"I discovered that there is very little you can do with an arts degree, short of becoming a bank manager. A friend eventually offered me a job singing in his restaurant and I managed to make off with two pounds and a hamburger per night."
Encouraged by the possibilities, he headed for London in search of a recording contract, and after two years of dead-ends, secured the publishing deal which eventually led to his A&M contract.
The following year, 1975, Chris released his debut album, "Far Beyond These Castle Walls" and "Turning Round", a single taken from it, became his first hit. Later re-titled "Flying", it sold nearly 500,000 copies in Brazil and remained planted at number one for more than 30 weeks.
After what happened with Into the Light, I found myself in the studio again - with this major, international hit behind me - wondering "What now?" To be honest, it was a fairly frustrating period, but then a number of things suddenly came together for me. And one of them was the desire to say "To hell with convention, to hell with what other people expect of me - and to hell with this sort of desperate search to carry on having hit records. You'll never get that unless you absolutely relax and do what you want." So, that's what I said to myself; it's time to make my own album.
I'm thoroughly on the same road I set off on all those years ago, and this is still the way I want to go. I refuse to pander to outside pressures or demands. I've never followed fashion or been bothered about trends. Trends come and go; I've merely been interested in building a lasting career. I'm not selling anything - this is me, that's all. I'm presenting my vision to the world.
I remember once watching a programme about babies learning to talk. You get these babies who won't talk, but what they're actually doing, apparently, is taking in all this information and storing it. And then one day they'll come out with a word or sentence. It's the same thing with me and song-writing.
I tend to spend weeks of pure frustration, getting nowhere, but all the time the information is going in. I chain myself to a desk for hours a day when I'm writing. It's almost like a game, a waiting game, and then suddenly, like it's got a life of its own, this idea will pop out - out of all the information that's been gathered.
It's a strange process. Sometimes I react and write a song about the way I feel, but mostly it involves an idea that's gone into the sub-conscious - and it expresses itself as a song. I'm talking about things that either I want to write about, or upset me - or things that I didn't even know annoyed me.
For a man who says he often writes songs accidentally, Chris de Burgh is doing well.
His "Into the Light" album, with its hit single "Lady in Red", has gone double platinum in Canada selling 240,000 copies and is platinum or gold in more than 17 other countries including England, West Germany and Australia.
"I generally write the songs accidentally," de Burgh said in an interview before the start of a 14-city Canadian tour that begins here Sunday. "They generally come out of nowhere."
In addition to Vancouver, de Burgh's Canadian tour will take him to Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, St. John's, Sydney, Moncton and Halifax.
De Burgh says he often begins his songwriting with a mental image, like a private movie, which he translates into lyrics.
"If I have a problem with a lyric or a piece of atmosphere, I can run the movie back again. I was doing videos in my head long before videos were being used as promotional items," the dark-haired, bushy-eyebrowed de Burgh said.
But his original visual images don't always survive into the video of the song.
"Funnily enough, when we come to do the videos, my particular movie is so strong it probably would cheat the viewers of making up anything for themselves, so I ironically take a different view."
His videos try to retain the atmosphere of the song, but allow the images to run off in all different directions in an attempt to provide what deBurgh calls a "breathless rush."
He said Into the Light represents "a movement forward of me and my music."
In addition to the soulful Lady in Red, songs on the album tackle such varied subjects as rejection of war (Say Goodbye to it All) and a celebration of human strength (The Spirit of Man).
De Burgh's nine albums have won him fans around the world, reflecting his own international upbringing. He was born in Argentina of British parents and his father's job took the family to Malta, Nigeria, Zaire, and finally Ireland, where de Burgh now makes his home with his wife, Diane, and two-year-old daughter.
From this international perspective, de Burgh says he has learned to write songs with a broad appeal and the response is sometimes surprising.
"I find it amazing when I get letters from people in Israel and people in Lebanon and they both love the music, but in real life, they hate each other.
De Burgh also hears from fans in places like South Africa and Poland who thank him for writing songs about their problems, when he says the songs really had nothing to do with them.
I close my eyes and see the song like a film, a movie in my mind... I write a scenario for each song and in the recording studio I give a copy to the musicians so we'll all be on the same wavelength.
It's all about honesty. I like to think that what people see behind the music is a person who is sincere and honest. The kind of songs I write and record are different from the mainstream. Like it or not, here is someone rowing his own particular boat, in a particular direction that he knows...
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