I am a parent and my youngest boy is eleven, and it doesn't take much imagination to try and think what it must be like for the parents and the loved ones involved. So I sang this one live on BBC Radio 2 a few days ago, and it got a wonderful response, but I am never gonna do it again. I just feel, I don't want to profit from it, in any way shape or form. I am not talking financially here. But it would be nice, if the parents heard this song. It's just my response, I'm a songwriter and I'm also an emotional person.

8th October 2002 - Romanita Harrison (43) from Sacramento, California, USA:

The first time I heard the song Quiet Revolution it made me cry because it was so beautiful, and reminded me of the Baha'i community. Can you tell us more about the background of the song and what was the inspiration for it?

You know, I'm a person that is not particularly fond of organized religion, but I do believe that the spiritual side of the world, in spite of all these disasters and war is making a very very big, not even come-back, but there's a feeling around so many people. I think, as organized religion begins to crumble, people are searching for something else. And it could be we're heading for a new age of enlightment, where the spirit world is becoming more obvious and more tangible and more important to us. So that's what "Quiet Revolution" is all about. It's about the fact that like a revolution, people are keeping it underground. And the enemy I refer to is the media, because if the media suspects you involved in anything like this, they can make a complete laughing stock of you. So I always kept my mouth shut about it. But I do believe a lot of people, surprising people, you know, people that you wouldn't even believe, are interested in the supernatural and another dimension. They talk about it and they are very aware of it. So I found that very exciting.

9th October 2002 - Andrea Lucas (37) from Ludwigsburg, Germany:

Hi Chris, in the last Getaway Gazette from the fanclub you told us that you went skiing, but broke 2 fingers. I hope everything is o.k. now, but being an enthusiastic skier myself I would like to know if you will go skiing again and where do you go? There are always people from Ireland and Great Britain in the village of Serfaus in Austria where I like to ski. Best wishes, Andrea

Yes, last year I took my family to Courchevel in France for a skiing holiday. I hadn't been skiing for many years. Of course for children it's immediate and natural, but if you're slightly older it's not so easy. I enjoyed it. I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I did. But I was getting on one of those ski lifts where you sit on a pole, and my fingers got caught around the pole and it snapped off into the distance. And it really hurt my fingers. And on the next pole exactly the same thing happened. And I thought I had broken two fingers on my right hand. I hadn't, they were just very badly bruised. And thankfully it didn't cause any permanent damage.

10th October 2002 - Joe Robinson (38) from Eastern Passage (near Halifax), Nova Scotia, Canada:

Hi Chris, a friend of mine had told me that during a mid to late '70's concert in Ottawa, Ontario, you performed while a ballerina-type dancer danced. I have seen a few of your concerts in Halifax, back in the '80's, and you did not perform with any sort of "extras" then. I am wondering if you have any plans to bring back that style of theatrics to the stage in future concerts? Or if you have already, what theme did you use for what songs? Thank you.

I am wondering if your friend may have seen a ballerina, it's possible, but I can't remember. But I do know that we had what was called an exotic dancer who used to come on our tour along with her husband across Canada, just once, so it would look good on her curriculum vitae. She performed with me, but she used to strip to Patricia The Stripper and it was pretty funny. I can't remember the ballerina thing, but it's quite a good idea sometimes. It's important I think to create a visual and theatrical show and it's quite possible we may use those kinds of things again. Particularly if I'm doing solo concerts or concerts with orchestra or quartet. It has a tremendous amount of visual impact, if there are theatrical things involved.

11th October 2002 - Ron Harding (44) from Pickering, Ontario, Canada:

I was wondering how hard it is to perform your songs over and over during your concert tours, and over the years? How do you keep it fresh? I have been to every concert you have played in Montreal and Toronto since your 'Perfect Day' album. Whether it is a brand new song, or a classic that you sing alone with your piano or guitar, they all sound as if you are sharing it with us for the first time. How do you do it?

When you are doing a long tour of eighty or ninety concerts, and you're singing the same songs just about every night, it is difficult. But you have to remember that there is a new crowd of people in front of you, you know, a new audience every night and you have to sing each song with as much energy as you possibly can. You have to have respect for the audience who paid good money to be there, gone through a lot of trouble to get there, and they deserve a hundred percent every time. And it's a bit like, when I sing, I wear the song like a coat. And I get into it, and I really feel the emotions, feel the excitement, feel the energy and I try to transmit that every time.

12th October 2002 - Joyce Baggel (22) from The Netherlands:

Where do you feel the most at peace?

Well I have just moved house to a beautiful part of Ireland, in the hills of Wicklow. And it is very peaceful here, and I have taken to it immediately. Sometimes you miss your old home. Well, we miss our old home a little bit, but this is such a beautiful place, not only inside the house, but also outside. I love coming back to this place. I also love to go down to Wexford to my mother's castle, where I was brought up. I just adore walking through those fields. And apart from that I absolutely love going to cathedrals. Every time I go to the town of Salisbury in England for example, close to where I did my recording for the last two albums, I've been into the cathedral there about thirty times. And each time it's just amazing. You should try it. And you know, I am planning to do a concert tour next year of cathedrals all over Europe with just myself and maybe with a small string quartet and choir from the local church.

