Between April 2002 and April 2010, Chris de Burgh answered over 1,000 questions from his fans, submitted via his official website in a section called 'Man On The Line'. This section of the official website went offline many years ago, so the questions and answers are archived here.
1st January 2004 - Kees (35) from Rotterdam, Holland:
Hi Chris, I like your music now for more than 20 years and I hope you will go on to make that fantastic music for the next 20 years! My question is about the song 'snows of new York' does the phrase about the footsteps in the sand come from the famous Christian poem about the Lord who is carrying us?
Hi Kees! Yes, the song "Snows Of New York" originated in my mind about two brothers or two friends somewhere in a very disadvantaged area of the world, perhaps again the West of Ireland which is a very fruitful area for me in my imagination. And one has to stay and work on the land, and the other is going off to America. It's a very sad time for them, they've talked all night. And as the dawn comes up, they embrace as brothers do or friends do, and one then heads off with his bag to take the boat to America. And the man staying behind says "When you need me, I'll be in your heart. I'll be with you in the snows of New York.". And the line about walking along the sea, yes it has very much to do with the famous poem about the Lord. Because the two friends or the two brothers are thinking about during those times when each needed help, that the other was always there for him. It's a song that is very emotional for me, and I love performing it. Particularly at the end of concerts.
2nd January 2004 - Vern Hines (41) from Auckland, New Zealand:
Hi Chris, as a father of 4, I know how awesome it is doing stuff together with your kids and I wonder how you would feel performing on stage with Hubie play guitar with you. Is it likely to happen? P.S love timing is everything, especially the humour and can't wait for the next album. Take care, all the best Vern Hines
Another question from somewhere completely different in the world: Auckland, New Zealand, I have never been there. I have family who have been out there and I'd love to visit. I've been to Australia a few times, but I never made it to New Zealand. Yes, my son Hubie has got very good at the guitar. And I'm quite sure the day will come when he will be up there performing with me and it'll be quite the feeling that he will be singing and playing the guitar along beside me. It probably will happen, knowing Hubie and how much he loves music. But I keep telling him to make sure that music is a hobby, not a job. Because these days if it's a job, it's not that easy. In fact it's extremely difficult. Thanks for your remarks about "Timing Is Everything". The next record is slightly deeper, but I think it is every bit as good if not better than anything I have done before.
3rd January 2004 - Denise Thibeault (36) from Farnham, Québec, Canada:
Hi Chris, I love all your songs. It's amazing how you can make me travel without costing me any money. So I'd like to know about the song "The traveller" . It sounds like a western movie or something but I love this song.....Thank you very much and hope to hear from you soon!!!!
Well, Denise, I was writing this song one day and it felt like somebody moving, somebody riding. I think this song was before I wrote "Don't Pay The Ferryman". Horses, you see, have always been part of my background and indeed before cars they were the only way of getting around. So they are very much part of our feelings and our nature. Then I saw a movie called "High Plains Drifter" with Clint Eastwood, where this man comes into town. The people at the town treat him really badly and he comes back as a nemesis some time later, having been badly beaten up. And he takes out the people who have done such terrible things to him. It's a story of revenge and I think it's something that appeals to most people. Not that they are going to go and shoot and kill lots of people who of course have done bad things in the past, but revenge is a very powerful human emotion. And that's what "The Traveller" is all about, it's about revenge and what happens next.
4th January 2004 - Dominic Liversedge (22) from Cambridge, England:
Hi Chris, I'm sure everyone has said a thousand times on here how great your music is - but I have to say I agree... anyway - I've always wondered when listening to your live CDs and videos whether you personally write the guitar solos in things like The Revolution, and the flute solo in Borderline. Are they improvised along a theme by the musicians or do you give them the actual melodies to play? Looking forward to your next album and to seeing you live! Thanks.
A lot of the melodies that you will hear on my records, which are closely allied to the melodies of the songs clearly come from the songs themselves. But that said, in particular a guitar player called Phil Palmer, that I have been working with since 1982, he is a very strong melodic writer. And I just say to him "Play!", and if there's something I like, we keep it. That's the best way to do it, to allow a truly great musician to play what he wants. And within that framework of your own song, you will always find something that sounds great with it.
5th January 2004 - Arash Bolouri (18) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi Chris I have a question and I want to know have you ever wished you weren't famous? Thanks.
Yes, there are many times I wish I wasn't famous. It's inhibiting to your freedom. It means that you have to put up with stuff in the press, things that people write about you that often are full of lies, you can't defend yourself. And people say, well, that's the price of fame. I don't think it has to be. I think if people particularly journalists were more honest with what they write, then people like families of famous people and friends wouldn't get so upset. But it is part of being famous. And the upsides are, well, it depends if you need your ego being stroked, I haven't got a problem with my ego, so I don't need it. But, you know, sometimes you get nicely treated on airlines and in restaurants. It makes the dream a bit more comfortable. But I have to stress that I love going back to reality, back to my home life and there the dreams are completely different ones. They are more normal. In fact, when my daughter won the Miss Ireland competition, I said two things prior to the competition. I said "If you don't win, you will still be beautiful in the morning." And the second thing I said was "This country Ireland is a very difficult place in which to be famous, because there is a lot of begrudgery that goes on. If you are famous and successful in some countries, people want to cut you off at the knees all the time, and this is one of those places."
6th January 2004 - Kevin Klimowski (40) from West Des Monies, Iowa, USA:
Greetings, Chris! Thanks for all the years of wonderful music! I've been a fan since your Crusader days! I'm curious about something a little different. Have you ever done any shopping on eBay? If you have, have you ever run into any unusual Chris de Burgh items? Have you ever seen any CDB items listed that you were interested in purchasing? I've been able to plug a few holes in my CDB collection through eBay and have found it a terrific way to buy overseas! Best wishes and I look forward to even more great CDB music to come!
It's funny, I have never been on eBay before, because I must be really old-fashioned, but I get nervous about giving out credit card details on the internet. And I know there are ways to protect it, but I haven't really gone into it too deeply. But funnily enough I've got things at home associated with my musical past that people say "You should sell them on eBay!" Like there's an old tape recorder that I did lots and lots of songwriting on that I don't need anymore. There are pianos, there are electrical pianos, there are electrical instruments that are really just cluttering up my house. And my friends say "Oh, sell them on eBay!" So you never know, you may see something up from me personally on the eBay network some day.
7th January 2004 - Dave Malcolm (34) from Londonderry, Northern Ireland:
Hi Chris, Just wanted to know how you feel about your touring band 'moonlighting' as The Guarana Boys? And will you be going to see them perform sometime?
The band that I work with are really terrific guys and great musicians. And of course they have to get out about and play. I know that they are going under the name of The Guarana Boys. Good luck to them, I hope they are having a good time. And yes, it would be great fun. I would love to go to one of their gigs incognito and turn up on stage with them, because that would be great fun. The key thing to having a good band is not only good musicians, but also to have people around you that you are happy travelling with and spending a lot of time with.
8th January 2004 - Barb Parknavy (38) from Columbus, Ohio, USA:
I'm listening to "Crusader" right now, since it always puts me in just the right mood to sew the costumes I make for friends and family for our trips to the local Renaissance Fairs...I was wondering if you have ever been to one? (I suspect that you would be equally interested in both Ren Fairs and Star Trek Conventions haha!)
I remember in years gone by doing concerts in Columbus, Ohio, and getting a really terrific response. So hi Barb! These Renaissance Fairs, well I've actually come across them in America, you know, not so much in Europe. But people who dress up in old Renaissance style costumes. And I'm glad that Crusader is putting you in the mood to sew these costumes. They are very colourful. And I think it is important, particularly for children, to go and see how things were in the past. How people looked, what they wore, hairdos, it takes us back to a completely different era. And it's more tangible than just in movies.
9th January 2004 - Cynthia Tesser (40) from Derby, Kansas, USA:
I have loved your music for years. Now my 5-year old son is also a fan. You are the only artist he knows by name! American music doesn't have anything that comes close to your style of music. Are there any American artists, past or present, that you enjoy listening to? Thank you so much for sharing your gift of music and story telling with those of us who enjoy the pleasure of listening to it. Best wishes, Cynthia
Yes, I do make unusual music, because I actually kind of ignore the mainstream. Because I like the road that I am on. It is more difficult to initially succeed and probably it's harder to stay on these roads, but they are personal odysseys and I love it. I love doing things that aren't necessarily part of the mainstream culture. American artists of course have influenced me enormously down the years, in particular people like Bob Dylan, The Eagles, you know, great songwriters. And Jackson Browne is just a terrific songwriter. In fact, in my opinion, certainly for the last 15 or 20 years with only a few exceptions American songwriters have been superior to European ones that I have heard. I think they are more crafted, more skilled, they understand the nature of songwriting better. They understand that it's a tradition that should be revered and respected without having to go to electronic instruments all the time. That's not to say there's quite a lot of electronic music in America, but there are some really great songwriters too. And I love the ones who can also tell a story. A lot of great country and western singers tell great stories as well. So I do come across a lot of good American music.
10th January 2004 - Diane Perry (45) from Falmouth, Cornwall, England:
Hello Chris, I am a big fan of Peter Gabriel's work (yours too of course!!) and while I was reading his biography recently I found something he is quoted as saying very interesting, it was this "I think, different to most people that a lot of talent is acquired and not God-given or hereditary" What are your views on this subject? I am curious because I think I'm right in saying that no-one else in your family before you were musically gifted, and yet I remember you mentioning that your elder son Hubie is showing a huge talent for playing the guitar. Also, have you ever been to one of Peter Gabriel's concerts? Thank you very much for everything!!!! I'm looking forward to your next UK concerts very much indeed. Best wishes to you and your family, Diane
Hi Diane! Well, as you know from the past, I have a great admiration and respect for Peter Gabriel. And yes, I have been to his concerts, they are the most outstanding concerts I have ever seen. Not only for the awesome visuals and sound, but also for the imaginations going into them. Absolutely extraordinary. Now what he is suggesting that talent is not god-given or hereditary, which I agree with. I agree exactly with what he is saying. But I think when you have a small bit of something and you expand it, then the talent comes in. I think we all can do a bit of songwriting initially in the early stages, but I think you have to have that along with interest to do it and then spend a lot of time working on it. For example how many great golfers have come from families and backgrounds of professional golfers. The father or, like Seve Ballesteros, I think his father was a golfer or a green keeper or a grounds man and he was brought up right beside a golf course. These things happen. A lot of people are brought up beside golf courses who do never become great golfers. Similarly I am sure there are lots of children of great musicians who show no interest or ability. But I do think Gabriel is right in as much as you start with a little bit of talent, but it is not the god-given massive talent. You develop it yourself, you grow it, you make it stronger with interest and a lot of hard work. And as for my son Hubie's talent in playing the guitar, that comes from keen interest and also a background in a family that enjoys music.
11th January 2004 - Cora van Leeuwen (59) from The Netherlands:
Hi Chris, It's great that you take the time to answer all the questions of your fans. My question is: When your new CD will be released, (I'm looking forward to it) is it more than 30 years ago that "Far beyond these castle walls" was released. Are there any plans to celebrate this milestone in a special way?
My new album, Cora, and thank you for your cards and letters that you sent me down the years, is due for release in March 2004. It is 30 years ago since the release of Far Beyond These Castle Walls. I am going to have to have some kind of party to illustrate the fact that I have survived in this business for so many years. So I'll definitely think of something.
12th January 2004 - Arindam Basu (21) from Calcutta, India:
Though I have not listened to all of your songs but as much I have realized they are based on real love. From where do you get that attitude and what is love in your point of view?
Oh, wonderful to get a question from Calcutta, India! I have been meaning to perform in India for so many years, and I know that I am well-known there. Like in Chile, you know, it's a big world and it's hard to find the time to go everywhere. But I look forward to that some time in the future. I go back to something that I said earlier, which was that unless you feel real emotion you cannot convey it in music, in any art form. So clearly I am a person who feels things very powerfully. I am a very emotional person, very spiritual, very romantic. So all these things together allow me to dig deep into my own personality and allow me to express in music and words what I actually feel. From my point of view, love is something very precious, like a crystal ball, very delicate, that you give to your loved one from your own heart and say "This is mine. Don't break it please. It's very precious to me.". And similarly the other person gives you something very precious to look after as well. And I think that's where love falls apart. You know, people say there was a hole in my heart, and you know, my world fell apart. Well I think that's because the precious gift that you have given somebody else has left a hole in you and that the other person has not taken care of and looked after. For me love is a very fragile thing, but certainly the most powerful way of keeping entire communities and in fact the whole world together.
13th January 2004 - Joni H. (24) from Finland:
'Waiting for the Hurricane' has been a favorite of mine since my childhood. The lead guitar work is great - that kind of classic R&B style is not too often heard nowadays. How did the arrangement come up back then?
Hi Joni from Finland! As far as I remember, the lead guitar line in "Waiting For The Hurricane" was an idea of mine. And I liked the storyline behind this of sitting in a hotel, somewhere in the Caribbean, waiting for a hurricane to hit and all the things that go on in the hotel. It's a very strong movie image. Well, I'm glad you like the song. Perhaps it's classic style, but for me classic has always been what I have returned to as a songwriter, because I think it becomes timeless and you can always write songs in that particular style.
14th January 2004 - Vanessa Schäfer (13) from Rotenburg/F., Germany:
Dear Chris, what were your reasons for writing the song "It's me"?? Please answer the question, it's important for me!! Many thanks for your effort. Yours Vanessa!!
The song "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)" was inspired by my love of cathedrals. I think they are the most astounding architectural triumphs of mankind. And I adore going into them, particularly in Europe. The French cathedrals are beautiful, the cathedral of Notre Dame for example. In England I often go to Salisbury cathedral and Winchester cathedral, if I am in the area, St. Paul's cathedral in London. They are extraordinary places, not only very deeply spiritual and historical, but also you just admire the craftsmanship. You look at the top of Salisbury cathedral, it is hundred of metres in the sky, and there were people working in the 12th century up there, I mean, that is really astounding. So the song "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)" came from the idea of a trip around one of these places with somebody that you love very much. And you can see that person is troubled by looking at the gravestones of those who have gone before. And just asks the question "Why are we here?". In the first chorus I say gently "I am here for you. If you ask who is there beside you forever, it is going to be me." And in the second chorus, well I jump the octave, I sing very powerfully and higher "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)". There's no question about it, these two are deeply in love and trying to answer some of these perennial questions that mankind has always had about why are we here. I hope that answers your question, Vanessa.
15th January 2004 - Thomas Marschall (44) from Frankfurt/Main, Germany:
Hi Chris, first of all many thanks for your wonderful concerts in 2003. It's been great fun. I have read many of your answers to the people who had asked you to explain what the meaning of or what is behind the one or the other song. Now that you have published almost 200 songs, and maybe there is quite a number of songs that you haven't published yet, how can you remember all those backgrounds for your songs? How can you recall where and when and why you wrote it? What was first the music or the lyrics and all that? Do you write a diary about it or how can you do that? It's very impressive. Carry on. Thomas
Thank you Thomas Marschall for your question about songs. Well, each one is like my own little child. And most of the time I can remember the circumstances in which I began the song, what inspired me to write it and very much the pictures that I had in my head while I was involved in the process of creatively making the songs grow. It's obviously the further they are away, the more difficult it is to recollect. But each one is a very powerful image in my head. In particular the story songs, like I remember the moment I wrote "A Spaceman Came Travelling" on a hot August day in 1974. Because I suddenly got this idea of this spacecraft hovering over the nativity of the birth of Jesus. Similarly "Spanish Train", it's well recorded I was on a train going through Spain. And more recently a new song like "Snow Is Falling", I was playing the piano and I started writing this melody and this entire film started in my head. I'm so fortunate to have such a vivid imagination, and that's where it all comes from. Yes, it all sticks in my head and no, I don't use a diary. But I hope my memory will serve me for a lot longer to come.
16th January 2004 - Jacqueline Ebner (45) from Scotland:
Dear Chris, I have just had a reminder in to give blood (to go on your birthday) and I wondered if you donate. Thank you, love Jacqueline xx
Jacqueline, you have reminded me of something I should have done a long time ago, which is give blood. I have donated blood in the past. Apparently I have an unusual blood group and obviously it is very important to use this blood group for people of a similar blood group who need it. So thanks for reminding me. And I would also urge everybody else reading this website to not only be donors of your organs where possible, you know, have a donor card on you. But also give blood, because there are many people who will need that. And it might be you or me any day.
17th January 2004 - Sarra Nasser (32) from Amman, Jordan:
Dear Chris, I have been listening to your music for many years! In light of what is happening across the world, the violence, war and the endless loss of innocent life, I was listening to your song - "The life of a child" and thought how wonderful it would be to use it to inspire peace for the sake of our children. Would it not be possible to redo the song using children of all nationalities as back-up and translating the chorus into the different languages of war torn areas? I am a mother and the song rings so true that it is only the children that matter and they are more important than anything else. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and your inspirational music. Sarra
Hi Sarra from Amman, Jordan! This is a country very close to that savage area of bloodshed and brutality, suicide bombings, random killing. A historical problem that seems to go on and on and on. I'm not saying it is happening in Jordan, but it is not far off, you know, the Israel-Palestine conflict. And we are all appalled how children get caught up in war, and this has been an enduring theme for me. The song you're talking about is "The Simple Truth" (The Life Of A Child) which is one of my top 5 favourite songs that I've ever written. I love the emotion involved in the song. I love the feelings behind it. You know, I don't mean to be cynical, but there have been so many attempts from musicians to try and bring peace to conflicts. Very very rarely with any impact whatsoever. I think love has to come from inside people. And that's one of the themes of my new album. It's that you mustn't just love your own family. You have to love and respect and have tolerance for people of different religions, of different backgrounds, different colour, everything. We are human beings. You take away the skin, underneath we all have beating hearts, we all have livers and kidneys, we all love our children, we are all scared of dying. These things bring us together. They shouldn't be throwing us apart. I think the only answer is to have respect. And if music can change anything, I hope it does. You know I think, perhaps my music is helping in certain places people to bring them together. But on a global front, it's going to be very very difficult. I think all we must do is carry on chipping away at other people's dislike of somebody else's religion or intolerance and trying to make everybody understand that we are actually all the same. And in particular to have fights about religion, it's just mad. Nobody knows what happens after death. We just have believes. So have respect for somebody else's belief, but don't just tell them that your way is the only way or his way is the right way. Everybody has an opinion.
18th January 2004 - Chris Raymond (51) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hello Chris, Please help! My husband says that I shouldn't 'scream' so much during your concerts. My theory is that you and the Band need and enjoy audience response - the more enthusiastic the better?! Please can you comment - it's very important that I know your opinion!!! (If you say no screams then please forward a gag to me for use at your Concerts!) Thanks. Chris Raymond. P.S. Don't worry we won't get divorced over this!!!
Your husband is probably a little embarrassed by your screaming during concerts. But I think whatever emotion you have inside, let it out! You know, I love to see people letting go in concerts. And I know you very well from the past and no, no, just carry on screaming! No problem there, just keep on showing your enthusiasm.
19th January 2004 - Sheila Gardner (43) from Hounslow, Middlesex, UK:
Hi Chris! You are interviewed all the time and people delve into every corner of your life, looking for something interesting to tell fans etc. Is there anything that you would like to tell us that you have never been asked?
Hi Sheila! I know you very well from the past as well, and thanks for everything you have sent to me. I am sure there are loads of questions that nobody has ever asked me, but I suppose one of them would be "what do I think about, when I fall asleep at night". Well, that is of course a secret that I only can take in my head. But one of the things I like to do when I fall asleep, even if I am taking a short nap in the daytime, is to clear my mind of everything to do with my current life and what is going on. And try to think about something completely bizarre. The first word that comes into your head like "donut" or "pineapple" or whatever it happens to be. Think about it, and think about how these things are made. And the importance they have to people's lives. And you'll be amazed at how you suddenly, your brain goes into that what-if-area that makes me as a songwriter constantly questioning, constantly seeking answers. You know what if things are different, and why are things in a certain way. And you immediately start, as I have mentioned many times in the past, this little film going in your head. And it takes you on a trip to somewhere far beyond your actual real world.
17th February 2004 - Payam (23) from Tehran, Iran:
Hello Chris. Me and many other Iranians have been following your music for years now, despite the fact that since the revolution on 1978 there is no legal music store here in Iran that sells your music and other foreigner artists as well. The message you sent out to your "Iranian friends and fans" (about the Bam earthquake) was a big news on many Iranian websites. The news was not surprising to me to the fact I know what a person you are and what a kind heart you've got, but what was interesting to me was that you sent the message to your Iranian fans too. I didn't know you know about your fans in Iran. My question is "How much do you know about your fans in countries that your music is not sold in any record store legally?" ... Much love back to you on behalf of all of Iranians.
When I heard about the earthquake, particularly since it was so soon after the concert I did in Wembley, in London, for people in Iran, I was extremely upset and I particularly felt that maybe there were people who had been listening to my music or perhaps reading this website, who were caught up in the horrors that the earthquake brought to Bam. As far as your question is concerned, I have known for quite a long time about the friends and fans in Iran, because of messages that I have received and letters. And it has been an amazing feeling to think that even countries where music is not legally sold, that I still have people who enjoy listening to my stuff. For example, I knew that in the early eighties in Poland, my music was popular and it was being smuggled in, because a bus driver told me. Amongst other people he was one of the ones who was smuggling in my records. And also I heard in Russia, when my song "Moonlight And Vodka" was out, because it mentioned the KGB, that became a big underground hit. And a lot of people were listening to that almost as it were in underground bunkers and in bedrooms and in secretive places. So, to all those people, not just my music, but who enjoy all kinds of music in the world, I send this message of sympathy and love. And I hope that whatever regime you are living under, that one day it will be strong enough to recognize the fact that all human beings need music in their lives and they should be treated everywhere with respect and humanity.
18th February 2004 - Joanne Leclerc (43) from Ottawa, Canada:
Hi Chris, Let me first thank you for your beautiful voice, profound words and your ever so wonderful concerts. I loved Montréal and Ottawa and felt so much love in those rooms; it was an experience just to feel the concerts. Hope to see you again soon! Moving on to the actual question - there actually is a question this time :-). When listening to your music, it sounds as though you really believe in your messages and are not afraid to say and share what's in your heart. Are you someone who is not afraid to go against the current even when you know that what you truly believe in may not always be the popular choice? From my own personal experience, this can sometimes get one into trouble - at least it does for me but you get the satisfaction of knowing you did what you had to do. Do you feel like that sometimes? Thanks for everything, Joanne :-) P.S. The world is a better place because you are in it!
You know how I feel about my Canadian fans and I really enjoyed my Canadian tour of last year. Particularly when I think about returning to places like Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, where people have been supporting me for, gosh, it must be coming up to 30 years now, certainly 25 years. And not only the same people who came to my shows back then, but a complete new generation, and perhaps a generation after that, because I have often seen children in the shows which is a real thrill for me. Because it seems that they enjoy the stories that I tell, the music that I make. When I sing, Joanne, I sing as if I am wearing a coat. You know, you can get 20 people lined up in a room and ask each one to sing the same song, like for example the Beatles song "Yesterday". And some of them will touch you and others will not. And I think the secret is that you have got to really feel emotion to transfer emotion. You've got to feel it in your heart. So if you are feeling a strong feeling of happiness and joy inside yourself, then you can transfer that to somebody else's heart. Similarly if you feel pain, even if it hasn't happened to you, if your imagination is strong enough to transfer pain as a different form of energy, I am sure you can do that, but you've got to believe it. And your question is about whether I go against the current.. well, I always do, I have always felt that I have ploughed my own furrow, like a ploughman. Or else when I started off in 1974 with Far Beyond These Castle Walls, I felt that I was taking a walk through the woods on my own, creating my own pathway, fighting my own battles with whatever evils lurked in there, finding the joy and happiness that happens when you walk through a dark wood and suddenly there's a beautiful clearing with flowers and sunlight, and then you go back into the woods again. And I always felt that, because I am a solo artist and because I have always been fighting against the mainstream, I pay no attention to current events, pay no attention to fashion. Because I think in the long term it is much safer that way, and at least you have your own integrity and your own feeling that you have done the right thing. So perhaps this has always marked me out as somebody different, somebody possibly to be sneered at by critics, but nevertheless I strongly believe that you have to be your own person. And yes, it does get you into trouble sometimes.
19th February 2004 - Linda Jones (46) from Nottingham, UK:
Will a song come from your feelings of love and pride for Rosanna? Congratulations!
Well, Rosanna has asked me to thank all those people from so many countries for the messages, cards, letters and flowers to congratulate her on winning the Miss World competition. A chance meeting at a shopping mall in July has now given her an amazing opportunity to represent Ireland all over the planet. And in particular she would like to thank the people of her home country for their continued support before, during and after the competition. She is especially grateful for the huge support here in Ireland not only for the Miss World competition but also during the first two weeks of January, when the Irish media gave her a very hard time, because she had been set up and ambushed by an unscrupulous British journalist. One card said it all: "Ireland doesn't win much internationally, and now we have. Congratulations and don't mind the begrudgers!"
About a year and a half ago, perhaps two years ago, I was thinking about airports. Because airports are places often of high drama. People leaving, people coming home after being away, mostly they are just business trips, people going on holiday, that kind of thing. But I started thinking about the inevitable time when your child grows into their late teens, early twenties. And like a bird, they are able to fly unaided. So in my song, which is called "Here For You", which is on the album "The Road To Freedom", I was thinking about parents and a group of friends at the departure gate of a flight where possibly my daughter, or anybody's elder child is about to leave for that trip of a lifetime, away to Australia or America for two or three years, perhaps only coming back once or twice. It is a moment that the parents suddenly, perhaps their knowledge has been growing but this is the moment, they suddenly realize that their child must leave them. This is the inevitable way of life. A group of people, there are friends who are crying, the parents are trying to hold themselves back from crying. The child, in my memory and in my mind would have been my daughter, she is controlling herself, but there are tears and then there is that final hug and she goes through the security gate, turns round with teary eyes and waves goodbye. The friends wave goodbye, their eyes are red with tears as well, and the parents turn round and slowly walk hand in hand back to the car. And this is the scene I have seen in my mind so many times. It's a very powerful one and it just shows to me the cycle of life, where people grow up and they must leave and go and find themselves. And of course for the person leaving it's tremendously exciting, it's a big adventure, tinged of course with sadness. A number of people who have heard that song, who do have children of that age, have been extremely moved by it.
20th February 2004 - Hala (23) from Syria, originally from Palestine:
You made a song (Lebanese night) and it was about the war in Lebanon underprivileged children as well . Why did you choose Lebanon not Palestine to talk about their sufferings? I love you so much and I am longing to attend a concert for you.
I have to say again something I said last year: This is not just a song about Lebanese children growing up in a war-torn country. It was always intended about children in any war area anywhere in the world. I remember saying in fact it could be Palestine, it could be Israel, it could be the North of Ireland, it could be Sri Lanka, it could be just about anywhere where the parents and those with hate in their hearts make life so terrible and dreadful for the young people who are growing up in that country. I just happened to have been in Beirut, in Lebanon, watching the young people who had been through 20 years of war, and seeing how much it must have scarred them. And that's why I called it Lebanese Night, because I actually happened to have been in Lebanon. And if you come to a concert of mine, you'll understand a bit more why I write this kind of song. It is supposed to be a universal theme of support and love.
21st February 2004 - Mehdi M. Alipour (23) from Shiraz, Iran:
Dear Chris! How do you feel about Mrs. Ebadi (an Iranian woman) winning the Nobel Peace Prize?
When I read the news, I was absolutely delighted for a number of reasons that I have mentioned in the past like my interest in Iran and the continuing struggle there to change things. And I was absolutely thrilled and delighted when I heard about this major, major victory. Particularly when it's on a world stage like the Nobel Peace Prize. So again many congratulations for that! Because I am sure, all Iranian people share in her joy and her belief that things can change, if you work hard enough, if you sacrifice yourself and if you take risks.
22nd February 2004 - Solange (39) from St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Québec, Canada:
Hi Chris! First thank you again for all the time you take to read and answer all those questions. I really enjoy reading them and learn more about you. You know these days we've seen Bono a lot of times here in Canada to promote the causes that are important to him like erasing the debt of third world countries and providing cheap medication for African countries that fight AIDS. Do you think it's a good thing that artists use their visibility to promote such causes? Do you think it's their duty to do so? Thank you for reading this and maybe for your opinion. I wish that life will continue to spoil you so you can continue to spoil us with your wonderful music. Big kisses to you and your family.
It depends on which way you look at it. I think, visibility is the key question and also you have to be taken seriously. The great thing about Bono is he knows his facts, he believes very very strongly in the things he is trying to promote and change, so he has my great respect for that. In the past we have had people who are perhaps unaware of the background and the facts of the things that they are trying to raise money for or change, and politicians don't take them seriously. The key to it all is, if you want to have change, you really have to have it in your heart. And you have to have all the facts at your fingertips. So, if you have the power to change something because of your high visibility, well obviously I think you should go and do it. I don't feel it is a duty, not at all, but I think it's perhaps possibly a necessity, being a different word. But if you have the ability to help people, wherever they are in the world, whatever their beliefs, whether they are completely opposite to yours, I think you have to take an overview of humanity and an overview of who we are on this planet and how fragile our own planet is and how fighting within the planet is complete madness. In particular I think if high visibility people, high profile people can affect the lives of others, particularly those who are hungry and starving and very very poor in very poor situations economically, if we can change that, well that's a brilliant thing.
