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: You put so much effort into your songwriter; it's such an important part of what you do. Do you consider yourself a songwriter first and a performer second, or do the two intertwine?

Chris De Burgh: I think the second thing you just said. I always take the point of view that stars really have to remember one thing - they are absolutely no different to anybody else. They are mortal, they are exactly the same as other people, and I always laugh about the fact that there appears to be a handbook, How to be a Rock and Roll Star:
Number one: do drugs.
Number two: stay up late drinking plenty of alcohol.
Number three: make love to 5000 women a year and die young.
I just think that's absolute rubbish. We are all exactly the same and inside us are the same needs that need to be expressed. As a songwriter, what I try to do is look at other people around me and see how their lives are lived. I'm so fortunate to be doing something I love to do; for me, songwriting is as natural as breathing and I try to get a little better at it all the time. Within that framework, you're trying to offer something. Ironically, a lot of people who like my stuff do not speak English, and I find that very strange, but they take something out of the music, they take something out of the words. The key I think is emotion. I was asked recently, what would I like to be my legacy in 100 years from now, and I said, "You know, I would like for people to think that I transferred emotion." I think that is the greatest success. When I listen to a piece of music that makes me cry, a piece of music that just elevates and makes me feel fantastic, what's happened is that the musician, whether it be Mozart - now, when I'm talking about Mozart I'm talking about gifted musicians. People in my industry are amateurs compared to people like that - but the transfer of emotion can only happen when you feel it yourself.

Inside World Music: You have many classic songs that are still huge fan requests, that you still perform to this day; songs like "Spanish Train" and "Spaceman Came Travelling" and many, many others that you have been performing 20 to 30 years. How do you approach these songs now and still keep them fresh and stay excited about performing them?

Chris De Burgh: I think for the same reasons that I spoke about earlier, that if you feel emotion you can convey it. The first time I looked at a Van Gogh painting, I just went bonkers; I didn't know the first thing about him but I just knew there was an energy trying to get out and speak to me. Similarly -- and I'm not comparing myself to Van Gogh, by the way [laughs] -- what I am trying to do is help people, I suppose, through the way I feel in songwriting, in music, to . . . I sort of said it before about conveying emotion. What it comes back to is the "Spanish Trains" and the "Spaceman Came Travellings" obviously mean something to people who have enjoyed them in the past. When I do a concert, I am keenly aware that people have come to hear the songs that are favourites, which, that said, it is very difficult - I have become known almost like Bruce Springsteen; I do a very long show without a break. With a band it's about three hours and solo about two and a half - during that period I can't really pull out every song that people want to hear. The only thing I do remember is going to see other people I admire, concerts of performers, and I go there to hear a song or two and if they don't play it I walk out the door feeling really pissed off; "Why didn't they play that one?"

Photo courtesy Sony Music Canada.

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