Let’s be honest. What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of Chris Isaak? It’s this, right?
That’s ok. Me, too. Nothing wrong with that. Not one bit. After all, the video is hawwwt.
Okay, so back on task. I’ve been a “passive fan” of Chris Isaak. While I really like his music, I don’t possess any of his albums. Granted, I don’t own a lot of albums to begin with, so that’s not a knock on Chris at all.
Throughout my life, I have known several Chris Isaak fans. Hmmm, that’s not quite accurate. Let me try that again. I have known several Chris Isaak
maniacs fanatics. Those ladies were obsessed with the guy, and each proclaimed him the sexiest man that ever lived. Although I don’t advocate any type of behavior that leads to a scary level of infatuation and mania (take note, all you tween Justin Bieber fans out there), I can see where the allure lies. Isaak is one suave dude. He reminds me of a cross between Elvis and David Duchovny, sans the X-Files stigma or the peanut butter & banana sandwiches.
From humble blue-collar beginnings, Chris literally is a self-made musician. If Loretta Lynn was the Coal Miner’s Daughter, Isaak is the Fork Lift Operator’s Son. Teaching himself how to play on his brother’s guitar, influenced by country music (and by Elvis himself), he began writing songs in his teens.
Dabbling in amateur boxing during his youth, Isaak also was an exchange student staying in Japan. There he decided on music as a his career. After years of paying his dues in San Francisco dives, he finally caught his break in the mid-1980s. His debut album Silvertone garnered attention and particularly caught the ear of film director David Lynch. The creatively eccentric filmmaker put two of Isaak’s songs in the 1986 film Blue Velvet. A few years alter, Lynch used a little known song from another of Chris’s albums (Heart-Shaped World) for the film Wild at Heart. That song? “Wicked Game.” Hot as a match, the song lit the fuse that rocketed Isaak into stratospheric new levels of success.
And like that, he began appearing in front of more audiences, both in film and TV. After a few blink-and-you-miss-him turns in Married To The Mob and The Silence of the Lambs (I guess Jonathan Demme is a big fan, too), he featured more prominently on the big screen in Little Buddha and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Seems like directors simply love Isaak, and even the reclusive cinematic auteur Stanley Kubrick used the song “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” in his final film, 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut. Heck, the entire trailer was set to the song.
Taking his talents into living rooms across America, Chris was finally exhibited in a show of his own. The Showtime network gave him “The Chris Isaak Show” in 2001, where he and his band played fictionalized versions of themselves. Think of it as a more musically based version of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” without the acerbic humor and Larry David’s unassuming yet rude behavior. Lasting three seasons, it was generally liked but not loved by cable audiences.
Although still crossing over into different media, Isaak is now focusing again on his music predominantly. This week’s performance at The Paramount promises to maintain his long-time rockabilly charm and that (ahem) smooth sex appeal. I, for one, would not be surprised in the least to see some of the long-time
maniacs fans there that I’m familiar with.
Songs will also be performed from last year’s album, Mr. Lucky. As described on his website, this album is “like some rocking Sinatra album for the 21st Century, a song cycle about the good luck we earn and the bad luck we just can’t seem to shake.” Sounds like it’s worth a roll of the dice to me.
Don’t miss the show. That would be a bad bad thing.
The show is Wednesday, Oct. 13th. 8 pm.