23rd February 2004 - Beverley Ricketts (36) from Staffordshire, England:
Dear Chris, I wonder if you could please explain about the charity work you are involved in? I have been to many of your concerts, and given to the bucket collectors, and also unto Manchester to one of your concerts there. As I write this I am listening to "There's room in this heart tonight". I am a Optician and have just returned back from Ethiopia after spending 2 weeks there providing people with spectacles, who would otherwise have no means of obtaining them. Ethiopia is the size of France and Spain combined, and a population of 60 million people but not one single optician. Have you ever been? Your words, How many times can I look in your eyes, and say I have nothing to give, how many more times must I wake in the night with dreams of the way that you live, I can see you lost in the dark, surely you must have been on a trip with Opticians to provide spectacles, and help people see. This is exactly why we donate our time to help these people. I notice you wear specs for reading now, sorry but it gets us all in the end as you say. You might like to know we played your CD in Ethiopia and the folks there really liked it. Incidentally we were over there at the time of Miss World, and managed to see the final in a bar, during half time of the Liverpool, Newcastle Match, everyone there seemed to be big Liverpool fans too, and although most folk disappointed Miss Ethiopia didn't win, they approved of Miss Ireland! Many Thanks for your time, Best wishes, to you
This is such an extraordinary letter and question that you have sent in that I think really all I have done to answer this question is reread it again and feel absolutely shocked and stunned that Ethiopia with a population of 60 million has got so few people looking after the eyes of the people there. In particularly in a country where there is starvation and disease and terrible problems with people's eyesight. All I can say is again thank you for even writing this, so I hope that people reading this on the worldwide website perhaps their ability to change something, even in a small way, by sending funds to Ethiopia, to help those who got problems with eyesight and the sightless and the blind and those who need glasses to further education, maybe they'd like to make a donation.
24th February 2004 - Bobby Bower (44) from Nassau, Bahamas:
Hi Chris, I'm stuck living in the beautiful Bahamas and unless I'm mistaken I can't remember you coming to play in Florida in the last few years. Us ex pat Brits are hankering! Are you going to come this far south again soon? Secondly, some of my friends say "Oh gosh Chris de Burgh reminds me of Genesis (at times) and they say there's a bit of 'Yes' in there too. Well, true fans know the difference but do you think there's a reason for these first impressions from people being introduced to your music? If there's any truth behind this, what do you feel is a good way of explaining any rough similarity in 'sound' or 'sensitivity'? Thirdly, I stayed with your father once ... at Bargy Castle. My aunt Margaret Kelly (née Bardot) took me there. Ever since then I've loved the Irish people -- incredibly friendly and warm. Your father used to cook us breakfast and told us to put holes in the bottom of the egg shells otherwise the Irish fairies would used them to float over to England. He was a very good croquet player and had a wonderful sense of humour. Which of your songs, do you feel best captures the feeling of living at Bargy Castle? Also, can you tell us what pets you have? I remember you had a Jack Russell (I think) that could play soccer. We took your dog to the beaches near Wexford and I was astonished how he or she could run with the ball. What was the dog's name and was it you who taught it to play soccer? Are you still living near Wexford?
I envy you living in the Bahamas! The last time I played in Florida was an awful long time ago. It's interesting that I remind your friends of Genesis, because I have always tried to have a big imagination in my music. I don't know why, but there's a good way of explaining similarity, you will always find with people who have never heard a singer or music before, they immediately - this is the human way - of trying to say what does this remind them of, like "that reminds me of Elvis Presley" or "that reminds me of such and such". It gives them a chance to sort of identify the sound and find a similarity.
It is wonderful to read the stories of what my father used to do, because he has now been dead for nearly three years now. He was a great croquet player and he had a great sense of humour. And what a nice story, that really made me smile!
Which of my songs is feeling like Bargy Castle? Well, I would say something like from my first album "Satin Green Shutters" or "Turning Round" or "Hold On", the first one, because I remember writing that on the piano that I had down there. Also "Lonely Sky" which I wrote at the piano down in Bargy Castle.
We have a black Labrador called Milly who regards me as a fun machine. She just constantly rushes up to me with tennis balls or weird things that dogs find terribly important that we humans are completely puzzled by. We did have a Jack Russell who played soccer, again what a great memory. This Jack Russell used to rush around pushing a ball around with its nose. The dog's name was Kotick and I think the learning of the game soccer came from something deep inside his little doggy head.
No, I don't live near Wexford, but my mother still lives at Bargy Castle. Although at the moment she is in Argentina enjoying some sunny weather on a family estancia, North-West of Buenos Aires.
25th February 2004 - Didier Matet (32) from Nimes, France:
Hi Chris! For your next record, with what producer do you want to work? Do you like to work with someone very famous in music?
Hi Didier! When I was 16 years old, i worked in the Grand Hotel in Nimes, near Les Arènes in your town. And I had an absolutely fantastic time there for a month, learning to speak French, which I learned extremely well, because working in a French kitchen you learn all sorts of incredible slang expressions and I can still remember a lot of them. As far as producers are concerned, I have made three records now with Chris Porter and we are very comfortable working together. I have a project coming up later this year which I hope is going to come to fruition which is the movie project called "Through These Eyes". I have written some new songs for that and I am quite sure that Chris Porter and I will be working together on that. I think when you find somebody, after all this is my 17th album, having worked with a lot of producers, this particular guy is not only a very close friend, but I have a huge respect for his abilities as a technician, as a producer. So I am sure we will be working together again quite a lot.
26th February 2004 - Claudia Schreiber (31) from Solingen, Germany:
Hi Chris! What I always wonder about is the following thing: if you - as you said- don't have a clue of music notes, how can you "transport" a song from the piano to the guitar? I remember the Belfast concert last year, where you did not have a piano but everybody asked for "Borderline"-you played on the guitar-but how, if you don't know the notes? How do you know where to find, let's say an "A", if you don't know that there is an "A" at all? And in Wexford, the first show with the new band, you and the guys started "St. Peter's gate" in different keys, you stopped playing and even named the keys you played in...so I wonder how you knew...Anyway, never stop to brighten up our days! Yours, Claudia
Hi Claudia! Lovely to hear from you again. And I believe that you are still involved with a disco called "Shadow" and I believe that you had one of the fan club meetings there in the Shadow. Thank you very much for that and I hope to see you soon. When I am playing the guitar, I am always thinking about the chords. If I am in the key of D, when I change the chords I am down to E minor, F sharp minor, G, A and so on. If I am suddenly having to go over and play this on a different instrument, I immediately think of the chords and translate that to another instrument like in the case you are talking about, the piano. When I started singing "St. Peter's Gate" in the wrong key, I knew instantly that I was in the wrong key. I thought the song was in B minor, but in fact the band started playing it in A minor which is a tone lower. And I could hear immediately that I was singing horribly out of tune, so I thought the best thing to do was start again and make a bit of a joke of it. And that's the way I do it.
27th February 2004 - Jessica Litz (17) from London, Ontario, Canada:
Chris, I'd first like to mention that your voice is music to my ears. You will remain in history forever and your songs shall always be classics. On your album "Man on the Line", all your songs have such meaning and history. However, I don't quite understand your song "The Sound Of A Gun". Could you please explain to me what the song is about. (especially the first stanza?) I would really appreciate it and God bless. Love Jessica
Hi Jessica! You're from London, Ontario, and there's the Centennial Hall that I have performed in last year. And I want to say hi to all my friends and fans in London, because that particular night was absolutely spectacular and very special and I look forward to returning again. Your question is about "The Sound Of A Gun". This was recorded on "Man On The Line" quite a long time ago, and I had to go and listen to it to remind myself about it. The first lines are interesting, because it goes "I have seen the diamond stylus, cut a groove from North to South, heard them calling from the islands for a better day". Basically, this is a song about a country where there is a repressive regime. The diamond stylus.. a stylus is what the vinyl records used to have to put down on them so you could actually listen to music. Diamond means that it is a very hard stylus. And it just basically ripped a country apart, like a civil war was going on. And the people are being terrified and being the subject of tremendous aggression from whatever powers are in this particular place. It is an imaginary place, but it could have been anywhere. It could have been Korea (North and South), Ireland (North and South), it really didn't matter to me. Again I took the universal standpoint with this, it's something that individuals get caught up in. This is a repeated theme with me how it's all very well to read history and say a million people died in certain times in say Russia or in Poland or whatever, but those are all individuals with families and loved ones and friends behind them. And that's what I find very interesting. When it says "hush child, go to sleep, it's only the sound of a gun", the key word here is "only". Obviously the parents have got so used to the idea of gunfire and the sound of gunfire in their area that the child that wakes up crying in terror, the parents have to say "it's alright, it's alright, it's alright". This could apply to anywhere, I mean, as the years go on and there are wars in Iraq for example, and things going on still in Palestine and Israel, this very much applies. As you can tell from the latest song "Lebanese Night", there is a connection. And I believe there is a question later on about this.
28th February 2004 - Mark Pearce (29) from Manchester, Didsbury, UK:
Hello, I've been a fan of your music for about ten years and now have seen you in concert six times, the first time was at castle Howard in York back in about 1995 or 96 and you were just as awesome as I knew you would be. There is something about your music and voice that generates real power and emotion. I really love the song So Beautiful, from the Love Songs album, it's your voice at its best. Is this key that you sing in on this song your most comfortable for your voice? If not which songs are the ones that you can sing most easily? Thank you, looking forward to your new album and concert tours. P.S Write more songs in the same key as So Beautiful.
Thank you very much for your kind comments about my song "So Beautiful". I think I started it in the key of C, and it just seemed to suit my voice. And then there's a modulation half way through, it goes up a tone after the middle section. You know, when it comes to keys, you learn after a while that some of them suit your voice better than others. And I know that, for example, the key of F and D and B flat, E flat suit my voice particularly well. The key of E occasionally, it depends on the song. For example the song "When I Think Of You" is in the key of E. Some keys are much more raw and they convey a different kind of emotion, like I have a new song called "The Journey" which is in the key of A and it works very well in that key, because it's a very plaintive powerful emotional song. Interesting question! It's one that, every time I start a new record, I always go through the keys of each of the songs I'm about to record to ensure that Chris Porter or whoever producer is and I both agree that is the best one for my voice. One of the problems I have is that I'm not particularly good on the piano for example and I tend to stick to the keys that I can play more easily. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they are the best keys for my voice, so I do try to make sure that the key I wind up with is the one that suits my voice best for whatever the song happens to be.
29th February 2004 - Alina Azarova (15) from Moscow, Russia:
HI, Chris! Thank you for your beautiful songs- "The lady in red", "Where Peaceful Waters Flow", "Two sides to every story" and others. I can't believe that you could answer to my questions! I like you very much! I want to ask you about the history of the songs "Two sides to every story" and "Sailing away"! And...I think that "Sailing away" is about you when you "were just a boy"? Am I right or not? And I want to say you that you are the best!!! With best Wishes, Alina.
A couple of questions ago I had 17 year old Jessica Litz from Canada and now I have 15 year old Alina Azarova from Moscow! Thank you very much for your kind words about "The Lady In Red", "Where Peaceful Waters Flow" and "Two Sides To Every Story". Well, "Two Sides To Every Story" is one of the rare occasions that I co-wrote a song. This one was a song that I co-wrote with a friend of mine called Graham Lyle. He used to be in the Scottish band called Gallagher & Lyle. And he has become a very successful songwriter in his own right, he has written lots of hits for, for example Tina Turner whose voice it was that sang the words "Hush child, go to sleep" on my album "Man On The Line" on the song "The Sound Of A Gun", a question I answered a little while ago. It was a very complicated lyric for me to write this one "Two Sides To Every Story". What I was trying to suggest is a couple who are going to a party and it's that scene in the car on the way back when she says to him "God, you're such a flirt, you looked at every girl in the room." And he says "What? I'm a flirt? What about you! You were standing beside that man, that you couldn't stop keep your hands off him?" You know, one of those arguments. Everybody knows it. And that's what "Two Sides To Every Story" is all about. And at the end of it they agree to disagree, but they also make up and decide that they actually are pretty well made for each other.
"Sailing Away" is loosely based on a favourite book of mine called "A portrait of the artist as a young man" by James Joyce. Not the book itself, but one scene when the hero in the book called Stephen Dedalus goes down to the docks in Dublin and watches all the boats with their romantic names on the back like Hamburg or Cape Town. Places that he has only ever read about and never been to. And he watches these ships heading off and he dreams about going with them. And then, as he walks back through the town, he walks through a red light district and these prostitutes are waving at him, saying "Come this way". It's a new voyage discovery for him. And that's when he says "I wish I was sailing away in your arms". Because as just a young boy in his mid teens he has obviously dreamed about girls and he hasn't discovered the final mystery that girls can offer him in a physical kind of a way.
1st March 2004 - Jacqueline Ebner (45) from Erskine, Scotland:
Dear Chris, A good friend of mine died recently of an aneurism aged 50 (too young!) Once again your song 'Carry Me' helped me to cope with this unexpected death. At her funeral the Minister quoted these words "When we come into this world we are crying and all around us the people are laughing. When we leave this world, we leave laughing and the people around us are crying." I had never heard this before and wondered, have you? Lots of love, Jacqueline xx
I am very sorry to hear about your friend. I know the song "Carry Me Like A Fire In Your Heart" has been used frequently at funerals to give, I believe, comfort to those who need some kind of focus that music can bring to a very emotional time. I myself was at a funeral a short while ago of a young fellow, 27, who was killed in a car crash. And it was amazing how his favourite pieces of music brought such emotion for all those people listening. There were many tears including mine. The expression that you are referring to, I have never heard that before and I can completely understand it. You know, you can just visualize the moment of birth and all the friends round and the happy times. And then the sadness as somebody moves on to the next world. But it's a beautiful expression, I shall certainly remember that.
2nd March 2004 - Chris Raymond (52) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hello Chris, First, it was great to meet the Boys in the Band after the Concert in the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin and to tell them first hand what fantastic musicians they are! Subsequently I saw a photo on Al Vosper's website of the two of you doing a bit of ironing together! Ironing for me is the most tedious chore and I usually like a bit of C de B music playing to take the pain away! My question is - do you iron often and how do you feel about this chore?! Thanks Chris R
Again, thanks Chris for your cards and letters you sent me. The boys in the band and the Gendarmenmarkt concert - well, what a spectacular night that was in Berlin! I think anybody who was there, or indeed in the cafes around this marketplace must have remembered it as one of the spectacular nights of the summer. For me it was one of the great memories, because not only was it a beautiful venue, but it was a beautiful evening and the place was absolutely packed. The photograph of me and Al Vosper ironing together..? I better check Al's website! This is a chore I used to do when I was a lot younger and had to look after myself, did all the cooking and cleaning and ironing and all the things that you have to do if you are a solo single bachelor with nobody to look after you. I do ironing when I'm on tour and I need to get a shirt looking a bit crisper than it is to that point. Particularly when you are travelling, things can get a bit crushed and crambled. I'm actually reasonably good at ironing a shirt. But aren't they very awkward things? This is for the ladies who iron and anybody who irons: Aren't shirts an absolute disaster to try and iron? You gotta put the arm here and the other bit on the ironing board, and all that… Trousers I don't have a problem with, but it's the shirts that I have a problem with. So I try to do these particular things as little as possible.
3rd March 2004 - Paulana Layman (35) from Montreal, Canada:
Dear Chris, One month ago I married my childhood sweetheart. Our first date was to your "Quiet Revolution" concert. Our first wedding dance was "Same Sun". So you have been with us from the beginning. What was the inspiration for "Same Sun"? Thanks.
This is a lovely story. I'm absolutely delighted that you married your childhood sweetheart and you came to the "Quiet Revolution" concert. I have some absolutely wonderful friends in Montreal and to them I send my everlasting affection and love and I hope to see you soon. "The Same Sun" was inspired really by Celtic poetry and the idea of sending love to somebody far away, perhaps a grandfather, grandmother or a child or parent or lover. From wherever you are in the world and looking up into the sky and seeing the sun and the moon. And I always visualize myself late at night writing a letter to somebody that I loved, and looking out the window and there's the moon shining through. And then in the daytime, as I walk along and I see the shadow cast by the sun, that could be me walking with the one I miss and the one I'm thinking about and the one I love. As always in my songs I try to give an idea to somebody listening the chance that it's their song, that they can then take it and make it into something that is meaningful and special to them. This isn't just about me. Very very rarely do I actually write songs that are particularly about me. But this one I could visualize myself in that situation very strongly. And I remember when I was down at my parents place at Bargy Castle, playing the piano, looking out the raining pouring down outside the window, thinking about anybody, somebody far far away and thinking we all share the same things on the same world that is spinning around in space.
4th March 2004 - Don Greenop (46) from Memphis, Tennessee, USA:
I know that they are (supposedly) from two different countries (Ireland and Lebanon), but have you ever viewed "The Sound of A Gun" and "Lebanese Nights" as prequel/sequel? The chorus of Lebanese Nights sounds like it COULD be referring to Sound of a Gun (talking about a lullaby and going to bed with the sound of guns at night). Thanks, Don
I answered the questions earlier about "Sound Of A Gun" and "Lebanese Night". But I had no intention of having them as a prequel and sequel. I think this is just back to my .. perhaps (I was going to use the word obsession) but perhaps keen interest in those things that I spoke about before. It's how people get caught up in war and in particular the children of war and how they are affected.
5th March 2004 - Chris Williams (51) from Basildon, Essex, England:
Hiya Chris !! How do you cope with stress ? If I've had a particularly stressful or bad day at work, I tend to get into my car for the short drive home and turn the CD player right up, usually making sure that I have a CdeB CD is playing. By the time I arrive through the front door I'm usually feeling better, if not, god help the first person to say something wrong to me !!!!
Hi Chris ! Thank you very much for your question. I know the job that you do, working in a hospital, must be an extremely stressful and emotional one. I have enormous respect for doctors and nurses and those who care for sick and handicapped and elderly people. I'm not quite sure how I would cope under those circumstances, but it's nice to see that people's real emotions can be expressed, even if it is an actual job that they are doing, by caring for those who need their help. As far as stress is concerned, I usually find that I only know that I've been under stress when it's finished. It's like going through a storm. You don't really know how bad it has been until it is over. And the way I cope with it is silence. I absolutely adore the sound of silence, where I can walk in the fields on my own or go up to my studio and just sit and contemplate and think and allow all that stuff in my head to dissolve and disappear. I have become very good at taking catnaps for ten minutes, where, you know, you get tired out and stressed, and I can actually close my eyes and disappear into some kind of dreamland even for ten minutes and that makes me feel a heck of a lot better. And perhaps this is something that would help those who are living a stressful lifestyle. Also sometimes I play music very loudly and I dance around and I sing loudly. On my own I have to say! And that helps me deal with stress.
6th March 2004 - Arash (18) from Iran:
Hi Chris, at the end of beautiful song "Girl" you whisper something that I can't find in your lyrics and also I can't find it in the original song by The Beatles. Is that something meaningful or did you just add it for making the song more beautiful? Thanks.
At the end of the song "Girl" I decided to make up some words that the Beatles didn't put in, which is something, if I recall, along the lines of "I want her, I need her, and yes I really love her, that girl". It's just when I was listening to the string quartet playing on my version, I thought "wouldn't it be great to put in something that the Beatles hadn't put in that would work across this particular musical ending". So that's what it is. I don't think I put the words into the CD cover. But that's what it is anyway.
7th March 2004 - Mert Ener (23) from Istanbul, Turkey:
You always use the word "Lord" instead of "God". But in the song "Crusader" you used it as "God" (For God in all his mercy will find a just reward, God is the King). What was the reason for this exception?
You know, this is really a poetic problem. Sometimes the word "God" works better in a lyric, and sometimes the word "Lord". Also, I refer to what sometimes the people involved in the song would say. I think when people are talking about the Lord, you know if it's a character in the song, that probably sits better with them than sometimes God. So it depends on what the character is doing and saying and it depends whether the word can work better in one form or another.
8th March 2004 - Rainer Werner (43) from Mannheim, Germany:
Dear Chris, I would like to know the musicians of "Every drop of Rain" and "Waiting for the Hurricane", the two "new" songs on "Best Moves". Unfortunately there is no info on the CD (my issue) or on the fan web sites. Thank you!
Now you are really stretching my memory here! Because those two songs were recorded separately from virtually everything else I have done, with the man who was very much involved in producing the Eagles amongst other people. He also worked with the Beatles too. The producer's name was Glyn Johns. And we recorded the two tracks in his home studio in the South of England. And I really cannot remember who the players were on those two tracks. So if anybody out there in the world of music knows the answer to this question, I would be absolutely thrilled to hear, but unfortunately I can't remember. It is obviously on record somewhere, probably with the record company, who performed on those tracks, but none of us can remember. Sorry.
9th March 2004 - Randy Sabados (48) from Sedalia, Colorado, USA:
Dear Chris: First of all, I wanted to say how much my wife and I enjoyed your concert in Toronto!!! It was a true pleasure to be able to meet you. I have been to at least 50 concerts in my life and your concert was, by far, the best ever!!!! I can't wait to be able to see you perform with your band! My question for you, Chris, is this.....When you decide to come up with a new album, do you have a general "theme" thought up in your mind in advance of what kind of content you want for the album or do you come up with a few songs first and then come up with an overall theme? In addition, do you come up with the idea for the artistry for the front cover? Do you design it yourself or do you have certain people who do these things for you? I had never really thought about all of the logistics that probably go into the making of an album and so I thought it would be interesting to hear how it all comes together. Thank You and may your music continue to reach out to more and more souls who end up becoming fans!!!!
Randy, it was a pleasure to meet with you and your friends and your family backstage at the Hummingbird Centre in Toronto. It was a concert I enjoyed enormously. I seem to recall it was sold out, 3500-4000 people. It was a very magical evening. I was delighted that so many people, including yourselves, made the effort to come so far for this particular evening. I'm glad to read that you really rate it at your top concerts of all time. Just in connection with your question, there is very rarely a general theme that I wish to approach with a new album. Although "The Road To Freedom", the first three songs do actually hang together on purpose. But usually what happens is that I am in a certain frame of mind across the year that I'm writing and recording. And that reflects things that have been in my head, things that have interested me, things that I am concerned about. And they turn to wind up on the record not in a thematic kind of way, but certainly in a way that just illustrates where I am at at a certain time. I'm sure some of the readers will be interested to know or amazed or surprised perhaps to know that I'm already thinking about the next project, because I keep on referring to my head as being a bit like a garden. You can't expect flowers to grow, unless you plant seeds. Or you become alert to the fact there are seeds in the wind that can give you ideas for new songs. In the past I have been thoroughly involved with the front cover, not only the title but also the front cover artistry and the artwork involved with the whole production of a record. When it comes to the sleeve design, the photographs, the lyric sheet, the credits at the end. You know I feel that if it's got my name on it, it really should be my total involvement on that particular project. The cover for this one ("The Road To Freedom"), the eye with the globe in it, was actually Kenny's idea (Kenny Thomson) and I loved it when I heard it first, because it is very strong, very powerful. And so obviously I became involved in the final details, but it was his idea. So I am pleased by that. Putting an album together is a long distance project. For example we were aiming at a March release about a year ago, so it meant writing the songs, getting the production sorted, getting the recording studios arranged, the producer, the musicians, all up front, so we could actually finish the whole project by the middle of January. It's amazing, if you give a human being 48 hours to do something, he'll use to the last minute. If you give him two years to do something, he'll also use up to the last minute, particularly if it's an artistic project. So we became right up to the wire really on "The Road To Freedom", but I am very pleased with the result. And now we are looking at a two month period where the whole project is then put together on CD, the manufacturing process getting what we call the parts round the world, so they can go through the manufacturing process, so we can have a simultaneous release where we want. Or in fact, where we don't want a simultaneous release, we can hold back to another time.
11th March 2004 - Martin Travers (35) from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK:
Hi Chris. This is probably one of hundreds of the same question you will receive from people...but he who dares wins....with the opening of your new on-line store (www.cdeb.net) I get the impression you are looking to release new albums exclusively through this medium ? Given that records sold through websites don't contribute to chart rankings (in the UK at least) is this a sign that you've "given up" on achieving UK chart success now ? It's a shame because albums produced on independent labels (e.g. Ferryman Records !) could still make chart success despite not having the marketing power of large record companies behind them. I know it's an easy 'get out clause' for people in your position to declare that you don't care about the (UK) charts anymore but deep down I'm guessing you still do. A penny for your thoughts ?!!
Martin, let me just state right from the start that I'm absolutely thrilled that I now have my own record company Ferryman Productions. It sounds very grand, but our staff is fairly small, extremely hard working and putting long hours, in particular Caroline, Kenny and Loren, long hours of getting the whole idea started. Kenny Thomson in particular has been pursuing this idea for at least two years. And as you have correctly pointed out websites do not contribute to chart rankings. However no, it is not a sign that I have given up at all. On the contrary! We will be selling through outlets and through record companies who are the distributor of the new album. And it's basically a different marketing strategy. And of course I do care about chart positions, but I have to be absolutely realistic about it. It's that people of my age and people who have been in the business as long as I struggle to make an impact on the charts. Although you have to remember that the charts reflect current sales, but not sales over a long period of time. And people like for example Mark Knopfler may not achieve chart success, but certainly can sell a lot of records across a year. Whereas a lot of people who tend to occupy the charts for a short time, only sell records for a short time.
12th March 2004 - Tillman Graach (23) from Augsburg, Germany:
You've been talking about your next album being 'your own product'. How is the legal situation with all of your other records? I guess they all belong to A&M (or the bits and pieces left of it all around the world). Another question concerning record contracts: how and why have you split up with A&M? Was it the company's or your own decision? Thank you for taking time to answer all these questions. And thank you for the great solo performance in Augsburg last summer - hope you'll return soon!
I think I may have mentioned it before, but one of my great memories of last year?s open air season was the arena in Augsburg. And yes I do recall mentioning it when everybody ran to the side of the stage and there were a couple of people in wheelchairs that were brought onto the side. And it was a fine, beautiful evening and a great night was had by all, I think. I certainly loved it.
The legal situation with the previous records is that they are still owned by the record company. And in this case it is A&M, who have now I think been changed through to Universal Music. Basically the label is owned by Universal. But these things change all the time to be perfectly honest, because record companies are taken over by big corporations almost on a monthly basis. The reason I split from A&M is because my contract came to an end. I think 28 years, or actually nearly 30 years of being with the same label is an immense achievement, because those were the days when record companies like A&M records wanted to develop long term artists. And I was one of a stable of long term artists that they felt were good writers, good songwriters, who would then develop and be worth nurturing and supporting over a long career.
The Man On (the) Line section is taking a short holiday break now. We'll be back online with the next question and answer on Tuesday. Thanks everyone for sending in so many interesting questions!
16th March 2004 - Laurie Kauppila (38) from Northbridge, Massachusetts, USA:
Hi Chris, I have been fortunate enough to see you twice over the past 2 years (once in Germany and once in Canada). I can't begin to tell you how much we enjoy listening to your music. Anyway, our oldest daughter is 13 and Deaf. She is able to feel the music when it is very loud, but not the words. Recently, I have gone back to school to become an ASL interpreter for her. One day, I would love to be able to translate your songs for her. My question is, have you ever used sign language interpreters for any of your concerts? Just curious. Thanks!
Sorry to hear about your daughter's deafness. It is interesting how she can actually feel the music, when it is loud. The answer is no, I have never used sign language interpreters in a concert. Although I have used actually, you know, language interpreters during concerts, for example in Russia, Ukraine and so on. But I've done television shows where there have been sign language interpreters doing what they do. And it is always fascinating to see how fast these people operate and how those who are deaf can actually follow even a spirited conversation. I wish you the best of luck with your going back to school to become an ASL interpreter. Give her my best wishes!
17th March 2004 - Lynn Langlands (50) from Pevensey Bay, East Sussex, UK:
I have spent two years putting your music into pictures with students in a signing choir. Our hands have bought your music alive to the eyes, and put sound into the heads and hearts of those who cannot hear. I have often wondered if this were something you would consider adding to your concerts as there are no musical artists to date, who have enabled a sensory deprived group of people to internalise the pleasure of music. Your music is filled with emotion and thought provoking stimuli. It has been a joy to see it do the same thing to a group of people through the eyes, and for the first time in their lives see the lyrics linked to an internal type of sound. It would be great if they could also have the pleasure of linking it to the atmosphere of your live performances. One to consider maybe???
That last answer runs beautifully into this next question, which I suppose I can expand upon to say that this would be an amazing project to try and open up in all the senses a concert, the live feeling of a performance. I am sure that we're not too far off the time where neurological breakthroughs can allow those who have sensory difficulties to actually participate in what everybody else takes for granted.
18th March 2004 - Mike Smyth (40) from Bournemouth, UK:
Hi Chris, I have just seen the note about this years Tribute CD and I see the very first song on it is Discovery. Of all your songs this is the most poignant for me. I have spent 22 years at sea and this song always makes me think of where I have been and what I have done. The imagery in the song is so clear for me. All too often onboard ships all over the world and over many years I've be sitting on deck watching a beautiful tropical sunset I've been egged on to sing it! What experiences made you write this one (if you can remember that far back!), whatever they were they must have been pretty vivid. Looking forward to seeing you in Bournemouth! Mike Smyth
You know, I have to smile when I think of Bournemouth, because I remember in my early years touring around England. People used to say to me "oh gosh", you know, going to the boring part of England where people are not very quick about applauding and they don't show their emotions much in Brighton, Bournemouth, Eastbourne, those kind of areas. And actually I found the absolute opposite. The places where they tend to rush the stage quickest tend to be those areas. And I particularly remember in Bournemouth, at the BIC, recently an absolutely totally sold out concert. The place was absolutely hopping and heaving. People dancing and jumping around. That would have been a great show to bring people to who were Chris de Burgh doubters, who say "he has only ever written one song and that was Lady In Red". Bring them down to a show like that and they would have seen why so many people enjoy going to these concerts!
