On a roll these past months with two international hit singles – “I Called Her Rose” and “A Box For Jewels” – rising high on the Euro Indie Music Chart and World Indie Music Chart, singer-songwriter Chris St. John’s latest track, the uber-infectious “Hey Siri,” perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our techno-crazy modern world, humorously yet pointedly addressing both our addiction to and frustration with Siri, Alexa, Facebook and Amazon while lamenting the loss of simpler times before the cell phone/social media age.
Over a lighthearted, playfully rolling, whistle-infused African styled groove reminiscent of Paul Simon’s classic Graceland vibe, the fast emerging multi-faceted Americana, folk, soft rock and country influenced artist shares insightful lyrics we can all relate to – and will no doubt be singing by the second chorus: “Siri’s unavailable, Alexa won’t stop talking, texts and emails coming, our children text for talking/I can’t remember my passwords/Days run 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 buoyant track was recorded at Omni Studios in Nashville with some of Music City’s most renowned session musicians. Wrench, also a powerhouse radio promoter whose company Musik Radio Promotions caters to a network of over 250,000 stations in 180 countries, worked with St. John’s earlier singles – and was so impressed by his latest batch of songs that he signed as his producer for the current project.
“Hey Siri,” a compelling video for which is still being shot, is the first lead single from St. John’s still in progress album Fly Away. Expected for release in early 2022, it’s the follow-up to the singer’s debut collection I’m Dreaming, which dropped earlier in 2021. “I Called Her Rose” from that collection reached #3 on the Euro Indie Music chart and #8 on the World Indie Music chart.
“Hey Siri’ is a song I wrote in less than a half an hour, early one morning at my office,” says the Long Island based St. John, who began writing songs at age seven but set his musical dreams aside for years as he pursued a successful career as a prosecutor, judge and, for many years, an attorney and owner of a large law practice. “I heard an upbeat melody in my head and added lyrics about the blessing and curse of modern technology. I knew I wanted airy dancing guitar and that 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 to our phones and devices. We are much more productive, but at the cost of our peace, privacy, and creativity. What gets lost is the enjoyment of personal conversations, time with our family and friends. We read less, we dream less, and we are being killed by a death cut of texts, emails, and calls. When technology fails us in any way, even for a brief moment, we lose our patience. We are at the world’s beck and call, and that is stealing our happiness. People need to decide for themselves whether the progress we see is better for our overall human condition.”
While there’s a certain thematic novelty aspect to “Hey Siri,” the upcoming collection’s second lead single, the album’s title track “Fly Away,” is a soulful, poignant ballad that all parents can relate to, a song that reflects the true emotional depth of his ever-evolving songwriting artistry. “Fly Away is about my son heading off to college,” St. John says. “When your child is born, everyone tells you that the years will fly by and before you know it, they’ll be on their own, but you think it’s just a cliché and don’t believe it. Until it really happens. The song touches on my feelings about him leaving the nest and my vow to be an emotional support system no matter the distance. It’s about the journey of life, but 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 set aside their musical dreams to realize that any time is the right time to start pursuing them anew. While most working musicians were sidelined from the road during the first stage of the pandemic, there were silver linings galore for budding artists like St. John. Several months after laying off the seven person staff at his law office, he told his wife he needed to get out of town for fresh air and a fresh perspective. He had fallen in love with horses on a previous trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and fell into an exciting opportunity to go on a real deal 650-strong, miles long cattle roundup, with a rancher and a few other riders.
Spending 12 hours a day in the saddle, St. John went through a few horses before falling in love with Reagan, whom he later purchased. He wrote a song about the experience titled “I Need a Horse,” which became the first song he ever had produced in a studio setting (two actually, with tracks done in California and the vocals produced locally on Long Island). Encouraged by the response he received from family and friends, the singer dusted off a bunch of songs he had written over the years for a hopeful project he had put on the back burner. With time to spare, St. John went on a creative tear, writing 15 new songs over the course of several months – many of which are being produced now by Wrench and will appear on the Fly Away. “Once I wrote that song about that life changing trip and my horse,” St. John says, “I knew it was time to take a leap to a professional music career and follow my dreams.”
St. John brings wealth of life experiences to his musical palette that could never have existed had he gone the proverbial starving artist route earlier on in his adult life. In addition to his many years practicing law, he studied and taught Chinese in Beijing. He worked in the State Department for then Secretary of State George Schultz, participating in the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in 1986. He was later a trade delegate to a trade mission to China in 2007, in Xian, China. In addition, 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 truest passion since day one, driven by a diverse playlist of artists and albums that continuously inform his development as a singer and songwriter. “I discovered the Beatles in 1970, at 5 years of age,” he says, “and got into the Grateful Dead in 1980, at 15. My musical catalogue includes the Eagles, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Elton John, Cat Stevens, Steely Dan, The Who, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and other artists that were on the charts during my formative years.
“I’ve also drawn from classic country artists like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and others,” he adds. “And of course, I really got into what my parents were listening to when I was growing up, too – everything from big bands to Motown to standards from the Great American Songbook. To go from listening to all this great music as a young man fascinated by music to being in Nashville with all these top musicians, hearing how enthusiastic they were about each track we cut for the new album, is truly incredible. They told me it was a magical night for them, and it was for me as well.”
Listen to "Hey Siri" here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4XdhxG513DQbpXyJMzCYDU