Then, of course, the problem became how to translate this into concert performance. So the first thing we did was a show at Symphony Hall Birmingham last September. That comprised 50 minutes of solo performance, followed by a set filled mostly by songs from the 'Beautiful Dreams' album, again with full orchestra and choir! It was fantastically exciting, and those people who were at the concert will remember the tremendous atmosphere. Obviously, however, to bring a concert on tour, we had to look at the fundamental problems, and, of course, one of the first issues was the logistics of touring with an orchestra - which is immensely difficult to organise! So we decided to divide it up into two sections. Having performed with a string quartet and a piano, for TV appearances in the UK to promote the 'Beautiful Dreams' album in early November last year, I felt that it was a very viable and valid way of doing these songs - because it sounded absolutely lovely.
So the route we've taken, certainly for the shows on this tour which are in the smaller, more intimate venues. Added to that is the fact that every song I've written has been written so that it can be performed in its original state; that is, with nothing else except one instrument in the song. Anything you add to it, is actually just going to make the same nucleus bigger. Which is why a song can be done on its own, or with a full orchestra, and it will still sound like a decent enough song, hopefully, which ever way it is performed. I think that the idea of my performing with a string quartet with piano, and myself on guitar, on occasion, is going to sound very interesting, and very different. It's a completely new departure for me.
At the larger venues, I will be performing with full orchestra, of course, and that involves a totally new show dynamic to put together. It's a different headache trying to figure out how your concert is going to fit with a quartet; where you should bring them in and what they should perform with you - and it's a similar problem with an orchestra. I realise that people aren't used to an intermission in my shows; they expect a non-stop performance lasting for three hours. On this tour, in some concerts, there will be a break - just to allow the orchestra to be moved on stage! As for myself, and in spite of that intermission, the pressure on me working with an orchestra is much greater than working with a band. With a band, there's always a point where somebody can take over a solo, for example. There's mental points in a show when you can relax, believe it or not; even in a long, three-hour show there are points where you can relax, just for 30 seconds or something, and that helps me get through the night. When you're performing a solo concert, there is no relaxation. The pressure is on you completely' and the spotlight is on you completely. You have to really carry the show on your own shoulders. So having an intermission will obviously help, but with the string quartet there will be no intermission. I don't think you can get away with that, dynamically.
Dynamics are everything in performance, and experience has taught me that. In the early days as a performer, you change your routine and allow too many different aspects to affect the show. After a while, you begin to recognise the fact that everybody involved in a tour is there for the one purpose; the performance. The result is that you come into a venue and, although everything is different everywhere you go, the show will be the same - but tailored to that particular concert hall, and particular audience. On this tour, however, that doesn't really apply! It's going to be very difficult to be perfectly honest. this is complete no-man's land for me; I have no idea what's going to happen ...
What I do know is that in many respects, these shows are full circle for me. It's back to the living room vibe. Compared to some of the shows I'm used to, the first few shows of this tour are tiny! 1200 people. You could invite them all back to the hotel for a drink, really. But I'm always interested in a challenge ... And when the idea of playing at locations like Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court came up, I was very excited. These are very elegant settings, and I think that elegance is quite appropriate for orchestral music. I don't think it would be quite so elegant if I actually performed with a band. But this kind of beautiful music suits those kind of venues very well and, of course, I'm a great admirer of history and historical architecture, so it will be a real thrill to go to these places.
The way I choose to view this particular phase of my career is as an extra string to my bow. I have to also think of the state of the music industry at the present time, my commitments to family life and being away from home - and the fact that I have been successful beyond my wildest dreams. And there has to come a time when you enjoy doing the things that you want to do, and that may not necessarily include spending months away on tour. Orchestral shows mean that you can do just a few of them to a lot of people, without having to travel extensively all of the time. More than that, the solo concept is very attractive to me, as is the string quartet. What it all now means is that I have the option of doing four different things as a performer; with band, string quartet, orchestra and solo. I think I'm going to have a lot of flexibility and fun when it's just me with the quartet, in small intimate surroundings. And if somebody shouts a song out that I can actually remember the words of - then I'll sing it.
