“Blue hotel…every room is lonely.
Blue hotel…I was waiting only.
The night and the life of her a lonely dream.”
Although the term was coined for the legendary James Brown, Chris Isaak could possibly qualify for the title of the “hardest workin’ man in show business”. His tours take him around the globe each year, his self penned albums are a regular fixture on the Warner/Reprise release schedule, he has hosted a talk show, starred in a sitcom and acted in dozens of major films. His is criminally underrated as a singer and pop songwriter, coming up with coulda-been singles on each release while also indulging the audience with his dark tales of romantic intrigue.
Isaak’s career began in San Francisco, releasing his first album, “Silvertone”, in 1984. Originally seen as simply a throwback to the Sun Records era, his sound has evolved into a mix of the old and new, giving 50’s rockabilly and 60’s pop a modern update with his own personal touch. His career benefited greatly from the addition of his music to the soundtrack of David Lynch films, most notably his breakthrough smash, 1989’s ‘Wicked Game’ in the film “Wild At Heart”. Since that single, he has released acclaimed albums such as 1995’s “Forever Blue” and 2001’s “Always Got Tonight”.
His second album, the eponymously titled “Chris Isaak”, however, featured a single foreshadowing what would come on his third LP, “Heart Shaped World”. The song ‘Blue Hotel’ featured all of the elements of a classic Chris Isaak song. Dark lyrics, mysteriously eerie production values, classic musicianship. Written by Isaak, like most of his songs, it had a timeless quality out of step with the trends of the day. Produced by music legend Erik Jacobsen, the song did not catch on but has become a staple of Isaak live shows through the present. While it is difficult to find a song to feature out of the many that didn’t make pop radio, this song really foreshadowed what was to come on the more popular future releases.
Chris Isaak released a new album in 2009 entitled ‘Mr. Lucky’. In my opinion, luck doesn’t have much to do with his success in the music business. Between live shows and classic albums, his consistency shows a work ethic that belies his laid back persona. He is a performer and artist not to be missed in any medium.