Your question is about my song "Discovery". Well this is from the album "At The End Of A Perfect Day". It is a long time ago, but I think I was imagining myself as a sea captain in the 15th century heading off in an era where they thought you literally fell off the edge of the world. And it took brave men to head off to the west, certainly towards the setting sun, and to discover what was out there. Because none of our discoveries would have been made without people taking great risks, not only the risk of personal harm, but also the risk of offending their monarch who has ordered them to go and do these kinds of trips. I have also neatly moved that forward to a time where Galileo Galilei suggested that it was possible to leave the planet perhaps one day. And if you did, what you would see, would be the planet. And this would be the greatest discovery, another frontier would be conquered. I am glad to hear "Discovery" has meant so much to you down the years and indeed for me it is one of my favourite songs. It is not just a story, it suggests a lot more than that. It's again from the viewpoint of somebody in the 15th century, imagining what we live through today. And the fact that we're sending space probes to mars, we've put men on the moon. I mean these are such fantastical ideas that back in the 15th century they would have thought you were completely and absolutely mad. But then again philosophers and thinkers and scientists down the years have actually dared us to think and push back the boundaries all the time. And mankind will continue to do that forever.
19th March 2004 - Glynis Chadwick (48) from Bedale, England:
My first album was At the End of a Perfect day. On the Love Songs album, why have you missed out what was to me, the best part of If You Really Love her let Her Go - the 'she is like a bird yearning for the winter wind' bit? Keep singing Chris and please come back to Newcastle, those of us who were there 'need you here again', with or without voice!
Thank you for your remarks about "If You Really Love Her Let Her Go". One of my favourite songs, which is why I re-recorded it on the album "The Love Songs". Well, the bit you are referring to, where it goes from E Major to E Minor, I kind of felt in later years, that this was an additional part of the song that sometimes didn't feel like it belonged to the same song. But now that I have listened to it since your question, I agree. Maybe I should in the future, if I perform that song, return to that mid section. It's a bit like also at the end of "Transmission Ends". Somebody asked why didn't I do that end bit, and I have actually started putting it back into my concert performances.
20th March 2004 - Tiia (30+) from Riihimäki, Finland:
Hello Chris! Can you tell who played bass in album version of lady in red? Thanks already!
The bass player on the song "The Lady In Red" was called John Giblin. I remember it well because we were working on the song in London, and I wasn't particularly happy with the bass that was already on it, performed by another bass player. And John called by, and he is a very tall man and he was wearing a long black coat. And he only had a short time in which to help us out with this track. And I remember he didn't even take his coat off. He played this amazing bassline. And he kept saying "Is that alright? Is that ok? Are you sure you are happy with that?", before he ran out of the door. And of course when you listen back you will realize that it is a really fantastical memorable and melodic piece that he performed that day.
21st March 2004 - Adrian Mallia (30) from Malta:
I once heard that you visit the archipelago of Maltese Islands every now and then and that some of your wonderful lyrics and music is inspired by these Islands in the middle of the Mediterranean. Is this so? I'll be sleeping in the arrivals lounge until I get a chance to meet you if it is! :) Congratulations on the most romantic music of our times. Your voice accompanies me through the most important events of my life, marriage, honeymoon, birth of our baby daughter. Your voice is part of my family.
I just want to make a general observation here that the questions that I am reading nowadays are much more than questions. They tell me a lot about the person who is asking the question, about how the music has affected them, things they think about, things that concern them, reasons they keep coming back to my music. It is wonderful to hear all this, it is great, thank you for that!
I have visited Malta a couple of times, and I very much like the islands. The inspirations that I get from those kind of places in the Mediterranean, like Greece for example, the Greek islands, it's a relaxed style of life that really appeals to me. And although I was very young at the time, and I don't remember much about being in Malta (I think I must have been about 6 or 7), I do recollect the heat, the lizards, the swimming and quite probably the music that I have heard. And thank you for your kind words about lyrics and the inspiration that my music has brought to you and your family.
22nd March 2004 - Daen de Leon (35) from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, now living in Copenhagen, Denmark:
Hi Chris. There are many literary references throughout your songs. Do you find yourself thinking how to work, say, part of the Tempest into a song, or is it only when you come to write the song that you remember what you read? Cheers - Daen
I usually bring literary references into my songs after I started developing the song. For example in "Don't Pay The Ferryman" I was thinking about this wild ferryman and this extraordinary film that's going on, and that's why I turned to Shakespeare's "The Tempest". And I had an actor read the part from the particular section in "The Tempest". I read quite a bit of Shakespeare when I was in school and college. And ever since then it seems a nice way to bring in one of the greatest English playwrights into a song. It's not something I'll go out deliberately to do, but it's nice to draw literary references into music on occasion.
23rd March 2004 - Rainer Mackenthun (38) from Berlin, Germany:
Dear Chris, I am interested in a statement about the subject that you address for instance in the song "the spacemen", but also in other songs. You address the belief of an upcoming new world, that is anchored in many religions. The feeling you express in a song is always connected to the time the song is written. How has this feeling changed over the years. Has the feeling become more settled for instance when you watch the people in your surrounding, the news or when you are on tour. Or has it changed to be an isolated wish that seems to be unsatisfiable?
Anybody reading your question will be also as fascinated as I by the depth of your question. Because there is a lot in it, and it is making me think hard. I don't mind doing that, but I certainly had to read it two or three times to totally understand what you feel my true emotions are on that subject. Well, you be right in thinking, for example, in the song "Up Here In Heaven" where all soldiers are actually fighting for the same God, just the one God. By this I mean it would be wonderful if human beings could put their faith to one side and say "This is my faith. I will tolerate everybody else's faith as long as we can live happily and comfortably together in that understanding and tolerance. I bring this theme up again in a new song called "The Words 'I Love You'" where it's not just about fathers and sons, it's also about tolerance for other people's religious faith and religious beliefs. And I think the world would be a far kinder and gentler place, if people could take that point of view. I think this is a utopian dream for me. I don't think it will ever happen, but after all if you don't have a dream, nothing will really ever change, will it?
24th March 2004 - Ammar Awaydah (28) from Tripoli, Lebanon:
One of my favourite songs is Natasha Dance. I would just love to know whether the song was written at any special occasion or not. Is it just symbolic? Thank you for the greatest work you've always done and always will!
Well, this is an example of a song that sort of emerged from nowhere in particular. I hadn't been thinking much about Russia or anybody called Natasha. But as the music started, as it was speaking to me, saying well this is music from Eastern Europe, I started developing this idea which I think I probably touched upon in the album "The Getaway" in "Crying And Laughing" about somebody from a completely different culture, from a different part of the world, visiting and falling in love and then leaving again. And similarly with Natasha Dance. What interested me about Natasha is that having visited Russia, I found myself immersed in a completely new culture that I knew nothing about, apart from historical looks that I studied in school. So the history of the Russian empire is so extraordinary and massive and vast. And also in the recent, certainly in the last hundred years, the catastrophes that have happened to ordinary people, I was and I still am fascinated by how does this impact the youngsters growing up. Is this part of their gene structure? Do they have genetic memory of the atrocities that happened to their grandfathers and great-grandfathers? Does it come through the genes? That's why I say in the song "tell me about the joy and pain of living in your world", and what this means is that I'm fascinated by what brings joy to somebody like Natasha, and whether the pain is part of a historical problem or is it something that you can forget about when you're a youngster growing up in a culture like that?
25th March 2004 - Marianne Blaauboer (27) from Utrecht, Netherlands:
Hi Chris, I recently bought tickets for your show in Utrecht in June 2004 for me and a dear friend, Suzanne whom I've known for 22 years. When I gave her her ticket, she told me she was pregnant. So she'll be in her eight month when we come to see you. So he or she will be a fan from the very beginning! What do you think about the impression music can make on a baby when still in the womb? What song do you think would be especially suited to play, either for mothers-to-be or for soothing babies in the womb? I am sure we will all enjoy your upcoming tour - whatever age, whatever station in life. Thank you so much for your music to accompany us all the time.
Your friend Suzanne who is going to be coming to my concert with you in June should be aware of the fact that this has happened many times before. People have told me that they felt the baby kicking around. Particularly if it's a big band show and they can feel the base drum. Whether they are kicking because they like the music, kicking along and dancing to the music, or else just don't like the music, I have no idea. But because it's a solo performance, it won't be too loud. And I am sure your baby will be soothed hopefully by the music coming from me to the little one in your womb. I think there are people now who do quite a lot of research into what happens to babies before they are born. And I believe some of the research suggest that soothing classical music is very good for babies to make them feel comfortable and help them through the last few weeks before they are born.
26th March 2004 - Trieneke Boskma (23) from Rinsumageest, Netherlands:
I don't know if you heard it but our crown prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima had their first child recently. Because of the media attention it will probably be a little bit difficult for them to raise their daughter as normal as possible. You must have had pretty much the same situation with your children. My question is: if you could give them some advice on what's important for them to do, what would it be?? Keep up the good work and my mother and I really enjoyed your last to concerts in Holland. Love Trieneke Boskma
Well, the important thing is to make sure that your children are brought up in a loving, caring warm family environment, because I believe that family life is the building block of our civilization and must be preserved at all costs. It saddens me very much to see so many marriages falling apart. That's why I wrote a song which hopefully will be available later in the year called "Once Upon A Time", the point of view of a child in a broken marriage. However, my advise to them would be as I say a warm family environment, but also to make sure that the child does not feel different in school. It is really vital the children going to school, to make sure they are not treated differently or stand out from the crowd. That's why for example, and I am sure the mothers and fathers of teenagers will smile, it's when you drop your children off at school, they don't want you anywhere near them. They don't want to know you! And if you do anything like kiss your child good-bye when it is 13 or 14 or 15, they cringe and say "Don't do that!" between clenched teeth. In primary school it is slightly different, but when they are older, you know, you've got to make sure that your children's friends are happy and comfortable to be coming to your house and you are happy and comfortable for your children to go to other people's houses. You know, just a normal upbringing is vital. Although I am saying this about my own family life, people frequently say to myself and my wife "Congratulations on having brought up three wonderful children who are very normal and very unspoiled and very unaware of the fame and fortune that surrounds them." Well that takes work and, you know, it's good work, it's fun work, it's making sure that the children feel that there is nothing different about our family. And I think the greatest and most precious gift you can give your children is time. If you give them time just to be there, be around and listen to them, drive them places instead of letting somebody else do it, that's the vital and most important gift that you can give your children: time.
27th March 2004 - Tara (11) from Bournemouth, UK:
What does it take to become a world famous artist?
Hi Tara! I spoke about Bournemouth earlier, saying what a great place it is and thank you for the support that everybody in Bournemouth gives me. What does it take to become a world famous artist? Well, firstly you have to have some kind of talent. There is a big difference nowadays. You can become world famous very quickly through the medium of television, these "Pop Idol" things and "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here", all those things. But you see, I have a theory. It's quite simply, it's like a shooting star. The longer it takes to blaze a trail, the longer it will take before it fades away. Whereas a lot of these people are instant flashes of light and disappearing just as quickly as they arrived. So, if your question is to become world famous, anybody can become world famous. It's the Andy Warhol statement: "Anybody will be famous for fifteen minutes." I am sure, if you put your mind to it, Tara, you could become world famous. But being famous is not the answer to anything. I have to say, you've got to support your fame by something like talent and ability. Again to draw a parallel, I've often thought that these young bands, these put-together-bands, these pop idol people, I feel desperately sorry for them. Because they are like plugged from absolute obscurity and put on the top of Mount Everest and told "become a mountaineer". And of course they haven't a clue. And they fade away very quickly, they slide all way down to the bottom in no time. Whereas if you have learned to become a mountaineer and learned to climb, you will have all that to support you during those tough years, where if you want to remain a successful artist like I do, even after 30 years I'm using all my skills and my abilities and I work very hard to remain exactly where I am today and hopefully do better all the time.
28th March 2004 - Dawn Riley (46) from East Yorkshire, UK:
Hi Chris now that vinyl is becoming more popular how about some more recent music being produced on that format especially my favourite Snows of New York.
This is a fascinating question, because I never forget the first time I heard a CD and saw a CD player which would have been about 1982. And I was recording my album "The Getaway" with "Don't Pay The Ferryman", "Crying And Laughing", the title track, "The Revolution" and so on. And I remember it was a Hallelujah moment in my life, because I thought finally we are hearing music being played on domestic loudspeakers and through domestic systems that echo exactly what we have been trying to achieve in the recording studio. For example I remember one time when I was recording a dog barked outside, and you could hear it on the tape. We spent hours trying to remove it and we do spend hours and hours in the recording studio removing noises that should not be on it. But then the heartbreaking part was, when it went on vinyl, which effectively is a piece of diamond or metal scraping along the grooves in the piece of vinyl to reproduce sounds through an amplifier. Frequently there are problems with the vinyl, sometimes it gets scratched. And in this business sometimes you hear of people saying it's such a warm sound. Well, it might be a warm sound, but it does not reproduce exactly what we want you to hear from the recording studio. For example I love the big vinyl record covers with all the information and the sleeves, and I am glad to see that part of it making a comeback. But as for the quality of the music itself, it does not reflect accurately what we would like you to hear. You know, in your home playback facility with EQ facility you can improve the base and improve the top and the middle range, and that is often because there are changes in environments, there are a lot of curtains or carpets or furniture, you do need to boost one end or the other. But with vinyl I have very mixed feelings about this as a proper medium of people listening to music the way we'd like them to hear it.
29th March 2004 - Sibylle Marwitz (38) from Hilden, Germany:
Hi Chris, I just read in the "Man on the Line" section that you are working on a film project. Please tell us more about it - why, what, when, where...!?!? Sibylle
Hi Sibylle, hi old friend! Gosh, it's been so many years that you have been supporting me with those other wonderful people you are coming to my shows with. So when you read this, the next time you have a glass of champagne, raise it to the memories! Thanks for all your support down the years. The question about the film project is yes, it's a film project called "Through These Eyes", and it is basically the life of an old lady who is in a home for elderly people reflecting on her days as she comes to the end of her own days. And I have written three or four new songs for this and we are hoping that the production of the film will start later in the year. The people who read the idea, read the script and heard the music were very excited about it. So we have already raised quite a lot of funds for this. It is a multi-million-dollar project, not just a small project, but more about this later.
30th March 2004 - Caitlin from New York City, USA:
Greetings Chris, My question is a bit more philosophical than most. There is a quote from a well know Jewish philosopher that has always intrigued/inspired me as an artist. It goes; "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?" Since your (earlier in particular), work is so very thoughtful in the issues reflect, I was wondering if you could comment on what this quote means to you as a song-writer. I think the quote especially meaningful as we live in such superficial and materialistic times. Thanks for your thoughts, best wishes, Cate
This is a terrific quote! "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?" That almost says exactly what I've believed about the route that I have taken. And again an earlier question suggested would it have been easier for me to follow the mainstream a bit more often. And I tell myself no, I want to carve my own journey in life. And this is really what this means. It also means that you are true to yourself, it means that you have to take possibly more abuse, more holes in the road, more deviations along the road, you find yourself in more difficult situations. But when you emerge perhaps blooded but unbowed, you also have the strong pride and that you have done it your way, to echo the song by Frank Sinatra. And I have certainly done it my way. It hasn't been easy, but I tell you without the support that I have had from you people all over the world, it really would have been impossible. So I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody everywhere for their years and years of support. It is so exciting to read the ages of new fans, because these are people supporting me to the future. Because this new album "The Road To Freedom", I believe is filled up with more deep and thoughtful songs than ever before. And I am very proud of what I have achieved. It's also as you say a very superficial and materialistic world. And I believe that my children also understand the difference between what is superficial and what isn't. And one of the reasons they have been brought up in such a calm understanding way is because they understand the correlation between hard work and holidays, hard work and the good things in life and that just to be famous and just to be rich is an absolutely useless endeavour to have at the end of your own rainbow.
31st March 2004 - Art Trombley (35) from Malone, New York, USA:
Many artists usually stretch their artistic muscles by indulging in painting, or writing poetry, or directing movies. I am interested in photography and have read quite a bit about celebrities who take pictures when they are on tour. Do you get time to take pictures? And if so, would you consider those pictures to be another creative outlet for you?
Hi Art! Yes, I've always been interested in photography. But you know, in the early years I used to take a very nice Olympus camera around with me. And then that gave way to video cameras and I've got hours and hours of touring on video, which I suppose I should put on DVD some day. But it's all absolutely mad and most of it is very funny. And gosh, don't we look a lot younger, me and the band! That's the Canadian band with Jeff Philips. Nowadays I haven't really got the time to take pictures. I suppose one of the downsides about being a celebrity is you don't get the actual freedom that you once had. Although I do make the effort to try and walk around everywhere that I am, particularly on my own. You know, if I am in Bremen as I was recently for Wetten Dass, I walked around a bit and it was really cold. There's a park there I adore walking around and it is great when you're on your own. Taking pictures, I suppose now with digital photography is going to be so much easier. And it's high on my list now, when I head off for my next trip, I'm gonna make sure that I get hold of a good digital camera and take pictures of areas and things that interest me. I always look at scenery through a photographer's eye, I must say, like "that would make a nice shot". But I haven't really got around to it much. Yes, I think that is a very creative outlet, but there's a lot to learn as well. My brother-in-law is a very good photographer and I've been talking to him quite a bit about it.
1st April 2004 - John McGowan (32) from near Chester, UK:
Has your daughter inherited your voice, and if so would you and her consider doing a charity song together? If so, which one would you choose.
She has a lovely voice, although she doesn't know it. And in fact, very recently she and I were on a television show in Germany, called "Wetten Dass" which transmits all over Europe and the estimated viewing public is approximately between 16 and 20 million people live. And she sang a little bit at the end of my song "Here For You", a new one. She told me she was very nervous, because she has never sung in public before. And what a great place to make your debut as a singer in front of that many people! But she did great. I'm not sure she'd be that interested in becoming a singer, because she's got an awful lot on her plate at the moment. But if we were to do a charity record together, I would probably choose one of my older songs like "The Simple Truth", which I absolutely love. And I think it says a lot about my feelings about children all over the world, particularly caught up in warfare.
2nd April 2004 - Afshin (39) from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA:
Are there any plans to make an album of all your popular songs available for karaoke? There are thousands of us who can't wait for that to happen!
Well, I'm not quite sure how the background of a karaoke set up actually begins. That's certainly a question I could pass on to my management. I know that the big songs are already on karaoke, like the ones that everybody can sing like for example "Missing You" and "Lady In Red". But I'm not sure about the rest of them. I think perhaps the easiest solution would be to put out a disc of all the recordings I've made but just remove my voice from all of them. That would be a solution! Maybe somebody would be interested in that. It would be quite a lot of work, mind you, but something to look at. Good question!
3rd April 2004 - Wendy (35) from Leiderdrop, Netherlands:
Hi Chris, I was very excited when I found out today that you will be giving 3 concerts in Holland in June. I'm trying to order some tickets right away! Your music gives me a lot of pleasure and also hope in times when things are not so easy, and I want to thank you for that! I have a (maybe strange) question for you: there are a few songs about relationships between men and women and I notice that these songs "understand" a woman's feelings so well. (For example the song "Love and time" on your "Timing is everything" CD) How come you know so much about how women think? Most men I know think indeed that a career, a nice car and a lot of money is more important than being happy with yourself and your family. Did women tell you about that, or did you find out yourself? I'm also very happy with the "Benefit for Volendam" DVD and I really hope there will be more DVD's in the future so I can enjoy your concerts over and over again in times when you are not on tour! Thanks for taking the time to read (and maybe answer) my question. You are a very special person to me. Thank you for that!!
This is another very interesting question. I've always strongly tried to see somebody else's point of view in whatever it happens to be by putting myself into their shoes, and I think I am good at it. I like to see somebody else's opinion about perhaps something they feel strongly about. And when it comes to women, there's only two human species on the planet, women and men. And I am a man, as you may have noticed. And I am fascinated by women. I am fascinated by how they think, what things are important to them, their sensitivities, their femininity. I would say that a lot of my friends are women. I love their company. I have a lot of men friends as well, but the company of women, as I say, is fascinating. And I think it is really important for men to step back in a relationship and watch carefully and find out what a woman actually needs. When they come back, for example, after a tough day, the women that is, you know they might just need a hug. So give them a hug! And if their eyes are brimming with tears for something you are not even sure about, maybe a friend is in trouble or something, you should go up and be sensitive! I think you've got to listen, that's the key. Not just listen to words that have been spoken, but listen to the unspoken words. Pay attention to what a woman is trying to say to you with her actions, her mood, her sensitivies. Perhaps even her choice of movies, of a particular time, or choice of music. In a relationship you've got to be alert all the time, and I know that perhaps I am guilty as well of not paying too much attention sometimes. But I know a lot of men are as well. We are not particularly good at paying attention, which incidentally is the inspiration for songs of mine like "Lady In Red" and a new one called "Five Past Dreams". The song "Love And Time" is an illustration of this, and particularly when you've got a man who is driven by his career and he is saying to his wife (and I have heard people saying this): "Gosh, money is the only God. You know, I am gonna work so hard, I'm gonna make so much money." Meanwhile their relationship is collapsing, and they go out to dinner and he suddenly gets a phone call and he jumps up from the table, leaving her on her own, saying "Go on, order another drink. I have got a deal to finish here." It's dreadful behaviour, and nothing is worth losing something that you cherish. And it is too late when you finally realize the mistake you have made and you've spent too much time pushing your career basically to earn money for a family situation that you want to enjoy, to discover that it's all gone. It's too late for that.
4th April 2004 - Tony Agar (37) from Ferryhill, County Durham, UK:
I am into Amateur and CB radio so from that viewpoint what was the inspiration for the song "Ship To Shore" ?
The song "Ship To Shore" probably stemmed from being on tour with a terrific Australian band who opened up for me on a number of festivals in Europe, called "The Little River Band". And they used to start some of their songs, in fact I think they used to start their concerts with an a capella beginning of five just great singers. And I thought I'd love to do something like that. So I came up with "Ship To Shore". It's just an expression. And you may have noticed that at the beginning that morse code actually taps out the words "Ship To Shore". So the inspiration for that was coming up with this expression "Ship To Shore" plus thinking now, what is this about? Is it about a relationship, what is it? So that's how it turned out into a relationship between the guy drifting out at sea and wanting to find his way back again to the relationship that he is losing. Strangely enough connected to the last question.
5th April 2004 - Scott McArthur (37) from Scotland:
Do you recall your shows at the legendary Glasgow Apollo? I have just started a website about the old place and would love to hear from Chris and his fans about their experiences. Cheers, Scott, www.glasgowapollo.com
Oh yes, I remember the Apollo extremely well. It used to be on a British and Scottish tour, that we'd all say "Wait till we get to Liverpool, and wait till we get to Glasgow." Because those two places were certainly in the late 70s and early 80s the most inspiring venues to perform in. I used to absolutely love the Apollo and it had a huge high stage, you know, I think people have fallen off that stage, but it's about 3 or 4 meters high. You need a parachute to get from the top to the bottom. And in fact, quite recently, a radio station in Scotland uncovered a tape of me live at the Apollo, which I believe has been re-released. Watch this space! Yes, but it holds great memories for me and in particular I loved being in Glasgow, because, you know, the restaurants and the pubs and the hotels, I used to have a lot of laughs up there. I hope to continue to be there.
6th April 2004 - Dave Malcolm (34) from Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland:
Hi Chris, During the final instrumental phase of the classic trio of songs Revolution/Light a Fire, Liberty, I can hear what sounds like a cat meowing! Can you confirm my hearing is ok! Or am I imagining it??? I have listened to this final part of the track many times over the years, but I am not sure if it is a cat meowing of just a guitar fill. Please save my sanity! LOL. Cheers, Dave. P.S Many congratulations to Rosanna on her success at the Miss World Competition and many thanks for taking the time to answer my previous question.
Hi Dave! If you are looking for cats meowing, I wouldn't listen too hard to my records, because there ain't no cat on that. I should maybe check to see if there's a cat caught in a cupboard or something back in your house. There's no cat meowing on this, it is probably a guitar fill. I'm not quite sure of the one you mean, without actually sitting beside you and you are pointing at the spot. But it's not a cat's meow. Unless, as the saying goes, there was a cat trapped in an amplifier or something. But we don't have any recollection of that. But thanks for your question!
7th April 2004 - Chris Raymond (52) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Hi Chris, Most of us have a "pet hate" such as mine for example - finding dog poo on the pavement outside my house! Would you care to share with us anything which really annoys you? Thanks. Chris R
Hi Chris! Nice to hear a question from you again. Pet hates would include dog poo on the pavement outside my house! Although our dog Milly, we have 28 acres of land here, and she seems to think that her favourite toilet is right beside my car. So I have to be very careful getting out of my car or getting into my car. So I spend a lot of time wandering around with a dog poo trowel picking it all up. However I must admit that my previous home in Dalkey, there used to be a big problem with that kind of thing on the pavement. And I think it's actually down to the owners to make sure that they clean up. Another pet hate would be cigarette smoking, and I know this is up to the individual to decide whether or not to smoke. I think the medical evidence is so powerful now that it's just madness to do this, but you know in the comfort of your own home, not smoking that other people have to inhale it. That's fine, if you want to do that to yourself, it's great. But in restaurants in particular I have a serious problem with people smoking anywhere near me. Just taking a lovely mouthful of some tasty morsel, and you get a mouthful of tobacco smoke as well, and that is really not pleasant. We have legislation in Ireland preventing this quite soon, but there's been such an uproar from the powerful vintners federation who run pubs and restaurants that the government seem to be stalling on this measure. But I think it's really important that people have the choice whether or not to breathe in smoke that somebody else has been enjoying. Passive smoking is dangerous. I just feel strongly about smoking as you can tell.
8th April 2004 - Stefan Krause (31) from Ulm, Germany:
Hi Chris, being your fan for 25 years now and having seen you on stage 21 times, I will see you again in 2004 at your concerts in Stuttgart, Munich and Prien. I'm especially looking forward to this new location in Prien, Herrenchiemsee, on a beautiful Bavarian island near (or even in ??) a castle of King Ludwig II. Your tour calendar made me notice that you are going to perform in smaller halls, than in the past and this without a need. Every time I saw you in the Munich Olympia-Halle for example, there was no empty place to recognize. So my question is: What is the reason for playing on smaller stages this tour ? Looking forward to your new album, your Stefan
Hi Stefan! That is amazing that you have seen me so many times. 21 times, gosh! I hope I am improving! This place in Prien on the Bavarian island, I think it is very near the castle of Ludwig II. That came up recently and I am very excited about that, because it is a very historical and interesting site. The reason we are doing the smaller halls now is - and thank you for noticing that the Olympiahalle is usually sold out - but they were usually band shows. When it's just me solo, I think it is more comfortable for people at the concert to be in a slightly smaller and more intimate venue. For me I don't really mind. I can easily do a concert solo in the Olympiahalle, but we took a view that it is probably nicer for the audience to see me in a slightly smaller place.
9th April 2004 - Kara Bednarski (29) from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario, Canada:
I got hooked on your music while peacekeeping in Bosnia in 2001, and I finally had a chance to see you on tour in Ottawa in May/03. You were touring solo, and one of the songs was "Spanish Train". This version was the most powerful and amazing one I had ever heard. I would like to know if you have ever considered doing an album like you conducted your tour-without the background music, etc. The concert was amazing; to hear such raw talent was truly an amazing experience! Thank you.
Hi Kara! As you know I have a huge fondness and affection for Canada and for Canadians, for their love and support over the years. And you know, the song "Spanish Train" really took off because of Canadian interest all those years ago. I think when you have a powerful story like that, it will always remain a good story. And I have always also enjoyed performing solo. It comes down to the nitty-gritty then, you have no one else to support you, all the lights are focussed on you and you've got to deliver your best. And as always I deliver with passion. I sing as if I am wearing the song like a coat. I feel every word and I try to transmit the emotion and expression and passion of the song itself. I'm glad that you like that song. And I think one day there will be what we call now an unplugged album. The new one is much more acoustic than previous records, and I think we are inching towards maybe a live solo performance on CD.
10th April 2004 - Carl Walsh (37) from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada:
Hi Chris! This note/question marks the first of mine to anyone famous that I greatly appreciate. I rank you in my "life appreciation scale" (ha ha) with some of the other great people I admire ie; my mother for sure, my children, Bobby Orr (Canadian hockey player), the late John Candy (Canadian Actor) and others. I guess my little list may give you a sense that I have an eclectic taste with respect to the people I appreciate, this may be true. I hold the gifts of life very close to me; ie my children, family etc., as well though, there are certain constants that I am drawn to in life that offer a feeling of contentment to me and they include your music above all others. My favourite songs would have to be "Crying and Laughing" and " Borderline". I do enjoy so much of your music, it is difficult to say that I have a favourite or favourites. I find myself drawn towards a great number of the phrases in your music that are so powerful, some of which, appeal to me personally... "... and trees are crying leaves into the river" other to the military officer side of me ie: "Say a little prayer for the boys". I saw you in concert in St. John's NF on Sept 23, 1996 and was in awe. Thanks for that experience, the concert left me feeling very appreciative of your work. Yes... a question... Does creating, playing, singing your music today, impact you emotionally as it would have in your youth (before children, bills, work etc)? Thanks and take care. Carl Walsh
Hi Carl! You've said a lot of wonderful things in your question, which is pretty amazing to read because I know the people you are referring to, Bobby Orr and John Candy. And I just feel that I've been very lucky with my talent, and I've made something with myself and in particular I would really not even have got passed where I wanted, if I hadn't had the support of so many people from all over the world. Newfoundland always has a special place in my heart. And I am glad you enjoyed that show at St. John's. I think, when I was beginning, I would have been bout 24/25, I was full of this dynamic fury and frenzy and desire to succeed. It's called ambition, but there's a fire burning. And the fire hasn't left me. Perhaps I'm in a situation where I am a lot more comfortable now than I was then, certainly in financial terms, but nevertheless I had many years of absolutely nothing. All I did was create a big hole and throw money in it, trying to develop my career. So I know the downside of that. But when you have a family and when you have other people to worry about, it does impact on me in terms of the amount of time I spend away from home. So I try to limit the extent of my tours, particularly if it's in North America or the Far East, or for example in Russia to about three weeks maximum. So I think as you grow older, you take on more responsibilities in life. You do have to change things in the way you work, in the amount of time spent with your family and also the extent of your ambitions.