13th October 2002 - Bree Palmarini (34) from Moorestown, New Jersey, USA:

Hi Chris! I will always go back to your earlier albums, because your voice sounds so young and full of yearning, looking back now, is there anything you miss about your early days as a singer/songwriter? PS. ROCK ON!

Hi Bree! I listen occasionally to my earlier albums and I find that my voice has changed a lot since then. And it's interesting you should say that my voice sounds full of yearning and young. Well, I guess it was, I was yearning for a break in my career to be successful. There's nothing much I miss about my early days. I suppose if there'd be one thing it would be the sense of wonder, that sense of naivety, that feeling of purity. You see, I knew absolutely nothing about the music business, and I wasn't ready or aware yet of the knocks that I would get on the way up. And the moment you launch yourself into the mainstream, you become a tremendous target for just about everything. And there is a certain sense of simplicity about my earlier albums that I would like to recreate. There is no reason why I can't. In fact, I would urge you, Bree, to hang on for my next album, because some of the songs that are bubbling around my head do seem to throw me back to those early days. The trouble is, with a bit of knowledge you also learn from experience and that changes your perception of the world.

14th October 2002 - Terry Kemp (37) from Perth, Australia:

Chris, have you ever written any songs in, or about Australia?

I would like to say that Perth is by far my most favourite place in Australia. Not that I dislike anywhere else, I enjoy Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, up the coast, Sydney, but Perth has got a sense of real freedom about it, and I have always enjoyed being there. I suppose one of the reasons is that we have usually started our Australian tours there and we've been there for a few days after a long flight. I love Scarborough Beach for example, and the beautiful hotel there. And I wrote a song in that hotel called "This Waiting Heart". It was on the 24th floor, at a white piano, looking out across to Fremantle. And I started writing this song "This Waiting Heart" which is on Spark To A Flame. It's not necessarily about Australia, but it was certainly inspired by being in Australia.

15th October 2002 - Andrea Tasar (31) from Dortmund, Germany:

I saw almost all of your Concerts in Dortmund (Westfalenhalle) and you always said that this is your favourite Concert Hall. Is that true?

Well, you know, in the past and hopefully in the future it has always been just one of the best venues in Europe and indeed Germany, because there is such a tremendous feeling and excitement. I think it must be the acoustics in there, when I can actually listen to the audience, feel the audience, see the audience. I think the people in the Dortmund area have always been very generous to me. I have done two or three concerts there on the trot in the past during the big successful days. Not that these days aren't successful, but not quite as big as they used to be. But the Westfalenhalle is a place I often think of, when I am writing a new song, thinking "how will this go down in the Westfalenhalle". So if you were coming to my first show in Dortmund, I was really looking forward to that amazing feeling as I walk up from the tunnel beneath and I hear that audience go when the lights go down and it sends chills down my spine. It's a fantastic feeling. Thank you for that.

16th October 2002 - Siavash Rahimian (18) from Tehran, Iran:

Hello Chris, I am an amateur musician myself, and I play piano. I have always loved the Classical music. Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky have always been my heroes. I did not respect other kinds of music and considered them as cheap and commercial stuff. This sequence continued until I accidentally heard your song, "Sailing Away" At that moment I said to myself, "This guy is really different, and after all maybe the Pop music is not that bad." I started listening to your music and became a fan of yours. One of the reasons that I love your music is that your music, like the Classical music, is very rich in content and people can extract their own feelings and interpretations from it. In other words, it provides a sufficient space for the audience's imagination. My question is, do you like the Classical music? Have you had any Classical education in music? And have you ever been affected by the works of Giants like Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky, or any other Classical musician?

In a way you have answered my question. I have always also felt that classical music and musicians are the great musicians. What we are doing is very very poor compared to the greats like you mentioned Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, all of whom I adore. I like Bach, Pachelbel, Albinoni, Händel as well. That's what I listen to in my car, often at home as well. I love church music, early church music, Russian orthodox church singing, all that kind of stuff. I have never had a classical education and I am very sorry I haven't. The fact is our songs are created by using chords you play on the piano or the guitar, whereas these great melody writers ignored chords, they just went straight with the melody and they created the support of the melody after the melody was written. That's what makes it so different and unusual. As I said earlier, I love classical music when I am driving and so on. I am very happy to hear a lover of classical music likes my music and particularly "Sailing Away", because I have always tried to bring that richness and texture into my own song writing.

17th October 2002 - Stephen Shearer (22) from Wick, Scotland:

What was the inspiration behind the song "The Tower"? To me it is one of the finest songs you've written.

I wrote "The Tower" for my album Spanish Train And Other Stories. And that was really as a result of the fact that I have always disliked people who go out shooting animals and birds just for fun. I find that particularly disgusting. You can understand why, if you need to feed a family or so, you need to go and kill animals. I am not that happy about it, but I can understand the reasons. But to go out and do it for fun, I just find absolutely impossible to understand. So I was brought up on a farm, and one problem we used to have was that at harvest time there were these pigeons who used to swarm around the corn fields and stamp down the corn and eat all the corn. Not just a bit, but whole fields can be destroyed like this. And the only way you can stop them doing this is either shooting two or three birds and hanging them up in the field, or having what we call bird-scare, I think, which go off like a bang every 60 seconds and that kind of keeps the birds away. And I had gone out and I had shot some pigeons and I brought them back to my mother. And I had shot far too many for what we needed and we weren't gonna eat them. And she said "why did you kill so many?". And I felt so disgusted with myself. I would have been about sixteen. I never shot anything again, deliberately never killed anything again. So that's what "The Tower" is all about. It's a song, a story, an allegory for the girls says to the man that has been at hunting, the great Lord, "you have no need of shooting, because you have everything else you require, you don't need to kill".