I hope that, reading this, you will have come to understand at least some of my motives and expectations for the 'Beautiful Dreams' Summer Tour. And whether you are here at today's concert in one of the smaller indoor venues, or beneath the stars on a warm (hopefully!) summer's evening in the grand setting of one of the outdoor locations, I hope you will enjoy what you hear and see and feel!
I wish you all ... beautiful dreams. Thank you for coming, for you continued support in my career, and allowing my music to take me where it leads."
Chris de Burgh
"WHO FIRST MOOTED THE IDEA OF AN ALBUM LIKE 'BEAUTIFUL DREAMS'?
The idea evolved through various sources. Firstly, at the end of the last tour on the 23rd of December, 1994, it became clear that the options of taking the big entourage, the 55 people etc, around the world for further concerts was being lost and that we had a problem. We were going to do South Africa, India and the Middle East, but that fell apart. Secondly my keyboard player, Glenn, was very ill. Thankfully, he's recovering and he's a lot better but, nevertheless, the option of going out on tour with the band meant that, if we were going to do that, we would have to do it without Glenn. And I didn't really want to do that because he's been the first member and, I suppose, out of some kind of loyalty to him. I think it would have done him no favours at all to sit at home being ill, or in hospital being ill, to hear that the band has gone out on tour without him. I didn't think that was the right thing to do. I'd always hungered for another repeat attempt to perform with an orchestra. A part of me was saying 'You've got to think long-term here...' The business that I'm in of taking a band around, plus the huge lighting entourage, etc, etc, well that particular genre of touring is dying out. It isn't completely gone because, for example, the last week of concerts that I did of the 'This Way Up' Tour, in Dortmund, Munich and Augsburg, were in the opinion of the fans out there, the vest concerts I've ever done. Certainly in terms of energy; those shows were more than three hours long. So we stopped on a peak, and it doesn't mean we're not going to pick up again, but I just thought it's a nice sideways movement and try something else. It isn't terminal; it's not like ... forever. I always thought of myself as a good solo artist, and fancied the idea of performing with an orchestra. So, all those things gelled and, simultaneously, the managing director of A&M Records, Osman Eralp - a very nice man - picked up on all of this, I think, and then responded by saying "Why don't you make this kind of a record?" The more I got into it, the more I liked the idea. Certainly, the product we've come out with I think is terrific.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE ON THE NAME 'BEAUTIFUL DREAMS' FOR THE ALBUM TITLE?
Various reasons. I came up with the title because it is the last couple of words in the Roy Orbison song 'In Dreams.' Originally, I thought 'In Dreams' might be a food title, but then I switched it to 'Beautiful Dreams'. In a way, it reflects the fact that I've always dreamed of making a record with an orchestra, and orchestral music is beautiful. it is a very positive phrase, beautiful dreams, like when you go to bed and someone says "Sweet dreams", or "Beautiful dreams". It just felt right, and the people in the record company like it, along with various others, so I was happy enough to go with it.
HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE, AS IT WERE, MASTER AND SERVANT ON THIS RECORD AND ACTUALLY PRODUCE IT YOURSELF?
I wouldn't have done it any other way. In fact, prior to the recording of the album, the record company got in touch, they called my management company, and asked "Who's the producer?" And I said "Tell them I'm the producer." What's the point in having another guy standing about, just repeating what I want? You see, on this occasion this project is so close to me - and it's not a whole pile of new songs where you need creative input from elsewhere... I'm sure your reader would empathise with this; if you go into a restaurant and you're handed a menu that has got a choice of, say 30 starters, 60 main courses and about 40 desserts - plus a wine list that's as heavy as the Encyclopaedia Britannica - would they prefer that, or would they like to go into a restaurant where there's a choice of three starters, five main courses, maybe five desserts, and an acceptable wine list? The parallel I'm trying to draw here is this; when I knew I was going to make a record like this, the choice was either to be accompanied by guitar plus orchestra, piano plus orchestra - or just orchestra. There was no other choice, because I wasn't about to get into synthesisers, So the moment I threw the synthesiser idea out of the window - where you can spend weeks looking for different sounds - then it was easy. I became the producer, right there.
HOW LONG BEFORE THE ACTUAL RECORDING DID YOU BEGIN THE PRE-PRODUCTION?
