He quit his corporate job and purchased an old truck to take off for three days. The Ford F100 was named Darlene, the seller told him, as he handed him a keychain with her name. In the truck was just one CD by country legend Merle Haggard.
Chris, who had zero interest in country music until then, cranked ol’ Merle and headed north. “By the time I came back from that trip, it was 15 days later and I had all these new songs,” he says.
The songs told stories, stories of characters and places, vivid pictures full of adjectives only a country boy could know.
“It came out of my background,” says Chris, who grew up in a town of 20,000 called Dundas, just west of Toronto. “I’m from the country, essentially, so I know all of those motifs about cars and horses and that kind of thing. Before, I was writing typical boy-meets-girl songs and they were harder to write than when I started just telling stories about things that I really knew from childhood.”
When he and Darlene returned home to Toronto, he started thinking of a female singer with whom he could form a duo. “I wanted to soften some of the blow of my side of things, like a Johnny Cash and June Carter type of thing,” Chris explains. He also wanted her to be a really great guitar player to match his skills and interest. Courtney immediately came to mind.