11th April 2004 - Tillman Graach (23) from Augsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, here's another question that came across my way this morning. Do you know Ray Wilson? He was the last singer of Genesis and has now turned out to be a fantastic singer/songwriter? I've just recently got his album "Change" including some really terrific stuff. Maybe even a bit similar to you, Chris - just with more smoke and whiskey in the voice ;-) So, this is also a hint for all of your fans to go and get Ray Wilson - if you like Chris, I guess you'll like Ray, too.
The quick answer is yes, I have heard of Ray Wilson. But I had no idea that he was a fantastic singer/songwriter. And I certainly will look out for his album "Change". I've often wondered when people hear other people's music and say "that's a bit like Chris de Burgh", and I listen, I think "hmm, there are hints" and it's even more terrific when you get letters from people that say, you know, I've really modelled myself on you, I've taken tips about this, the way you write songs, the simplicity of your music, or whatever it happens to be. It's always a great compliment.
12th April 2004 - Emilia Galarowicz (21) from Czestochowa, Poland:
Hi Chris. There is one thing that especially intrigues me. The song I like most now is 'Another Rainbow'. It has a terrific mood and stresses a unique phenomenon: self-fulfilment combined with cooperation or maybe rather self-fulfilment through cooperation with somebody else (am I right?). Your coarse and serious voice on this song creates the impression that you express the ideas from the perspective of a mature and experienced person (whom you certainly are). It seems to be a memory from the past that is well behind you. Why did you take on such an attitude in this song? Does it reflect your actual state of mind? I expect you still do feel young enough to want to achieve goals. Isn't it as thrilling as some time ago anymore? The song sounds like a farewell with something that was fantastic but had to pass away in the natural course of matters. Do you feel tired with frenzy? When you once said that 'life itself is like a drug', did you mean it's so because of 'dreaming dreams' and all the acts of 'following rainbows', or something else? I believe that all your life you are 'following the rainbow' (in terms of your artistic creation and not only). Is it how you feel it? Thanks for your time and all the best to you.
That's a really interesting view that you have taken on my song "Another Rainbow". And really the background to this is, I was thinking about a childhood friend that he and I grew up together, well certainly in our late teens at University. And we've been living fairly well parallel lives since, I've seen what he has done and what he has achieved and he has seen what I've done and achieved. And in a way this person was more gifted than I in so many different things, but he couldn't pull them all together into one whole package, that would really set him on the journey of his life, which I think would have made him an outstanding writer or musician or actor. He is really good at a lot of things. But at the time I wrote it, he felt himself that he wasn't particularly good at any of it, which I disagreed with, I thought he was just great. And I still do. But my friend is turning into just a wonderful writer and has written for years, mind you, but I think he is just getting even better and better. And it was like when you are in University, and you are sitting around late at night, playing guitars and drinking wine, there are candles, there are girls draped around you, singing songs, eating silly things late at night. And you all have these crazy dreams, and students talk about Karl Marx and Nietzsche and, you know, they basically try to change the world from the standpoint of being 19 or 20 years old. Without the experience, but certainly with the enthusiasm, because there are lots of ideas that generated even that age which go on to have an impact on the world. And that is what I was doing. And this guy in particular, he and I used to have such fun together. And I was just following our mutual paths through life, and see how we wind up at this day. That is what the song is about.
13th April 2004 - Farzaneh (24) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi, dear Chris. Chris, I want to ask you a question, but I don't know if you consider it a personal one. I understand from the content of your songs that you are a person full of love and kindness. I want to know to whom you owe this peaceful soul? And another question: what do you usually do to get over unhappiness, uncertainties, or nervous breakdowns (if they ever happen to you)?
This is an interesting question. I don't know about my physical and spiritual make up, except to say that I am comfortable in my own skin. I am happy with myself, I know what my faults are, I know what my strengths are. And I think a person like that tends to have a lot to offer. I have a lot of love and affection to give. I think one of the reasons why I get so emotional in my songs which transfers emotion to so many people all over the world is that I actually feel these things genuinely. I was asked earlier about why I have such empathy with women and the female sex, and it is because I can really put myself in their shoes. And that's what happens when I sing as well. I'm comfortable with myself, because I am surrounded by a wonderful family and great friends and I think having those kinds of people around you gives you such strength and resolution and helps you through the difficult times I have never had, which you refer to as a nervous breakdown. But I have had certainly times in my earlier career where I wondered if I was going the right way, whether there was room for somebody like me out in the world, and how I was actually going to achieve all the dreams that I set out with. Well, I always felt that I was shooting for the moon and the stars, and just to get half way there was an achievement in itself. So again thank you to all those who regularly read Man On (the) Line and those people who have been supporting me for down the years. It means a huge amount to me.
14th April 2004 - Maro (20) from Sydney, Australia:
Dear Chris, I would like to know more about your new album. I'm really looking forward to it. Thank you..
Of course it is called "The Road To Freedom". It has got 11 new tracks on it. I think it is some of the best writing that I have done for quite a long time. That's not to say I didn't enjoy "Timing Is Everything" and "Quiet Revolution", but this particular album is written from a viewpoint where I wouldn't go and perform it with a band. This is for a solo tour and once I was free of that particular area of songwriting, I concentrated on songs that were meaningful to me, that reflected the time I am living in, the time of my life with the people around me, the sort of things they think about. I am sure you are going to hear from various other sources about the track by track breakdown of the album. Suffice to say that the first three songs are supposed to hang together as a trilogy, loosely but certainly in terms of feel and emotion and atmosphere. And people have said, not only the first three songs but the whole album feels like a movie that they have been into the cinema to watch. So I hope you enjoy it.
15th April 2004 - Adrian Brittlebank (16) from Leighton Buzzard, Beds, England:
Hey Chris!! I am a huge fan of yours and can't wait until your next album is released. My question is, when recording an album, do you have the band there live playing the instruments while you sing like on the Beautiful Dreams album or do you have the music previously recorded and sing along to that? Thanks for taking the time to answer this question!
There are many ways, Adrian, of recording. Quite a lot of the new songs on this new album I recorded live with one instrument. Usually with a guitar player or a keyboard player playing, and I am singing live with them. And in case of the orchestra I sang live with the orchestra like on "Beautiful Dreams". Other times, because you want to have a certain amount of control over what happens on the record, I've recorded the track first and put the vocal on afterwards. Generally speaking most people do it that way, but I love the live performance because it is a kind of a one off, and I enjoy live performances anyway. And you put everything you possibly can into that one performance.
16th April 2004 - Steve Bennett (38) from Winsford, Cheshire, UK:
Hi Chris, in 1989 A&M/Polygram in Brazil decided to re-release the vinyl pressing of Flying Colours(397 004-1), this time including the track 'Love Is My Decision' as the opening song on side two of the album. I know you carefully decide the correct track listing before release, I just wondered what are your thoughts about what they did, and did you know about this very rare inclusion until I sent you a copy in 2001? Best wishes Steve Bennett.
Hi Steve! You have been a great supporter down the years, and you have sent me all sorts of rare and unusual things that I didn't even know existed out there. Stuff that I have recorded in the past. And here is another example. I had no idea that Polygram Brazil re-released the vinyl pressing of "Flying Colours" including "Love Is My Decision" which was from the movie "Arthur On The Rocks" until you sent me a copy in 2001. It was the first song I ever co wrote with anybody and it happened to be with the great Burt Bacharach. So that was a fascinating insight into the great man himself, for whom I have great admiration and respect. I think what happened was there was a lot of airplay of the song "Love Is My Decision" in South America and it was an individual decision of the record label down there to do that. You see, each country is autonomous in as much as they can decide on whether even to release an album or not, whether it suits their territory and if they want to have an extra song on that happens to suit their territory they can do that, as long as they ask permission. But of course now that I have my own record company "Ferryman Productions", they have to come to ask us which is great.
17th April 2004 - Helen Lind (44) from Canada:
Thank you for your time. It's great that you would bother with this. O.K. Was there a deliberate reason that you made the two songs "Walls of silence" and "Nothing ever happens round here" as they appear to be the same scenario only reversed. Or was it just coincidence? Just a quick ps: Do you think Michael Schumacher should retire? Thanks again.
Hi Helen from Canada! You know, you're the first person who has pointed out that "Wall Of Silence" and "Nothing Ever Happens Round Here" occupy a similar kind of area. "Nothing Ever Happens Round Here" is obviously far more upbeat and a fun song about the Hollywood movie making process and how you can actually become an overnight star and then continue your career. In a way curiously enough it almost mirrors what happened to my daughter Rosanna, who was in a shopping mall, as you know, and suddenly within 6 months is Miss World. A dream that she never even had. I think many more people perhaps dream of being movie stars, because they have an idea about movies and maybe they are good at acting or something. But certainly for my daughter, she had no idea about beauty pageants and was not particularly interested in them until suddenly boom! There she is Miss World! It was a coincidence and those two songs "Wall Of Silence" and "Nothing Ever Happens Round Here" happened to talk about almost the same kind of thing. "Wall Of Silence" is a much darker and sadder song.
Funnily enough I was talking to the head of British American Racing recently who is a friend of ours. And he just said Michael Schumacher is in a class of his own. That he is driven in a way that nobody else in motor sport is driven about perfection. And he should only retire when he feels that he's really achieved every dream he has ever had. He is an amazing driver. He is quite clearly the best driver in formula one. But he is gonna keep going and keep scaring his competitors for quite a long time to come, I believe.
18th April 2004 - Mark (21) from Hennef, Germany:
Hi Chris! Thanks for your beautiful music! It helps me a lot in my life. Which Beatle is your favourite and why? Thanks a lot!
I presume you mean which Beatle person is my favourite. Well, I would choose Paul McCartney because he has been a hero of mine not only as a songwriter. He has written fantastic ballads like "Yesterday", "The Long And Winding Road", "Hey Jude", the list is endless. But also as a singer, he has exemplified everything that I have always wanted to be in a singer. One moment he can really shout a real Rock'n'Roll tune like "I'm Down" or "Helter Skelter" and then he is gentle and melodic with songs like "Michelle" and "Yesterday". So he would be my favourite Beatle.
19th April 2004 - Ricardo (37) from Argentina:
Hi Chris. First of all I want to tell you that I've been a fan of yours since I first listened to the Lady in Red, then I discovered your earlier work and I loved your music even more, mainly the Spanish Train album (It's awesome!!). I know that you spent part of your childhood here in this country and it's a pity I've never had the chance to listen to you live here. The first time I listened to Borderline I thought it had to do something with Malvinas War (Falklands War) specially when I checked when the song was released. I was glad to learn later on that I was right. What were your thoughts when you wrote it? Personally I think this war has been the most stupid thing our country has done, and I get quite moved when I listen to the lyrics of Borderline, specially the Live from Dublin version. Thanks for such a beautiful song!
To my countrymen in Argentina where my family still have an estanzia, an estate, I say hello and I would love to come down and sing live. And now that I am doing solo tours, it makes things a lot more simple to promote and there is every chance I'll be down to South America before the end of this year. You are quite right, I wrote the song "Borderline" watching the victory parades on television of the Malvinas War, the Falklands War, depends on where you came from. And I was aware that a lot of the conscripts who were fighting for Argentina didn't even want to be there. And some of them came from European backgrounds, Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh. It seemed to be a futile war where two leaders decided to beat up each other in public, and this tends to go on quite a bit. They don't want to lose faith, there is an election year, some other reason. And I just think that the war was a mistake. I also believe that there was a lot more to it than meets the eye. There must have been very powerful economic reasons for waging the war. We hear about oil and all sorts of other reasons. But my response was to write the song "Borderline" about how individuals get caught up in a war and how, you know, the love of your country, sometimes you have to look at yourself and say "Do I love this other person more than I love my country?". And the second part is "Say Goodbye To It All" where these two people like in Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell To Arms", they decide they have had enough and they decide to say goodbye to the war and forge their own lives. It's just a point of view that I took on these particular songs.
20th April 2004 - Marc Rousseau (41) from Montreal, Canada:
Hi Chris, I'm following your career since Crusader. I got married in 84 and since then you have been part of my family. We have listened to the song for Rosanna when my wife was pregnant of my first girl. I use so many of your beautiful love lyrics to tell my wife how I love her. Your songs are following us on every trip we are doing. My kids are singing them to perfect their english. You are really part of my family! My wife asked me to play the song Carry me for her funeral (Which I hope will be in many many years ago! Are you OK with that?). I'm sure that I'm not the only one in that situation. I hope that you will never stop your career. Did it ever come to your mind? Will you continue touring till your health is good (Please say yes!)?
Again I must stress my fondness for your city. And for so many people in your city that I love so much. There are wonderful friends that I have there that I long to see again and it's a country and indeed an area that has loved me the same way I have loved them. I love performing in Montreal. And what you say in your question, indeed your statement about the way you use my lyrics to tell your wife how you love her, it's beautiful. And your children, to be part of your family! The song "Carry Me (Like A Fire In Your Heart", well I hope you're not gonna be hearing that at your wife's funeral, that's for sure, certainly for many many many many years. And there is another one I have written called "The Journey" on the new album which also may appeal to those who feel that music can help them through difficult situations and loved ones to part. But in your case, you are only 41, you've got many many more years on this planet. And as far as ending my career is concerned, no I have no plans. I'm 55 years old, I still really love what I do, my voice is in a good shape, I've got a lot of enthusiasm for what I do and most important of all, there are a lot of people around the world, hundreds of thousands if not millions who still want to hear me sing. So it is wonderful to be in that situation after such a long career.
21st April 2004 - Pedram (35) from Iran:
Hi! I've been a massive fan for over two decades now. Thanks for years of inspiration! I've got loads to ask, but I'd be really grateful if you would answer at least one them! I can see the relevance of your fantastic EASTERN WIND and the events in Iran at around the same time you wrote it. But who is the woman in the song and what sort of threat did you see back then that wind could pose? I can't wait to get my mitt on your next album!
Yes, of course you know who it was about and what it was about and how a farmer in the Mid-West of America whose horizons are extremely limited, never even been out of the country, feels threatened by what is happening in the East. Now I have to tell you this was written and recorded in 1980. It may be still relevant today. But the woman is nobody special that he refers to in the song. But overall it's a feeling of menace, of something that he doesn't understand coming his way. And I remember at the time there were a lot of problems with hostages being held, American hostages in Iran. But, you know, it's amazing how history repeats itself, moves on, changes, repeats itself, and so on. The wind of course doesn't refer to the blowing of a wind. It means something coming your way that could threaten your whole lifestyle and way of living.
22nd April 2004 - Tara (11) from Bournemouth, UK:
Reading some of the questions that were answered before I've been thinking about what was your very first song which you wrote? I've listened to some (maybe most) of your albums/singles/etc and that question just popped up into my head! I hope you keep recording, I love your songs!
Hi Tara! I wonder, did you ask me a question in the previous section? You might have done. But again, it's exciting that you are such a big fan at such a young age. And maybe when I come to Bournemouth to do a show later in the year, you make yourself known to my assistant and maybe we could meet. The very first song I wrote, well it's hard to remember, but I think it was called "A Waste Of Love". And it was pretty awful. It's just like anything creative, you learn from your mistakes. And you learn how to craft songs and get better at them. And now that I have been in this business for so long, just finished my 17th studio album, I must have written now about 165/170 songs recorded, I think I am getting better. I hope you would agree.
23rd April 2004 - Ali Dindar Sooraki (25) from Sari, Iran:
Hi Chris, I love your song "The Key" and I want to know what was your meaning about it? Your fans Ali and Jaber. All the best!
The song "The Key" was from my first album "Far Beyond These Castle Walls", and it was about a girl that I knew. She and I went out together and then she kind of disappeared from my particular world. And she didn't seem able to hold down a relationship. She kept on like a butterfly, flying from one to the next. I suppose, if I recall, I was hurt by the fact that she moved on to somebody else and somewhere else. But the more I heard about her and her life, the more I realized she was making a terrible mess of it. That she should have really stuck with somebody, not me incidentally, but somebody else who was strong for her and good for her instead of moving on. It's like just when you say "now is the time I'm ready for a permanent relationship", it's too late, because you've screwed up your life so badly. And that's what that song is about.
24th April 2004 - Shirin Soltani (23) from Shiraz, Iran:
Dear Chris, I really don't remember when or how I first heard your music but I do remember that when I heard them, they were with me from that time and they will always be. It was in a time that I was a teen when your music found its way to my heart and it was first when you started by saying "Talk to me", all your words find their ways to hearts because they come out of your heart. I am very happy that I had this chance to know you and your music. Thanks. Now I have a question about one part of your song "In your eyes". It is something that some of my friends also asked me but I didn't know the answer now I have this chance to ask. What do you mean by "papers in bed" in that song. It might be easy but I haven't got it! Thanks Chris, I hope you the best of all and Peace!
Hi Shirin! Thank you for your beautiful words and again it's great to hear from Iran. And I can't wait to be the first international artist to go and perform in your free country. The question about "In Your Eyes", the words "papers in bed", well this is a tradition usually of people who do not have children by the way, of getting up late on a Sunday morning and either having the Sunday newspapers delivered to your home or somebody going out and getting them and you come back, you get a cup of coffee or cup of tea and breakfast in bed. And just leave the papers lying all over the bed and read them until two in the afternoon. That used to be what I used to be able to do many many many many years ago, but I'm sure some people still do it nowadays.
25th April 2004 - Ilka (33) from Allmersbach, Germany:
Hi Chris! First of all thank you for your time and effort to answer all these questions - it's a must each day to read the MOtL-section of your homepage! My question today is: have you ever thought of taking a time out and go for example to a monastery for some days/weeks to settle down a bit and find peace and shelter from your turbulent life? I am thinking of this possibility at the moment (of course, I would go to a convent ;o) and would like to know your opinion about it. Thanks once again and - carry on!
Yes, I do lead a very turbulent life. And I like to think I'm in control of it, that I know what I am doing. Having a good team of people around you is absolutely vital. But I do have a place that I can go to, if I need quiet and comfort and peace of mind. And that's a little cottage I have in the country where I often go if I am writing for an album, for two or three days on my own. It's completely peaceful, all you hear is the sheep and the cows and the birds. And it's well away from the road, and I walk around the fields, muttering to myself and basically communing with nature in a way that is almost impossible when you are working near the city as we are. Although we are in the countryside where I live right now, on the daily basis the phone is always going, there are people here, things to do, people turn up. But in this place that I go to, that's my monastery if you like. I love my own company and I don't mind being alone at all. I enjoy it and it allows me to clear out all the rubbish out of my head and think clearly about things. And that's what I really suggest to anybody who needs peace and quiet. Go somewhere where you can actually hear the silence.
26th April 2004 - Chris Williams (52) from Basildon, Essex, UK:
Hiya Chris !! well here's a nice short and easy question, now lets be totally honest here, do you really take a COLD shower every morning as you have always said in the past ;-) ? hugs, Chris xx
Hi Chris! You and your husband Stewart have been great supporters for many years and sending me wonderful gifts and presents. Thank you so much for your support and your love. The answer is: I take a cold shower every time I take a shower or bath. Yes, it is quite interesting to take a cold shower when you are in somewhere like Moscow and it's 10 degrees below and the water is just above freezing. But it's terrific for the skin tone, it's terrific for the immune system, and it takes your breath away. You know, standing underneath the cold shower for 45-60 seconds. But it makes you feel fantastic afterwards. I highly recommend it for a number of different reasons. But yes, I do, and it IS very cold.
27th April 2004 - Andrea Lucas (38) from Ludwigsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, right now I am on a skiing vacation in Austria and yesterday while it was snowing heavily I was listening to your song "Transmission ends" with the line "winter seems so far away in the summer time" and I was thinking how nice it is to have the different seasons of the year and how far away summer seems to be here. Do you have a season you like best? Thanks a lot for answering all those questions - and my friends and I hardly can wait for the next concerts in May. Take care, Andrea
Hi Andrea from Ludwigsburg, a place I know well! I would say my favourite season is autumn. It's a kind of melancholy season. This last autumn was absolutely stunning, the leaves were absolutely beautiful. I don't know if it was the same in Germany, but here in Ireland the colours were amazing. They went from golds to oranges to pinks, reds, almost purples in some of the trees. And you see them blowing off the trees under windy conditions. It's also amazing to be in North America in the autumn. I've often done the drive from Montréal to Québec or back again and it's about an hour and a half drive. And when the leaves of the maple trees start turning, it's spectacular. So although autumn is the time of melancholy, as I said earlier, summer is gone and winter approaches, it's a wonderful time of the year. But then the other times of the year I adore. Especially spring, when the trees start budding again, the flowers start peeping up from the ground. I love spring time and of course it is spectacular in Ireland in the spring. We don't usually get wonderful summers. But when we have a good summer like the summer of 2003, it's memorable.
28th April 2004 - Stephen (39) from Kincardine, Ontario, Canada:
I know you had some home renovations done recently. I also know that you likely don't need to pick up a hammer yourself. My question is, though, are you handy around your home? Is there any of this type of work that appeals to you? Thanks.
It was a bit more than home renovations, Stephen. We had a project which meant restoration and renovation of an old house plus all the outbuildings and that took nearly seven years. It's not quite completed yet even now. But when it comes to being handy around the house, I was brought up in this old castle and my family did not have money to spare, so my brother and I, my mother and father, we all learned how to use hammers. And it's a bit of a joke in my family, I'm actually a part-time plumber and an electrician, because I know how things work and I'm pretty good at doing those kinds of things. When it comes to carpentry work, I prefer to get somebody else to do that who is more skilled than I. But I've got a good brain when it comes to figuring out why things aren't working correctly. Quite often I'm the guy that gets called in if an alarm system is failed or, as I say, plumbing, electrical work. I've often been found underneath dishwashers or washing machines, clearing out the drains, toilets. You name it, I have done it. Thanks!
29th April 2004 - Christine Andresen (25) from Wedel, near Hamburg, Germany:
Dear Chris. I am a great fan of you and your music, but I have never been to one of your concerts, though I have seen many on television. I now saw, that you will be in Hamburg in June and I really want to visit this concert. I just wonder a little about the location you chose for Hamburg. It is not the usual location, where I would expect one of your concerts. The Music Hall is a smaller place than the locations, where your Hamburg concerts have been before. Is your new tour programme different from the previous tours, and therefore the new location has been chosen? Usually I remember a perfect mixture of rock and ballades, which is absolutely perfect to enjoy, but I can hardly imagine such a concert in this location. I really would be interested in that. Thank you very much for your efforts.
Well Christine, the answer to your question is probably one that I touched on earlier in as much as this is a solo tour and although I'm very happy to do the big venues, we felt that for the general public it would be easier for them to see me in the smaller venue. So if you haven't seen me in concert solo, I hope those who have will say that you are in for a treat. I've got a lot of material to perform, all these years of writing and recording. And I like to think that I'm very generous with the time I spend on stage. Also it's an opportunity for me to talk and chat about the background to the songs and the things that I think about. It's a laugh, you know, we have fun, and it's very much an intimate occasion. I hope you enjoy it.
2nd October 2004 - Lara Diener (18) from Berlin, Germany:
Hello Chris, I was so amazed when I discovered this little section on your website! I really appreciate your effort to keep in touch with the fans. How do you manage to invest so much time in it and have you ever been at a point where you were really annoyed with a fan? I want to tell you that I enjoy listening to your songs and that they actually touch me very much although I am too young to understand all your thoughts and feelings that are reflected in your songs. Thank you very much, it would be great, if you answered. Lara
Well, as you can tell, I haven't invested much time in it recently, Lara. Because, as I have explained, I have been extremely busy and I have also been taking some time off during August and early September. Not necessarily to go away on holiday, but I've got lots of stuff to do at home and spend time with my family. I'm delighted to be able to do this, and indeed the internet is such a wonderful way of keeping in touch with friends and fans all over the world. And I think by now people realize that when I speak to "Man On (the) Line", I am speaking honestly and sincerely and that my true feelings are out there and becoming known. And I am also thrilled at reading not only the questions, but the guestbook and the responses to things I have done in the past. And you also ask me, Lara, if fans ever annoy me. Well, the answer is: very very rarely. I think most people understand that I'm very approachable, but also I need privacy. I suppose the most difficult times are when I am either preparing to do a concert or after a concert. I suppose, because I make things look so easy, I appear to be relaxed, but I am actually very focussed. And that requires a lot of mental energy to get into the area of being able to do a 2 1/2 hour concert every night, or certainly 5 or 6 nights a week. And you just start running out of mental energy to deal with other things. Even sometimes after concerts, even if I am in a room for the fans, and I talk to one or two of them, I just don't have the energy to go and talk to everybody. Because I am really tired, you know, it's not just a physical thing, it's a mental thing. And occasionally, I suppose, people do get on my nerves, but it's a very very rare thing.
3rd October 2004 - Vern Hines (42) from Auckland, New Zealand:
Hi again Chris, thanks for answering my last question, it's great to get a response from you. The album cover for The Road To Freedom is superb, I can't wait to buy it from your website. I couldn't get "Timing"' in NZ and had to import it at more than dbl the cost of albums here. (worth it though) My question is about the new cover: What made you choose a human eye with a reflection of the earth in it? And is there any reason why my part of the world is shown as opposed to say, your beautiful country ? Congratulations on Rosanna's success and thank you for the years of wonderful music, may it continue for a long time. Take care, Vern Hines
I've never been to New Zealand. I have been to Australia a few times and I hear that New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous. So hopefully I'll be able to make it down to your country at some stage and perform for you there. The cover for "The Road To Freedom" album? Well, this was a collaboration between myself and Kenny and the art director. But really it was Kenny's idea to have the eye. We always kick around loads and loads of ideas, but he came up with this one and putting a portion of the planet. I think the reason we got that part of the planet is because it worked very well. And, just by complete irony, the eye is my daughter's eye, Rosanna. And the area, if you look to the top and the left hand side, is around the area of South China where she won the Miss World competition. And if you also look carefully, you'll see the reflection of a guitar in the right hand side of the eye. And this really was a feeling that I am still out there, playing around the world and enjoying my performances around the world. And thank you for the congratulations about Rosanna. Those of you who have seen her or have seen pictures of her over the last year, will realize she is a tall, beautiful, young woman. And then you look at pictures from me and wonder where on earth did she come from? Well, she has a very beautiful mother!
4th October 2004 - Dawn Hughes (35) from Liverpool, UK:
Hi Chris and hello from Liverpool. Hope you're going to come back here again soon (apart from the football of course). Can't wait to see you again. My question is: does the title of your new record "The Road to Freedom" have any reference to Irish history and the turbulent and tragic events of the last 100 years or so? I ask this as I've just seen a book with the same title and wondered if that was where you got your idea from?
You are a young lady I know well, and it was lovely to see you again in Liverpool. And I hope to meet up again soon, perhaps when I perform at Liverpool cathedral towards the end of October. The title of the new record "The Road To Freedom"? No, it actually has no reference to Irish history, but it does have echoes of most of the struggles that people have gone through to find freedom. I think if you look carefully at the lyrics, you will come to the same conclusion that I did, and the old man in the story did. It's that the words "freedom" and "democracy" don't count for much, when you're living on the borderline and you're struggling to stay alive. They are just concepts in the minds of people who have more time to pursue them. But nevertheless as we have seen for example in South Africa, freedom is definitely something worth pursuing. And I think people reading this in countries like Iran will know exactly what freedom means when they finally get it. You refer to the turbulent and tragic events of Ireland in the last 100 years or so, well they are very much part of the national psyche here in Ireland. And the freedom and the struggle for the freedom, that this country currently enjoys, is very much part of the background that I live with on a daily basis in this country, which is a very spiritual country, but it's tinged with a lot of melancholy as well. And maybe I'll have a chance to explain that in more detail when I meet up with you again in Liverpool.
5th October 2004 - Melanie Edwards (42) from Liverpool, England:
Hello Chris. It is eighteen years since 'The Lady In Red'. Was 'Five Past Dreams' written specially as part of the theme for 'The Road To Freedom' or some time ago and is now appropriate for this album? Also, we first heard 'When Winter Comes' in 1992 during 'The Chris de Burgh Story' on Radio 2. Are you pleased that you have been able to record it for this album? The album arrived on Friday and I love every single track. With Love--and all the yellow roses in the world! Melanie xx
Again somebody I know very well indeed! And I am sure I'll be seeing you, Melanie, also in Liverpool cathedral. "Five Past Dreams" was written especially for "The Road To Freedom" album and as the follow up to "The Lady In Red" story. Because as you probably gathered, if you've been to one of my concerts, I talk about it a bit, about how the film that I saw in my mind for "The Lady In Red" had the couple dancing together at the end of a long evening. And also having discovered one another again, you know, it's natural and normal in relationships for people to drift apart, but you have to work hard to get back together again. So on "Five Past Dreams", and I know I have said this before, either from the stage or in interviews, it is the second part of "Lady In Red", and we see the same couple approaching dawn. There's half a bottle of champagne left. They are standing by a grand piano, he is wearing a tuxedo with the shirt open and she is wearing a long red dress and they are watching the dawn light. So it is hopefully a romantic conclusion to the story that began in 1986. And finally, Melanie, to come back to "When Winter Comes", yes, I'm delighted that this track has finally been recorded the way I love to hear it. And it is very filmic, a lot of people have told me that it should be used in a film, and I am sure one day it will be.
