Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

12. Chris De BurghInto The Light

Every time I ever speak about Chris De Burgh, I have people who insist I’m somehow being ironic. It’s quite a frustrating conversation to have, because I really hate the term ‘guilty pleasure’. I don’t see how a melody can be a guilty pleasure, because with melody there’s no ‘taste’. You add all that on afterwards. You know, whether something’s cool or not, and the packaging, and the tastes of the time, the fashion. Whereas if I just play you series of notes that are arresting, and tuneful, and melancholy or euphoric, you can’t say “Oh you only like that series of notes ironically.”

I’ve had that ‘ironic’ accusation with Queen, but to a lesser extent, because Queen are not a figure of fun, whereas I think Chris de Burgh is synonymous with cheesy dad ballads and mum ballads. Like, a lot of people’s parents would go and see Chris De Burgh live at Dublin Castle or Westonbirt Arboretum. But I just don’t make that distinction between cheesy and non-cheesy music. Melody’s just melody.

It just so happens that Chris De Burgh has a fantastic ear for melody. That’s not to say he’s not a ludicrous man. That’s not to say his music videos aren’t beyond Partridge. That’s not to say that his lyrics aren’t hilariously vague when he talks about soldiers returning from wars.

That said, my mum listened to a lot of Chris De Burgh when I was a kid, and Into The Light is representative of a lot of those albums like Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac… You know, why is it that Chris De Burgh is not cool but Fleetwood Mac are cool? They both have great songwriting. I guess the answer is because Chris De Burgh is ridiculous. But then you could also say Stevie Nicks is ridiculous.

There was a while where the only people he followed on Twitter were his daughter and Heathrow terminals 1, 2 and 3. Now, if you wrote that, in a writers’ room for Alan Partridge, you would take the rest of the day off.

On Into The Light, there’s a great freestyle sequence at the end where De Burgh tells a musical story of the end of the world. Like it’s The Book Of Revelations. Then you realise that it’s from the point of De Burgh, who is like the God figure! My two favourite songs on the album, ‘Last Night’ and ‘Say Goodbye To It All’, are just brilliant and they make me happy when I listen to them. There’s a ludicrous song called ‘The Ballroom Of Romance’ that goes “In her BMW 635, going smooth at 90, feeling good to be alive”. But there’s also a song called ‘Fatal Hesitation’ that goes ‘The cafes are all deserted, streets are wet again, there’s nothing quite like an out of season holiday town in the rain’. And that’s Larkinesque!

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