Chris De Burgh, the British pop singer, has recently released his last album called "The Road To Freedom." The album will be available in Canada on April 19, 2004. A pure Chris De Burgh. As one of the most popular western pop singers in Iran, many Iranians have been following his music for years. If we compare this with their world-wide popularity, then with no doubt, Christopher J. Davison alias Chris de Burgh (CdeB) is the number one. Why is he so popular in Iran? He, himself, is very surprised about the CdeB phenomenon in Iran. I try to find an answer to this question.
Suggested answer: CdeB has been strongly in touch with Iranians and that is why Iranians appreciate him. I list some evidence which I think would be interesting for the reader:
He has never lost an opportunity to make a connection with his fans in Iran and to express his dream of having a concert in Iran:
-I know that this is a country that I am popular in and I was speaking to some Iranian people recently about my desire to go back there and they gave me the feeling that it may not be possible at the moment. Certainly not to go there and play and sing. But it’s certainly a dream I will like to continue with, and I would love to do it some day.
-I would of course very very strongly wish to visit Iran and perform there, even a solo concert I would be very happy to do that.
-I'd like to stress how excited I am to receive all those messages from my fans in Iran. … I would love to do concerts in Iran. I know there are big changes going on in that country, and I certainly would like to feel that I would be welcome in Iran by so many fans who have been in touch and so many people who want to hear me what I do. I think if the authorities would relax a little bit and let people like me in.
-I had no idea that my lyrics have been translated into Farsi. ... I have been particularly impressed by the number of people who log on my website from Iran. And trust me when I say that I cannot wait to go there and sing on probably a solo tour to start with. It is difficult, but I want to say a very personal thank you to all my supporters from Iran.
On Shirin Ebadi’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize:
-When I read the news, I was absolutely delighted for a number of reasons that I have mentioned in the past like my interest in Iran and the continuing struggle there to change things. And I was absolutely thrilled and delighted when I heard about this major, major victory. Particularly when it's on a world stage like the Nobel Peace Prize. So again many congratulations for that! Because I am sure, all Iranian people share in her joy and her belief that things can change, if you work hard enough, if you sacrifice yourself and if you take risks.
A special message from Chris de Burgh on the earthquake in Bam:
-I am sending my sincere condolences, thoughts and sympathy to all my friends and fans in Iran who have suffered during the recent earthquake in Bam-Kerman. My thoughts are with you.
However, his reminding of his interests in Iran and his Iranian fans has nothing to do with his popularity for a couple of reasons:
(1) It is not more than a few years that CdeB has realized about his surprising popularity in Iran. His popularity in Iran is almost 20 years old. He was a beloved pop singer in Iran when he would never talk about his Iranian fans.
(2) CdeB has sung only one song which has something to do with Iran: "Eastern Wind." Surprisingly, this song, and in fact the whole album (album is called "Eastern Wind" too), is one his least popular songs in Iran.
-I was writing this from the point of view of a farmer in the Midwest of America, who doesn't understand too much of what's going on. But he puts his own feeling to it and his own thoughts and he doesn’t like what's happening [in particular, 1979 revolution in Iran]. And he knows that this is something that should it come anywhere closer to him like a bad storm to a farmer, he will have to react and protect himself and his family and indeed his country from further threat.
I believe, however, the following reasons, altogether, made him a big shot in Iran:
(1) In the early 90’s in Iran, right at the time when CdeB was blooming, the pop music was totally banned. Note that it was only in the late 90’s when specific forms of traditional music could be produced in Iran. Iranian pop-music-in-exile had not been entirely formed. So, western music became the first musical resource for Iranian youth. Western pop music was the closest category to the Iranian musical habits (in compare with Rock, Jazz, etc.). For the same reason the only Rock album of CdeB—"This Way Up"—did not meet his Iranian fans’ expectations.
(2) The English that CdeB sings is easy for his Iranian fans to understand. His songs are more audible in the sense that an Iranian can catch most of the words when he sings. The lyrics usually do not contain high level English vocabulary such that an Iranian high school graduate can understand the most of it.
(3) CdeB used to dress the way that Iranians call it normal. He neither has a strange hair style nor wears make up. He is not accompanied by a bunch of sexy girls on the stage. He does not make the so-called dandy gestures there (just compare him with other singers of his era—which is not over yet). This makes him fit in our cultural definition of a "gentleman."
(4) Iranian culture is sexually shy. Songs about earthy loves are not that welcome in this culture. And, most of CdeB’s love songs can be easily interpreted as holy love songs. The fact that CdeB has not made many video clips for his songs has intensified this picture of him.
(5) While this culture seeks for spiritual qualities of this singer, his fate-based songs such as "Spaceman," "The Risen Lord," "Saint Peter's Gate" and etc. fit well even in the Islamic system of beliefs. This search for spiritual qualities in a person, has sometimes made the culture to see the person as they like ad not as he/she is. In Iran and only in Iran, there has been this rumor that CdeB has been a priest (or his mother wanted him to be a priest) but he has understood that his songs has more influence than his preaching. Another interesting fact is that many of his Iranian fans have asked him why he has never sung a song for his mother and her true love. We like him to be one of us, so we see him that way.
(6) Last but not least, who can ignore the fact that for some strange reason, he has always had our lullabies. When our soldiers were leaving for the battle field he had "Borderline"; when they were coming back he had "Last Night"; when their bodies were coming back he had "The Simple Truth"; and you name it.
Walking past the border guards,
Reaching for her hand,
Showing no emotion,
I want to break into a run,
But these are only boys, and I will never know,
How men can see the wisdom in a war...