18th October 2002 - Brett Sutherland (39) from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA:

First, I want to thank you. I became introduced to your music while travel in Taiwan in 1983 and fell in love with your wonderful style. You are the ultimate balladeer. My question. Everyone crosses the Rubicon. What, if I may ask, was your musical Rubicon. Or in other word, when did you know there was no turning your back on your music and what provoked the decision? Thank you for so many years of touching my emotions.

I think possibly it was when I left University and I really wanted to try the music business, having made my first album which was an astounding feeling for me listening back to my music. This may sound very old, but at the end, the last three songs of my album Far Beyond These Castle Walls, which are, if I recall correctly, "Satin Green Shutters", "Turning Round" and "Goodnight". I remember one night listening on the headphones to my new album which was a great thrill, and being intensely moved by those three songs. I mean, really hair on the back of my arms, and not just my own performance necessarily, but the actual music and the fact that it was on a record for all time. And I thought "God, that is what I really want to do." And I'm still doing it.

19th October 2002 - Ian McDonald (38) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:

What is your favourite Joke?

Well, this is a family internet show, so I can't tell you. But I love laughing and I have got an absolute host of jokes. And Ian, if I ever have the opportunity to spend an evening with you, I would regale you with as many jokes that I can think of. The trouble is, I can't really tell you a joke here that will print out the way it should be, because it often depends on the tone of voice and the punch line and so on. But maybe one day I'll come up with something that is a printable joke.

20th October 2002 - Rachel (16) from Assen, Holland:

Hey Chris. Last year my mom died and she always loved your song 'I'm counting on you'. That's why we turned that song on at the cremation. My question: Why did you write this song and what do you think of it? xxx and regards!

I wrote the song "I'm Counting On You" for the album The Getaway. It was loosely based on the poetry of Irish poet W.B.Yeats and he did "A prayer for my daughter". And I didn't have a daughter at that point, but I tried to imagine living in today's Ireland what it would be like to have a daughter. And with all the problems going on in the North of Ireland, would she be the person who could gather people around her, inspire other people to try and change her world. And even to this day I am proud of that song and Tom Jones did a wonderful recording of this for one of his albums. And "I'm Counting On You" is like the new generation must be the ones who can come and change what has gone wrong in the past.

21st October 2002 - Rebecca Bright (27) from London, UK:

Chris, what would be your one 'luxury' item you would take on a desert island with you (and no people allowed!)

Well, if I am only allowed one 'luxury' item on a desert island, I would have to bring a guitar and a lot of guitar strings. Because for me it's my biggest form of expression and I really need one beside me. If nothing else, I can sing a bit, and maybe the birds would be charmed from the trees.

22nd October 2002 - Reto (22) from Zurich, Switzerland:

I am the webmaster of Albert Hammond's official website and would like to get to know more about the circumstances of your collaboration on "I'm not crying over you", "Love's got a hold on me" and "The snows of New York", but from your perspective. Who got in touch with whom? What do you remember about the writing sessions and about Albert? How did you work together (your lyrics set to Albert's melodies?)? etc.

What a fantastic songwriter Albert Hammond is. Who can ever forget "One Moment In Time", "It Never Rains In Southern California", and so on. We were put together some years ago, I think about 1993, by my management and it worked extremely well. We got on very well, we enjoyed each other's company. He likes a lot of the things that I like, certainly in music and in taste, in food, in melody, in wines. I know that for example Chateau Haut'Brion from France is one of his favourites. Especially, I think, he spoke about the 1996 vintage. The three songs that we cowrote, I did, I think, all the words, maybe 99 percent of the words. But his inspiration was to be in the room with me, because the songs were going to be recorded and sung by me, but he was a real inspiration to guide me and we mutually guided each other to what I think is a very satisfactory conclusion in music. And I'd certainly like to try it again with him.

23rd October 2002 - Hannes Heichele (43) from Langweid, Germany:

Hallo Chris, you have told me in 1993 that your song "leather on my shoes" was for the young people of Ireland, who must leave the country, because they have no future in Ireland (jobs and family).What do you think now about the chances for the young Irish people today and in the future?

Yes, this was very much written about the emigration problem. Because Ireland at that time was a country where there wasn't enough work, the economy was poor. And this is from the album Flying Colours, so this was 1988. Since then we've had the complete turn-around. We've had what we call the Celtic Tiger, where people have been flooding back into the country which I think is terrific. I think the purpose of it is, that it's great when you are young to go and see the world, learn skills, usually in others countries and bring that knowledge and experience back to your own country. I think that's a wonderful thing to do. And then settle back and raise a family. One of the problems for people coming back to Ireland is the cost of property is so astronomical, it makes it very difficult for young people to make a home here, so ironically we are getting the opposite happening again. Although the country is in a good economic situation, people are leaving because they can't afford to live here, the cost of living is so high.

