In 1965, John Lennon introduced us to the “Nowhere Man”: the modern subject who stands for nothing, content to drift through life without broadening his worldview. “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?,” the Beatle asked, and millions have indeed recognized themselves in the portrait. But what about the man who possesses a sense of purpose and direction but who lacks the humility to put his ambition in perspective? One who doesn’t see that wealth can’t be brought to the next world? We might call him the “Forever Man” — constantly accumulating and achieving but rarely acknowledging his place in the chain of life. He’s the subject of the new single by New York pop-rock singer-songwriter Christian Parker. In the tradition of the Beatles, it’s a singalong song with a serious message, an echo across the decades, and an acknowledgment that there’s more than one way to get lost.
It also deepens the relationship between Parker and the classics that have inspired him. His appreciation of the Beatles is evident in everything he’s recorded: not only do his songs have the melodic and harmonic inventiveness associated with British Invasion guitar pop of the mid-’60s, they’re also expansions on the cosmic themes explored by the Lennon-McCartney partnership. His appreciation of rock history doesn’t stop at the Mersey, either. Sweethearts, his upcoming project, is a full-length tribute to the Byrds’ landmark folk-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. On “Forever Man,” Parker channels the warmth and choral majesty of the Byrds, drenching the song in the close harmonies and chiming guitars reminiscent of Roger McGuinn in his prime. The arrangement demonstrates an understanding of the past. The lyric broadcasts his passionate concern about the future.
Morgan Elliott’s smart, resonant clip for “Forever Man” is another exercise in time travel. The director gives us a photo book sprung to life — an array of snapshots from the life of Christian Parker. Some are still images, and some sing back to the camera. We see the young Parker learning to play guitar like his heroes did, taking the stage with his bandmates, reading himself to blow into his harmonica. We’re also shown candid shots of the singer surrounded by family or leaning out of the window of a rural Upstate barn. While none of these digital photos deliberately mimic poses on the covers of famous albums, they’re all informed by the iconography of the British Invasion and the adamantine style of classic rock. It’s all a reminder: material items may not last forever, but great music does.
What is your favorite lyric from “Forever Man”?
I like the line, ”It’s all black and white, it will be all right, but nothing lives forever.” It references someone who sees the world one-dimensionally.
What Beatles songs have had the biggest impact on you and your music?
“Forever Man” was inspired by “Nowhere Man,” one of my favorite John Lennon songs. The melody and chord structure inspired me to write “Forever Man.”
What was your inspiration behind the imagery in the “Forever Man” music video?
Morgan Elliott and I decided to make the imagery more personal by sharing photos throughout my music career. Connecting the song to the visuals of my past helped tell the story of “Forever Man. “
Who are some of your biggest musical heroes?
My top five artists or bands are The Beatles, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Neil Finn.
What is the story behind “Forever Man”?
“Forever Man” was inspired after watching Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary on the Beatles. It covers making the classic Beatles’ 1970 album Let It Be. I always loved John Lennon’s song, “Nowhere Man,” and decided to pen what I call its cousin, “Forever Man.” Musically, it has major and minor chord progressions in a similar pop form to the Beatles’ song.
The song’s premise is about a man clinging to worldly possessions, not wanting to leave them. He is a self-made man who acquires much wealth but decides to control others instead of blessing them. “Forever Man” has lost his way, and instead of focusing on heaven, he holds on to his gold or treasure. In the song’s bridge, he realizes he has found himself on the outside looking in. He alienated himself from the people who love him as he tries to recall when it all started to change as a young man.
I used an Epiphone Casino with P-90 pickups as a guitar player to give it the classic bell-tone Beatles sound. Rhythmically we wanted it to sound similar to Ringo Starr. We used a vintage 1965 Hofner bass guitar, creating a Paul McCartney tone that cuts thru the mix. For vocals, we had a three-part triad in each chorus. In the solo section, I used the same guitar to capture the essence of George Harrison’s melodic approach to melody.
What questions do you hope listeners will ask themselves after listening to “Forever Man”?
I hope they realize that worldly possessions are temporary and relationships are more important.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?
If I talked to my younger self today, I would tell him to take more risks.
What can you tell fans about your upcoming project, Sweethearts?
Sweethearts (a tribute to the Byrds Sweethearts of the Rodeo) comes out on August 18th, 2023. We were blessed to have two original session players contribute to it.