We started south two weeks before, three weeks perhaps, getting the arrangements sorted. Peter Oxendale came over and we did a lot of piano playing together, and spent two or three days, with the tow different arrangers, working out what we actually had and what we wanted.
HOW DID YOU ORGANISE A 40-PIECE ORCHESTRA TO CREATE AN IN-TUNE SOUND, BEARING IN MIND THAT MELODIES IN THE SONGS ALREADY EXIST, WHILE ADAPTING AND ADDING TO THE WHOLE IDEA OF EACH TRACK?
Well, what we were trying to do was take previously recorded songs and do them differently - and do them better, in some cases. Bringing in a choir on "The Snows Of New York" and "Shine On", it was a big challenge to actually get that right. So it was very hard work, very intense, but ultimately very rewarding.
MOVING BACK TO THE ARRANGING, HOW DID YOU CONVEY WHAT YOU WANTED TO THE ARRANGERS NICK INGMAN AND RICHARD HEWSON? DID YOU HUM THINGS TO THEM OR SAY "THIS IS THE GENERAL MOOD I'M AFTER?"
I went into a recording studio in Dublin, about six weeks before that and put down ... I think it was 15 songs in one afternoon, in a demo session. That particular tape then went to the two arrangers. Richard chose three songs that he wanted to do. He was unaware which songs had been previously recorded and which hadn't; he just chose his favourites. Nick then took the structure and built his orchestral arrangements around the melody, and then I went and had a listen. Most of it, I liked - and some of it I wasn't that mad about. So we made changes as we went along.
TURNING TO THE RECORDING ITSELF, WITH TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY IT'S POSSIBLE TO 'MEND' OR 'FIX' MISTAKES IN A PERFORMANCE. BUT WITH A FULL ORCHESTRA IN FULL THROTTLE, IT MUST'VE BEEN VERY DIFFICULT TO CORRECT ANYTHING.
The premise of this record was to live dangerously. When I proposed the idea, in the first place, to the carious people involved, they all said "This is impossible. We cannot do this." I countered by saying "This is the way they used to make records in the past - all in one go." You see, modern technology allows you the safety net of being able to make mistakes. And I said "The only reason I want to do this way is because I want the thrill of perhaps making a mistake, and living with it." This goes back to having recorded initially with George Martdin for that Larry Adler album, the Gershwin record that I did - and then, subsequently having three tracks on my own 'This Way Up' album, live with orchestra. I got a real kick out of raising my game, as it were, and trying to become a really good singer, along with a professional orchestra. So we all performed better. The premise was to stand up, with no safety net - without using modern technology and do it all in one go. Without coming back and fixing anything. So if mistakes were make, and they were made, we just had to do the whole bloody thing again. On one occasion however, on one of the tracks, we noticed afterwards that the recording, the take, we all preferred and loved, one of the instruments had played a very bad note. It was a semi-tone sharp to everything else, and it was so bad - it was one of the basses or the bass cellos - that it just ruined everything. That's when the modern technology did kick in; by uitilising a precious recording, the engineers took two seconds from that precious recording - and it took them eight hours to replace those two seconds of music because they had to cover 26 different open microphones. It was a complete nightmare, but I loved that take and I didn't want to lose it just for the sake of one badly played note. Fortunately, we were able to repair it, which we couldn't have done in the past. That was probably the only occasion where we actually resorted to using the technology available.
HOW DO YOU SET MICROPHONES TO RECORD AN ORCHESTRA?
Well, it was al just done in a big room, with microphones overhanging - and I stood with the string players. I stood sort of behind them to the side and, initially, the engineer had said "You're going to go into a sound booth to sing, where you will be isolated from the music. You'll only hear it through your headphones and if you make a mistake then it doesn't really matter - because at least the orchestra got their bit right." And I said "No - you're missing the point. The reason I want to do this is because I want to stand with the orchestra. With them! So that they can actually see me waving my arms around and singing - and hear me." And that's the way it worked.
I WOULD IMAGINE THAT THE AVERAGE MEMBER OF AN ORCHESTRA IS INTO CLASSICAL MUSIC, BE IT MODERN OR OTHERWISE. THEY MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY BE INTO POP MUSIC OR ROCK MUSIC. DID YOU FIND THAT YOU WERE SINGING TO PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T REALLY KNOW OR APPRECIATE MUCH ABOUT YOUR MUSIC?
