The Living Years

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This article is about the song by Mike + The Mechanics. For the album of the single, see Living Years. For the 2013 album The Living Years, see The Isaacs. For the One Tree Hill episode, see The Living Years (One Tree Hill episode).
"The Living Years"
Single by Mike + The Mechanics
from the album Living Years
B-side "Too Many Friends"
Released 27 December 1988[1]
Format Cassette Single, 7"
Recorded 1988
Genre Soft rock, pop rock
Length 5:32
Label Atlantic, WEA
Writer(s) Mike Rutherford, B. A. Robertson
Producer(s) Christopher Neil, Mike Rutherford
Mike + The Mechanics singles chronology
"Nobody's Perfect"
(1988)
"The Living Years"
(1988)
"Seeing Is Believing"
(1989)

"The Living Years" is a ballad written by Mike Rutherford and B. A. Robertson, and recorded by Rutherford's English rock band Mike + The Mechanics. It was released in December 1988 in the UK and in the US 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,[2] 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.[3] It won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically & Lyrically in 1989,[4] and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1990. In 1996, famed composer Burt Bacharach opined: "'The Living Years' is one of the finest lyrics of the last 10 years."[5]

In 2004, "The Living Years" was awarded a 4 Million-Air citation by BMI.[6]

Content[edit]

The Mike + The Mechanics version was initially promoted to give the impression about the disagreements between Mike Rutherford and his father, who had recently died. In an interview with Rutherford, he 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."[3]

Music video[edit]

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. The chorus was done by a church choir.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Covers[edit]

There are dozens of recordings of the song,[27] instrumental as well as vocal, reggae to classical crossover, from artists as diverse as American country music band Alabama, 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 and The Katinas.

  • Mike + The Mechanics band member Paul Carrack, who performed the original lead vocal, has made a number of solo interpretations. Carrack's father died in an industrial accident when he was eleven.[28] It is still a mainstay of Carrack's live performances today.[29]
  • There is a comedic interpretation by Big Daddy,[30] where the song gets recast as the teen pop classic "Leader of the Pack", by The Shangri-Las.
  • The song has a number of foreign language covers, including the Tokyo Broadcasting System's (TBS) Drama, "Hotel", where it was performed, half in English, half in Japanese by one of the show's stars.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ release date
  2. ^ "Weekly Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 Songs from the First 50 Years, 1980–1989". www.billboard.com. 
  3. ^ a b Rothstein, Simon (18 June 2004). "The Mechanics fix it for Us". London: The Sun. 
  4. ^ "Mike Rutherford". IMDB. Retrieved 8 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Do you know the ways to Monterey? Santa Fe? Whitley Bay?..". Mojo. March 1996. 
  6. ^ "BMI London Awards: Song List". BMI. 5 October 2004. Retrieved 8 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Ultratop.be – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Radio2 Top 30 Artiest: Mike & The Mechanics | Radio2". VRT (in Dutch). Top30-2.radio2.be. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  11. ^ "RPM Top 30 Retail Singles". RPM Magazine. Library and Archives Canada. 50 (2). May 8, 1989. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Search: Canadian Top Singles". RPM Magazine. Library and Archives Canada. Search for "The Living Years". Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Musicline.de – Mike + The Mechanics Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Living Years". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  15. ^ a b Tatsaku, Ren (2011). The Oricon Sales Report (in Japanese). Tokyo: Oricon Style – Recording Industry Association of Japan. 
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Mike & The Mechanics search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years". VG-lista. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  20. ^ a b "Swedish single certifications – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years" (in Swedish). Swedish Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 11 November 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Mike + the Mechanics – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Mike + the Mechanics. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Mike + the Mechanics – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Mike + the Mechanics. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Mike + the Mechanics – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Mike + the Mechanics. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Mike & The Mechanics". Official Charts. United Kingdom. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  25. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Mike + The Mechanics – The Living Years". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 11 November 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  26. ^ "British single certifications – Mike & the Mechanics – The Living Years". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 11, 2015.  Enter The Living Years in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  27. ^ "The Living Years Versions". www.allmusic.com. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. 
  28. ^ "Band biography". www.houseofmanyrooms.com. 
  29. ^ "Paul Carrack Discography". www.carrack-uk.com. 
  30. ^ "Music Big Daddy". www.blogspot.com. 
  31. ^ "Hotel Soundtrack". www.kanshin.com. 
Preceded by
"When I'm with You" by Sheriff
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
25 February 1989 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"You Got It" by Roy Orbison
Preceded by
"Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
25 March 1989
Succeeded by
"Eternal Flame" by The Bangles
Preceded by
"Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson
Canadian RPM Singles Chart number-one single
8 April 1989 – 15 April 1989
Succeeded by
"She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals
Preceded by
"She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals
Australian ARIA Chart number one single
13 May 1989
Succeeded by
"Eternal Flame" by The Bangles