Song Lyric Sunday — Regrets

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams is giving us songs that mention Disgust, Embarrassment, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, and/or Shame, as suggested by Melanie at Sparks From a Combustible Mind. The song I chose is “The Living Years” from Mike & The Mechanics.

“The Living Years” was a soft rock ballad written by B. A. Robertson and Mike Rutherford, and recorded by Rutherford’s British rock band Mike & The Mechanics, with band member Paul Carrack singing lead vocals. Rutherford, who was the bass player and later the guitarist for Genesis, formed Mike & the Mechanics as a side project. The song was released in December 1988 in the U.K. and the U.S. as the second single from their album, Living Years. “The Living Years” was a hit around the world, topping the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on in March 1989, the band’s only number-one song on that chart. “The Living Years” received a Grammy nomination in 1989 for Song Of The Year, but lost to “The Wind Beneath My Wings.”

The song addresses a son’s regret over unresolved conflict with his now-deceased father. After his father dies, he discovers that he and his dad had a much stronger bond than he ever realized, and he’s remorseful for not saying more while his dad was still alive. I can relate to this song because one of my biggest personal regrets is not having taken the time to really talk with my father about his own youth and his living years before he died.

Both Robertson and Rutherford had recently lost their fathers when they wrote this song, making it a very personal endeavor for both of them. Robertson was working with Rutherford when he got the call that his dad had died, which is reflected in the this line: I wasn’t there that morning / When my father passed away. Three months before his father died, Robertson’s son was born, which we hear in this line: I’m sure I heard his echo / In my baby’s new born tears.

Here are the lyrics to “The Living Years.”

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Oh, crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid that's all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

Say it loud (say it loud), say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late (it's too late) when we die (oh when we die)
To admit we don't see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It's the bitterness that lasts

So don't yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don't give up, and don't give in
You may just be okay

So say it loud, say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
Because it's too late, it's too late (it's too late) when we die (oh when we die)
To admit we don't see eye to eye

I wasn't there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Say it loud, say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late (it's too late) when we die (it's too late when we die)
To admit we don't see eye to eye

So say it, say it, say it loud (say it loud)
Say it clear (come on say it clear)

14 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Regrets

  1. Nope, Not Pam June 5, 2022 / 4:18 am

    It’s a beautiful song 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. newepicauthor June 5, 2022 / 7:01 am

    I wish I had learned more about my family also, but I did learn quite a lot when I took Sociology in college as I had to write a three generational analysis and I found some really interesting stuff. Nice choice today, Fandango especially with Father’s Day right around the corner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marleen June 5, 2022 / 8:19 am

    Really, really good.

    I love this the best
    (within the whole):
    So don’t yield to the fortunes
    You sometimes see as fate
    It may have a new perspective
    On a different day

    And the part about the baby’s tears, of course.

    It’s important for parents to stick with the job,
    encouragement and priorities, even when foggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gr8BigFun June 5, 2022 / 12:03 pm

    Great choice Fandango. I was a huge Genesis fan in the 80s and really enjoyed this side project over Collins solo stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol anne June 7, 2022 / 4:45 am

    this is one of my favourite songs! I just think the lyrics in this song are so poignant!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. leigha66 June 8, 2022 / 6:37 pm

    Nice to know the background on this song. I have always loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

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