A lot of these people are the top players from the Philharmonics and, I suppose, that because they are highly trained and far more gifted players than most people in my profession there's a lot of envy over the fact that they don't earn anything near the amount of money that people in my field do. In the past, I've noticed that this is a bone of contention. Nevertheless, I was totally up front with these guys, I spoke to them and I told them jokes and I talked to them and explained what I was trying to do. I got a lot of empathy from the players, and the leader of the orchestra, Gavin Wright, was very much into it. he loved the emotional songs and he was very interested on behalf of the orchestra, in how the whole thing sounded. So I think what happened initially was that the musicians did probably think "Here comes another pop singer, who can't sing in tune", but I showed them, within minutes, that I could hold the notes and I could perform every bit as well as they could - possibly better - in a live situation. I wasn't at all phased by the fact that these 40 or 50 people were playing n my record. Basically, I rose to the occasion.
IN TERMS OF THE SPEED AT WHICH THE ALBUM WAS RECORDED, WERE YOU HELPED BY YOUR CHOICE OF MATERIAL, IN THAT YOU WERE RECORDING MAINLY SONGS THAT YOU'D EITHER RECORDED YOURSELF BEFORE OR THAT HAD BEEN RECORDED BY OTHERS? IN THE FUTURE, SHOULD YOU CARE TO REPEAT THE EXERCISE, BUT WRITE COMPLETELY NEW MATERIAL - YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF THE SPEED FACTOR.
There are different challenges involved with recording classics like 'In Dreams', 'Girl' and 'Always On My Mind' - in as much as you are under tremendous pressure to make your version better than the original if possible. So that actually required a lot more thought than just doing them the way that they had previously been recorded. Secondly, to do stuff like 'Missing You', The Snows Of New York', 'Shine On' ...again, they had been previously recorded - but we weren't just repeating what we had done before. There was no point in doing that; the point was to try and do them better. And that required a lot more thought. Finally, the three new songs had not been recorded before and they required production and imagination. So the speed of it all actually came simply from two things, very good preparation and, secondly, the decision to do everything at once and not having to rely on the usual technique of building fro the bottom. You see, people who listen to records are usually unaware of how long it takes and how .... incredibly boring the whole process can be. And that's what was getting to me, to be honest. In the final analysis, I was getting thoroughly bored with making records. Whereas this way was brilliant because you got everything live, you weren't relying on technology - and you got everything on tape in one go. For the future albums, if this one does well, I've got an absolute bucket load of other songs that I'd love to record. You know, previous records of mine - plus, obviously, I'll write some more songs - and the short list of classic songs to record is not short at all. There's another song I'd love to have done for this album, Elvis Presley's 'In The Ghetto'. And a whole pile more. But ... maybe next time ...
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE AND THE IMPACT OF THIS ALBUM, DO YOU EXPECT THE EXPERIENCE OT HAVE AN INFLUENCE ON HOW YOU RECORD IN FUTURE? DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'VE LEARNED ANYTHING FROM THE NEW ALBUM THAT YOU CAN NOW TAKE FORWARD WITH YOU IN TERMS OF HOW YOU MIGHT RECORD FROM NOW ON?
The key thing I learned is that you don't have to spend four months in a recording studio making an album. With good preparation you can make a fast record without compromising quality - and that's very important; to get that right. I think that one of the things that I probably did miss from 'Beautiful Dreams' was the energy that I like to bring into a concert performance. Whether you can get that across with an orchestra is a moot point, but it is unlikely. On the next album I make, whether I will concentrate solely on just beautiful orchestral music ... I will probably, in there have a selection of more rock orientated tracks. But for that, I will do exactly the same thing, I think, I will have everything recorded at the same time.
IN OTHER WORDS, 'BEAUTIFUL DREAMS' HAS RE-INVENTED SOME OPTIONS FOR YOU?
