The Living Years
|"The Living Years"|
|Single by Mike + The Mechanics|
|from the album Living Years|
|B-side||"Too Many Friends"|
|Released||27 December 1988|
|Format||Cassette Single, 12", 7", CD|
|Songwriter(s)||Mike Rutherford, B. A. Robertson|
|Producer(s)||Christopher Neil, Mike Rutherford|
|Mike + The Mechanics singles chronology|
"The Living Years" is a ballad written by Mike Rutherford and B. A. Robertson, and recorded by Rutherford's British rock band Mike + The Mechanics. It was released in December 1988 in the United Kingdom and in the United States as the second single from their album Living Years. The song was a chart hit around the world, topping the US Billboard Hot 100 on 25 March 1989, and reaching No.1 in Canada and Australia and No.2 in the UK. It spent four weeks at No. 1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. Paul Carrack sings lead vocals on the track.
The song addresses a son's regret over unresolved conflict with his now-deceased father. It won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically & Lyrically in 1989, and was nominated for four Grammy awards in 1990, including Record and Song of the Year, as well as Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Video. In 1996, famed composer Burt Bacharach opined, "'The Living Years' is one of the finest lyrics of the last 10 years."
In 2004, "The Living Years" was awarded a 4-Million-Air citation by BMI.
The Mike + The Mechanics version was initially promoted as giving impressions about disagreements between Mike Rutherford and his father, who had recently died. In an interview, Rutherford said:
"The lyrics were written by BA [Robertson], and the song is about something he went through. He lost his dad, and it's about the lack of communication between him and his father before he died. There's also the irony of him having a baby just after losing his father."
The music video was directed by Tim Broad and premiered in January 1989. It was filmed in October 1988 in West Somerset, England, near Porlock Weir and the hamlet of Culbone. The video features Mike Rutherford with his then-eight-year-old son, Tom. It also includes an appearance by actress Maggie Jones, best known for playing Blanche Hunt in the soap opera Coronation Street.
The video also shows the group playing the song, with two sets of choirs singing the chorus with them, an all-boys church choir and an adult choir.
Charts and certifications
There are alternative recordings of the song, instrumental as well as vocal, reggae to classical crossover, from artists as diverse as American country music band Alabama, Chris De Burgh, West End theatre star Michael Ball, Marcia Hines, Engelbert Humperdinck, James Last, The London Symphony Orchestra, Christian artist Russ Lee, Rhydian, John Tesh, Russell Watson, the London Community Gospel Choir, the Newsboys, The Isaacs, The Katinas, Japanese singer Kaho Shimada, Italian band Dik Dik and Michael English.
Mike + The Mechanics band member Paul Carrack, who performed the original lead vocal, has made a number of solo interpretations. His father died in an industrial accident when Carrack was eleven. It is still a mainstay of Carrack's live performances today.
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