“Tell Me There’s a Heaven” by Chris Rea
South Africa is a country with a messed up history. You probably don’t need us to tell you that. But during the apartheid years especially news and images of disturbing civil unrest were quite common. And the reason we are bringing this up is because it was that reality in particular which led to Chris Rea’s “Tell Me There’s a Heaven” being conceived.
Chris Rea’s daughter, who was very young at the time, was unfortunate enough to see some South African dude apparently being graphically lynched via a televised news report. This of course impacted her which, as the beginning of the song details, led to the child asking Chris about the nature of what she had just seen.
And it is not only that, but apparently she also uses the opportunity to question why there is so much suffering in the world in general.
Please, tell me there’s a Heaven
Meanwhile, it would appear that the child posed these same types of questions to her grandfather prior. And his response was like after these people suffer and pass away, they are then granted happiness in the afterlife, i.e. up in heaven alongside with God, His angels, etc.
But such an answer is not completely satisfactory in the eyes of the girl, as she is still negatively affected by scenes such as a dude being murdered, “hungry children” and what have you. So what she is asking her father, the vocalist, to do is indeed confirm that “there is a heaven”.
The implication is that the vocalist then proceeds to tell the child that yes, such is true. But what he does not express to her is his own doubts concerning the matter. In other words, despite being a mature adult who is versed in the ways in the world, he too is affected, or let’s disheartened but all of the “tears of pain” he too witnesses in life. Thus as the title also implies, Chris himself is looking for someone to confirm to him that there is in fact a heaven.
So conclusively what this song represents is a loss of faith – for lack of a more concise explanation. People who believe in God, even some of the major characters in the Bible, at times get discouraged due to what appears to be unpunished or unfair injustices.
And so it is with both the little girl and her father in this narrative. The vocalist, i.e. the dad, may put up a front when dealing with the girl in the name of buttressing his daughter’s faith. But in his own mind also such incidents are causing him to question the nature of the universe, if you will, as in if God Himself also sees what’s going on down here on the mortal plane.
“The Road to Hell”
Somewhat ironically, this song is featured on a Chris Rea album which itself is entitled “The Road to Hell”.
In fact being released by East West Records in 1990, “Tell Me There’s a Heaven” was issued as the fourth single from that project, which was Chris Rea’s 10th studio album.
Chris Rea is a singer from the UK who actually traces his paternal parentage to Italy and maternally Ireland. He has been professionally active since the early 1970s and has released somewhere to the tune of 40 albums, compilations included, between 1979 and 2020.
Rea has achieved limited success in the United States, with his debut project, “Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?”, marking his best showing on the Billboard 200 at a peak position of 49.
But his projects regularly appear on the UK Albums Chart. And in that regard, he’s had two chart toppers, the aforementioned “The Road to Hell” (1989) as well as the album which came after it, “Auberge” (1991).
Success of “Tell Me There’s a Heaven”
Upon its release “Tell Me There’s a Heaven” proved to be a mild hit in Chris Rea’s homeland, where it peaked at number 24 on the UK Singles Chart. The song re-charted in UK in 1994, when it was reissued as part of The Best of Chris Rea compilation album. And it charted for the first time in Austria in the year 2000, actually peaking at number 11 in said country.
Is this a self-written song?
Yes. This song was written by Chris Rea, who also produced the track alongside a fellow Briton, Jon Kelly.