Well it has, but the irony is that I'm only doing something that people were doing until they had the option of not doing it, i.e. taking longer making records. I think anybody who spends more than a couple of months making a record these days is a complete idiot - and there's no need because nothing is that important any more. Whereas, in the old days ... I mean, The Beatles knocked off some of their albums in two days - and they still sound terrific, if a little dated, nevertheless. But the energy is there, and I think that you cannot meet the energy of a live performance with anything that is clearly put down with digital information. This is why I have held that one of the worst things that's ever happened to modern music is the computer involvement in making records. What I'm doing is merely going back to the way that they used to make records, while trying to have a modern slant on it as well.
FOR YOU TO ACTUALLY CHOOSE 13 TRACKS - OUT OF SO MANY POSSIBLE OPTIONS AVAILABLE - MUST HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFICULT. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT IT?
Well, because a lot of the inspiration for this album did actually come from A&M Records, and in particular from Osman Eralp, they wanted to have two particular songs on it; 'Lady In Red' and 'Missing You'. I said "Fair enough - but I want to choose the rest." Initially, from one section there was resistance to doing covers. But I said "No, that's the whole point; I want to do covers, I want to do favourite songs". Some of the songs were ones of my own that I felt had been recorded incorrectly or without their full potential being realised. They just didn't sound the way I felt they should have sounded at the time, and because of - probably- time restrictions during recording they never wound up as good as I felt they could become. Others were chosen because they are favourites and because I felt that we had now moved on, in some cases 15 years - maybe even longer - and they felt like they could do with a re-recording. Some of the songs I considered were actually good originally that I wouldn't even consider trying to do them again; there was something magical about them. Finally, I already had three new songs in the bag, and I thought " Well, why don't we record these in the same way?" That is with orchestra. But the full criteria was that this was to be an album of personal choice songs from me. The ethos was that everything had to be recorded in one go, with no fiddling about with technology. It had to be, basically, my choice - to stand or fall. it wasn't about coming out with a new album that the critics could get a hold of and savage and pull apart. This is what it is; a recording, with an orchestra ...
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH IT?
The opening track. I had previously performed 'Missing You' on piano quite a bit but, because it was recorded rhythmically, it wasn't possible to do that way and give it justice. So I started slowing bits down and speeding other bits up, and then I thought "Well, why not do it with the orchestra?" That's the way it came out and, I think, pretty successfully as well.
By the Beatles. Always been a big favourite of mine. It's one of the lesser-known Beatles' songs, I think, it's not one of the all-time hits. I don't think it was ever a single, for example, but it's a song that I used to sing a lot when I was younger. If I get a chance to make another album like 'Beautiful Dreams' - like 'More Beautiful Dreams' - I will definitely choose another Beatles song, from the more obscure part of their publishing and songwriting repertoire. The interesting thing about this song, I suppose, for me is that we did it in The Beatles way; all live and with a string quartet, tow acoustic guitars and bass. I think it worked quite well - and I also added a little piece at the end, which I made up myself, to give it a personal flavour, I suppose.
CARRY ME (LIKE A FIRE IN YOUR HEART)
Now this would be a track that I felt faintly disappointed with when we recorded it originally. It just wounded up too electronic and too lacking in emotion - and I've been dying to record it again, as a result. I think you'll find that the way we've done it is very emotional now. And as I actually explained to Peter Oxendale, the music director on this project what I wanted overall to do was have songs with strong lyrics that could be taken along with the music in a much more powerful way. So it's a lyric driven album, coupled with the orchestral backing, and this version of 'Carry Me (Like A Fire In Your Heart)' works far better than the original. I think people who know the two hopefullly will agree.
It's from the album 'At The End Of A Perfect Day.' This isn't a lot different, but it's a surprising track and, again, I love the lyrics on this one. We all agreed at the time, when we recorded it, that it would make a great video because you can actually see all the things happening - and the arrangement by Richard Hewson is lovely. It's very nice indeed, it colours the song beautifully and, again the remit was to bring the lyrics out with the emotion that's suggested by the music - and vice versa.