24th October 2002 - Thomas Marschall (43) from Florstadt, Germany:

I would like to follow the question Ian McDonald had asked before about the names of your albums. How was the name "Timing is everything" selected and what does it mean to you? Thank you.

My song "Timing Is Everything" became a very obvious choice. Usually I will either try and use the title of a song or the title sort of comes up from nowhere in particular, you know, I have to work on. But with "Timing Is Everything" this means it's really about being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. And it's not just luck, but I think you have to create your own luck.

25th October 2002 - Jana Baumann (31) from Crottendorf, Germany:

Which profession would you have had, if you have had never become a musician?

I've often been asked about what I would like to do if I had never become a musician. Two things really. I'd like to have maybe stayed somehow rather in the entertainment business, or maybe hotel business. But here is a very strange one. I would have been fascinated, and I still am, by forensic science. How to track down criminals using DNA, fingerprints, and forensics. It's something, I suppose, part of me where somebody has done something really bad, it's nice to think that you can catch these people and bring them to justice. And forensic science is such an extraordinary area, I would be most interested in that.

26th October 2002 - Chris A. Aguele (29) from Fairfield, CT, USA:

I read somewhere that you once worked with Rupert Hine and that he holds the opinion that the "bass line" is component that gives a song its attitude. Do you agree with this, and if not, what is the most important part of a song?

I did three albums with Rupert Hine: The Getaway, Man On The Line and Power Of Ten. And he said the base line is the key component. I would somewhat agree with that, but I think also the drums. The drums are critical on how they set the mood and the tone of a song. In particular listen out for the base drum. The base drum can completely change the texture and field. Listen for example to "The Power Of Love" by Jennifer Rush. What the base drum is doing there, how it sets up a very dramatic heartbeat. I think the base drum is related to the heartbeat. And what you do with it and how you can change it around also affects how the base guitar works. Because the base guitar follows the base drum. So I always look very carefully what the base drum is doing.

27th October 2002 - Harris Telemacher (33) from the USA:

Hi Chris, I am a long time fan of your music. Recently I had the pleasure of seeing the Chris de Burgh Dance Initiative perform a stunning movement piece to Spanish Train at a modern dance festival. What other songs of yours do you feel would work well as a dance/movement piece?

I am amazed to hear that there is a Chris de Burgh dance initiative doing a piece to Spanish Train. Well, I'd love to see that! That would be an interpretation I would be fascinated by. And if you want my opinion what other songs would work well, well I think that's entirely up to yourselves to work out what you can do. Because I have no experience in dance, so I don't know what to suggest. But I would stay clear of the famous ones like "Lady In Red" or "Missing You". Maybe something like "Up Here In Heaven" or "The Last Time I Cried" or maybe one of the long pieces like the trilogy "The Leader, The Vision, What About Me?".

28th October 2002 - Michael Selbach (29) from Duisburg, Germany:

Hello Chris! You have said in an interview in 1986 that your old band has recorded an album of their own. Please help me, because i am a very big fan of your old band. They were fantastic and i want to know what is the name of the album from 1986?

I think my old band made a record and certainly did a little touring under the name of "Lucky Dog". And they did a couple of goofy numbers. One was something about drums, it was kind of a jungle drum song, it was very funny. I think it was politically orientated, it could have had to do something with Iraq, but I can't remember to be honest.

29th October 2002 - Beatrix Ouwerkerk (52) from Koudekerk aan den Rijn, Holland:

Dear Chris, your voice seems to sound more beautiful and stronger over the past 20 years: did you ever take singing-lessons?

I take great care of my voice, I drink a lot of water, I practice quite a bit, but I am definitely singing from the right place, and I have been for I would say ten, twelve years now. When you're singing you have to remember, like swimming or any exercise, you can't fill your lungs with oxygen unless you empty them first. It sounds totally obvious, but you've got to remember when you're breathing and singing. You've got to empty your lungs as well as fill them, and fill them from the right place which is from the diaphragm, the stomach and for me, I activate my muscles in my back to expand my lungs to help me sing.

30th October 2002 - Steve Roberts (28) from Edinburgh, UK:

Dear Chris, I've enjoyed reading your answers so much I've decided to ask a question myself! I'd like to know if you have ever considered working with a producer who is maybe slightly 'at odds' with your musical style, and seeing what the mix would bring...

I'm very open to any kind of production direction, because I think it's good and it's healthy. I tried doing that on my album Power Of Ten with Pete Smith who came from a completely different area than I did. And I think it works pretty well. But you might remember, I recently did "I Want It (And I Want It Now)" with Q-Ball from The Bloodhound Gang. He remixed "I Want It (And I Want It Now)" and I thought he did a pretty good job, so I am really open to anything.

31st October 2002 - Susan Macdonald (32) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:

Chris, your concerts are terrific! I feel extremely lucky everytime I get to see you perform. I was wondering if you could tell us about which artists are responsible for some of your favourite concert experiences? And is there a performer you have not seen that you wished you had? Thanks for your answer and your music.

