My regular blog readers will know that a gruff-voiced northerner with a slide guitar and a Ry Cooder fixation was not exactly the kind of music I was listening to, then or now. But the quality of the songwriting, and my intense emotional connection to the things he was singing about left a huge lasting impression. Dealing with the end of a relationship, I could sense understanding in songs such as "It's All Gone" and "Ace of Hearts". It was the kind of music that would continue to accompany me on new emotional journeys as the years passed - falling in love, marriage, children, missing home, dreaming of a better life. In a remarkable way, Chris has always been there for me. I'm sure many other music lovers have had a similar experience.
While I could have picked from dozens of tracks that I like, I'm going to post three in particular that have a strong emotional resonance for me. The first is the title track from his 1984 album, Wired To The Moon. Much of Chris' songwriting dwells on the joy of being a father, and even before I became one myself I enjoyed the tale of watching a little girl dreaming in her bed, knowing that one day she will lose that precious innocence. Now I have a six year old, the words are even more magical:
Because you want her to laugh
You want her to play
Leave her in sweet dreams
She may lose them one day
Keep her wired to the moon
The second is a track that almost always leaves me with a tear in my eye and a dry throat, "Hello Friend" from his 1986 album, On The Beach. It's one of those great songs that captures perfectly the mood of seeing someone and feeling the regret and nostalgia of a love that didn't work out:
Bridges You burn, long since turned into ashes
And there were no reasons, now the river runs dry
Seems it's gone in the wind
Washed away in the rain
And the years go by and by
Shamrock Diaries, "Love Turns To Lies", one of several songs on that album that deal with losing someone and feeling betrayed. For an emotionally sensitive nineteen year old, these words were a kind of lifeline, a signal that other people have been there and made it through - a theme Chris has consistently used, starting with his first hit single, "Fool (If You Think It's Over)".
Crazy though what I say may seem
I could have learned to mend these broken dreams
You could have pushed, I would have gently fell
I could have played the graceful one so well
Chris Rea - Love Turns To Lies
By the way, I've ripped these from my original CD's. While may collection has dramatically ebbed and flowed over the years, I've held on to these very tightly for over twenty years. Not bad for a spur of the moment purchase from a CD club.