6th October 2004 - Ilka Goepfert (33) from Allmersbach, Germany:
Hi Chris! Wow, fine new homepage design! What do you think about it?
Yes, I am delighted with it! I think certainly as I surf the internet, and find out more and more about the internet, it is one of the more attractive webpages and designs that I have seen and it certainly draws you into the whole thing. And it hopefully makes people want to learn a bit more about me and the news and the music and the guestbook. I am always so impressed by the guestbook, which I read frequently as I do the Yahoo website where people chat to each other. And I read them regularly too. But on the guestbook of the cdeb.com website, people from all over the world, and in particular I am impressed by the number of people from countries like Iran, for which as you know, I have a deep affection and I sincerely hope that the changes these people long for will actually come, as I plan to be the first international artist to perform there. So hopefully the sooner the better.
7th October 2004 - Jacqueline Ebner (46) from Erskine, Scotland:
Hello again Chris, Just received the new album through the post and I love it. Can't wait for Edinburgh and the Albert Hall. My question is: the photography on your single and album was done by David Morley. Is this a relative of Diane's? Many thanks, your friend forevermore, Jacqueline xx
Another familiar name to me! And hopefully you are looking forward to the concert in Edinburgh and of course the Albert Hall. David Morley is a professional photographer, and he is my wife Diane's younger brother. This is David and there is another one, Peter Morley, who is younger again. And Dave is a very talented photographer, he did portraits of me on previous albums and he also directed the electronic press kit (EPK) that we did, and a lot of interview footage behind the scenes at the making of "The Road To Freedom" album.
8th October 2004 - Mark John Franklin (33) from Ashtead, England:
Dear Chris, I have been a fan of yours for nearly 20 years now and would like to say thank you for the terrific music you have been making all this time - and please don't stop! My question relates to the new album, and in particular the first three tracks which do connect with each other (first and second are not separated and second and third are linked by lyrics). Was this a conscious decision to create one of your famous "trilogy" pieces (Revolution.., The Leader..) or was it coincidence that these three songs just fitted together by their theme? Many thanks!
No, I didn't actually set out to write a trilogy, as I have in the past, but it just seemed so clear to me that the three songs had a lot in common. I particularly wanted to have something to start the title track. And "When Winter Comes" seemed absolutely perfect scene setting, very atmospheric and it did you take you to that place at the beginning of "The Road To Freedom", where I wanted to be, which is in a very wild and scenic setting, perhaps in the West of Scotland or the West of Ireland. And as always it has a strong image of film about it, and that's what I had in my head. And then "Snow Is Falling" again seemed to tie in and connect with the young man in "The Road To Freedom" story. Who knows what happened to him? Was he found in the shallow grave and in the forest, or was he lost in the forest? It is no actually explained, maybe he survived. So they do tie together nicely. And again, part of the reason I decided to do this is because on this record, although it is obviously a commercial enterprise, it wasn't vital for me, because I wanted to make a really good CD that felt strong right from the beginning. Not as so many CDs do nowadays pack, you know, 3 or 4 good songs at the beginning and then the rest of it is filler and not particularly good. I wanted to make every track count. And do it a very unusual way, I mean how many albums nowadays start with an instrumental piece? So that's the reason I did it, just to do something different and unusual and personal.
9th October 2004 - Shima (23) from Tehran, Iran:
Dear Chris, this is a really a great pleasure for me to talk to you. It's my biggest dream to be at your concert. I had always loved your songs and I live each moment with them, I have a question and that is I want to know have you ever heard anything from Molana Rumi, the most famous Iranian poet of 7th century? And what is your idea about his character? And please let me know if someone asks you what will be your aim of living in this world and what has made you satisfied about it, what would you answer? I love you because of the most different songs you have. They all talk about love, passion, faith and hope. Thank you!
I have spoken before about my affection for the people of Tehran and Iran. Thank you for all the messages on the website, I love to read them. And thank you for the kind things that you've said about my songs. Well, the quick answer is, no, I haven't heard anything about Molana Rumi, the most famous Iranian poet of 7th century. But I'll certainly do my best to find out a bit more, so I can talk about this poet when I come to Iran. My aim of living in this world, I think, can be well summed up by my song "Read My Name" where every day counts. You know, at the end of every day, I am always a little uneasy, thinking now "Have I used my time properly? Have I done what I wanted to do today? Have I lived today? Have I wasted my time or have I done something?". So at the end of every day I always make a conscious decision to think now what have I achieved this day. Have I enjoyed myself? Have I helped other people to enjoy their lives? And for me that is the most important thing about being on this planet, it's to do something for yourself, something significant, and also help other people in whatever way you can.
10th October 2004 - Ian McDonald (39) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:
I (among others) am guilty of writing several parodies of your songs on the email list. Have you ever had the opportunity to read any of the parodies that have been done? What do you think... any favourites? And if you could write a parody of one of your songs which one would you choose and how would it go?
Yes, I have read some of your parodies, and yes, they have made me smile. Because parody is one of the oldest forms of wit and satire. Often parody and satire hit easy targets, because otherwise they wouldn't work. I haven't got any particular favourites in terms of parody, although an Irish comedian called Brendan Grace once wrote a parody of "The Lady In Red", which I don't think ever got recorded. But he certainly uses it in his stage show from time to time. And it's called "My legs are all red from dancing with you" to the tune of "The Lady In Red". It was very funny. Parody is often used when you suspect somebody is taking themselves too seriously. So in that respect I will have to, I suppose, in trying to decide which song of mine I would parody myself, I would have to look at whichever one I thought perhaps I took a little seriously. So the quick answer would be, I would probably go back right to the very beginning, where I was naïve of course and absolutely thrilled to be making my first album. And for some reason I still cannot explain some of the tracks on "Far Beyond These Castle Walls" were narrated instead of sung, they were spoken. One song in particular called "The Key". I know what the song was about, it was about a girl who kept running away from affection and love when it was right in front of her. And it was somebody I knew. So I would probably do a pretty good self-parody of that song.
11th October 2004 - Andrea Lucas (39) from Ludwigsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, a few weeks ago my friend Dany and I visited Chris and Stewart Williams for a weekend - without going to one of your concerts, just spending time together. It was very strange for Dany and myself to see the cars moving on the "wrong" side, well, the "wrong" side for us, since the people in England drive on the left side and not on the right side like we do in Germany. So I'd like to know is it still unfamiliar for you when you come over to Germany or other European countries or are you in the meantime used to it? Take care, Andrea
Thank you very much for the photographs you sent me from the recent tour. I know that you and the Stewart family and all your other friends had a lot of travelling, and I hope you had a really good time on the tour. And I am sure I'll see you again on the British tour. I travel so much that driving on the opposite side of the road is totally natural and normal to me. Except of course, when I am driving, I have to think a little bit harder. The hardest thing for me to do, if I am for example driving in Germany, is the left turn of a road. Because I naturally want to go to the first road of say if there are two entrances, I want to go the first one which is the oncoming traffic, so I have to try to remember not to do that. The worst one of course is when you are driving somewhere, and the traffic is on the middle of the road! Which happened to me a few times around Africa and a couple of times crazy drivers in places like Lebanon on my first visit, where people sort of ignored the lights and tended to drive down the middle of the road. I think they got a lot more discipline now, certainly on my last trip there.
12th October 2004 - Gunter Kohl (30) from Trier, Germany:
Dear Mr de Burgh, have you ever thought of taking part reading a "Hoerbuch" (sorry, I don't know the English expression for a book read out on CD) to release it on CD? You have a pleasant voice and maybe you could be the storyteller in a fairytale - or what about some of the unknown Irish literature? (Now that you have your own label...) And an egoistic request: please keep on releasing CD-singles :-)
No, I have never done a talking book. I did one time a narrated story, a musical story, for Classic FM, the big classical radio station in England, for transmission on Christmas day a few years ago, which was very interesting. It is actually very hard to do, because you have to change your voice a little bit for each of the characters. I think I was quite successful. But being a storyteller in song is, I think, my strength rather than telling a story by talking. And keep on releasing CD-singles? Well, the market is collapsed for CD-singles just about. But I will certainly carry on making songs that will be part of multi-track CD-releases, not necessarily just a CD album.
13th October 2004 - Ammar Awaydah (28) from Tripoli, Lebanon:
Hello Chris. I have lived your music ever since I was 10 years old (i.e. 18 years ago). What astonishes me is the diversity of music styles you perform, which is so UNIQUE, especially now that you have released and published a huge amount of songs! In such a diversity of styles, how do you manage your concerts, moving so smoothly from one style to the other e.g. from storytelling to romantic love ballads to rock music etc.? Is there any particular song you would like to play as an introduction or "overture" in any concert? From all the styles you performed, which is the closest to Chris de Burgh's self? In other words, where do you mostly find yourself in writing, composing and performing, or are they all equal in terms of personal preference? Thank you so much for your inspiring work, keep on!
A very interesting question! It made me think about the diversity of styles. Well, it's because I can really concentrate on one style for the duration of when I need to, like if it's a ballad or a sad song. It's because I believe that I wear the song like a coat. And again, I think, as a singer you have to immerse yourself in the story and the words and the music, and most of all you have to believe what you're singing. The overture that has been presented at recent concerts is "When Winter Comes". It works very well. But I am sure that if I carry on, and create a musical, which is one of my plans in the future, there will be an overture involved bringing in different melodic lines from some of the songs that will be in the musical. I think in terms of personal preference they are equal, although the ballads are lovely to sing to have an emotional impact, but then again I love in my concerts when people get up and dance and run to the front and, you know, bring a bit of activity and action to the concert. So I don't mind what style I do, as long as it's having an impact and people are reacting to it, hopefully favourably.
14th October 2004 - Inga Anzenhofer (28) from Butzweiler, Germany:
Hi Chris, I wonder whether Love Of The Heart Divine is a kind of sequel to Borderline and Say goodbye to it all? With your mention of "Flanders Tide" you probably place the story in WW1 while SGTIA is about WW2. But metaphors like "when the soldiers left on the morning train" and the kind of love described in these three songs fit perfectly together to tell the story of the same two people! Personally I think it's a pity that this song was no radio-single because it's on the very top of the songs you've created!
I am glad you like my song "Love Of The Heart Divine". It's actually probably one of my top ten favourite songs. I love the story, I love the feeling that I get from it, which is exactly what I intended. The dream of the two young people who grew up together, they probably went to school together in the same little village, somewhere in the South of England. And they become lovers in their teens. And at the outbreak of the First World War he goes off to fight. And as she waves good-bye, as the morning train is leaving, with all the soldiers are leaning out and waving, she feels the first kick of the baby inside and hasn't told him. So, you ask is this a sequel to "Borderline" and "Say Goodbye To It All"? Well, the answer is, no it is not. But I have a very strong desire to finish off that particular story, which I intend to do very shortly by writing the second part of the story, of what happened next to those people. It does tell the same perennial story of love and war, and how people are affected. Again, I am very sorry that this wasn't a radio-single, because I think it is a very strong tune. But then again my business is full of disappointments, interposed with a few high moments.
15th October 2004 - Cynthia Latrash (40) from Amman, Jordan:
You have been an inspiration to me Chris and I love your music. I happen to be a DJ on our National radio station and believe me when I tell you that your songs are played whenever I have a live show. Please tell me what prompted you to write the song Sailor, my all time favourite of yours. Thank you so much.
I am delighted that you like my music so much, Cynthia. And thank you for your support. You know, it's so important to have the support of radio DJs and the media to help get the message across. I could make a really wonderful album, and if it doesn't get played on the radio, nobody will ever hear it! And this obviously does happen from time to time, rather more frequently than I would like. With reference to the last question about "Love Of The Heart Divine", obviously that didn't get picked up so often on radio. I still think it is a wonderful song. But going back to "Sailor" from the album "Eastern Wind". I think this probably came from the image of a man looking through the bars of a window, looking out at the moonlight. The inside of the prison cell is bathed in moonlight, and he is looking longingly out to sea, and I can see a boat with sails in the harbour which is leaving the harbour. And at the same time there's a seabird sitting on the window sill of his cell, and obviously the bird can move in and out. And on this occasion it just moves away and flies off towards the ship that is sailing off, probably back to where he comes from. And in my mind he comes from Scotland and he has been caught up, maybe again a couple of hundred years ago, he's been caught up in some conflict that he had nothing to do with. And he is calling out to the people in the boat "I wish I could go with you back to the hills and the valleys of the land that I love!" And watching the bird flying so freely gives him a terrible aching in his heart.
16th October 2004 - Toni Jehan (40) from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK:
Hi Chris! Hope you are well. My question is: Are there any resident ghosts at Bargy Castle? Take care, love Tonixx
Hi Toni! Lovely to hear from you again. You're a wonderful poet and you're an inspiration to all those who meet you and come to you for help. No, as far as I know, there are no ghosts at Bargy Castle. But there has often been the feeling that there are spirits around. The ones that I have encountered have been benign spirits, good spirits. Although sometimes it makes your skin going to goose bumps, I feel that the best thing to do is just talk, it may sound strange, but talk to an empty room, if you suspect there is a spirit in there. Because all they want to do is they want to be noticed and heard. But I've never come across anything malicious or nasty at Bargy Castle. It's got a wonderful warm and homely feel in spite of the fact that the tower has been there for 800 years and the rest of it since the 16th century. It's got a very nice feel to it.
17th October 2004 - Pascal (38) from France:
Hi Chris, excuse for my awful english language, I'm French (it's not an excuse, I know!). I remember in March 1983, the first concert of my life was "The Getaway", live at Nice in the South of France. I have the spades knave and the eight of club, you remember the cards you throwed. We were approximatively 400, and one year and six month later, we were 4000 (the High on Emotion syndrom!). I have 3 questions, 1st do you feel the same impression when you make a concert with only a few hundred people or a thousand, what do you prefer the sweet intimacy or the hysterical atmosphere ? 2nd, why don't you do more french dates, "a warm night in Nice" for example !!, and 3rd, can you send me the rest of the cards pack because with only two cards, it's not very funny to play(lol)
A lovely question! The concert in Nice in the South of France, I remember it was in a very large tent on the seafront near the Marillion hotel. And the French audience has always been fantastic, very supportive, very energetic, lively. And even up in French Canada, I remember in Montreal, one of the first shows I did in North America, maybe it was the first show, I was stunned and amazed by the reaction of the people. If they don't like you, they tell you, if they love you, they really let you know. And they seem to really like me, because "Spanish Train And Other Stories" became a mega hit mainly because of the support from Montreal. And in France I've had big hit records, notably "High On Emotion", which you mention, which was a big number one hit down there. And "Lady In Red" was a big hit, "Don't Pay TheFerryman". France has been one of those places I love to go. I speak French, I am a complete Francophile which means I adore the country, I adore the people, the wines, the foods, the scenery, the architecture. Paris has got to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I often visit there either privately for a holiday or during work. So I am very much hoping that the French audience is coming back to see me again. And I will be doing a concert in Paris very shortly in November. And I also recently played the Olympia in Paris last year. The cards came from a special kind of catapult thing. At the moment that the Devil shouts "My hand wins!", I touched this footswitch and all the cards went flying through the air. And Pascal, you've got two of them, which is pretty interesting. You got the jack of spades and the eight of clubs. That's pretty good! Your question about intimacy and people? Well, it depends, you know. I love the big crowds, I love the energy generated, I love the jumping around. In fact when I play at Dortmund on November the 6th in the Westfalenhalle, one of my favourite venues in Europe, that's going to be a hell of a big crowd. And I am really looking forward to that. That's going to be daunting, because when you're on your own in front of that many people, you've really got to be good, you know, and give them everything they are expecting and more. But in front of an intimate audience, really what is happening is that the audience will go away, feeling that they have had a special evening with somebody that perhaps means quite a bit to them, because of the music and the 30 years behind it.
18th October 2004 - Tim Richards (17) from Hudson near Montreal, Canada:
Wow, first I must say, Chris, you are an extremely talented artist and I absolutely love your music, I'm sure you've heard that all before. I too am an artist, at least i like to think so. Your music has inspired many photographs of mine, and I've even done an illustration for your song the Girl With April in Her Eyes. I also recommended the song to a friend of mine who's also an artist to see what he could come up with as an illustration (his is much nicer than mine). He told me he thought the song was beautiful and very inspiring, as well as with the other songs from that album. My girlfriend's mother even cried when she listened to it. So my question is this, what inspired you to write The Girl With April in Her Eyes? I also wonder if you get many letters like this, about artists doing illustrations and such inspired by your work. Thanks Chris! P.S. I too have this very cinematic imagination that you often speak about here. Your songs always inspire very detailed and beautiful 'films' in my head. Oh and about that awesome helicopter you've got, that is great, I've always loved helicopters, and hope to acquire my license in the future too. I love aircraft and flight, it has always been a passion of mine.
Well, I have just spoken about Montreal, and here we have Tim Richards who is 17 years old. I am delighted that there are younger fans who are coming through. "The Girl With April In Her Eyes"? I remember, when I was living in California and I had just written the song, I went to buy a guitar. I went to see a guitar which I subsequently bought. A beautiful twelve-string Guild guitar which I still have. And it was a young fellow who was also wanting to be a musician. I played him "The Girl With April In Her Eyes". And he looked at me as if I had just stepped off the moon or something. He said "That is so different and so strange and unusual!". I remember to this day thinking that what for me is natural and normal, for other people who don't come from the same kind of background that sort of song must have been really unusual. There wasn't anything particular that inspired this song, except there was a poem that I came across years ago. Which to be honest I can't remember whether it was Keats or Shelley, but the key to it, maybe one of the readers of this could remind me what poem it was, but it was about an old man who lived in a big old mansion, he never opened the curtains and he lived there in misery until one day a beautiful young woman came. And she transformed the house and brought life into it and love and laughter and flowers. And when she left, the whole place went grey and miserable again. In the same sort of way we have this king who is known to be a tyrant and a bully and it goes also back to the well-known saying that you must always be kind and polite to travellers and strangers, because who knows it could be Christ himself having returned to the planet. And so it's always important to be polite to friends and neighbours and most of all to people who you haven't met. So this girl arrives at the king's castle because he has called the spring. Because he is a wicked man, spring has not visited his land and it's all still under snow. And when spring comes to his door, he gets her thrown out. She is only looking for food and a bed for the night, but he orders his slave to turn her away, the girl with April in her eyes. So she has come to save him and she has come to bring spring to his lands and to him, to his life. But he doesn't recognize that, because he is a bully and a very unpleasant man. He throws her out and she is found the next day dead. Ironically you see again, the one person that did look after her is the one person least able to afford it. She finds a poor man living in the woods. So instead of the man who has got everything, the king, looking after her, it's the man who has nothing who looks after her. And again this is, I suppose, a moralistic story. And the final scene, which is one I have always liked, is that the countryside is covered in snow except for the one patch where the girl has been buried and is covered in flowers. So it's a very old-fashioned and romantic theme about greed, about generosity and about recognizing that there are people who are there to help you and you must know them when they come to your door. Finally, I am delighted to hear that you have a cinematic imagination. It gets you to go to places all over the world, without really having to leave home. And helicopters, yes the Bell 407 that I have, which I have been doing a lot of flying on, is a wonderful way of getting around and beating the traffic. And good luck if you're going to become an airline pilot or a helicopter pilot, because it's obviously a terrific thing to have learned. And where you live in Montreal is where the Bell helicopter facility is based, and I visited it to have a look before I bought the 407 that I have.
19th October 2004 - Bob Puett (35) from Puyallup, Washington State, USA:
Chris, 'Borderline' has long been one of my favorites of your songs. I always wanted to know what you meant by the line "I'm ready with my lies..." The great thing about the song is that each listener can draw his or her own inferences. But I would like to know what you were thinking when you wrote that line. Thank you for your great music.
Well, again it's a film in my head. The two countries are now at war, and let us say for the sake of argument, it's Germany and France. And I have a young Frenchman who is in love with a girl, say from somewhere near Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, somewhere which is now a warzone. And he takes a train to the border. And when he gets there, he sees the young soldiers. And when he says "I'm ready with my lies", it means, he is telling the immigration authorities what he is actually doing there, why he is at the border and whatever he is doing. Perhaps he is coming for work, or maybe he says I have a relative here. And then he sees the loved one, waiting down at the end of the station, and he runs up to her. But the most important reflection is looking at the soldiers, the young soldiers and saying to himself that these are only boys, because they are! They are 16, 17, 18, 19 years old, they are only boys, and I will never know how men can see the wisdom in a war. And this is the line that just gets an incredible reaction everywhere in the world that I sing it.
20th October 2004 - Olga (16) from Crimea, Ukraine:
Hi, dear, Chris! I am very in love with your songs and music! They are beautiful, wonderful...they are great!!!! What do you usually do that compose the song and music for it? This is the first question. Second. Have you got idol among actors or singer? And last. Have you ever been in Russia or in Ukraine on the tour? And if you didn't, will you be there some day? Answer me, please!! Thanks, for all. Your fan, Olga!
Hi Olga! Thank you very much for question. And thank you for the lovely things that you say about my songs. I reckon the first question is whether I write the music first or the lyrics, I think this is what you mean. Or perhaps, Olga, you mean what do I first think of? It's very hard to know. Sometimes it's the question that's been in my head, or an idea that's been in my head, growing for a while. Other times it just comes straight out, because a piece of music will suddenly provoke an idea. I spoke earlier about the way that my visual imagination is always stirred by music. Which is why I find it very hard to listen to music in the background, because I am always listening into the music and sort of trying to figure out what's going on in there and how it affects me. So sometimes ideas just come out of the blue. Idol amongst actors and singers? Oh yes, there are plenty of people I admire. You know, great old actors from the past like Paul Newman or Steve McQueen. Current actors, there is just a real bunch of excellent actors around today, and actresses, both in Europe and America. Singers I would rate very strongly people like, well my hero was always Paul McCartney, because he could sing a beautiful ballad and then he could sing a really strong rock song right after. And yes, I have been to many places in Russia, and I have performed in Kiev twice or three times, and I will be back there, because I have always had a very good reception. I look forward to it.
21st October 2004 - Lance Johnson (35) from Mesa, Arizona, USA:
I read a book called My Elvis Blackout by Simon Crump. I wouldn't really recommend the book, but I read it out of curiosity due to the fact that you were in it. In this book, the author's character kills you and you come back for a little time in a zombie-like state. As much as we like to say that these types of things do not bother us, I imagine that is not really the case. How do you personally deal with something sick and hateful like this?
Well, you know what Lance, if I was born with a name like Simon Crump, I would spend the rest of my life trying to get all that anger and resentment out of me by being very rude about other people. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. What is the old saying? Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Or something like that. No, I wouldn't even give this a passing thought. When you are a famous person, you are there, you are up for grabs to have people have a go at. I know there are comedians who make fun of me. But, you know, I look at my beautiful family, I look at the house that I live in and I look at my fans all over the world, and I look at my successful career and I think, well it's all based on jealousy and envy and really I don't give it a toss. Thanks for the question though!
22nd October 2004 - Keith Radcliffe (38) from Liverpool, England:
If asked to appear in "I'm a celeb get me out of here", would you do it ? And if you did do you think you would find some lyrics for a song or two?
You are from one of my favourite cities in England, Liverpool! If I was asked to appear in "I'm a celeb get me out of here", I would say no quicker than you can say "fried eggs". Because I think those programs are trashy and dreadful. And for some reason there are a lot of people thinking that being on TV, being famous is some kind of first step to an unimaginably successful career, doing something else. I think they are full of very sad people. That said, they are riveting to watch, which is why they are so successful. But most of the people who have been on these programs, really I've just felt sorry for. Fame is a very very fickle thing, it really doesn't change much. I think you have to have something solid behind you before you can become famous, it's something to fall back on. And the answer is I am sure I could find some lyrics for a song or two. Well, I wouldn't be in such a program, but certainly from observing it and observing how people interact. The most recent one, I think, happened in Australia. And one of the reasons these things are so successful isn't necessarily the people involved, because most of them you look at with a mixture of pity, indifference. But it is the human thing about "who wins?", that's why a competition is so exciting. And that's why the background to these programs is by getting six million people to ring in, to vote for somebody. The amount of money generated for the television company and for the telephone company is absolutely massive. And that's why these programs exist. They try to think of new ways to come up with methods of getting you to go to your phone and vote for somebody and spend money making the call.
23rd October 2004 - Sudeep Chandra (33) from Bhopal, India:
Can't imagine a life without music. I myself am a singer and my inspiration have been YOU, Neil Diamond, E. Humperdinks, Paul Anka, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John and likes. If you come to INDIA, I'll follow you where ever you perform and maybe it'll be my greatest moment in time to stand by you and sing maybe a line or two along with you. I die for songs like 'The Risen Lord' and 'The last time I cried'. Would you allow me to sing a few of your songs as cover?
What a charming message and question! I have just had some people come back from India, and they say that my name is very well known over there and very popular. I have never been, and of course I'd love to go! Yes, I think, if you are singer, Sudeep, you should try singing some of the songs that I have written, and the ones you mention "The Risen Lord" and "The Last Time I Cried" are two of my personal favourites from the past. And if I ever get to India, of course I would be delighted to see you and talk to you. And who knows, there may be a chance to do a song together.
24th October 2004 - Martin Travers (35) from Farnborough, Hampshire, England:
Hi Chris, Thanks to you I am a big fan of the Scottish band Runrig - I first saw them when they supported you on the Flying Colours tour. Do you have any memories of touring with Runrig ? Did you use to have any say in who your supports acts were and do you keep in touch with any of them ? Good luck with the new album, Regards, Martin
Thanks for your question about Runrig. Excellent band! We had a lot of fun with them on the tour, particularly after shows. Nowadays as most people come to my concerts, my concerts tend to be so long there's very little point in having an opening act. But back in the days when we did have one, Runrig was certainly amongst the finest that I have ever worked with. Very nice guys, I could even understand their Scottish accent, which in some cases you just can't. No, I haven't seen much of them recently, but quite often you do run into people at different television shows and so on. But I follow their career with interest, and I know they have done some very large shows. I think at Loch Lomond they played to thousands, hundreds of thousands maybe of people. That might be an exaggeration, but I seem to remember a large, large crowd came to see them in Scotland, because they are still very popular out there.
25th October 2004 - Paul Olner (31) from Derby, UK:
Dear Chris, I have listened to your songs for many years, I was wondering what your views were to "people downloading yours and other peoples work of the internet" regardless if they pay for it or not, would you prefer people to only be able to purchase it from retail shops only? (keep releasing good songs, you are the best)...
One thing you have to remember, Paul, is who actually pays for the record. Most times you have an artist who is signed to a record company. The record company pay for the recording of the album. Some cases, it could be 100,000, other cases even a million pounds. Now that money is initially bankrolled by the record company, and then the artist must earn that money back on his own royalty rate. Let's say you have an artist who is on 15% of the retail price. It is going to take quite a long time to earn back a million pounds on 15% of the retail price. So until he reaches that point, the record company is still paying for the album and he is struggling obviously to sell records. And he goes out promoting, touring, TV and just works hard to reach the magic point where he actually breaks even. The moment he breaks even and he is actually earning money, you know, you've got to remember that at all times money has been stolen by downloading, it has been stolen from the artist. That's who eventually has to pay for it. So, if people are downloading music, say if people download my music without paying for it, what they are in effect doing is stealing from me. Because I have had to pay for that music. I know, a lot of people do not have much sympathy for record companies, because record companies have gone out of their way, I think, to show in some cases, how much money they've got. They throw lavish parties, they fly around in private jets and drive around in limousines, so there is not a lot of sympathy. This doesn't apply to my own record company by the way, Ferryman Productions. We are a very low cost company with just a few people working for us. But the point of it is that the artist at the end of the day is the person who pays for the music. So, when I put in a lot of work, writing a song, recording a song and paying for the song, to be told that, say 20,000 people have downloaded it, well that's a theft, you know. It's piracy and quite simply, it's wrong. But if you pay for it, that's different. The internet is also available to purchase, so you don't have to go to retail shops to buy albums nowadays, you can actually get it direct off the internet. And that again is causing problems for record companies and retail shops, because people have immediate access to purchase. You know, I don't want to make a big issue out of this piracy problem personally, because some people will say it brings your music to a wider audience if they can download your songs. That is, I suppose, an argument. But at the end of the day, as I said, it is the artist who paid for the music.
26th October 2004 - Amir Flaishman (30) from Tel Aviv, Israel:
Hi there Chris, just wanted to know how does an average day of yours look like? I bet you don't have these boring days at office like I do :-)
Well, a day at home is just like any other Dad's day at home. Except that I don't go to an office, I work at home. I take my children to school in the morning. I get some exercise, do some hill walking or swimming. I don't swim with the dog, but I take the dog hill walking, or take the dog into the sea sometimes. And then I work at home, I have plenty of phone calls, bills to pay, correspondence to catch up with, and usually in the afternoon I find myself in my studio, playing a bit of guitar or piano, maybe thinking about the future and thinking what I have to do next. And, you know, making plans and hopefully writing a bit of music. I was never much good at working in an office, but lots of people do enjoy it, and some people don't enjoy it, but have to do it. So life is never dull. But when I am on tour, it's completely different. That's a very very different and very intensive lifestyle. Which means late nights because of the concerts that go on late, and getting up late and a lot of travelling. But it is never dull.
27th October 2004 - Jane Creasey (48) from Lincoln, England:
I have just received your tour dates for 2004 and am disappointed it's a solo tour. Will you be touring with a band ever again?