Well, I have been to a lot of concerts. I remember having seen Peter Gabriel in concert, in Canada, in Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens, years ago. And he was exceptional. He's been a friend of mine, well I have known him for a long time, but that was an amazing concert. Also seeing Elton John, the first time he did his solo performances where in the second half Ray Cooper, the percussionist, would join him, that was extraordinary. As far as the ones that I have seen and I didn't like, I have seen an awful lot of them. I think when you're in the profession, you find yourself judging people a bit more critically than fans or members of the audience who have come to see their favourite artist. And I've seen so many artists do bad concerts, not giving enough to the audience, or being arrogant on stage, or thinking they are superior. But because I am a professional, I won't actually mention their names.

1st November 2002 - Nina O'Brien (29) from Dublin, Ireland:

Do you like Paul Simon's music, what's your favourite song?

Paul Simon is one of my top favourite artists, and I think he's an exceptional songwriter. Really, I mean, it's not just the big ones like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or so on, but I've loved him ever since I was a teenager. And "I Am A Rock, I Am An Island", "Homeward Bound", that earlier album, "The Boxer", "Still Crazy After All These Years", many many songs. As you can tell I'm a real fan. And I would say one of my top favourites of his is a song called "American Tune". Brilliant lyrics, although the melody is, I believe, from a hymn. But the words are amazing, and reflecting on where America has been and is going.

2nd November 2002 - Suzan Guberman (46) from Long Island, New York, USA:

Many creative people are also talented in other art forms. How about you? Have you ever done any drawing or painting even if just for fun? What artist do you enjoy when you go to a museum?

I have absolutely no talent in drawing. My daughter is really good at it, my wife is really good at it, and I imagine my boys are going to be quite good at it. But I have absolutely zero talent at drawing. Artistically speaking, I am not really sure if I am particularly gifted in any other way apart from music.
When I go to a museum, I like the French impressionists most of all: Renoir, Manet, Monet, Degas. But my all time favourite is Van Gogh, because his paintings just shout from the canvas at me. A bit like great music, it's just so moving to see those pictures. So French impressionists would be my favourites.

3rd November 2002 - Mark (34) from Phoenix, Arizona, USA:

Chris, I have never had the privilege to see you in concert, so I hope that will be rectified someday. Your song 'Borderline' is a wonderful creation from the heart. Since part two "Say Goodbye to it All' was on the following album, did you actually plan on writing a part two? Or was it in response to the success of 'Borderline' ? Also, do you have plans for making a part two to any current story songs you have created? Thanks for your time Chris, your passion is felt in your songs, best to you and family. God Bless, Mark

When I wrote "Borderline", I had no intention to having a part two. But when I started to have the idea to "Say Goodbye To It All", I thought "well, why not make this part two". Who knows, I may even make a part three, of what happened when the girl, the baby that was born in the West of France, grew up and what she looked at. So it's a way of continuing with the tradition that I have always believed in, when I make my albums which is that I am creating a book, a story, not some sort of newspaper that you throw away the following day. My music is, in my opinion, not for throwing away quickly, it's coming back to again and again. And you know, I haven't currently any plans for doing part two of any other song, but now that you mention it, Mark, that's not a bad idea. Thank you for that!

4th November 2002 - Julia (53) from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:

Hi Chris, is the house that you are renovating in Wicklow of historical interest? What era does it date back to and what sort of history, if any, is attached to the house? Cheers Julia.

Well, the house I have just moved into in County Wicklow is of historical interest. It's one of the great houses of the eighteenth century in the area, and it has had a number of renowned people living here, including a well-known judge in the early years and a man called Sir Philip Crampton and his son Sir John Crampton who were top diplomats of their time, and in fact they both were very good artists as well. The house I am in has been renowned for attracting artists of various kinds and in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century there was a lady living here called Miss Boyle, who was by curiosity a songwriter, and a very famous one too. And she wrote a well-known song called "The Last Rose Of Summer" and she lived here where I am living now. So it's nice to have another songwriter living here. It's a very inspirational area. And the house was originally built in 1740 and completely rebuilt and renovated in 1996 to 2002 by me.

5th November 2002 - Jill Tovey (53) from Birmingham, England:

I never got a chance to see you perform classics such as Crusader or any other tracks from that album live, would you consider doing a tour featuring some of your "old" material and less of the "new", preferably with your original band line up?

You know, I always want to move forward, and I think I can answer this question by bringing in another remark I saw on the website about the current tour which appears to be a lot of the old songs from the last tour plus new ones from the new album. Well, there's a very good reason for that. This is where I want to be. I like to keep fresh. I like to play the new stuff and I like to refer to the more recent songs. You know, once they get old for me, they get a little tired and faded and I hope people understand that. And secondly, when we do concerts like this, they are intended for people who come to the concerts once, and they aren't designed for people who are repeat visitors who come again and again. And there are people who keep coming again and again, so I think it's a little unfair to be critical about the fact that it might be some of the same material from the last tour we did two years ago. The reason for it is that's what I want and secondly in the tiny amount of time we had to rehearse that's what we concentrated on. But to answer the question, yes, it would be most interesting to me to go back and maybe have a two-night selection of songs. First night would be, say, a lot of the older material, and the second night the people come back to hear the newer songs. So I'd be interested to see if this sort of idea would appeal to people. The original band line-up is very unlikely to ever happen, because Glenn is dead and the other people are all involved in their own careers now.

