Chris De Burgh
Still High on Emotion
 More of this Feature
• Chris De Burgh: Part One
• Chris De Burgh: Part Two
• Chris De Burgh: Part Three
• Chris De Burgh: Part Four
• Chris De Burgh: Part Five
• Chris De Burgh: Part Six
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Chris De Burgh Inside World Music: One of the first things that struck me when I listened to Road to Freedom, was that it had more of a folky sound and more of the story-songs that reminded me a bit of your earlier work. Was this something you purposely chose to do?

Chris De Burgh: It is true. As you probably know, my background with Canada goes back many, many years. In '76 I did a tour with Spanish Train and Other Stories at a time when really, I was struggling to climb the mountain. One of these lights went on, on my personal globe of the world, and having done well in South America with the first album, the second one just really took off in Canada. I performed just with the guitar. Back then I don't think I had even learned how to play the piano; I certainly hadn't got the confidence to perform the piano on stage. Then, subsequently, I kind of grew, I got the band together - a Canadian band; four boys from Toronto, one honorary Canadian from California - and we spent 17 years together. We had epic times, we played hundreds of concerts a year, we played football stadiums; some were 120, 000 people. The during the '90s that stopped because the keyboard player died of cancer and I moved across to something completely different which was working with an Orchestra, and toured with a string quartet. That was great fun, and then I wanted to do another band tour, so I did two albums with them; one was called Quiet Revolution and the second was called Timing is Everything.

That's a bit of the background, but I had been signed to A&M records since 1974 and they have this wonderful policy of inspiring songwriters to go out and grow like an acorn to an oak tree. At the time I signed on the English label there was Supertramp, Rick Wakeman and Yes, Sting and the Police subsequently - interesting bands, interesting writers. In America, The Carpenters, Peter Frampton, Gino Vannelli from Montreal, and you just don't find that nowadays, and I went that songwriter route. So when it came to this most recent time, by then I had completed every single obligation under the contract and they kept wanting me to re-sign, they had the option. I stayed with them for nearly 29 years and unfortunately during that time they got sold to the PolyGram group and then the Universal Music Group. Although I had sold 45 million records, the music business had changed so dramatically anyways -- I couldn't wait to be free, so I've got my own label now, Ferryman Productions, and The Road to Freedom the album was written with the solo performance in mind. The solo tour is something I've done a lot of in the past, really enjoyed it, and so without the constraints of having to write an album with a band in mind, which I have done in the past as I explained, this one was for solo performance and really, an album for the fans.

It wasn't an album that I had commercial considerations at the top of my agenda because I often feel that the less you try for something the easier it actually happens. It's a paradox that I've discovered in life that after you've struggled and struggled and you say, "Ah, sod it, I won't work any harder on that one," suddenly, out of the blue something good happens. So with this record, I just wanted to make a record for the fans primarily, because I'm so fortunate I've got fans all over the world. And secondly, I wanted to make a record that I could sit down and listen to and really say, "That's just gorgeous." I wanted to make a beautiful record, a record with a lot of deep ideas. I mean, how many people who perhaps listened to "Lady in Red" would have expected that singer, that crooner to write a song about a masquerade somewhere in Eastern Europe ("Snow is Falling").

I am often led by the music. I see things in such a visual way, strong visual terms, but a piece of music can immediately take you somewhere. So many people, friends of mine who have this new record, they come back to me and they say when you listen to it it's like going to the movies, like going to see a film - the whole thing just opens up, develops, and takes you somewhere.

Photo courtesy Sony Music Canada.

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