Well, I am sorry about that, but, you know, I have toured so many times with a band, and this was a very good chance for me to present "The Road To Freedom" album in a solo way, because that was always the intention. And it has done extremely well all over Europe, and in fact even on the last two tours that I did with the band, so many people got in touch, either through the website, or wrote to us or wrote to my office and said that their favourite bit was the bit without the band. They loved the solo stuff, which was another factor in my decision to do a solo tour. But that said I love playing with the band, and the fun that we have together, and I think a lot of people enjoy the band. So yes, we will be playing again some time in the future, Jane.
28th October 2004 - Louis Picard (41) from Quebec, Canada:
For some reason (I still don't know why !!) I am very fond of the song : "Old-fashioned people" from the Crusader album . Is there any song from yourself or other singer/band that you are very fond of and you just don't know why, as the song may not be a well-known song?
Interesting question! "Old-fashioned people" is obviously about old people. And I have always been interested in old people, reminding myself repeatedly that they once were young people. And that could be somebody's grandpa or grandmother when you are looking at some elderly person whose body is not functioning in the way it used to, and they are not as fit as they used to be. And they are also scared of change, you know, the world is changing so fast that old people find it very hard to come to terms with. But as far as any song from other singer or band, I tend to pick up on songs just by the song rather than the band or the singer. I think that one of the biggest problems that I have is, when I am listening to the radio, I hear a song and think "that's great, who is that?" and then they never announce it! If you are lucky you might get a DJ announcing it who it was after about 20 minutes and playing 3 or 4 songs in a row. Quite often they don't and just go straight to an advertisement. It is very frustrating. But I am a songwriter, and I always respond to what I feel is a well-written song or a really great singer.
29th October 2004 - Ben Wing (21) from Hemel Hempstead, Herts, UK:
Hello Chris, You have been my favourite solo artist for as long as I can remember. I have studied music my whole life, and I am studying sound engineering at the moment in London, so I know a fair deal about record companies and the way they work. So I was very interested when I saw you had set your own company up to record your latest album. Is this a new venture of yours, thus do you plan to take on other acts, or is it just a way of escaping the pressure's of large record companies telling you what to do? Thanks for your time.
Great question, because in fact you've answered both of the questions that you've asked, yourself really. Obviously you know quite a lot about the music business and studying sound engineering sounds like you are going to go into my business, which is good. This new venture of mine, setting up Ferryman Productions, well it's all those things that you talk about. It is a way of escaping the pressure of larger record companies, and we have found fairly dramatically in the last few years that dealing with a record company that has little interest in you as an artist mainly because they have acquired you from a different record company, you know, for example the one I was signed to, A&M, was bought by the Polygram group and then the Universal music group. And when you are a big company like Universal music, you may not always want to spend time and money on acts that have come from a different source, not people they have actually signed themselves. They pay lip service to their support, but sometimes it's very frustrating and it has been extremely frustrating in the last few years, dealing with these people. And I am being respectful here, but there are a lot of people who go into the music industry who are unqualified. Ben, you sound like you are really going for the qualifications. But people who are just enthusiastic about music, they can't necessarily run record companies, which is why we have seen in the last few months an enormous amount of people have lost their jobs in record companies all over Europe, for a number of reasons, including difficulties with the internet, downloading, piracy, lack of real talented musicians. Myself I put it down to the fact that the record companies have not been investing in long-term artists. The short-term artists and the lack of quality offered by so many of these new acts who believe that just getting on TV is the answer to everything, I think they are responsible for their own downfall. So, if I do come across an artist who I absolutely adore, and we are able to look after this artist in Ferryman Productions, I would definitely be interested.
30th October 2004 - Reighan Jackson (8) from Toronto, Canada:
I saw your concert in Toronto with my Dad and really enjoyed it. My favourite song is "Revolution". You played your guitar and the piano, but I wanted to know if you played any other instruments and how you learned. Thank you.
So we have a little 8 year old boy now from Toronto, Canada! I really was amazed at that show you saw in Toronto, I am sure it was the Hummingbird Theatre, with 3,500 people. It was a memorable evening for me. You liked "Revolution", yes that's got a fair bit of excitement and drama to it. Well, I am self-taught on the guitar and the piano, and I can't really play any other instruments unfortunately. My son Hubie can play the saxophone very well, and he can play the guitar and the piano extremely well. But, no, I never learned anything else apart from those things. And I learned by listening to music and following the chords, because virtually all modern songs today are played on a minimum of three chords, well sometimes actually two chords. But it's never that complicated to work out in your head when you are listening to a song. So there's no great mystery to that. Just keep listening to the music and keep practising.
31st October 2004 - Gabi Liddell (44) from Norderstedt, Germany:
Hi Chris! I had the great pleasure to meet you a couple of times but was never brave enough to ask you something that has come into my mind some time ago. As you certainly have realized, a lot of young artists (?) out there in the music business have a huge success with covering songs from well-known, established artists. I have not heard any of your songs covered by somebody (thank god!) but which song (except "Lady in Red", please!) could you imagine to be covered by whom? Looking forward to your tour and the concerts I will be able to enjoy! Warmest regards from Gabi from Germany
A lot of my songs have actually been recorded by other people in different countries all over the world. I know that "Lady In Red" is probably one of the well-known ones. But I have had extraordinary covers of songs like Tom Jones did "I'm Counting On You". I've had heavy metal versions of "Don't Pay The Ferryman". I've had Chinese people singing "A Spaceman Came Travelling". I've done very well as far as covers are concerned.
1st November 2004 - Amir (27) from Shiraz, Iran:
Hi Chris! Before asking my question, I must thank you for your kindness towards the Iranians. Still, I have to correct the misunderstanding that is caused by my country mate's note. Here, the foreign songs are illegal (especially the Rock one's about sex and things like that), not all types of music. However, I have seen CD's, containing all your albums, as well as some other singers and bands like Modern Talking and Pink Floyd in the music shops. What's more, your lyrics book (along with the Persian translation) is published here and it is reprinted for several times. Well, my question deals with your view towards different types of vehicle in your songs. For example, as far as I have seen, "train" is considered as the symbol of the passage of life resulting in a quick death (as in The Spanish Train, and The Lonesome Cowboy), while "ship" is the symbol of departure and separation from the loved one (as in Ship to Shore, and Sailor). "Horse" is also a symbol of an old-fashioned but safe life (as in The Lonesome Cowboy). I would be glad if you allow me to know your own idea about this kind of classification, and what you had in mind when using these vehicle names. Thank you again. Amir
Thank you for putting me straight about what songs and what music is allowed to be sold in Iran. I suppose for years I have noticed that I keep on coming back to symbolism in lyrics and in poetry. It has the effect of taking the listener's mind back to something that happened before in your work. Painters use this a lot, particularly ones who have got a large body of work. Poets, people like William Butler Yeats for example, the Irish poet, used the tower and the sea and the storm a lot. I am sure if you go into the work of Vincent van Gogh, it's the same thing. And I like to return to words like train and, like you pointed out, horse and ship. These are all words associated with movement and travel. And because I do so much of it, I imagine they apply in my case quite importantly. But also they are a symbol of change. When you are moving, you are changing your lifestyle, even for a short time, going on holiday for example, or moving house. So these words do repeat themselves a lot in my work. Interesting question!
2nd November 2004 - Rene Horsch (39) from Reuver, The Netherlands:
To start with a cliche as many other questions started with: I LOVE YOUR MUSIC! I have to be honest, I lost track a bit after Flying Colours, I started as a Getaway addict and bought all the earlier albums. Now I'm fully on track again, owning all CD's and trying to get all CD-singles (I have 48 now). Even though not everybody is extremely enthusiastic about Timing Is Everything, I have to say the album in total is very nice. I also have a true question: I saw you in concert in Rotterdam (when the storm blew), afterwards in The Hague (solo) and was blown away on both occasions. You CAN do it with band but just as good as without the band. The question is: Do you need more exercise to train your voice for a concert now compared to when you were a true youngster, or is it easy all the way for you? The main reason I ask this is that I find that your voice is excellent but sometimes when you have to get really high up, it doesn't sound as easy as it used to do 15 years ago. Please don't be offended, this is no criticism, just wondering. I already have 1st row tickets for Amsterdam, so I will keep on track. Really looking forward to The Road to Freedom. Thanks for the great music over the years and keep on for (how many?) years.....
By the time I have answered this question about my singing abilities, you will have hopefully seen me at the Pepsi Stage in Amsterdam. And I hope I hit the high notes as well as I used to! Well, of course, it's natural that as you grow older, your muscles become ever so slightly stiffer and need more work. The same thing applies to the muscle of the voice. I tend to prepare for concerts by doing soundcheck before hand, singing for at least half an hour to get the voice working. And I have never felt that I had any particular problems hitting the high notes. If anybody hears me belting out "Don't Pay The Ferryman", that high note is B and that is pretty high. Although I know I can hit a full C. Nevertheless the best time for my voice to really show its power is when I have been on tour for a while. It's really working well and it feels strong and I feel fit and healthy. I also have the ability to have very high falsetto notes. Sometimes, if I am having trouble breathing to hit a high note, I'll just switch to falsetto and it makes it a lot easier. But my range is at least 3 octaves, probably 3 and a half. And I continually work on it, and of course drinking a lot of water helps.
3rd November 2004 - Sheila Gardner (43) from Hounslow, Middlesex, UK:
Hi Chris, I am really looking forward to the new album and tour this year! Here is my question - During one of your concerts you sang a very beautiful and emotional song titled Once Upon A Time. This song really touched me personally. I would have loved to have heard this again and wondered why it was omitted from the Road To Freedom album. Have you any plans for this song? Here's hoping, Sheila x
Welcome back, Sheila! You are somebody that I have met frequently in the past, and thank you for all your lovely gifts and kindnesses to me and my family. The question about "Once Upon A Time" has now been answered, because this song has appeared on a new version of "The Road To Freedom" album. It's one of my favourites. I felt that it wasn't appropriate on "The Road To Freedom" album initially, and the first 11 songs, because it is a pretty sad tune and I was trying to stir away from that in "The Road To Freedom", because it is such a positive feel to the whole album. But when you look at the divorce rate, which is 40% now in many parts of the world, maybe higher, I often wonder what happened to the children and who is going to be their voice. Who speaks on behalf of the children in a broken marriage and that's what really struck me about this song. I know that frequently when I have sung it, people who are children of a broken marriage react very strongly and powerfully. Like the idea of the child having the bedtime stories, you know, which is always "once upon a time", and then sort of significantly moving that to the mother and the father, and the child thinking "once upon a time they must have been in love". It's the way things go, you know, and love does not, as I said in another song, it does not come with a lifetime guarantee.
4th November 2004 - Kristian Specht (34) from Cologne, Germany:
Dear Chris, first of all I take my hat off to you, for answering all these questions regularly and even personally!! That shows again in a very friendly way that you are still "a normal guy" although you're being a star. I'm 34 now and it is 12 years ago that I saw you on stage for the first time, Dortmund 1992. (7 times since then) But I have to make a confession....... I went to this concert only, because I donated a ticket to my then-major girlfriend. At that time I thought, that girl achieves it that me, the cocksure Bruce Springsteen fan is going to a Chris de Burgh concert......must be love ! But I couldn't believe what happened then at the concert. It was absolutely amazing. Rocking and powerful (much more than I ever expected), calm and contemplative at the same time, relaxed, funny spontaneous talking to audience, and, what impressed me the most, a very, very private atmosphere. .......... All in all, absolutely at the same live performing level as the ultimate live performers Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. (That is indeed the highest award I can give... :-) I take my hat off to you again!! And that is true for the other concerts I saw on stage you as well.............. But there is one little thing I really miss during the last years. I miss that gorgeous girl called PATRICIA. That's a great live song and really one of the concert highlights, I think. Will you play it again sometime ? Maybe on your solo tour? Anyway, sorry for that long story, I know there are many more who are looking forward to an answer. All the best to you and your family, take care......Kristian
Hi Kristian! What an amazing memory that is, reading what you said about Dortmund in 1992 at the Westfalenhalle. As you, I am sure, are aware, I am performing there on the 6th of November as a conclusion to my solo concert tour of Europe. And to say thank you to my fans all over Germany for having supported me for so long and it is the 20th anniversary of my first performance at the Westfalenhalle. And it is going to be a spectacular night, made for me by the fans. There are going to be thousands of people there. And hopefully it will be as exciting as the shows in the past. Of course with a band you can create more excitement, because you've got the power of the drums and the rocking guitars and base and stuff, but I hope that the excitement will be generated on that night. How very nice of you to compare me to one of my heroes, Bruce Springsteen. As far as Patricia is concerned, you know I have always said that I will try and play the songs that people want to come and hear, and I will never dismiss a song just because I don't particularly want to sing it anymore, even if people want to hear it. But Patricia is a pretty old song. I don't know if people have noticed that on my most recent solo tour, I don't think I did any songs from the album "Spanish Train And Other Stories", because for me that's going back an awfully long way. I wrote Patricia more than 30 years ago and I have performed it an awful lot. And I suppose from time to time I feel, well, maybe it is showing its age, or maybe Patricia is showing her age. By now she must be nearly 100 years old. So it's worth remembering that. Maybe I will do it again. Or even better, maybe somebody from the audience could come up and sing it, and I'll play!
5th November 2004 - Wilhelm Gerike (37) from Marburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, There are two adjectives you should know about me. I'm blind and I'm lazy. My question: Is it possible signing the CD-covers in Braille like the CD Division Bell by Pink Floyd?
Of course there is no reason why Braille cannot be put onto CD covers. I guess nobody has really thought of it, or perhaps come up with the technology to create that on an ongoing easy basis. I know that Braille is used a lot in elevators and in fact, there's one winemaker that I know for sure from the Rhone area in France who put Braille on the front of their wine bottle labels to enable those who are unsighted to realize what they are drinking. And I think it's a great idea.
6th November 2004 - Jose Guerrero (37) from California, USA:
Of all the songs you've written, which are you most disappointed in not seeing either released as a single or not charting as well as you'd hoped?
Interestingly enough I lived in Santa Monica for six months back in the late seventies and I have always been fond of California. Very interesting lifestyle out in California, and I have done a few shows out that way as well. Hopefully I'll have a chance to go back again. I can't tell you how many songs that have come out as singles which have not done what I expected, and I have been disappointed. I think I said earlier that disappointment is very much part of the business that I am in, even at this late stage in my career. Things that you believe could go well or should go well just don't. And then there are some real surprises. I suppose I really wanted "Don't Pay The Ferryman" to be a hit, and it was. And I really wanted "High On Emotion", because I love the song, and that was a very big hit. And "Lady In Red", I knew there was something extremely special about that song. Funnily enough in the same way, when my daughter Rosanna went into the Miss Ireland competition, I didn't know she'd win it, because there were a lot of factors going against there. Not least the fact she had a famous father, and anybody voting for her might be accused subsequently of only voting for her because she had a famous Dad. However, she won that, but she won it and went into the Miss World competition, I just had this good feeling weeks, possibly months before, when I saw her appearing in public. I remember turning to my friend Kenny and I said "she's gonna win Miss World, there's something about her". You know, when you got that good feeling about something that's going to go the way you think it will? But unfortunately, going back to the music business, there have been many occasions when, I spoke earlier for example about "Love Of The Heart Divine", this was never released as a single. I just thought it was a really good tune with a lovely idea. But what radio requires and what the songwriter feels is important to get across to his audience, they are two completely different things.
7th November 2004 - Chris Raymond (52) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Dear Chris, I have a question about shopping! Do you hate it or are you one of those rare men who like it? I'm talking here about both supermarket shopping for essentials and shopping for clothes, gifts etc? Over to you! Thanks! Chris R
Hi Chris! Your question is about shopping. Well, I have to tell you, I'm a typical male. Supermarket shopping I don't mind, because you kind of go in there for a reason, perhaps you are cooking something up that evening or else you are replacing the essentials that you require. If I am supermarket shopping, which I have to say is not very often, if I know that I like a particular brand of marmalade, I will buy two or three. And it never ceases to amaze me how some people, when they go shopping, knowing that they are going to use washing up liquid or soap powder on a regular basis, why they don't get just a lot of it and store it! Maybe it's down to storage, maybe they haven't got the place to store it and it's not a good idea to buy in bulk, but going on to general shopping, I am a typical male. I don't find it interesting. If I want a belt or a tie, I go and buy a belt or a tie. If I want to get some shirts or trousers or shoes, I go to do that, and I do it as quickly as I can and get out. But women are, I think, which is why if you go into any major store, the women's area is always the one nearest the door. The psychology of this is of course that women need make-up, they love to browse, they love to wander about, particularly if they got friends of women or going together with a girl-friend. And women can, as you know, Chris, they can spend hours and hours just wandering around the shops and they come back with nothing. Well, this is not the man's way. Unfortunately we tend to be slightly different. Maybe it goes back to the hunter, gatherer part of our physiological and mental make-up.
8th November 2004 - Sara Harvey (28) originally from Guernsey, now in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England:
Hi Chris! At "Taking it to the Top" fades out you whistle a tune which to me sounds like the tune whistled at the end of The Beatles' track "Two of Us". Is this done deliberately or is it an unconscious recognition? Looking forward to seeing you in Birmingham on "The Road to Freedom" tour!!
Thank you very much for your question, Sara. Often I put little clues into either lyrics or into melodies, hoping that people will pick up on them. Notably on the new album, when I did "Five Past Dreams", there are quite a few musical clues in there, taking back to "The Lady In Red". And you are absolutely right, Sara, that bit on the end of "Taking It To The Top", that is a deliberate reference to "Two Of Us". It only happens once, one little short whistle. You have very good ears to pick up on that! And I hope you enjoyed the show in Birmingham!
9th November 2004 - Lore Mueller (52) from Lohmar, Germany:
Dear Chris! I had the chance to listen to some of your soundchecks (Volendam, Schwaebisch-Hall, Siegen, Coburg). I've heard parts of unreleased songs, cover versions, songs from your early days which I would very much like to hear at a concert, and songs you often perform. Can you please tell me why you choose this or that song for the soundcheck? I'm looking forward to the new album (and 2 or 3 of your concerts) very much. I love to hear you solo, listen to almost nothing else but your voice.
The purpose of soundchecks is, firstly, to allow the sound technician who is in the front of house to mix the sound the way he would like to hear it in that particular venue. Because every venue is different. It has more echo or less echo, more reverb, maybe plush seats that soak up the sound. Different base end, different top end, it's an art in itself getting that bit right. The second thing is for me to be on stage, listening to my monitors. Again they change in every single venue. Not the actual monitor boxes, but the sound coming out of them changes, depending on what's around me. And the third thing, once I am comfortable with that, is to allow me the chance to start warming up my voice, which is why I just pick on random songs that I have loved from the past. I don't really let go some very high and hard notes just in the soundcheck. I usually tend to favour quieter, gentler songs just to get the voice moving. And they tend to be tracks that I have done in the past, perhaps sung at parties or tracks that I have enjoyed learning in the past and would like to revive again. That's what it's all about. Thank you for your lovely comments about me and my voice.
10th November 2004 - Stephen (38) from Kincardine, Ontario, Canada:
Do you ever put on one of your albums to listen to while you are doing other things?
I don't often put on one of my albums to listen to as background. I usually do it for a reason. When I was preparing for "The Road To Freedom" tour, I listened to so many songs from the past, wondering if I could do them, perform them possibly in a different way for the tour. And it was great! I tell you, I was really on a high, going down memory lane. And I have always said that I acknowledge I have a failing, which is, well, one of my many, I am sure, which is that I am not very good at looking back from where I have started. Like climbing a mountain, I am not particularly good at giving myself a pat on the back saying "gosh, you really have achieved a lot". I tend to be looking forward, up the mountain, to see how much further I need to climb. I suppose it's part of my ambition, part of what drives me on, part of what makes me love what I do. But listening back to music that I made 30 years ago and less than that was a very interesting afternoon or a couple of days work. It wasn't work, it was fun, to be honest. And it made me feel that I am actually not a bad songwriter. You know, I obviously listen to a lot of other people's music. And I manage to sort of put myself in the order of the people that I admire, and people that I feel I am nowhere near as good as. But then again there are quite a few people that I think I am better at songwriting than they are. Because it is a skill and I put a lot of work into it and down the years I think I have written a few really good tunes.
11th November 2004 - Alan (36) from England:
Chris, I went to see you in concert in September 2000 in Beirut. You were in concert in the hippodrome in Beirut. That night the concert was being recorded and I am sure you said that it was going to be released as a video. Has that ever happened? Is there any way of buying the concert footing. It was an awesome concert and meant a lot to me as it was in Beirut.
Yes, I remember this very well. I am not sure what happened to the recording, I have to tell you. I know that it was recorded and, I think, transmitted in Lebanon. But I haven't seen a copy of it and if I ever find out there are copies available, I will make sure that this gets posted up on the website, so people can have a chance to enjoy that particular evening in Beirut. And of course it was a hot Lebanese night. And I had not written the song "Lebanese Night", I don't think, by then. I was, probably later, as I was writing, referring back to the events around the time of my trip down to Lebanon. A place I am very fond of visiting.
12th November 2004 - Nadin (16) from Switzerland:
Dear Chris, you've travelled so much or you are still travelling so much. Which was the country that impressed you most of all? And why? With best wishes, Nadin
Hi Nadin! I see that you are 16 years old and from Switzerland. I wonder if you had a chance to see my concerts in Switzerland earlier this year. I do travel an awful lot. And to be perfectly honest, when I go somewhere for the first time, there is always something that I find impressive about it. Like the first time I went to America, the scenery in America. First time in France, first time in Paris for example, what a gorgeous, gorgeous city that is! First time in just about every country I have been to, I spoke just now about Lebanon, most interesting! I spoke about in the past visiting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. First trip to Russia, Poland... You always have, I suppose, preconceived ideas about countries. And when you get there, you find them either living up to that preconception as being a great place to visit, or other things that happen, very interesting places to visit. For example my first trip into mainland China was extraordinary, because I didn't expect such a high level of commercial growth. But all in all there is no particular favourite place that I visited. But I must admit, there is nothing like coming home.
13th November 2004 - Sasha Shevelko (28) from Moscow, Russia now in Brighton, UK:
Dear Chris! It is a bit embarrassing that I have been your fan since my childhood in 80-s in Moscow, but only now I have discovered your website and watched a first documentary on TV. I think the idea of this site is amazing. I am so happy you have a chance to read what I am writing. This is like a chance to touch your soul. Thank you for your time and what you do for the fans. I have heard your music throughout my life in many places. To be honest, mostly it was "Lady in red". I always could not understand, why many other your songs are not so popular (I mean Russia, for example). It seems that people heard about many awards and listen to "what is popular" and, as a rule, do not have enough chances to discover many of your masterpieces. Do you think that your music is not "advertised" enough? Thank you, Sasha P.S. I am so happy that I will see you in Brighton in October for the first time in my life!
Hi Sasha! Thank you for your kind words about not only the site, but the chance to talk to the fans. And I must apologize for being so slow in getting back to the Man On (the) Line section. I received an awful lot of questions, I mean pages and pages and pages. And I suppose I felt a bit daunted about it. It was daunting to pile in and it's like getting into very cold water, which incidentally is something I do every morning. I have a plunge pool at home, very icy water. And I go in there for quite a long time, well, maybe 20 or 30 seconds. Just right over my head, right underneath. And it's amazing the feeling after you get out. You may think I am crazy, but I like to do that. But now that I have started answering the questions, it's like being back on track again. What gets played on the radio is what gets popular. You have to look at the choices that must be made by the people running the radio stations and indeed the television stations to really understand what makes a song a hit and what isn't a hit. It's got nothing to do with quality, it's got to do with whether it suits their radio format or not. Which is why so many songs are tailor-made for radio play, but they don't have a lot of heart and soul in them. Which is why I have always tended to move away from that area by writing songs that mean a lot to me and hopefully to other people that don't necessarily get played on the radio. And that's the way I have always been, and that's the way I will always be. Yes, people know me for "Lady In Red" and I met people just even last night who said "Oh, your song is wonderful." It was an old lady and she was charming, but I wanted to point out that I have actually written 175 other ones apart from that one song. But that's what people like to say, so what can you do? I hope you enjoyed the concert in Brighton!
14th November 2004 - Marie Peterson (35) from USA:
Hello Chris: I would just like to know how long it took for you to write and compose „Lady in Red?" Did you ever get writer's block? Did you have a gut feeling that it would reach the number one love song? Would you share with me your secret for writing a "hit" Thank you Chris. With total admiration, Marie.
Curiously enough I was just talking about "The Lady In Red" on the last answer. The story behind the composition of "The Lady In Red", I think is one that is quite well-known. But I'll repeat it again here, which is that I was writing songs for an album called "Into The Light" at a time when my band and I were doing very big venues. And I wanted to write a rock album, a really hard-hitting, strong kind of record with lots of exciting music on it. And there were 2 or 3 ballads. One was called "For Rosanna", one is a medium tempo called "Fire On The Water". And one day I wanted to write a gentle ballad, but something that would balance the rest of the songs on the album. And the idea for "Lady In Red" came from just a line that jumped out of nowhere: "I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight." And that was like a clue. If you give that line to twenty songwriters, they all come up with something different. But for me it was a clue. So I worked on it. The keyword in there is "never". Obviously this is somebody who is very familiar with somebody else, knows them a long time, that's why the word "never" is important. And for some reason this particular night this woman was looking absolutely stunning. And he hasn't noticed. And that's the secret of the song. So in terms of how long did it take, well a lot of songs take a short time, like minutes, to get the structure and the melody. And then it takes weeks, if not months, to polish it and get it right. So it's kind of like the well-known saying, 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent transpiration. You have to work on it to make it right. And writer's block? No, I have never felt that I have writer's block. Sometimes I felt disinterested in writing songs for one reason or another. Or perhaps, you know, after the failure of yet another song, that I thought was wonderful, to do anything, I thought well what's the point of all this? The point of it all is you people, the fans out there who support me and love me and make me feel that I am doing something right. That's the reason I keep coming back to write songs. And I did have a feeling about "Lady In Red". I didn't know it was going to be a number one, I certainly didn't know it was going to be such a huge song all over the world. And it still is.
15th November 2004 - Jesper Ryskin (27) from Rungsted, Denmark:
Hi Chris! I played with you once on a tour in Denmark, where you played "unplugged", with only yourself Peter and us four string players. I was great fun, and thank you for that experience! I was just wondering if that was the last time you will do a tour without your normal band, or you are considering doing this unplugged style once more. Send my best regards to Peter! :)
I have very much enjoyed doing the concerts with Peter and the string players. And of course the shows that I have just done all over Europe and the UK are unplugged. Though I wouldn't use that word "unplugged", because that suggests you're actually pulling out your electric cable, you know, your sound system. And just going acoustic, which is what I don't do. I'm plugged, I'm not unplugged, but it is certainly solo and it's an experience that I always enjoy.
17th November 2004 - Laura (16) from Scotland:
I have loved your songs since I was a kid and know a lot of the words to Spanish Train and so was wondering where did your inspiration come from for Spanish Train.
Well, I suppose that this is a story that some people have heard me say to them before, but I tell you what happened. It's I was literally on a Spanish train during the recording of the album "Far Beyond These Castle Walls". We took a short break, I went down to Portugal and then I went to the border between Portugal and Spain and I got on this train. And it was like something out of a dream, because it was two carriages, and this was at the time of Franco in Spain, and the civil guard (the guardia civil) were much feared. And as the train started heading north towards Seville, there were two guardia civil walking around, up and down the two carriages. And I remember there was one very old lady who had all her shopping with her, and every time when the guardia civil came into the carriage where she was in, she'd grumble and moan and stand up and make a fuzz of going back into the other one. And if the police then walked up into where she was, again where she moved to, she shouted at them and walked back again. She obviously didn't like them a bit or was very scared of them. And as this was going on, I looked up to the hill on my right, and I noticed that a farmer had got dozens of bits of wood, really bent and twisted, and he was trying to form a kind of fence all the way up the hill by putting three or four of them together. And as I glanced out, as the train was going very close to the Quadalquivir river, I glanced up to my right and I saw what appeared to be dancing skeletons up the hill. Now I don't know what was happening in my brain at that time, and I suddenly got this idea that the train driver was a skeleton and I wrote down the words in a little book that I had with me: "There's a Spanish train that runs between Quadalquivir and old Seville. The dead of night the whistle blows and people hear she's running still." And that's where it started. And then I finished the song several weeks later, having started with that idea and it really put me onto the road of writing story songs, allegorical songs as well, where you can get across your point by telling a story.
18th November 2004 - Pedram (35) from Tehran, Iran:
Hi Chris! Thanks a lot for being such a tremendous source of inspiration for me since circa 1980! I've written loads of letters to you over the years, asking questions, but I haven't been anywhere near as lucky as those fans who either get to go to your concerts or at least get a reply. Anyway, I, for what it's worth, rate THE RISEN LORD as your best ever; there are an awful lot of reasons behind this one, in particular being some traces of Eastern mysticism in the lyrics. We Iranians can't help but react to such elements as they're the foundations of our rich literature. I've been desperate to ask you three questions about this song ever since it came out way back in 1988. 1) What inspired you to pen such fantastic words? 2) How much do you identify yourself with the traveller on his ongoing spiritual quest? And finally, 3) to what extent do you see this journey the result of one's free will? Please answer these questions this time!