6th November 2002 - Fabian Scherle (18) from Korschenbroich, Germany:

Hi Chris! I wondered what you think about bootlegs. I know that many artists are against bootleg traders and others support them. I think bootlegs are a great thing for fans, because many of your songs sound even better live and we get the chance to listen to rare tracks or covers. I'd really like to hear what you think about it. Thanks for your time. Fabian

I can't say I agree with bootlegs, because the quality is usually very poor. And if we're going to do a live album, I'd rather do it in a proper and exciting way. The law stands to say that you can't record an artist against their wishes and I would agree with that. It is a chance for other people to hear rare tracks, and it is a chance for fans to exchange stuff that otherwise wouldn't be heard. But I think broadly speaking the artist should be more in control or completely in control of their own music and their own songs.

7th November 2002 - Saeedak (18) from Rasht, Iran:

Hi my angel! Were you a hardworking student in your scholastic times? And always getting good marks?

Thank you, Saeedak. I was a hardworking student. I was one of those who found it fairly easy to do relatively well in exams in school. And I always tended to put my big effort in towards the last few weeks, which is the wrong way to do it, you should really study across the year. When I was in University, that's very much what I did. I did a bit during the year, and then I really did a kind of crash course for the last eight weeks. But when I was younger in school, I was pretty much consistently in the top five or eight out of twenty or twenty-two. Not brilliant, but ok.

8th November 2002 - Afshin (38) from Nashville, Tennessee, USA:

In recent years Sting seems to show some interest in country music. Do you ever see yourself to write and record a country song?

I think country music is terrific. I really like it a lot. I don't know enough about it to start saying, well, I can get involved in that. But it's funny. Country music, twenty years ago, I found a bit difficult to accept, it was very mawkish and sentimental. But now that it's got the slightly harder rock edge to it, it's sort of moved closer to where I like to find myself. So yes, I admire country music and country musicians and there are some just terrific songwriters in there as well.

9th November 2002 - Michael (25) from Russia:

Chris, hi! Would you like to sing with an opera singer? And one more question: what is the highest note you can sing?

I think it's every singers dream to do a duet with Pavarotti. And I think I'd certainly be up for it, because I think I am a good singer. And the highest note that I can hit full voice is C. "Don't Pay The Ferryman" for example, the top note in the chorus is B, a semitone below C. And falsetto I can go way up. My range is about three and a half octaves.

10th November 2002 - Laura Lind (13) from Edmonton, Canada:

In your song Lonely Sky, can you explain to me what is happening in the song? My mum and I disagree. I think someone has been kidnapped. Please help us resolve this argument.

No, unfortunately you're wrong, it is not about somebody being kidnapped. It's about a man who is in France and his love has left. And this is somebody who he feels very strongly about, and he feels like he should be there to support and look after her. But she has gone off to really find her feet. It's not a father-daughter thing, but it is more a man who acknowledges the fact that the girl he is with needs to go off and find herself. And he is just warning her that there are people who will suppress her free spirit "that trap your wings, my love, and hold your flight". So he is saying "Well, I have become really sad that you're gone and here I am in a Parisian café, and the trees are crying leaves into the river, it's autumn. I'm sad that you are gone, but I wish you the very best. And as I wander around the cathedral of Notre Dame, I can hear the people singing in the choir Christmas songs. And I am dreaming of you in your Lonely Sky and I am always going to be here for you." That's what it's all about.

11th November 2002 - Chris Raymond (51) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:

Hello Chris! I would like to know if you received any special training to help you to cope with the media etc? You appear very relaxed during T.V. interviews and backstage when greeting fans. Does this side of stardom come as easily to you as performing on stage?

Coping with the media, well I have been doing that for 28 years. It's, I suppose, what you call a symbiotic relationship where they need you and you need them. Particularly in the early years, I think on the way up, they are absolutely critically important to an artist who wants to develop and grow. And it's a relationship that should continue in that way, but it never usually does. I think the moment you become successful, the rules change, then you become a target. In particularly in the country where I live in, in Ireland, they are absolutely notorious here for the moment you become successful, they try to shoot you down, cut you off at the knees. And this has happened to so many people from Ireland who have become successful, that the moment that it happens, they get all those people who have supported them to the point when they are successful, and then they just want to murder them, they want to kill them off as it were in the media. So I think this country is unusual for that. Maybe England is the same, I don't know. But as far as training for the media, the important thing is never lose your temper and always be polite. And always, always, in interviews, remember why you are doing the interview, which is to tell people about your new album or your new tour. And the rule, I think, that I am adhering to at the moment is to try and avoid the print media as much as possible, because everything you say can be distorted and changed. The writers, if they have a particular axe to grind, if they want to get you in a particular way, they will misquote you, pretending that they have accurately quoted you, and the key really is to do live radio and live television interviews, because that way everything that you say comes from your own lips, and it can't be changed or messed around with.