THE SNOWS OF NEW YORK
Originally from the 'This Way Up' album. I wanted to have a choir on this when we first recorded it, but again, due to time problems we recorded it in the studio just with a few voices, not a full choir. It wasn't until I started playing this song live, and getting a really powerful reaction from the fans that I realised I'd like to have another go at it. We used to end the show with this one, and it was just terrific - with great visuals by Andy Doig - and I think everybody who saw it live would probably have barely recognised it from the album. Again, I felt that it hadn't been properly recorded. I felt that at the time, in fact, but sometimes you get so into an album that you don't have the ability, the mental strength, to say "Look - this isn't good enough. Ditch it; let's do it again." You know, because you're working to deadlines and stuff. But anyway, I'm pleased that I re-recorded that one. The song just became that much more powerful as a result of having performed it live. This sometimes does happen; you take a song into a recording studio and you work with it, but it's in its infancy. Some of them reach maturity in the studio, and some of them do not until you've taken them out onto the streets. That's why sometimes some of the songs on the live albums can sound far better than they actually do on the original recording. It's a natural progression. So I was very pleased with the 'Snows Of New York.'
IN LOVE FOREVER
This is a new one, and it was chosen by Richard Hewson, who was sent the tape of the demos and, as I said previously, didn't know whether any of them were pre-recorded or not. But he liked this one, as he did 'Discovery' and 'Carry Me (Like A Fire In Your Heart)'. This was written last year, and I'm very pleased with it. It's very slinky, and when we were recording it originally we thought about extra percussion but, in the event, it just didn't work so it never made it on to the record. This was one of the very quick ones to record and I'm pleased with the result. Very pleased. What's it about lyrically? Well... the way I'm going to explain what I'm about to explain is having suffered at the hands of the media last year, to some large degree, where they started telling me what I wrote songs for - including 'Blonde Hair Blue Jeans' and 'Lady In Red' - and then following what happened to Phil Collins, when the media started telling him why he wrote the songs, they started looking for all the explanations, so I'm actually going to remain completely silent on this one. For the simple reason that I can't wait for someone out there to tell me why I wrote this song. I know why I wrote it - but for the first time ever, I'm not going to explain why. I'm going to leave it as a complete mystery, because I'm fed up of people in the media telling me why I wrote songs. They will look for clues everywhere, but to help them out ... "In Love Forever', quite simply, explains what happens when somebody has an argument with somebody else. As far as I know, it may not be based on a true-life situation. Or perhaps it was! Anyway, I'm keeping schtum about it...
This is one of those tracks which I loved, particularly loved the lyrics, but I didn't feel it had been correctly recorded. When I listened to the Rupert Hine production, I thought it was very poor. I was disappointed and, actually, the disappointment didn't come from having performed it a lot live - because we didn't perform it live. I just felt it could have been a lot stronger. Some producers are in the habit of being very aware that other producers are listening to their material - not necessarily the general public - and making things a little too esoteric and difficult to understand. I felt that this song was one of those tracks which should have been done in a very obvious way. This song came from the 'Power Of Ten' album and I felt, at the time it really wasn't coming through as strongly as it should have done - which is why I wanted to do it again. This was done with a choir as well. LADY IN RED
This starts off with a little piano thing played by Peter Oxendale. Just a chord. There's not a lot I can say about this except that, because it is such a popular song, I just hope that people like this version as well. Because it's not often that the original recording artist of an original song re-records that song in a fairly different way. For example, this version has no inner rhythm - like on the original record - or that smoochy 'Oooh' sound. I like it a lot actually, and I really enjoyed performing it with the orchestra. Again, using a lot of critical dynamics, dynamic shifts in tempo, movement within the song - which you cannot get when you're using modern machinery. So it's very clear that this is all done live. You can't do it otherwise. It's a good performance. IN DREAMS
A favourite song from way back. It's a difficult song to sing because it's got a very wide dynamic range starting, I think, with a lowest note being a G. Then it goes all the way up to a high G at the end. So this demanded a lot of concentration while I was recording it. On his original, Roy Orbison did it in a very skip way, almost Spanish style, and I wanted to do it just straight ahead. I think I did it justice - I hope I did, anyway. I'M NOT CRYING OVER YOU