Wow, what an interesting question! Thank you very much for your comments about "The Risen Lord". Well, earlier on Man On (the) Line, I have spoken about the fact that we must always be polite to strangers, because who knows that this person may be the risen Lord. And in this song I find myself almost in the footsteps of the followers of Christ after he'd been crucified. And you may recall from the Bible that some of them doubted that he had come back to life, the resurrection, and others believed it would happen. But perhaps in this song I am thinking about myself walking down a road 2000 years ago, and a stranger comes towards me. And it's that moment of decision, am I going to help this person? "Because I saw him stumble, heard him fall, I helped him with his load. The further that we walked, the heavier he became, and I believe I've felt the weight from another world." This man is full of the excitement of telling these people that he has met, or this man that he has met ("Brother, can you spare me food and give me a drink of wine?"), he can't wait to tell somebody the story, that he thinks he has seen the risen Lord as prophesied in the Bible. I don't know what turned me onto this, but I was very moved by the piece of music that I wrote right at the beginning of that song, and it just immediately started that particular film going in my head. It's interesting that you suggest there are traces of Eastern mysticism. Well, I am not sure that I knew too much about Eastern mysticism, but I certainly, unlike every other human being, I believe there is more to this life than what we can just see and hear with our senses. I think all of us are going through life on some kind of quest, whether it to be a quest for earthly riches or whether it would be a spiritual quest. As far as I am concerned, what I am interested in is doing something positive with every day that comes and leaving a warm feeling behind. You know, touching people emotionally and spiritually in the way that I believe I can, because I feel fortunate to be able to be so deeply in touch with my own emotions and so happy with who I am that I have plenty of affection and love to spare to share with others. When you ask me about free will, of course in some countries your free will is being impaired. It is difficult to express yourself freely, as you know full well of the country you live in. But I think within that framework, you are able to spiritually travel and find your own soul and hopefully seek your own salvation as a result of knowing who you are and knowing where you want to be.
19th November 2004 - Kaveh (28) from Kermanshah, Iran:
Dear Mr. Chris de Burgh: I know that you have so many people that like you very much, but you must know there is a person that breathes and lives for you. I'm listening to, singing with and learning from your excellent songs about 20 years and I know you're not an ordinary man. You're a messenger, you're from god, and all I want from god is to see you once in my life. But I have a question my leader: You always sing about war, freedom, lord, children, other world and so many beautiful things but sometimes specially in latest albums you talked about: bed, stripper,... And I want to know the reason of singing these songs if possible. I'm trying to come to your concert 2004 in Frankfurt for the first time and only god knows what I'm feeling. God save you.
I hope you have now already seen me performing in Frankfurt this year. It's an unusual question again! Strippers? Well, you've got to remember I was very young when I wrote that one, I was in my early twenties and I wanted to have a bit of a laugh. It's not something I think I would write nowadays. Not that I have become a more serious person, in fact I hope I never grow up. That's what I say to my children anyway. But words come out, phrases come through, which I want to expand on. Like the song "If Beds Could Talk". If you go a bit deeper into that, it's all human activity, all energy sources leave a trace of what happened behind them. Not just in beds, but in houses, which is why people feel either cold or warm in houses or in furniture. Old furniture can give off a tremendous sense of energy and feeling of the past. Old buildings, you know, old architecture, I think we leave our footprint wherever we go.
20th November 2004 - Sharon Foster (36) from Perth, Australia:
Hi Chris, I see on your new album that you have a song called "Songbird" about Eva Cassidy (who is absolutely amazing). Can you tell me how you discovered Eva, and what inspired you to pen a song about her?? Thanks and peace be with you - Sharon
The first time I heard Eva Cassidy, I was driving in my car and I heard her singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and I was absolutely amazed. Immediately I thought to myself: "Gosh, I'd love to do a duet with this girl! She has one of the most extraordinary voices that I have ever heard." Subsequently I heard her version of "Fields Of Gold" which I thought was gorgeous. Unfortunately a bit little later on I discovered that she had died of cancer at an early age and that she was virtually unknown in the world. A few places in the North Eastern part of America. But what happened for her in England was that a friend of mine, the broadcaster Terry Wogan, started playing it on his very important radio show in the morning. And instantly people all over England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales reacted to this beautiful voice and the irony that she was only being discovered when she was dead. And even more incredible is that she sang those two songs live. What a seriously huge talent she was! And I remember I was sitting at my piano one day, waiting for some friends to come to my house, and her name came banging into my head. And I went "oh, I've got to write a song about her", which is why Songbird came up. That came up really fast. I had no idea she had an album called Songbird! And it was my dedication to her to thank her for her incredible talent.
21st November 2004 - Mike Bird (52) from Toronto, Canada:
Chris in a recent post you mentioned that "Portrait of an Artist" by J. Joyce was one of your favourite books. With your hectic schedule do you read much? Any other particular books or authors stand out in your mind? Have you read anything by Laurens van der Post? Your concert in Toronto last May still warms my heart.
Hi Mike! I recognize your name, and I am sure I recognize you as well. The book by James Joyce "A portrait of the artist as a young man" is definitely one of my favourite books. And when I am touring, there isn't really a lot of time for reading. What I have done in the past and recently when I did my Canadian tour last year and European tour this year, I bring an Apple i-book laptop computer and run DVDs. Either films that I like to see or want to see, or I've been watching an amazing six DVD series about the First World War with original footage from the First World War. And the origins of the war and what happened during it and subsequently. And it is just shocking to see the carnage that happened in the Great War, as it's called. So I like to watch things that are geographically interesting, historically interesting or indeed just plain escapism. And there are many authors that I admire. Amongst them would be Oscar Wilde, the Irish writer. Actually looking across at my bookshelf right now in my studio, there's the biography of Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann. And I come across very unusual books, for example "The man who listens to horses" by Monty Roberts, a favourite book. And an extraordinary book called "The man who touched the sky" about the historical background of men and their desire for flight, going back to the days of the Montgolfier brothers in their balloons. And subsequently Joe Kittinger, who in the early 60s as part of the US-Russian space race, he went in a hot air balloon above 100,000 feet in an especially pressurized suit, because at about 30,000 feet if you had an unpressurized suit, your blood would begin to boil in your body. And he not only went up in a hot air balloon, but he jumped, he went into free fall for really quite a long time, I forget how many minutes, doing terminal velocity. And he opened his parachutes. It is just an extraordinary book and I highly recommend it, by John Acton, the book is called "The man who touched the sky". And another favourite book was written by Dava Sobel called "Longitude" about the man who created an instrument that sailors could find their way safely from one part of the ocean to the other. I remember reading a book some years ago by Laurens van der Post and enjoying it very much. And thank you again for your kind words about my show in Toronto. It was a real great memory for me.
22nd November 2004 - Mark Franklin (33) from Ashtead, England:
Dear Chris, what an absolute honour it is to have the opportunity to ask you a question directly! I have been a major fan since 1985 and have attended each UK concert tour since then. Your music has meant so much to me over the years, and I shall shortly get round to dropping you a letter via the fan club to express my thanks more personally. Anyhow, my question is connected with artists perceived to be similar to CdeB. Other fans have suggested to me in the past that I should listen to Corey Hart and Dan Fogelberg because they are similar in style to yourself. Personally, I have never found any artist who was that similar to you, and I was wondering what weird and wonderful artists you have been compared to, and which artists you consider produce music similar to yours. Thanks for such constantly terrific music through all these years - and the new album is sensational (Fantastic vocals by Rosanna on Here For You - perhaps she can too release an album!) With kind regards and best wishes!
Hi Mark! Thank you for the nice things you say about my music. I have no idea who I am like. You ask me who I have been compared to. Well, gosh, I have no idea! Now I am sure that many many other names, particularly in the early years, have come out of the bag. But I felt that what I had to do is create an individual style to the point where I want people hear me singing, there's absolutely no question who it is, an instantly recognizable voice. I think at one stage I was even compared to Rod Stewart, believe it or not. I suppose people I like who produce music similar to me would be the singers/songwriters like Jackson Browne and maybe even Paul Simon. But Paul Simon is very much into world music, but he is just a fantastic songwriter. And thanks for your comments about the music down the years and Rosanna's short foray into the music business, because she enjoyed singing that short bit on "Here For You".
23rd November 2004 - Dariush Gheisari (25) from Shiraz, Iran:
Dear Chris, thanks for your beautiful songs. I am a student and I want to know your idea about the student movement to freedom in Iran.
I have always felt that with the technological world we are living in, it is going to be extremely difficult for repressive regimes to hang on to their belief that they can cover the truth from young people about what is happening in the world today. In particular I am referring to satellite television and the internet, where I suppose some people would argue it's a good thing, some people may argue it's a bad thing, but it's possible now for young people all over the world in countries like Iran, in countries like Burma, in places that prior to the break up of the Soviet Union needed information about how life really can be to be understood by young people. Now I have to clarify this, I am not saying that the democratic Western commercial lifestyle suits every single country, because it doesn't, I think. But I do believe also that it's really important for countries to protect their national identity, their national culture and not become utterly westernized. By this I mean, I think it is a mistake to see, you know, the commercial signs of Coca-Cola, of Wendy's Burgers, of McDonalds, you know, everywhere. I am particularly resistant to that form of commercial take-over of countries and their own identities. The same thing happens with MTV, which is great that people can see MTV in countries where they couldn't see it before, but I must urge people in these countries I am referring to, to not only seek for freedom which is vital today, and you ask me about Iran, of course it is vital that freedom of choice will be brought to your country. But I think it is also vital that you protect your national identities and cultures in future years.
24th November 2004 - Chris Raymond (52) from Whitton, Twickenham, UK:
Dear Chris, I have a serious question! Due to lifestyle choices I've needed to study death and dying. It's not as morbid or scary as most people think! Consequently my family know my wishes for my own funeral (which I hope is far into the future!) and your song "Shine On" will be played at the end of the service. I'd be very interested to know your thoughts about this subject and to hear if other people chose your music for funerals? Many thanks. Chris R
Of course there's nothing morbid about looking at death and dying, because this is a journey that awaits all of us. And I think it's wrong if you ignore it or pretend it doesn't happen. I think one of the great advantages about being brought up in the countryside is you see the cycle of life and death far more clearly than people who live in cities. They don't see the annual cycle of life and death like farmers do for example. As far as my music is concerned, yes, I have often heard of my songs being used at funerals. In fact recently I got a letter from somebody who is in the UK, whose husband died of alcoholic poisoning. And she and her children played "The Best That Love Can Be" at the funeral and it really helped them to think about the times before this unfortunate man became addicted to alcohol and it finally killed him. I know that many times in the past the words of "Carry Me (Like A Fire In Your Heart)" and the song have been used in funerals. Recently a neighbour very close to me used the song "The Connemara Coast", and I changed a few words for his father who died of cancer. "Shine On" that's a really elevating song, and I particularly like this song, the words "leave here a garden for our children". It always moves me, and I think of the spacecraft, looking down from outer space onto our fragile planet and saying, you know, we must not only tend to our own private gardens, but we must also look after the worldwide garden that we live in. Even "Lady In Red" has been used at a funeral, at a few funerals, I believe, like a favourite song. Or in one tragic case, shortly after the song was released, a little baby girl was born dead and they dressed her in a red outfit and buried her to the song "Lady In Red". So it obviously is something that people are scared of quite naturally, but it's reality, and if music can comfort people, so much the better. I, in fact, recently also within the last few months sang the song "The Journey" at a funeral of a friend of mine, Robert Sangster, who died in his early sixties. And with one hand touching his coffin and singing that song, I can tell you it was an extremely emotional moment for me and the other people in the church.
25th November 2004 - Ian McDonald (39) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:
Hi Chris, a while back on the email list there was a theme running called "101 things to do with Chris de Burgh" and focused on all the different things a fan could do with you if given the chance (Be careful of some of the ladies!!!). My question is if you could spend the day with one of your fans, how would you spend the day?
Hi Ian! You are a regular writer, and I have often read things that you have written and most of them I find interesting or amusing. "101 things to do with Chris de Burgh"? I can't imagine what some of the ladies would have in their minds. But if I could spend the day with one of my fans, well, I think it would completely depend on the fan and what they would expect, what they would like. If I had a chance to spend a day with a fan from Canada for example, we could talk about the background to the music that I made, what I had in my head, when I wrote songs. Maybe sitting on a little writing or recording session. Just perhaps they would like to get into the deeper part of me, which doesn't come out very often. If it were somebody from a part of the world, that I have never visited, for example Iran, I am sure they would be interested to see my lifestyle and how my home life tends to be very similar in many ways to everybody else's home life. So I think that would be an interesting way for me to find out as well about somebody else's life, and how I affected them, and how I helped them perhaps through difficult times and troubled times. So I think it would be very interesting for both of us, if we had a chance to do that.
26th November 2004 - Chris (47) from Edinburgh, Scotland:
I first saw you in about '76 with Gallagher and Lyle at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Graham Lyle has since gone on to write many hits, and I note he is credited as co-writer for the music on "Two Sides to Every Story" recently (2001?) released by you. Did this collaboration come out of a long friendship or from a business deal between your management teams?
In my early years, I did a fair amount of concert touring with Gallagher and Lyle and indeed Supertramp. The first tour I ever did was 1 Pound to see me, Gallagher and Lyle and Supertramp! And I think it was a good deal. But I am very fond of Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle and I think they are just great songwriters. Songs like "Breakaway", "I Wanna Stay With You" and "Heart On My Sleeve" for example. And Graham Lyle and I have stayed in touch. We share a publisher and the idea of doing the song collaboration together started in the mid nineties, and it finished as "Two Sides To Every Story". And of course it was a business deal, but it was established way way back from a long friendship.
27th November 2004 - Paul Klerks (43) from Wijk bij Duurstede, Netherlands:
At your superb last album, The Road To Freedom, a choir sing some lyrics in the opening number 'When Winter Comes'. As a die hard I really wanted to know what these lines are. You're singing 'think of me when winter comes' but it goes about the choirlines.
Well, the choir is actually all me. All those voices are me, multilayered. I have this ability to sing extremely high, there I refer to one of the earlier questions, with falsetto. But it creates a very warm big kind of pad of sound. The words themselves? Well, I have decided to leave that as a mystery for anybody who can unravel them. And that's why I didn't print them on the lyric sheet. But I hope anybody having another listen may be able to work out exactly what I am singing.
28th November 2004 - Andrea Lucas (39) from Ludwigsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, actually this is not a question from myself, but from my friend Karin. She asked me to translate it and send it to MOtL. So here is her question: Being a fan of Ireland I wondered if you are able to read and/or speak the Gaelic language? During a visit to Ireland I noticed that the place name signs were all in English and Gaelic, in parts of Western Ireland only in Gaelic. Thanks a lot for answering all those questions and both Karin and myself are looking forward very much to the concerts in May and June. Take care, Karin and Andrea
I know that you enjoyed the tour that you refer to at the end of your question, in May and June, because I saw you many times. This is a very quick answer to your question about Irish. Although I went to a primary school in Ireland until the age of 12, my secondary school was in England, and there was no Irish to be learned there. So I cannot speak a single word of Irish. I must admit I do have strong feelings about the Irish language, in as much as that all pupils in Ireland have to learn Irish, it's compulsory. And I feel that to learn Irish, which is a very minor language, because you have to, that means that the ability to go and learn another language like German or French or Spanish is lost. Although some people are able to obviously do other languages, I think it is such a shame that, you know, the choice is not there. It is compulsory, you have to learn Irish. And it's an unbelievable amount of people, after they have spent years and years of learning the language, they still can't speak and they can't understand it, after they finished. And they never use it really. I know that all public civil servants in Ireland have to be able to speak the language, because there is the dual language facility. And there is an area in the West of Ireland, where they only speak Irish, called the Gaeltacht. And my children have been there, they have loved it there. But again, just going back to the compulsory nature of the Irish language, I think if people really wanted to learn it, they would and it would keep the language alive which after all is the idea. I think it is important to keep a language alive like that, but perhaps the element of choice would be a better idea.
29th November 2004 - Richard Griffiths (21) from Somerset, UK:
Hi Chris, Like to complement you on a fantastic new album!!. My favourite song on "The Road to Freedom" is "Read My Name". Were there any influences behind the writing of this song?? See you on the UK Tour!
"Read My Name" was really inspired by the way how I like to live my life, which is to enjoy every minute on the planet, we are so lucky to be here at all, and not let days go by without doing anything. I always have this nagging feeling at the end of a day that I haven't done enough, that I haven't achieved enough, which is not a good way to finish each day, I suppose. You feel that slight guilt. But there's nothing to beat the feeling that you've really used every moment of every day to do something important for yourself or for other people. And I also believe that everybody has the opportunity to find somewhere in life that suits them. Some people do go on to become world famous for doing good things and creative things, some people become world famous for doing wrong things, but I think everybody within their own area can become whatever they want to be, if they try hard. For example some people might want to be the best baker in Berlin. Well, it's good to have an ambition, a mountain to climb, to put in front of you and say "this is what I am going to do". But most of all is to understand that this planet is spinning around for millions of years and will be carrying on for millions more years. We must not waste a minute, because death and departure from this life is eminent. For some people its instant, some people have a long life, but nevertheless use every moment and do something with your life! So when you've come to the end of your days, that people say "oh yeah, he was great, he really did something!" You know, that's what "Read My Name" is all about. And when, I'm sure, one day a man will cross the universe, he'll say or leave a plat behind saying "Read my name, I've come from Planet Earth. I've actually used my time. I've done something which I believe to be valuable."
30th November 2004 - Morten Rose (29) from Denmark:
Hi Chris, first I want to say thanks for your fantastic new album! It is absolutely great! And I can't wait seeing you perform the songs live. I am from Denmark, and you haven't played live here for many years, so I am going to Germany and seeing you in Cologne. And now to my question: The song "The Journey", was that one written for Glenn Morrow ? Take care Chris, best wishes from Morten Rose
Hi Morten! I know that you are involved with the DVD that we have put together. You came from Denmark to the concert that you mention in Cologne, and probably you went to a few others besides. I started the song "The Journey" thinking about Glenn Morrow, and then I put it aside, because I couldn't feel that I could finish it. And I think it was the death of my father that made me look at it again, and realize that there are things that I wanted to say, like for example "Go with love upon your journey, go with wonder in your heart, you have left so much behind you, all the love you have given life. And I wish that I could hold you one more time." These things are important to me, and it's amazing how in a concert, even the sad inspiration behind this song becomes very very intense and uplifting. People really love it, they really respond to it, and it's one of the songs that, to my surprise, went down as one of the best songs on the most recent tour.
1st December 2004 - Raymond Gielen (33) from the Netherlands:
I'm a big fan of your music! I'm also a big fan of the music of Sting; I'm still hoping that you once would record a song together; because I think that the combination of voices would be magnificent. Is this something you'd like to do if the opportunity comes? I'm looking forward seeing you live again in Amsterdam later this year !!!!
I'm also a big fan of Sting, I think he is a wonderful songwriter and an extremely gifted musician. He and I were on the same record label for a while, A&M records, and I certainly would be interested in doing a duet with him. I've met him quite a few times on tours, and I think his early work with The Police is just really dynamic and inspiring and exciting. He is also a very committed musician and indeed he is a good actor. He is one of those people who appears to be living his life to the full, and if the chance ever rose, of course I'd love to do a song with him.
2nd December 2004 - Linda Howitt (33) from Glasgow, Scotland:
Curiosity is killing this old cat - did you really leap from a cupboard singing Hot Barrel Hannah the way the stories tell it??? I love the story but so often these tales turn out to be urban myths. I have a lovely mental image of the scene but what really happened? (Best of luck with the new label and belated congratulations to Rosanna.)
The answer is yes, I did leap from a cupboard singing Hot Barrel Hannah. Not quite the way it came out in the book or somebody else's story, but because this song which was never properly recorded, just for a demo, started with this howling noise at the beginning. I was in a room with three other people, and it was a very small room and I was sitting on a chair by a table. And there happened to be a cupboard. And I said "Well, I think I might as well go in the cupboard here, because this is going to be quite loud, this howling noise." So I started the song in there and I burst out of the cupboard. It wasn't like a surprise to the people in the room. I just went in there and then came out again. But yeah, those were the days that I'd do anything to try and get a foot on the bottom of the ladder of the music business. And it worked. Thank you for your words about Ferryman Productions and of course about Rosanna. In fact, just about that particular point, by the time you read this, Rosanna will be coming to the end of her reign as Miss World, and she has had an extraordinary year. She has been to wonderful places like Ethiopia, Sri Lanka or America, China several times. She has done fabulous work for charity all over the world. She has grown as a young woman. She understands what people see when Miss World walks into a room. And she has a beautiful light around her and she has shown enormous courage in facing the difficulties that she encountered, not only with the bitchy Irish media who always have a go at anybody who is successful, but they have been supportive of her in many other ways, but also dealing with the Miss World Organization who, to put it mildly, have never come across somebody either like her or parents like myself and my wife with the backup that we have, with legal advice and management advice, and enormous understanding of the show business world. So it hasn't been simple, but she has been graceful throughout, and I think she will look back on this year as one of the most extraordinary and interesting and exciting years of her life.
3rd December 2004 - Cathy (30) from Paderborn, Germany:
Dear Chris! I've bought your new album, and I have to say that this is the best music I've ever heard! I just want to tell you that your powerful song "Road to freedom" reached my heart in such an intensive way that I started crying while hearing it . Thank you for this music, thank you so much! What kind of instrument is playing the melody above your voice, is it a tin-whistle?
Well, you know, that sound you are referring to on "The Road To Freedom" is a traditional whistle instrument. I have to tell you that we didn't actually have one in our studio, but with extraordinary abilities with sounds you can get real sounds from computers. This isn't a computer generated sound from a synthesizer, this is a real sound performed and played by somebody who knew what he was doing. It's the sort of sound you hear in movies, involving people getting ready for battle, it's an inspirational sound. And thank you very much for your comments about "The Road To Freedom" and how the song moved you.
4th December 2004 - Saeed (20) from Iran:
Hi! What a Question!! : How many years did it take for you to get married with your wife after the day you first saw her?!!
Well, I met my wife as Diane Morley in, I suppose it would have been in my very early twenties. And we did not get on. In fact, I took her out to dinner. She was the sister of a girl who was going out with a very dear friend of mine, who subsequently I wrote a song about called "Another Rainbow". And the four of us were kind of often together in later years, but the first time I met her I liked her very much, but I am not sure the compliment was returned, because she had a boyfriend at the time. We went out to dinner together and the evening was a bit of a disaster. She was very shy and I ordered all the wrong wines, and the food was lousy, and at the end of the night we even shook hands. And I didn't see her again for about three or four years. But then it was a different feeling, and it worked.
5th December 2004 - Bev Devereux (35) from Buckinghamshire, England:
Dear Chris, firstly thanks for all your music, you really are a songsmith. You were at my wedding, at the birth of my children and through all the tough times, especially when my husband Karl got cancer. Snows Of New York was never played so much and I 'm Not Scared Anymore has become a bit of a family anthem. I met Karl when I was 18 and finding out he liked your music was a bit worrying but I came to love you as well. Anyway he is cancer free now and is running the London marathon with his consultant and some other guys who have won their fight with the illness, your music really helped the healing process TA. My question is do you think about how your songs will affect peoples lives in a really positive way ???
What a fabulous thing you are saying here about my music and how it has helped you through all those stages of your life. If there is nothing that I have achieved that impresses me more is the ability to touch people. You know, when I get a letter like this, it makes me feel just grateful for the gift I have and grateful for the fact that I am still working and helping people and grateful for the enjoyment that I get out of it and the fact that so many people all over the world seem to find comfort and not just entertainment, but something more deep than that from my music. It makes it all worthwhile. So thank you very much, Bev, for what you have said. What can I say about your husband Karl? Well, that is incredible that he is cancer free and he is running the London marathon! And that the music helped the healing process. There are always, I suppose, a lot of cynical people around, who would look at Chris de Burgh or whoever, and say "This guy only ever wrote one song, 'The Lady In Red', and after all what can he do to help people?" Well, here is the answer! There are a lot of people who would disagree with that. I often feel, Bev, that my music can help people and touch people. An example for this is the songs that we have added on to "The Road To Freedom" album in the secondary release. "Once Upon A Time" for example about the break-up of a marriage and the child's point of view, which I spoke about earlier on Man On (the) Line. I feel that this will really help people who listen to it, and maybe it touches their own lives. Similarly "Little Angel" was a very strong, emotional thing for me and I know it helped people get through difficulties in their own lives. So it's not a responsibility, but it's a knowledge that I can look deep into my heart and come up with words and with music and with phrases and emotions that will help people and will touch people. And on a daily basis I am aware of this wonderful gift, and that is exactly what it is, a gift. And I hope to carry on using it as such for many many a long year.
6th December 2004 - Chris Williams (52) from Essex, UK:
Hiya Chris, Did you ever have a teenage crush on a pop star ? I never did, but then again I had a mid life crisis which is still going on.... thankfully ;-) !! Hugs, Chris
Well, Chris Williams, what can I say about you? You've been a wonderful support; you and your husband have been to so many concerts. You've been all over Europe. I think you've had a wonderful time and I think you're a fantastic supporter. A teenage crush on a pop star? Well, you know what, I don't think so. But I wouldn't use the word crush, but I was so utterly impressed when I was growing up as a teenager with the music of the Beatles and their lifestyle and their haircuts, and the way they were so funny with their press interviews. And I just thought the sun shone out of their hearts and their eyes and various other places as well. So the answer is, no, I can't recall a teenage crush. I had plenty of teenage crushes on young women, but I don't think there was any pop star particularly that I went mad about.
8th December 2004 - Wendy Simpson (43) from Scotland:
Hi Chris. We recently saw Shania Twain in concert and during her tour, she has chosen to invite local charities to fund raise prior to the concert starting. The tickets were £1 each, all proceeds to the chosen charity, and the prize was to get on stage with her and have a photo taken. I appreciate that you are more involved with your audience than most, but bearing in mind your willingness to help those less fortunate, would you consider doing something like this at your concerts? And rather than a photo how about you singing their favourite song or doing a duet with them? I know you pass the mike out during your concerts, so this is like a variation on a theme you already use. Can't wait to see you in Birmingham and Edinburgh later this year...........I'll try not to shout too loud. Thanks for answering the questions you do. Wendy.
That was a great idea from Shania Twain, and she's a very successful woman, and she is using her success to raise money for local charities. This is one way of doing it. I personally support quite a lot of charities, either as a patron or in other ways. I recently went from Ireland with my daughter Rosanna to Manchester to do a concert in aid of a little girl called Kirsty, who was not expected to live, because her heart was in her body the wrong way round, and various other organs were misplaced. And she was at the concert, and she is now nine years old, very cheeky and very flirty and very pretty. And after the concert she joined me on stage for a very emotional performance of the two of us doing "The Lady In Red" together and she wore a little red dress. There was an auction of items to raise funds for the hospice that she was supporting. She raised nearly 3 million pounds in her short life! And an item came up, which was a painting with a beautiful poem by a very famous English painter, and at the auction where you bid against people, I bid more than 5,000 pounds sterling. And I think people expected me to bring it home with me and keep it. But in fact I said there is only one place I believe this picture should be, and that is in Kirsty's home. So I gave it to her and her family. Well, that is one way of supporting charities. The other way is obviously using your name to attract attention to an important function and a charity affair. But obviously there are various ways of doing it, and Shania Twain's way is a good one too.
9th December 2004 - Stefan (34) from Preetz, Germany:
Hello Chris! While searching in a well-known internet marketplace for CD's, I have read the information that your latest album "The Road to Freedom" has a copy protection, while your former ones don't. I am somehow confused, as I use to make copies for listening to you in the car without exposing the originals to the heat. The funny thing is that on other websites of not-so-big-sellers, there is no protection on your album, a thing that fits much better to you...;-) In fact, this odd situation is the reason for not having purchased the album yet, as I usually run my CD's on PC's and DVD-players, and I am not very fond of having an album I cannot listen to. Thanks in advance for your reply and best regards!
I am not aware of the depth of the technology involved in copy protection, but all I can tell you is that, as you probably gathered from earlier answers on Man On (the) Line about downloading and so on, I'm very much against it. It's piracy and it's theft. But copyright protection in effect means exactly that you can't copy off a disc, as I understand it. To be honest, anything that protects the artist in a way they like to make the music, and what it costs them to make the music, I'm very much a supporter of.
10th December 2004 - Valerie Tovey (50) from East Sussex, UK:
How do you feel about people taking photographs of you during or nearer to the end of a concert? I have to admit to having done it, but the results are such wonderful memories of your fantastic concerts, the photos mean so much to me. Thank you for your music and being the kind of 'nice' guy that I am absolutely certain you are. See you in October. Take care.
I don't mind people taking pictures during concerts. You know, some venues have a problem with people walking around taking pictures, but I love it when people get up and, particularly at the end of the concert or whenever everybody rushes to the front. I suppose it can be distracting for other people during the concert, but personally I don't have a problem with it. I think it all depends on the concert hall that we are actually performing in.
11th December 2004 - Joe Mulvaney (28) from Dublin, Ireland:
Hi Chris. First let me say that your new album is truly excellent. My question is a little direct but please understand that it is one that I know a lot of my fellow Irish fans want to ask......why won't you play Ireland? I was lucky enough to see you in Wexford (and many many other times before in Dublin) and it was an electric night! I understand about your previous experiences with us Irish audiences and press in the past, but please remember that there is a huge amount of your fans here going cold-turkey! Sorry for being so direct, especially since I have been a fan for over 20 years and I think the way you have been treated here has been disgusting, but please come back to us! Thanks for your time Chris. Keep the beautiful and inspirational music coming.
