Father’s Day special: Mike + the Mechanics, "The Living Years" (1988)

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If there’s one song I am drawn to by the message alone, it’s this one. The cheesy late-eighties production and the plain melody does not bother me one bit. That’s because this song is a touching confessional coupled with a powerful message from Genesis guitarist and Mike + the Mechanics leader Mike Rutherford.

Rutherford, like many of his hippie generation, rebelled against his parent’s generation. True, you can say that about every generation, but the generation gap of the Vietnam War Era got chronicled more than most and helped shaped history. Many of them reached a point in their lives when they came to realize that they have more in common with their father than they previously thought but a lack of communication delayed that epiphany. Rutherford’s came when he had a baby just after his father passed away. Contrary to what was originally thought, Rutherford didn’t write the lyrics to the melody that he wrote; Scottish pop star B.A. Robertson did, but Robertson’s own experience mirrored Rutherford’s, so it carried much resonance with him.

There is one other thing I love about this song aside from the lyrics and that’s Paul Carrack singing those lyrics. Despite having been the voice behind so many familiar hits, including this chart topper, he’s still not the household name you’d think someone with his pipes and the skins on the wall should be. His performance here is committed, passionate and completely professional. The children’s choir backing is a fitting touch, too.

If your dad is with you on earth on this Father’s Day, heed the advice given on Rutherford and Robertson’s song and show your appreciation for him while you are still able to see his appreciation back. If your old man has already passed on, read Nick’s moving reflections about the absence of his own father. He can relate.

Here’s a video, with words to live by today … in the living years:

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