Wednesday, March 14, 2012

#22 Chris de Burgh

Today, a post from the lighter side of life. I am in need of this!!

There have been very few entertainers on my Lenten 40 list, so far, I have noticed. This isn't intentional, it's mainly because while there are many whose work I enjoy, there are relatively few for whom I have a keen admiration and respect.

When I wrote about Colin Firth many posts back, I talked about how many stars (but not him!) use their pedestals as soapboxes from which to lecture us mere mortals, particularly about politics. This has always been a major turn-off for me, even if the "lecture" is only about dish soap. Their opinions, unless they're about music or movies or television shows, are invalid to me.

So, when I think of entertainers who do not bog me down in their weighty opinions, I consider those people to be ones who respect me, and for that, I respect them! Funny how that works...!

Chris de Burgh is one of these people, BUT, it is not only his decision to stick-to-what-he-does-best-and-leave-life-to-the-rest-of-us-to-live-however-we-choose... it is his phenomenal storytelling that, decades on, is still as magical as it has ever been.

Every day, there are new artists on the air, singing songs from every genre imaginable. Some are one-hit wonders. Others make it big. There are catchy tunes and rhythms that delight, and those that just plain irritate There are lyrics that either say what's in your soul, or those that make no sense, or are so profanity-laden that it's hard to get the underlying misogynistic message.

With Chris de Burgh, the message is right there, in classic melodies and lyrical lyrics that tell memorable stories about all manner of things.

"The Lady in Red", "Don't Pay the Ferryman", "A Spaceman Came Travelling", "Spanish Train"... even "Patricia the Stripper"; ballads that tell stories that capture the imagination and paint such vivid pictures. I challenge you to name another songwriter who does this as well.

His tour de force, however, has to be "Moonfleet & Other Stories". I've posted about this album, ad nauseum, but it is spectacular and deserves every syllable of praise I can bestow upon it.

"Moonfleet" is the title of a book by J. Meade Falkner, written in 1898, based in the 1750's. It is about a boy, John Trenchard, who lives in the village of Moonfleet, and gets caught up in the world of rum runners while searching for Blackbeard's hidden diamond. He falls in love with the daughter of the magistrate who is intent on arresting the rum runners, and in their efforts to get away, John and his friend end up in a Dutch prison, until the ship that's taking them to slavery in Java is wrecked in a storm on Moonfleet Bay.

Boy, that's such an inadequate summary of that wonderful book. BUT... my inadequacy in summarizing it only accentuates the magic that Chris de Burgh wove in order to create this album. In one far-too-short hour, it tells the whole story of "Moonfleet" with such beauty and detail that I can't get through the whole thing without tears streaming down my face, the same way they do every time I read the book.

I have not bought every album Chris de Burgh has ever produced. I have several, and love the songs so much. In my eyes, though, it seems as if his entire career was conceived with the goal being to produce "Moonfleet & Other Stories". I just don't see how he will ever top that.

That said, if he keeps producing songs like "In A Country Churchyard", I'll be well-satisfied.

He has taken the art of creating these musical tales to a level such that we are unable to truly appreciate the skill, difficulty and talent it must require to make these stories sing.

All I can say is this: Chris de Burgh's music has enriched my humble existence. For that, I honour him among my Lenten 40. 



  1. I have just finished reading Moonfleet again. I first read it at school in the 60's and it is just as exciting now as it was then. I have read it a few times in the past but it was so great to read it again and it felt new once more. I want to go to Moonfleet Bay.


  2. It's a wonderful, wonderful book. My alltime favorite! I've never met anyone who's read it who was not moved by it. Chris de Burgh did justice to it with his CD.


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