Well, Joe, I think you've pretty well said it. The way that press in Ireland has not just treated me, but just about anybody who is successful. I give an example: Ronan Keating. It is almost impossible for him to perform in Ireland, because of the torrent of abuse that he would get. It's a small country with a press with a big ego and there's a lot of jealousy and envy. But obviously these people have a job to do and one thing that I think I can always point at for me is that I have always been a fighter. And when you are an individual, trying to get on in this business on a world-wide basis, you have to have an enormous amount of inner strength, a hard back, the chance to get knocked over and get up again and again and again. I think what happened to me was, having received a torrent of bad press, almost since I started it, even in like the early 80s, I came across press reviews of me and my concerts which were very unfortunate and very unpleasant. I think since then I have been extremely wary of performing in Ireland. When my daughter became Miss World, there was another, some horrible stuff in the papers written about me. For why? For nothing, you know. So now that other people are involved, like my family are old enough to read that sort of stuff written about their Dad, I just flat out refuse to perform in Ireland again. You know, I hate giving up, and in a way I suppose it is giving up, but I know that the moment I step on a concert stage in Ireland, these people with their small minds and their big knives who are the most powerful people in the country, these journalists, they will have a go at me. So I will respect the fact that they have a job to do, and it's not just me that gets this treatment, it's a lot of people who get this treatment. And I am not prepared to go into that arena ever again. And I am very very sorry about this, particularly about the fact, I know that there are lot of fans in Ireland who want me to sing. But I suppose one glimmer of light or hope perhaps for them would be that I might consider performing outside of the capital, where the cynicism is at its most rampant and its most high. You know, doing a concert, perhaps for charity would be a good idea. We have looked at various options. Somewhere, well away and maybe even a surprise gig somewhere, because I do believe I am still a talented man with a lot to offer. And the sell-out-concerts I have done all across Europe recently obviously proved the point. There will be those people reading this, who probably don't understand why all this happens, so I shall clarify one thing. I am looking at an award here in my studio, where I am giving you this answer, and it says "Awarded to Chris de Burgh for selling 250,000 tickets to one concert venue in Dublin called the Royal Dublin Society (RDS)". Now 250,000 people came to my concerts during a run of shows from the early to the mid and late 80s, which is an astounding number of people nobody has come close that since, as far as I know for indoor shows. And that's an important point to make. I think secondly the antipathy that I received was not held by the perception that I came from a privileged background, in spite of the fact I always kept saying that, you know, when I was growing up my family had very little money. I and my brother were educated in a good school, because of the money left by an aunt to my mother in her will. And my grandfather had bought the castle where I lived in, and that place was, as you know from listening to me before, was no furniture and no light, no heat and no water. It was a grim way of growing up. And I think also, the fact that I have a strong English accent doesn't help. But all in all, I have loved performing in the past in Ireland. But for the reasons I have already explained, which is the fact that I want to protect my family from insane and ridiculous stuff written about me. In Ireland, the moment you lift your head above the, what we say, above the parapet, somebody will shoot at you. And I am sure this is actually a familiar story for people who live in other countries. It's not unique to this country. But it just indicates one sure fact, that the power of the press is paramount and you cannot beat them. Anyway, thanks for the kind things you say about me, and who knows, you might be able to see me one day performing in Ireland, but it will be a bit of a surprise to both of us.
12th December 2004 - Elena (40) from Bucharest, Romania:
Dear Chris, your music makes me happy. After reading some of your answers, your words sound in my mind, like your music does. I wish I could send you my respect and admiration with the Moon and Sun. I am grateful for your music and am "envying" you. I wish I could bring joy in people like you do. Do you envy anybody?
Elena, what nice things you are saying, thank you very much! I have been to Bucharest, I have played concerts there, and I loved it. I was so impressed by the palace that was built by Ceausescu, not by the fact that he obviously ruined many lives building this place, but it's the quality, the workmanship by the Romanian people. The carpenters, the stone masons, the planners, the designers, I think it is absolutely remarkable. One of the wonders of the world that I have ever seen. Thank you for your respect and admiration. As far as envy goes, no, I don't think there is anybody I envy. Not that I have everything I could ever wish for, but I am happy in myself, and I like me. I think the moment you can come to that conclusion, that's the moment that you can really feel like you have something to offer to the rest of the world. One of my favourite songs is by George Benson called "The Greatest Love Of All", which is the discovery, if you can love yourself, then you can love the whole world.
13th December 2004 - Mert Ener (23) from Istanbul, Turkey:
Hi Chris! First of all thank you very much for you answered one of my questions. But I felt really rude because when I read it I saw that I had not used any intro like "Hi Chris" or something like.. Have you ever felt yourself really rude and thought about turning the clock back? Thank you!
Well, this is a great question about being rude. I am sure there are things that we have always said to people and then think "gosh, I wish I hadn't said that". But then you have to move on and get over it. There are also many times when you are in situations you wish you had said something, and you only think about what you could have said several hours later. You know, these things are part of human life, and the things happen, I suppose, on a fairly regular basis in people's lives. And I am sure, I am actually no exception to that. As far as turning the clock back is concerned, this is obviously something we can't do. But if you really have been rude to somebody, then I suppose the best thing is to apologize. I always believe that writing a letter to somebody, explaining in plain terms why you have done something or why you haven't done something, is the best way. It's something rather than just ringing somebody up, you know, a letter can really achieve a huge amount. So that's what I do, if ever a situation has arisen in the past, where I feel I have been out of order, then that's what I have done and what I will continue to do in the future, but hopefully not too many more times. I am beginning to learn by my mistakes.
14th December 2004 - Volkmar Woerner (16) from Neusaeß near Augsburg, Germany:
Hi Chris, I've got another question for you. For your song "When winter comes", have you been inspired by a bit of the soundtrack of the film "Winged Migration" (Le peuple migrateur) by Jacques Perrin? I think that it sounds a bit similar. Thanks.
The answer is a quick no. I have no idea about the film "Winged Migration" by Jacques Perrin, but I think that's something I'll have a look out for, just in case the music sounds similar.
15th December 2004 - Glenda Bennett (52) from Barnoldswick, Lancastershire, UK:
Hi Chris, a million thanks for the new album - it was well worth the wait, as always. I love the new 'feel' to your mood and music, it's as if it's what you've been searching for for a while now. Well, you've certainly found it, and hope you continue to produce more gems on your new label. All you need now to complete the dream is a grandchild; it will fill you with endless songwriting possibilities, as well as family fulfilment. (I can highly recommend it) So start dropping some hints to those kids of yours! My question is this - and probably impossible to answer - out of all the lyrics you have written over the last thirty-odd years, is there any one song, verse or even phrase that you are most proud of? You've written some brilliant lines, I still think 'Borderline' ranks amongst the best - 'But these are only boys, and I will never know how men can see the wisdom in a war..........'
Well, I'm delighted to hear the excitements ahead for me to be a grandfather, but I'm not quite ready yet. But I look forward to the day hopefully in a few years to come. After all, my eldest is 20. And I don't think she has any plans to settle down for a while. I think it's a good idea to see a bit more of the world and maybe consider marriage and family and kids, you know, when you're in your mid or late twenties, if you're a girl. But thank you for your remarks about my lyrics. I mean, I have written so many of which I feel particularly proud, because they were hard to find or they came out of the blue, I pushed and worked and changed things round. And the key, I think, is also writing words that marry with music. The one that you mention in Borderline "But these are only boys, and I will never know how men can see the wisdom in a war", well, you marry that to a melody line and it works even better if the melody is right. And I think the melody was right in that case. So, the only one, I mean there are loads and loads that spring to my mind, but one that I am particularly keen on is from the song "The Simple Truth": "The life of a child is more than a forest, the life of a child is more than a border, the life of a child is more than religion, the life of a child is only a heartbeat from eternity. We must believe for the sake of humanity. We must believe."
16th December 2004 - L. Morgan (18) from Tashkent, Uzbekistan:
Hello, Chris! I won't write about all the gratitude for you, for your music and songs. I just wanna tell you that you were the only light for me in the darkest times. And I'd like to ask about the greatest wonder in your life, that opened your eyes to understanding the world the way you do. Have you any regrets about it? And how did it change your life. With greatest love ever known on Earth, L. Morgan
Well, this is an absolutely beautiful question. And it gives me such inspiration and hope for the future, and for me that what I am doing is having an impact. Particularly in a place as far away from where I live, a culture so different from mine, but bonded together by mutual love of music. I don't really know how to answer your question. I am the person that I am. People say "do you have any regrets about things that happened in the past?" I say, no whatsoever. I think it is useless to look back and have regrets. I like the person I am today. There are very few things that happened to me in the past that I would do differently, because I have learned from everything. You know, things that perhaps have gone wrong, or that other people don't agree with, either in my personal life or in my public life. But to be perfectly honest, I am who I am today and I like who I am. And I was recently telling my daughter Rosanna who had just come back from visiting a hospital for people who are paralyzed by accidents, road accidents and riding and rugby accidents, and people had been telling her and told me just the impact she had on people. She walks in so graceful and so beautiful, and she has this inner quality, this inner light that just lights up a room. I saw that only once before and that was with Princess Diana. Ok, I may be a proud father here, but I have seen her doing it in a room, full of people just staring at her. And when she walks out the door, they go "Wow, she is gorgeous! She is so nice!" You know, one of those kinds of people. But that comes natural and from the heart. And I think that is the best way to be with who you are and your life.
17th December 2004 - Ian McDonald (39) from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada:
Hi Chris, I was looking through old video tapes today and I discovered a program I taped where you are performing Say Goodbye To It All on the Queen Elizabeth 2 during the 50th Anniversary of D-day Celebrations. Can you tell me how you came to be involved in the event and how it felt to be part of such an important historical anniversary? Thanks.
I was asked to sing on June the 6th 1994, which was the 50th anniversary of the D-day celebrations, on the QE 2 ship, and I immediately said yes. Particularly when I heard that I would be singing in front of quite a large number of veterans of the D-day landings. This particular event was an extraordinary event. Any of you people reading this, who have seen the film "Saving Private Ryan", apparently in the words of veterans who were there at the time, the first half hour is as close to what it was like, the landings on the beaches of Normandy. I remember very well coming into the local airport which was totally fogged in and we were very lucky to land. I was very nervous about landing there, but I was determined that we would be there. And I sang "Say Goodbye To It All". I think it was the first time I did it like that. And it was very moving to perform like that to the people who were there at the time.
18th December 2004 - Jacqueline Ebner (46) from Erskine, Scotland:
Hello Chris, when I was 15 my pop idols were the Osmonds and in particular Donny. I saw them at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow and the following day my Dad, who worked for British Airways, managed to get me into the VIP lounge to meet them. As it turned out they were all asleep and we thought it would be impolite to waken them. My question is, have you ever used your musical influence to help your children meet their pop idols? Thank you Chris, Love Jacqueline x
Well, a lot of people say and I read it sometimes that it's occasionally not a good idea to meet your favourite star or your idols, because you can often be disappointed. I hope nobody has felt that way meeting me, but of course you can't please everybody all the time. On one occasion, my children wanted to meet Celine Dion, who was doing a concert in Dublin. And they really wanted to meet her, because they were big fans. And because Celine Dion not only comes from a part of the world where I am very well known and I love, which is the province of Quebec in Canada, she also opened a couple of concerts for me, before she was really anybody. And she was excellent then, and she remembered that, and I brought them backstage, she was very gracious and charming and took pictures of my children, and they absolutely loved that.
19th December 2004 - Andy Claridge (23) from Nuneaton, Warks, England:
Chris, I hope you don't mind me being a bit picky.....but was it not Pino Palladino (as opposed to John Giblin) that played bass on Lady In Red? I have just read an article about Pino in "Bassist" magazine and in his career notes it quoted that he did. Aside from that my real question is, if you had to name your favourite guitar solo from any of your songs...which would it be? It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go) gets my vote! An absolutely stunning solo. Thanks!
Well, your question is actually half right and half wrong. Pino Palladino originally did play on the song "The Lady In Red", but this particular song had an interesting and unusual history. Because I recorded it first with my own band, using another keyboard player, and Pino played on that track, as I recall. But after a week of work it just sounded awful and I didn't like it at all. So then we completely rerecorded the track. And I remember John Giblin, the base player, a very tall Scottish man, came into our control room in the recording studio in London. And he plugged in his base, he said "I'm in a bit of a hurry here, but I'm happy to come and play on this track." And he actually didn't even take off his long black leather coat. And he stood there, playing this incredible base line right through, and after about maybe 45 minutes, he said "How was that?". He looked quite anxious to make sure that we were happy. I said "It's absolutely phenomenal. Thank you very much." He said "Well, I better run off now." So, it was John Giblin. And thanks for your remarks about "It's Me (And I'm Ready To Go)". The solo is by Phil Palmer who has played on virtually every album I've made since 1982. And he played on "Don't Pay The Ferryman" for example, and he is a wonderful acoustic guitar player, he played a lot of acoustic guitar on the album "The Road To Freedom".
20th December 2004 - Sina (12) from Tehran, Iran:
Dear Chris de Burgh, I really like your voice. I try to understand most of your songs but some of them are hard for me to understand. I like your new song "The Road to Freedom" a lot. But I have a question about my favourite song "I Will". I print its lyrics and try to memorize it. I like to know why you wrote this song and is there any personal experience behind this song? I really like this song and I wish you answer my question. I hope one day I can see you.
I remember at the time I was going out with Diane who was later to become my wife, and for some reason we had some kind of quarrel. And I was looking at some books in the apartment that I was sharing with a friend of mine and one of them, I don't even remember the title, but it was something about an island. And I started writing this song "I'm going to an island where the sun will always shine" and it then became a dream about protecting nature and protecting life and the things that I would do. There's an interesting line in this song: "Press my hands deep into mother earth". I find that an unusual phrase which works extremely well, particularly if you are a gardener. And it's just to be a part of nature once again. It really should appeal to those people who think that city life is getting too much for them and they want to return to the natural world. And that's what I had in my mind, writing this song.
21st December 2004 - Martin Peters (39) from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland:
Hi Chris, I love the lyrics and tune of your new song 'The Words I Love You'. You may have answered part of this question before but if I'm not being to personal, I just wondered what your thoughts were in writing this song and what the line 'and the One who died upon the cross, well He's the one for me' means to you. Thank you.
Well, the first part of this is about relationships between fathers and sons. Certainly it applied to my relationship with my father, and somehow the hardest words to say to him were the words "I love you". But I did and it was the most important time for both of us, before he died. And it was like meeting a crossroads and making the right decision. But looking at other people's religions and considering how so many terrible, terrible things have been done in the name of whatever God you believe in, be it Christ, Buddha, Mohammed. It's beggar's belief to me that something that cannot be proved, but is only part of faith, has caused such turmoil in people's lives for centuries and it continues to. So what I am actually stressing is that the person I believe in is Christ and Christianity. So when I am saying "We must show respect for all the rest and what a man believes", you can believe what you want, and you must have respect for other people's believes. "But the one who died upon the cross, well he is the one for me", well he is my choice. That's what this means.
22nd December 2004 - Marcin (18) from Lodz, Poland:
Hi, Chris! I'm so excited about writing this question! Well.. at first I'd like to congratulate your daughter on winning the Miss World... I couldn't believe, when I heard from my friend, Simon, that it was your daughter, who won! Ok.. and my question... I don't know, if anybody asked you this question before, but I'd really like to know, whether the "Lady in Red" is a real person or just fiction.. (this song is the closest to my heart, because it reminds me of someone..) And under what circumstances it was written? Oh! And play more concerts in Poland! Your music is GREAT! Don't change. Best Wishes... Marcin
Thank you for your kind words about my daughter winning Miss World. I think the story is well known by now, about how she was in a shopping centre in a small place outside of Dublin called Dun Laoghaire, and a girl came up to her in July of 2003 and said "Would you like to go into a local beauty competition?", which was just going on in a nightclub down the street. And Rosanna said "well, I am not busy on Saturday night". She went down there and she won that. I think she won a bottle of champagne and a weekend for two. She wasn't making a big deal about it, but then she said "Well, that actually means that I can go into the Miss Ireland competition", which she went into and won that. Then she went into the Miss World competition with 105 other beautiful girls and won that. And I put it down to the fact that she is a natural beauty with a beautiful inner light, and she is not fabricated or made up or bits added here or a bit of plastic surgery added there, she is naturally very elegant and a very good athlete. And I think all these things combined with the fact she's intelligent and a University student. And she decided to go to the competition just to see if she could succeed. My particular ethos is the same thing, to climb a mountain just to see if I can climb the mountain, just to push yourself a bit extra. "The Lady In Red" again is a pretty well documented story. I was writing for an album called "Into The Light", back at the time with my Canadian band when we were playing very big venues, football stadiums and so on. Most of that album is very rock orientated, and I wanted to write a couple of ballads. One wound up being called "Fire On The Water" at medium tempo, and the other was "For Rosanna". And I started writing this song, I got this first line "I've never seen you looking so lovely as you do tonight", and I began to develop it by putting in ideas of things that I have seen, places that I have been to, and it wasn't about anybody in particular or for anybody in particular. The word "red" only worked, because green was different, and difficult to work with black. You know "Lady In Red" seemed to be what we called alliterative, it seemed to work well. I used a scene from my memory in the second verse ("I never seen so many people wanting to be by your side, and when you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away."), referring to an instant when I was out with Diane, my wife. That's the story, and I am very happy that it means a lot to you. It certainly has done very well all over the world. And I look forward to coming back to Poland, because I know I have a lot of fans there and I have always loved my trips there and the concerts.
23rd December 2004 - Marianne Blaauboer (27) from Utrecht, the Netherlands:
Hi Chris, Having travelled the world over, like you have done for all these years: If you could make the perfect world citizen, what character traits from which nationalities would you choose? I know there is a risk of generalising entire nations and of course everybody is different, but a general idea?
What an interesting question! Well, I do have the fortune to have travelled the world all over, and I don't think there are any particular characteristics that I could take from any particular group of people. I like the gentleness of the people in the Far East, like the Indonesians for example and the Chinese. Then again, history has proven that they are very bloodthirsty as well. I am a person who does not like shouting societies, as you can find from time to time around the globe. I am much more into politeness, respect, gentle ways, gentle attitudes. And you can find these particular character traits in many countries. I like people who are interested in strangers, the Irish for example always put themselves across as a very hospitable country. And when Irish people travel abroad in football, they love to be known as, you know, the best football supporters, because they are fun-loving and again interested in the cultures of the countries in which they find themselves. Same for me really, I am a fun-loving kind of person and I am always interested in the countries that I go to. But I think broadly speaking, what strikes me is the humanity of every single person on the planet. We are to the eyes of an alien virtually the same, with a few differences that are, I suppose, noticeable. But we all have the same emotions, we are all scared of dying, we love our children, we fall in love, we fall out of love, we have the same physical desires, needs and attributes. And if you take away the skin, underneath we are all virtually identical. So, being a human being, for me, it's pretty good.
24th December 2004 - Charles G. Maisiri (31) from Mutare, Zimbabwe:
What inspired you to sing "For Rosanna"? You seem to have the capacity to tell what lies ahead for us in the future if one listens to songs like "A spaceman came travelling" is because of being an artist or philosophy? Have you ever been to the war? Songs such as Borderline refer to the war and have just been wondering. I await your response.
Greetings to Charles and all my friends and fans in Zimbabwe! "For Rosanna" of course was for Rosanna, my daughter. At that point she just became two years old, and I wanted to put down in words and music the way I felt about holding my child for the first time in my arms. I've held other people's children, but when it's your own child, a whole floodgate of emotions explodes inside you. And I remember at the time thinking, this is the first time I could actually kill somebody, if they harm my child. Before that I was always a peace loving kind of a guy. But when you have your own child in your arms, you know, then it's you against the world and you are there to protect. It's fascinating to see how, amongst friends, when they had their first children, they felt the same thing, all these extraordinary, powerful emotions coming through and basically changing our lives forever in our relationship with our children. I don't think I know much about what lies ahead in the future, but thank you for saying that. "A Spaceman Came Travelling" was just an idea. I am a person who says "what if". What if the star of Bethlehem in fact was a visitor from another planet, celebrating the birth of one of the most extraordinary people to ever have walked the earth, Jesus Christ? I have never been to a war, and I hope that I never have to go to war. I certainly have learned a lot about wars, in particular the First World War, referred to in English as the Great War, where the numbers of young men killed, it was just absolute slaughter. And I have a very strong emotion in response to the years of 1914 to 1918. And "Borderline", it does refer to war, and it refers to the power of love, hopefully that will endure beyond a border and beyond the warring countries that have separated the two lovers.
25th December 2004 - Martina Bley (37) from Essen, Germany:
Did you ever sing for a song "Wait" of the US Group "White Lion" in 1987? My colleague swears that is so!! By hearing the song chorus you really hear a voice that sounds like yours. But I can't believe it. It was recorded in the US und your name isn't mentioned in the CD booklet. Looking forward to your answer. It is unnecessary to say how I love your music. See you in Duesseldorf in May!!! Martina
By now I have already performed in Duesseldorf. But no, I have never sung the song "Wait" of the US Group "White Lion" in 1987. I have never heard of them to be honest, but it's funny, because sometimes I hear songs where the voice really reminds me of somebody else and it turns out to be wrong. So this is clearly what happened in this case. Thanks for the question.
26th December 2004 - Marieke (24) from the Netherlands:
Hi Chris, I discovered you by a radio station called radio 2. They had your album as weekly player. I listened to The words I love you and decided to buy your album. It sounds fantastic, how do you see the radio medium in reaching younger people????
Hi Marieke! I'm delighted that you found my music on Radio 2 in Holland. They have been fantastic supporters of me and my music for the years that I have been making records. And that album "The Road To Freedom" was album of the week on their station. Radio is absolutely vital for getting through to people. You can make the best record ever made, but it will gather dust in a dark cellar unless it is played on the radio and brought to the general public, through television and radio of course, and on a concert stage. It's like seed, you know, you can plant a beautiful seed in the ground, unless you get rain and sunshine, it's not going to grow. It's the same thing with radio. Radio is vital, and I am always extremely aware of this, which is why I often call radio stations or go to radio stations. And in another way it is particularly important that a certain radio station has a way of reaching all ages, expands all generations. Some radio stations only aim at certain age groups, which I think is a shame. But at least you know what you're getting. For example in England, BBC Radio 1 is aimed at 25 and under and I would never listen to it really unless somebody says "oh you should hear this song", because it's not music that is of much interest to me. I don't exclude it from what I am listening to, but it's a station that is directly aimed at young people. Whereas in England, BBC Radio 2 is much broader, and of course it is the biggest radio station in the UK, it's the most listened to, because it offers something for everyone. And I think it is the same with Radio 2 in the Netherlands. And it is extremely important to constantly keep in touch with radio and the persons on the radio to ensure that your music can be played.
27th December 2004 - Klaren Heidema (35) from Harderwijk, the Netherlands:
Dear Chris, at first I want to thank you for your music. Ever since I was an eighteen year old college student you have been in my life. Your music brings me comfort, warmth, hope and strength (to use your own words). Thank you. Here is my question. In the eighties I once watched 'Miami Vice' coincidently, when suddenly I heard your music in the background. It was: The Leader, The Vision, What About Me? from 'Into The Light'. It fitted the story beautifully, I remember. Did you know this? Did the producers ask for your (or the record company's) permission? I regret that I don't know exactly when it was.... Finally, my compliments for this website and your contribution (MOtL) to it. You really are the person you show in your songs! Hartelijke groeten van Klaren.
Thanks for the nice things you have said about my music since you were an eighteen year old college student. Yes, we were contacted in about 1987/88 by the Miami Vice producers, because they had heard "The Leader, The Vision, What About Me" and thought it would suit extremely well a particular episode. And I remember Miami Vice was, I guess it still is, a fairly big program. They have recently made a new feature film about Miami Vice. But back then it was Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas. And I remember seeing the episode with "The Leader, The Vision, What About Me", because that is a nine minutes piece of music. And it worked absolutely perfectly, it was very exciting! It did fit the story beautifully. The producers obviously had to pay some kind of fee to the publisher and the record company for this, which is pretty standard in the industry. And thanks for your words about the website and MOtL. I try to be true to myself and an honest person when it comes to protecting the image that I have, because I don't believe I have any particular image. I am just me.
28th December 2004 - Iain Macdonald (36) from Troon, Scotland:
Hi Chris, I have been listening to your music since the early eighties and have always been amazed by the craft in your songwriting. The breadth of your songwriting styles is extremely impressive: rock, ballads, folk, pastiche allied together with great melodicism and lyrical artistry. The only other songwriter whom I can think of who has encompassed such a diverse range is Paul McCartney. Do you feel it's unfair the way in which his Beatles work is always constantly compared to his more recent work? I feel some critics never give his newer songs a chance, despite the fact that he has continued to compose many wonderful things since the sixties.
Well, Iain, you say very flattering things about my songwriting. I like to think of it as a craft. It's an artistic craft, but in my opinion it is no different to making a beautiful piece of furniture and getting the thing absolutely right. What the eye can see in a piece of art, like sculpture, or furniture indeed, or paintings, that is what is perceived as something that works or indeed, if it doesn't work. Same thing with music, I work extremely hard at making sure that the songs I write hang together correctly and say something that means something to me as well as the people listening. It's an awesome thing to think about the fact that when I make a record or people like me make records, there are those all over the world that I have never met who have very little idea about me, the way I live, and I certainly have very little idea about them and where they live, but we are connected by the music that I offer. And I find that a very exciting medium in which to work. Paul McCartney has always been my hero, not only because of his vocal abilities, where he can sing a beautiful ballad one minute, and then scream his head off the next minute, in like "Helter Skelter" or "Oh Darling" from the Abbey Road record. He is just a fantastic songwriter as well. I must admit I always felt that Paul McCartney's lyrics did not go particularly deep, but that's the songwriter he is and was, and of course the most successful modern songwriter of all time in his particular field. I do think it's unfair to compare him and his work to what he has done recently. I think people forget that it is very hard to constantly come up with strong melodies and strong ideas. Once John Lennon and he parted company, it was difficult for him to react to another songwriter when it was just him. I think there was a lot of duelling going on with him and John Lennon. John Lennon had such an extraordinary brain, you know, "I Am The Walrus" and "I'm So Tired", and all sorts of other very weird tunes. I know that when John Lennon wrote "Strawberry Fields Forever", Paul McCartney immediately wanted to write another song about Liverpool called "Penny Lane". So there was that, and their contributions towards each other's songs, it's often the case where two heads are better than one, coming up with something different. His more recent work, I think is extremely good. But I don't think he sells as many records as he did in the past when he was a member of the Beatles. And he is a very very gifted musician indeed.
29th December 2004 - Nils-Ole Finbak (41) from Bodø, Norway:
I know you've played 12-string guitar a lot through the years. Any influences (Anthony Phillips maybe) on that instrument? What do you prefer nowadays, 6- or 12-string ?
I have been a lot to your country in the past, and I have always enjoyed travelling there. I was just there during the summer, doing a big television programme which is called Momarkedet, near Oslo. 12-string-guitars make a big beautiful sound. I do have 6-string guitars, and it's a much cleaner sound with a 6-string. But the 12-string, when you are accompanying yourself as an individual artist, I just feel it gives a much broader sound. You can almost make it sound like an orchestra or you can just pick it very gently and make it sound very pretty. I don't know much about Anthony Phillips, but my fingers and I are set up for playing the 12-strings. I play two 12-strings on stage. I find that 6-strings, particularly steal string guitars, they are actually quite tough on the fingers. So it may sound strange, but 12-string is for me easier to play.
30th December 2004 - Iris (35) from Switzerland:
Dear Chris, in one of your earlier songs you mentioned the "Lake of Geneva". What do you associate with Switzerland? Love, Iris
Again a country I have been to many times, and I adore being there. It is a beautiful country firstly. And travelling through Switzerland like I have, by train, by bus, by car, even on a bicycle in Zurich, I just love Switzerland and it is equally beautiful in summer as it is in winter. The mention of "Lake Geneva" in the song "Say Goodbye To It All" is slightly associated with a book by Ernest Hemingway, the American writer, called "A Farewell To Arms". And it's the second part of the story of "Borderline" about the couple who decide to break free and make their own lives away from the war zone. The refugees who made it across the Lake Geneva are like the character and his girlfriend in that book who decide to get away from the warfront. And it was raining all night long, the word 'rain' repeatedly comes up as a word of doom and foreboding in that book. But then as the song progresses, they find each other and decide to head off to the West coast of France and make a life for themselves. But going back to Switzerland, Geneva, Lausanne, the French part of Switzerland is great. Of course the food is wonderful, the wines are wonderful all over Switzerland. I speak French, so I am always very comfortable in that part of the country. But I have also spent a lot of time around Zurich and the German speaking part of Switzerland. So altogether it is a country I find fascinating in its history and in its culture and I enjoy the country very much.
31st December 2004 - Kaveh (17) from Rasht, Iran:
Hello dear Chris! I know that among the music composers you like Peter Gabriel more. But what's your idea about Vangelis? Do you like his works too? For me he's fascinating and matchless. Many thanks for answering to your devoted fans.
Peter Gabriel is somebody I met even before I went into the music business or very shortly after I began my career. At that point he was in Genesis and a very shy and retiring man, but on stage he completely changed, and he is one of those musicians I rate extremely highly. He is, I suppose, in a way a bit like me. We have decided to cut our own route through the forest, and he spends little time worrying about current trends and what's hot at the moment. His live shows are possibly the most spectacular of any artist in the world. If you have been fortunate enough to see a Peter Gabriel show, you realize they are absolutely extraordinary and the amount of time and effort and money and energy he puts into creating these concerts, it's just absolutely amazing. If you haven't seen him in concert, I very recommend it. I know very little about Vangelis apart from the music he composed for "Chariots Of Fire", but that music is timeless and my kids loved playing it. I've heard it played in school orchestras, you know, the theme of "Chariots Of Fire". I know he is a very gifted musician as well, and I am sure he is still making wonderful music.