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Music / Chris de Burgh

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Oh my heart is spinning like a wheel,
Only she can see the way that I feel,
Eyes are holding right across the room,
High explosion coming out of the blue.
"High on Emotion"

Chris de Burgh is an Anglo-Irish singer-songwriter, born in Argentina. He has been active since 1974, mainly in the genres of soft pop, soft rock and easy listening. Small Reference Pools know him by his 1986 hit "Lady in Red" and by extension other Silly Love Songs, but his output is actually quite a bit more varied than that. He often uses religious themes in his songs, sometimes explicitly and sometimes more of the Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory variety. He is also known due to his daughter Rosanna (the subject of the song "Rosanna") winning Miss World in 2003 (as Miss Ireland) and for being the Arch-Enemy of musical comedian Bill Bailey.


His songs contain examples of:

  • Afterlife Express: Spanish Train, sort of.
  • Ancient Astronauts: In A Spaceman Came Travelling the Christmas angel is an alien astronaut and the Star of Bethlehem is his starship.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The opening of This Waiting Heart.
  • Chess with Death: Variation in Spanish Train, in which Christ and Satan play poker to decide the fates of souls.
  • Cool Gate: The "doorway to another world" in Heart of Darkness.
  • Cover Version: He has done a number of covers; the album Footsteps consists entirely of them, showcasing his musical influences, save for short Book-Ends songs at the start and end about how these songs have influenced him.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: The narrator of The Painter.
  • Eldritch Abomination: In Heart of Darkness.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The subject of the "Leader Trilogy" (The Leader/The Vision/What About Me?).
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  • English Rose: Referenced by "Rose of England".
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Making the Perfect Man starts out as a pastiche of the classic origin, complete with the Mad Scientist Laboratory and Torches and Pitchforks.
  • Green Aesop: Shine On, although it's less anvilicious than most, being more generally about being aware of history and preserving the world in general for future generations.
  • The Grim Reaper: Implied in Don't Pay the Ferryman (the Charon/Styx version).
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: Despite being Anglo-Irish, he was actually never popular in the UK to the same extent as that of most of mainland Europe and Brazil.
  • Not Christian Rock: Many of his songs draw on Christian themes and imagery, but only a few can be considered actual worship. Part of The Words "I Love You" stands out for this reason. Also, some songs were written as secular love songs but were also rewritten with different pronouns to produce worship songs, such as "Where Peaceful Waters Flow".
  • The Power of Friendship: Snows of New York.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: The Revolution trilogy (The Revolution/Light a Fire/Liberty), until the end at least when it's asked if anything has really changed to justify the bloodshed.
  • The Roaring '20s: Patricia the Stripper is set in 1924.
  • Rousseau Was Right / Patrick Stewart Speech: The Spirit of Man.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: The Painter, in which the narrator is driven insanely jealous due to suspicions his wife is being seduced by the titular painter.
  • Sequel: Five Past Dreams is effectively a sequel to Lady in Red, while Say Goodbye to it All is a sequel to Borderline.
  • Shout-Out: Fairly often to The Beatles, who are one of his major influences.
    • The title of his album Footsteps, as is made explicit in the original Book-Ends songs at the start and end, is a reference to the famous disputed-authorship poem "Footprints in the Sand". This is also referenced in the song Snows of New York:
    In my dream we walked, you and I, to the shore
    Leaving footprints by the sea
    And when there was just one set of prints in the sand
    That was when you carried me.
    • Where We Will Be Going consists almost entirely of oblique references (compare Don McLean's American Pie, which de Burgh covers as one of his influences on Footsteps). The readily identifiable ones include the Apollo moon landing, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Silly Love Songs: Has done quite a few of these, and Small Reference Pools would suggest it's all he's done.
  • Small Reference Pools: Often known only for his hit Lady in Red. Mystery Science Theater 3000 gets some props for instead referencing Don't Pay the Ferryman.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Talk To Me.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The song I'm Not Crying consists almost entirely of this trope.
  • Unit Confusion: A fairly famous example in A Spaceman Came Travelling, which explicitly refers to "light-years of time".
  • War Is Glorious: Last Night, although it's subverted at the end.
  • War Is Hell: Most of his war songs use this trope, such as This Song for You and Borderline.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Shine On, Discovery, The Connemara Coast among others.
  • World War I: The setting of This Song for You.
  • World War II: The subject of Borderline and Say Goodbye To It All—most of the war happens between the two songs; in some performances this is indicated by an interlude in which the sounds of marching and explosions are heard.


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