This is a song I wrote with Albert Hamond two years ago. We started recording it for the album 'This Way Up' and Pete Smith, the producer, I don't believe ever got a full handle on it. He made the classic mistake of trying to push a round peg in a square hole by trying to make it modern-sounding as well as classic-sounding, and it just didn't work. It's always a tricky thing when you have a new song that sounds like it's been around for years. Indeed, a lot of people, when they heard it for the first time, said "Who originally recorded that/ Who wrote that?" I said "I did! And it wasn't recorded by anybody - this is new." In fact, we had a full recording of it, with orchestra for the 'This Way Up' album, but I just didn't like it. It just didn't do anything for me. So we ditched that and I said "Let's have another crack at it." And I'm very pleased with the way it's turned out. Lyrically, the song is about a guy pretending he's no longer in love. Everything he says, like "I'm not thinking about you ... I'm not hanging around the telephone, I'm going out and having a wonderful time and my horoscope tells me I'm in good shape ...", it's just garbage. He's missing her like hell. Everything he says ... it's like the 10cc song, 'I'm Not In Love', you hear it and you want to stand up and shout "Liar!" You can tell immediately that he's lying. At the end of this song there's a scene where it's pouring with rain and he's just walking, he says, "For a trip down memory lane ..." Of course he's going to have a look at her house. We've all done this! It's pouring with rain, he's looking into the window and she looks out and sees him standing in the rain. It's a very emotional scene. I see that very powerfully; she's sitting in by the fire, reading a book, and suddenly there's this noise outside - and there's this figure, drenched in rain, and he's looking at her and she's looking at him. And he's trying to tell us that he's not missing her. Of course he is; he's madly in love with her! So it's one of those ironic songs, and I think it works great. ALWAYS ON MY MIND
Always been a big favourite of mine, from Elvis Presley. I loved this version. The emotion of this song is just tremendous. The guy admitting that he's made her feel second best ... it's very much I think, a song that women relate to on the level that they are frequently overlooked because the guys are rushing about and they say "oh, sorry - I forgot." And I think guys can relate to it because they've been in that situation themselves. We're all guilty of it , and it's just a great lyric. I love it and I think I've done a very good version of it.
SAY GOODBYE TO IT ALL
The reason I did it like this is because I performed it on the QE2 and I loved doing it that way. You see, we have a song here which is a showstopper, a stormer - with blazing electric guitars and drums going wild - and that's the way we did it for years and years and years. And, suddenly, I did it for the veterans on the QE2 - and a lot of them came up to me and said they were very moved by the beaches of Normandy stuff, and the sentiment. Because it is based on , loosely, Hemmingway's 'A Farewell To Arms' and some of that war poetry by people like Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves. It was Graves who wrote the poem 'Forever England' - 'There is some corner of a foreign field which is ... forever England.' So I was very pleased and very happy the way this turned out.
ONE MORE MILE TO GO
Finally, there's another new song which, people tell me, is another showstopper. Now, this comes as a big surprise to me because I wrote this song in about 1982. I remember playing this one to Rupert Hine in about 1983, when we were beginning to record the 'Man On The Line' album, and he dismissed it. He said "No, no - it's not very good'. I knew it was good, and I've just been waiting for a chance to do it the way it should be done. So, as the record producer on this occasion, I said "Right - bring in the orchestra, bring in the choir. Let's do it the way I've always dreamed of doing it". And, at the Birmingham concert, it brought the house down. Lyrically, it starts off with me visualising, as usual, a very strong mental picture. It's a moonlit night ... it's almost like Disney, actually. On the far left-hand side there's this train coming through the valley. This valley is completely covered in snow, and the moon shining and the lights of the train coming round, from left to right - and then far below, where the camera of my mind is, there's a village, with lights twinkling in the distance. Then there's a guy who's returning, from where doesn't necessarily have to be explained, but he's been away a long time. Maybe he's been around the world and he's returning home. When he gets to the station, he thinks that she's going to be there. Everybody else has gone - all the relatives have left - and she just waits for him. It's one of those emotional moments, as she steps out of the shadows, and there she is. They obviously run to each other and hug. And the last bit of the song, is just as revealing that it is, in fact, Christmas Eve. It refers to the fact that 'This is a magic night for every girl' and This is the night that all men dream of peace on earth ...' It's basically saying, in another parallel, that as far as peace is concerned - we have one more mile to go. And that is Beautiful Dreams.
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