12th November 2002 - Samantha Dove (33) from Darlington, England:

Hi Chris, greetings from the North East! I (like many others) am so looking forward to getting my mitts on the new CD album. What really frustrates me is the lack of air-play your songs get. OK, to us adoring fans we would buy the album without thinking about it, but do you get frustrated by the lack of air-play? The reason I really love your music/songs is the amazing stories they tell and I think that far more people would appreciate your music, if only they were given the chance.

Well currently my new song "Guilty Secret" is on something like 63 radio stations all over the United Kingdom. I am getting a massive amount of airplay. These things go in phases, sometimes you get more, sometimes you get less. I think a lot of it depends on support from the key national radio stations and I have always been lucky. Not necessarily very lucky, but you've got to remember that the business has changed so utterly that people very rarely sell singles anymore, they sell albums. And the idea is to get a good song on the airplay list, so people are attracted then to the CD.

13th November 2002 - Jean-Paul (21) from Beirut, Lebanon:

Hi Chris!!! Being Lebanese I would just like to say that we are honoured that you did a song with a local singer! But please I would like to know who wrote the Lebanese words in the new song "Lebanese Night" and if you got to know a few Arabic words ;0). Thank you, and hope to see you in Lebanon (again).

Well, having visited Lebanon twice and being highly impressed with it, I felt it was a natural thing to write "Lebanese Night" and particularly in view of the fact that I was impressed by the way that people were, having gone through such a dreadful time during their war. And it was an honour for me to perform with such a well-known local artist, Elissa. The words were translated by a friend of hers, Nabil Abou Abdo. And I will maybe learn a few Arabic words for the next time I go back to Lebanon.

14th November 2002 - Stephanie (29) from Mirabel, Québec, Canada:

Bonjour Chris, merci de partager ton talent avec nous... I know you are a big formula one fan, do you think that the "show" is less exciting with the Ferrari dominance?

I'd like to say "Bonjour" to all my friends in Quebec, I've such a wonderful feeling not only towards Canada but also Quebec and the cities of Montreal and the old city in Quebec. I have fantastic memories, and I was just talking the other day about the French-Canadian people, they are so full of life, and they are so generous when you perform in front of them.
Well, you know, it was Williams/Renault who had the big dominance for a couple of seasons, I think it will always be one team that dominates every year. For the last couple of years it has been Ferrari. It does in fact make it a bit more boring, because it appears to be unequal. But I still think it's a very exciting thing to participate in and to attend. Formula one is a thrilling thing to go to.

15th November 2002 - Ian McDonald (38) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:

Several years ago you sang Do What You Do (very well) for the Glory Of Gershwin album. Ever thought of doing an album of old songs from the 1940's, Jazz or Big Band music and so on?

I have very much enjoyed doing the Gershwin song "Do What You Do" for Sir George Martin's production, the Glory Of Gershwin album. Yes, it's always been an interest of mine to do old songs, but I see that quite a few people are doing it at the moment: Robbie Williams for example has just done a big record "Swing When You're Winning", and also Rod Stewart has just done the same sort of thing. So maybe my turn will come one day.

16th November 2002 - Steffen (40) from Norway:

I am a big fan of your early works, so I was wondering if progressive rock bands like Yes, Genesis and Alan Parsons project had any influence in your music?

Well, I would say I like Genesis very much. Alan Parsons Project, some of their music. But I would say that the most important influence on me because of my friendship and proximity with this band, was Supertramp. I did so many shows with them and I watched them so many times, I learned a huge amount about how you can take an ordinary song you have written on an acoustic guitar for example and then you can expand it into a massive thing on stage by adding vision and imagination.

17th November 2002 - Sharon Barker (37) from Torquay, England:

One of my favourite songs is the haunting Girl with April in her Eyes, what was the inspiration for this song.

"The Girl With April In Her Eyes" came, I think, from a number of inspirations. I have always had a strong imagination, I have always enjoyed the medieval idea and also, of course, having been brought up in an old castle, it's not difficult to imagine somebody turning up at the door, a traveller in the middle of the night. And I think it goes back to, if you are going to be a generous person, you should look upon everybody the same way, if somebody needs help. And you never know, I think, there's a well-known line about you must be kind to all strangers, because who knows it might be Jesus Christ himself who may come to you looking for help. There's a poem by Keats or Shelley, which I remember from years ago, maybe some of the people on the website can remind me of who wrote this particular poem, but it's about an old man who lives in a big old dark castle and a traveller arrives. And it's a beautiful girl, he brings her in. And everywhere she goes, she brings life to his home. And when she leaves, it goes dark again and sad. And there's a bit of this in "The Girl With April In Her Eyes". And also the idea of her lying in a grave surrounded by snow except on her grave there are flowers growing, that's an idea that appealed to me very much.

18th November 2002 - Bree Palmarini (34) from Collingswood, New Jersey, USA:

Hi Chris! One of my favorite songs is; "I'm Counting on You". You speak about a child in the song, but it seems to have been recorded before your daughter was born. Was there a particular child that inspired you to write such a beautiful, hopeful song? Do you believe that the youth of today have a more peaceful attitude towards life than say the youth of 20 years ago?

