Our generation has bonded over music. It is easier to have musical tastes in common than books. I have watched children of fellow music fans grow up, welcomed and have travelled widely to meet peers. There are genres I love best – 1980s pop and rock are my expertise – but I love a whole lot of music, old and new; including foreign language. Therefore to say three ultimate favourite artists top every musician I enjoy, is to say they are highly energizing and personal to me. It means no matter what finances are like, if they come to town we see them; closely as possible. With them, there is no such thing as a schedule conflict because these would be high priority; moments we know will become the most jubilant of life long memories. Mine heroes are: fellow Canadian COREY HART (no longer performing due to chronic back pain), Norwegian A-HA (recently disbanded and scarcely came to North America even at their height), and Irish CHRIS DEBURGH (occasional appearances in Eastern Canada. I am Western Canadian).
Blessedly, I have borne witness to all three performing. A-ha required travel in May 2010. I don’t know if they have been to my city! On October 5, just last month: Chris DeBurgh at last returned to Manitoba! My family’s appreciation of him goes way back and to our surprise, with England as his secondary residence, he personally told our audience that he credits Canada for his fame. When his first album came out in 1975, he recounted that “Far Beyond These Castle Walls” made a good splash in a few countries. He shot to stardom when his second album came out that year. For reasons he didn’t explain, perhaps because he doesn’t know: “Spanish Train And Other Stories” is an album we relished so much, it was – in Chris’ words – “a monster hit”. He said he always appreciates us for that and seldom plays the United States. A family of three drove all the way from Iowa to see him, from the seats ahead of us. It happened a great deal with Corey Hart too; Americans trailing him in Canadian cities, even to see him on talk shows.
I discovered Chris in 1986 as many did: “Lady In Red“, from the very atmospheric album “Into The Light“, is too gigantically famous to miss. However I can’t count the times an artist’s chart-breaker was not a real representation of their work. For instance, “Into The Light” has one of three, multi-part oeuvres / rock operas that he has done. If this classic ballad is the only song you know by Chris: are you ever in for a treat, when you explore the rest of his stuff. The same goes for finding many more phenomenal gems than “Sunglasses At Night” by Corey and “Take On Me“, by A-ha. Nowadays it is easy to download any album. In the beginning, I made a point of collecting every ounce of it before there was an internet. FYI: I am not old. I was only 19 when I tried e-mail. My forty-third birthday was yesterday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, CAROLYN!
At about 14, Dad’s boyhood friend bought a cottage on a private beach along Lake Winnipeg and shared it with us for a good ten years. I took holidays from my job without the family as often a I could. All youths value time away from the folks… a hectic family crammed, bugging us about dishes and when to eat. I relished in a week of alone time with my cat. I played records, swam, suntanned, wrote letters on the deck, and read. It was this beach store to that had the brilliant idea of selling second-hand paperbacks for a quarter. It is they, who bolstered the gothic mystery collection that squeezes into our home to this day.
The owner’s brother vacationed one street away and it is he who invited us over in the evening, to play Chris DeBurgh. They had seen him in concert recently and raved about him. I knew a couple of the 1986 hits but here was my introduction to “Spanish Train And Other Stories“! The song “Lonely Sky” became a lifetime favourite, which I eventually taught myself to play on the piano; which was a feat because I am not trained. My brothers & I used to act out the very dramatic “Spanish Train“; about God and the devil playing poker and then chess, to compete for souls! I was too young to see him on his 1980s tours but eventually I got to know more of his music. His albums have never stopped being created. The trick was: his visits to my city took about 16 years in between. Finally, the moment came! I took my Mom with me as a birthday gift, to see Chris perform on September 19, 1996. The “Beautiful Dreams” tour mirrored the orchestra album of that name; a new kind of recording for him and it was lovely. However I longed to hear his songs in their typical style, with his band. After 16 years, that moment came last month.
The special twist for our family is that Dad and my fiancé, Ron could join us to see Chris for themselves. Also, Mom had three episodes of hospitalization for heart problems, culminating in bypass surgery this June. Before the surgery, which replaced rteries and ended the scare of heart attacks, we were wary about her health. When Chris’ ticket sale emerged in February, Ron & I bought four. If her health didn’t improve, it would be a glorious memory. If she beat the problem, it would celebrate her wellness. Bypass surgery was a God-send and we sure were celebrating, when the concert finally arrived! At last we saw all of this legendary artist’s colours: orchestral, folk, rock, pop, and you bet there was story-telling. While many sing about the size of a person’s “booty”; here is an artist who uses his public reach for positive messages. He described having Ireland, his band, and himself in tears one time, at the performance of his infamous “Borderline“. It is about the nonsense of war. His new album is “The Hands Of Man“, favouring us with subjects like a couple re-devoting to each other when their children have moved, medieval tales about ghosts and kings, and to my pleased surprise: an empowerment song against societies that attempt to suppress women. Look up the lyrics to “Keeper Of The Keys“.
The most unbelievable thrill is that we sat in the third row, centre of the stage! I didn’t guess the early ticket password, without fighting dial-up internet for prime seats! We looked our dear performer in the face, saw every note played, and eventually he invited our audience to dance at the stage. I most certainly skipped to the front with other ladies. There was no getting any closer than that. At the very end, in parting; I got to embrace Chris DeBurgh, in a good Irish hug and kiss upon the cheek! Ron was thrilled to find his music bolder and harder in person. Seeing the riveting, acoustic “Spanish Train” performed in person was a high point and Ron was excited about “A Spaceman Came Travelling“. From the same 1975 album – clearly a good one!
I like dance music but it lifts our soul, to experience music that means something important. I give you the song very dearest to my heart, from the singer Mom & I were elated to see again last month. It’s from the “Crusader” album of 1977 and I would have been a mess if he had played it. If you are an animal lover, good luck hearing the gorgeous music at the same time without crying! As you will see, is a protective message on behalf of someone else I love very much: the birds of our world.
“JUST IN TIME”
Just in time I heard the cry
And looking up I saw the snowbirds wheeling in the sky
They said “We are the last ones left”
And so I brought them in, I gave them comfort, gave them rest,
Just in time, to live another day,
Just in time, oh they’ll live another day.
Just in time I read the book,
Such a revelation, we must give back what we took
Or the Earth will roar like a wounded beast,
The mountains will come crashing from the valleys to the sea
Just in time, oh don’t throw it all away,
Just in time, don’t throw it all away.
“Who will save this world of mine,
Will you save it just in time”?
Just in time, I saw the dawn
Watched the sun arising on a field of golden corn
And through the mist, a million Signs
Friends of the Earth, calling out to every man
Just in time, oh don’t throw it all away, no, no, no,
Just in time, oh we’ll live another day.
Ooh, how can I tell you how close we have come
That the end of our world has already begun,
There are so many things we will not see again
Every day there’s another one dying away.
Calling for help,
Help from your hand,
Hand coming down,
Down to the world;
World it is time,
Time for us all,
And all that is life,
To be living together before everything slips away!