Building on momentum in recent months with two international hit singles – ‘I Called Her Rose’ and ‘A Box For Jewels’ – topping the Euro Indie Music Chart and World Indie Music Chart, the latest track from the Singer-songwriter Chris St. John, the uber-infectious “Hey Siri,” perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our techno-crazed modern world, humorously but pointedly addressing our reliance and frustration on Siri, Alexa , Facebook and Amazon while lamenting the waste of simpler pre-cell phone/social media age.
Over a light African-style groove reminiscent of Paul Simon’s classic Graceland vibe, the multi-faceted, American-influenced artist shares insightful lyrics we can all relate to. Listeners will no doubt sing along by the second chorus, “Siri’s not available, Alexa won’t stop talking, texts and emails are coming in, our kids are texting to talk/ I don’t remember my passwords/ The days flow like a river/ My phone is like an organ./ You’ll kill me if you take it away.”
Produced by industry legend Stephen Wrench, who has worked with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty to Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt and Ozzy Osbourne, the dynamic track was recorded at Omni Studios in Nashville with some of the musicians Music City‘s most renowned session artists. Wrench, also a powerful radio promoter whose company Musik Radio Promotions serves a network of more than 250,000 stations in 180 countries, worked with early St. John’s singles. He was so impressed with his latest batch of songs that he signed on as a producer for the current project.
“Hey Siri,” for which a video is still being filmed, is the first lead single from St. John’s still-ongoing album, Fly Away. Scheduled for release in early 2022, this is the sequel to the singer’s debut collection I dreamwhich dropped earlier in 2021. “I Called Her Rose” from this collection reached No. 3 on the Euro Indie Music Chart and No. 8 on the World Indie Music Chart.
“Hey Siri’ is a song I wrote in less than half an hour, early one morning at my desk,” says Long Island-based St. John, who started writing songs at age seven years old, but put his musical dreams aside for years as he pursued a distinguished career as a prosecutor, judge and, for many years, barrister and owner of a major law firm. “I heard an upbeat melody in my head and added lyrics about the blessing and curse of modern technology. I knew I wanted an airy dancing guitar and it wouldn’t be a typical folk or rock song. – and when I sent it to Stephen, he said don’t change a thing!
“I thought back to my childhood and how much things have changed,” he adds. “We are prisoners of our phones and our devices. We are much more productive, but at the cost of our peace, our privacy and our creativity. What is lost is the pleasure of personal conversations, of the time spent with our family and friends. We read less, we dream less, and we are killed by a deadly cut of texts, emails, and calls. When technology fails us in any way, even for for a brief moment, we lose patience. We are available to the world, and that is stealing our happiness. People have to decide for themselves whether the progress we are seeing is better for our overall human condition.
Although there is a certain aspect of thematic novelty in “Hey Siri”, the second single from the upcoming collection, the album’s title track “Fly Away”, is a moving and poignant ballad that all parents can enjoy. identify, a song that reflects the true emotional depth of his ever-evolving songwriting craft. “Fly Away is about my son going off to college,” St. John says. “When your child is born, everyone tells you that the years will pass and before you know it they will be alone, but you think it’s just a cliché and you don’t believe it. Until ‘for it to really happen. The song is about my feelings about him leaving the nest and my wish to be an emotional support system no matter the distance. This is about life’s journey, but in as a metaphor, the title is also what I hope will happen to my career.
St. John’s recent chart breakthroughs and forward momentum should inspire anyone who has long put aside their musical dreams to realize that any time is a good time to start pursuing them again. While most working musicians were pushed off the road during the first stage of the pandemic, there were plenty of silver linings for budding artists like St. John. Several months after firing all seven people from his law firm, he told his wife he needed to get out of town to get some fresh air and a new perspective. He had fallen in love with horses on a previous trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and stumbled upon an exciting opportunity to participate in a veritable 650-mile-long cattle drive, along with a rancher and a few other riders.
Spending 12 hours a day in the saddle, St. John crossed a few horses before falling in love with Reagan, whom he later bought. He wrote a song about the experience called “I Need a Horse”, which became the first song he ever produced in the studio (two in fact, with tracks made in California and vocals produced locally in Long Island ). Encouraged by the response he’s received from family and friends, the singer dusted off a bunch of songs he’d written over the years for a hopeful project he’d put on the back burner. With free time, St. John embarked on a creative tear, writing 15 new songs over the course of several months – many of which are now produced by Wrench and will appear on the Fly away. “Once I wrote this song about this life-changing journey and riding my horse,” St. John says, “I knew it was time to take the leap into a professional music career and follow my dreams.”
St. John brings a wealth of life experiences to his musical palette that could never have existed had he followed the proverbial starving artist route earlier in his adult life. In addition to his many years of practicing law, he studied and taught Chinese in Beijing. He worked at the State Department for Secretary of State George Schultz, attending the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1986. He then served as a trade commissioner on a trade mission to China in 2007, to Xian, China. Additionally, the singer is the co-founder of HALO Missions (Health and Learning for Orphans), which provides hands-on medical care and educational assistance to orphans in developing countries. He is also a volunteer professional firefighter.
Despite the adventurous eclecticism of his resume, music has always been St. John’s true passion since day one, driven by a diverse playlist of artists and albums that continually inform his development as a singer. and songwriter. “I discovered the Beatles in 1970, when I was 5 years old,” he says, “and I joined the Grateful Dead in 1980, when I was 15. My musical catalog includes the Eagles, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Elton John, Cat Stevens, Steely Dan, The Who, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and other artists who were on the charts during my formative years.
“I also drew on classic country artists like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and others,” he adds. “And of course, I really understood what my parents listened to when I was growing up too – everything from big bands to Motown to Great American Songbook standards. Going from listening to all that great music as a young man fascinated by music to be in Nashville with all these great musicians, to hear how excited they were about every track we cut for the new album, it’s really amazing. They told me that It was a magical night for them, and it was for me too.”