Yes, I wrote this for my album in 1982 and my daughter wasn't born until 1984. But I was definitely imagining what it must be like to have a daughter, and invest in her all the hopes and promises for the future, where we, our generation, has already let ourselves down. And I am just looking to the new generation to try and change things. And for me one of the strong images is "the sad little island is breaking my heart with its dark shades of green and as hard as I try, I just cannot see why this should be". Of course I am referring to Ireland. I think the youth of today, although they are getting in some cases bad press, certainly in Ireland the alcohol abuse is just terrible amongst young people. But I think there is a general attitude worldwide which didn't exist twenty years ago, which is we are fouling and soiling our own planet to a point where they are far more aware, people like Greenpeace, of the importance of making sure that we don't destroy our planet for future generations. I think this awareness was around in the sixties, but it's far far greater now than it ever was.

19th November 2002 - Siobhan (36) from Dublin, Ireland:

Chris, first of all I want to say Hello. I have been a huge fan since I first saw you sing "A spaceman came travelling" on my 16th birthday. I was just wondering who you listen to when you want to chill out. Apart from you I like listening to Eva Cassidy. Do you like her music?

Well, when I want to chill out, I do tend to listen to classical music a lot. In fact, I am holding in my hand, up in my studio, my new home, this is called "Latin Church music" by Talis. This kind of music I find fascinating, because it predates the greats like Bach, Vivaldi, Händel and so on. This is church music from way back. I listen to that, I like that. It kind of awakes echoes in me that I wasn't sure I even had. And as far as modern music is concerned, well I think people know that I do listen quite a lot to the radio, and I am disappointed by a lot what I hear, but there's a few of songwriters that I enjoy, for example this girl Dido, that I have spoken about in the past. The other day I was driving in my car listening to the radio, and I heard that Sting song "The Fields Of Gold". It's a beautiful song, I've always loved it. And there was this girl singing, and I thought "wow, that is beautiful, what a voice!". I actually didn't realize who it was, and I was going to call the radio station and find out who it was, because I actually thought it was an Irish girl from the North of Ireland that I heard singing this song once before. And immediately I thought I'd love to do a duet with this singer, because she has the most perfect pitch, the most perfect approach. She was lazy with the melody, but it was absolutely wonderful the way she sang with this melody. I was absolutely stunned to hear that it was Eva Cassidy, who died, I believe, in 1996, because I thought "Fields Of Gold" was written after she died. But I was wrong, it was Eva Cassidy. And what a stunning voice.

20th November 2002 - Jean McKeever (45) from Toronto, Canada:

Would you please tell me about "Old Friend"? Who did you write it for, if anyone? It is my friend's favourite song and I know she'd be very excited if you played it when you next play Toronto. Thank you for your wonderful music.

Well I was very much thinking about my grandfather who was very much responsible for bringing my brother and I up in the early years, because we lived with him while my parents were away in Africa during our school holidays. He was a wonderful, wonderful guy. His full name was General Sir Eric de Burgh and he was decorated with all sorts of glorious things like OBEs and KCBs from the monarchs of England. And I was thinking about him not in particular for the song, but imagine growing up as a boy and having this old fellow take you fishing and playing football. And then you're saying to him as you get older, look if you ever need any assistance or if you are in trouble, you can always turn to me.

21st November 2002 - Walid (37) from Beirut, Lebanon:

Hi Chris, why didn't you include "Love is my Decision" in any of your albums ?

The song "Love Is My Decision" was a song that I wrote with Burt Bacharach for the movie "Arthur 2 On The Rocks". And because it was part of a movie screenplay we never put it on one of my own records. It wasn't relevant, to be perfectly honest. I still like the song very much, but it is difficult to find anywhere.

22nd November 2002 - Pauline Ellerington (45) from Hull, East Yorkshire, UK:

I listen intently to your interview with Alex Lester on Radio 2, Sept 5 2002 and was very moved by the song you dedicated to the memory of Holly and Jessica, after the interview Alex said that it would never be sung again or put onto an album, would you consider recording it with a view for the proceeds of sale to go to a memorial to the two girls, I'm sure all of your fans would support this gesture. By the way, my husband Colin and myself have thoroughly enjoyed every concert that we've been to and wish you many more years of success and beautiful songs.

It's the point of view of the father, sitting in the bedroom of the child who has been murdered. I wrote it the very day, it was a Sunday, that the two girls were confirmed as having been murdered. And I was terribly, terribly upset by it. It was almost like I knew these two little children. My own youngest is eleven. I can't ever imagine that horror that those poor parents and friends must have gone through. And so it was a spontaneous moment, I said to the DJ at the radio station "do you mind if I sing this live?". I had a guitar anyway, as I had just sung "There's Room In This Heart Tonight". And I could tell that people in the control room were very moved. A lot of people wrote to me and said that it moved them to tears. It was a song that I only intended ever to perform once, because I would hate anybody to think that I was trying to make some kind of personal mileage out of this, or take advantage of the situation. It's absolutely not me, I don't do that kind of thing. As when I wrote this song about Princess Diana, one hundred CDs were made, and it was not until three years later that we were persuaded to put it on the American release of an album, that was very strongly for the US market, because they had never heard the song. So similarly with this song "Little Angel", I have no plans to do anything more with it.