Thursday, 16 July 2009

1986 Chris de Burgh: The Lady In Red

First, a confession. In 1986 I was a sixth former with a hopeless crush on a girl in the year below me who, for her own part, did a damn fine job of not noticing my existence. Being mildly stalker-ish about it all, I found out that she was a big Chris de Burgh fan and so my testosterone fuelled and hormone crazed brain reasoned that, if I became a fan too, then she'd be bound to fall in love with me because then we had something in common (reason has never been my trump card).

And so one fateful afternoon I waltzed home from town with three albums by the great man under my arm, freshly purchased from a smirking, punky looking girl in WH Smith - but what did I care of her mockery, these three pieces of vinyl represented the Holy Trinity, the keys to the gates of Eden and I was already halfway over the threshold to the land of milk and honey.

It would be easy in hindsight to dismiss all this as the lust crazed antics of an immature imbecile, but I'm not going to do that. I was sixteen at the time, plenty old enough to know better and besides, I did actually like some of this stuff.
There, I've said it - I was a teenage Chris de Burgh fan. Happy? I genuinely thought that 'Don't Pay The Ferryman' had some deep philosophical message in its lyrics, freshly culled from the wisdom of the ancients:"Don't pay the ferryman, don't even fix a price. Don't pay the ferryman...(dramatic pause)......until he gets you to the other side'!!!

Sound advice indeed. Thank you Chris. Christ, I even got my mother to write me a cheque for £19.50 so I could send for 'Chris de Burgh - The Video' that was advertised in one of the albums. I must have had it bad. Oh dear, dark days indeed.
But in my defence, I have to say that nothing, not even the promise of my unrequited lover climbing naked into my bed with a rose between her teeth would have prompted me to admit a liking for 'The Lady In Red', genuinely or otherwise.

There's no doubt that de Burgh is sincere in his aim in elevating his totemistic 'lady in red' to some kind of Rosebud figure for him to muse over, but his sincerity somehow makes the end product all the worse. For what we have here is a solemn, low key autopilot backing that's so bland I bet even the synths were beige, while de Burgh, lost in his moment of clarity, mumbles away to himself in a sing/speak kind of way that PUTS the emphasis on CERTAIN WORDS and phrases IN the erratic manner of some senile old fool trying to fend off Alzheimer's by practicing word association.

And his pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired too - the way he emotes 'darnce' instead of 'dance' has always gone through me like a red hot poker in the eye, while his strangled, elongated modulation of 'reeeeeedddddddd' on the chorus puts me in mind of a man in pain.
In fact, it's all one rambling mess and the only thing missing is him ending the song by confessing he was 'very, very drunk'.

No, I could never pretend to like 'The Lady In Red' because there's nothing
about it to like. It aspires to be a meditation on love wrapped in a statement of hushed reverence and almost religious grandeur, but it's little more than a cack handed barrel of treacle that's only given any sort of form by virtue of it's four minute running time and only serves to clog up the ears of those who find the same depth of 'meaning' in those tedious 'Love Is' cartoons as I once found in the tale of the Ferryman.

That's not to say it doesn't have it's uses in the bedroom mind; if any bloke needs to conjure up a mental image to stave off premature ejaculation, then he could do a lot worse than "The lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek". Brrrrr. And in case you're wondering, no my ploy didn't work and I swear I left school without my distant love ever even knowing my name. Come to think on it, that video never arrived either. So cheers for all that Chris. You bastard.



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