This song... wow. The message it sends to every single one of us. Have you heard this song? It was released in December 1988 by Mike + The Mechanics (Mike Rutherford was formally a member of the music group Genesis).
This song has been on my radar for years. And I've been trying to find the words for a blog post about this song for a long time. So, please take a listen to this song as you read through my post.
Over the years I've seen & heard people comment on The Living Years as the message of
"we need to tell our parents how much we love them because one day it will be too late."
And that is so true. We have no idea how long we will have our parents -- or maybe some have already said their good-byes to their parents.
And I completely understand this aspect.
But I think there's another aspect of The Living Years that has not been focused on. So, here's a little backstory of this song written by Mike Rutherford. It's an excerpt from the summary on Amazon of his book titled
The Living Years ...
"Now Michael, you're the son of a naval officer, you must behave like a naval officer at all times..." What Captain William Rutherford told his seven-year-old son Michael was to stay with him all his life. Born in 1950, Michael was truly his father's son, even serving in the naval section of the student cadet corps at one of England's top public schools, Charterhouse. Mike's future lay in the civil service: it was a subject that he discussed with his father at Captain Crawford's gentlemen's club. But then something happened. Mike discovered rock music. As one of the founder members of Genesis, Mike was to tour the world and achieve international fame....
Mike would go on to crisscross the globe with bandmates Peter Gabriel and, later, Phil Collins, playing to packed-out stadiums and achieving record sales of over 150 million...
But, in the background - and sometimes in the audience -
there was also the loyal Captain Rutherford, earplugs at the ready, Melody Maker in hand.
A proud father still.
... But this is not just another rock'n'roll memoir. This is also a book about
two men whose lives and complex relationship reflect the seismic social and cultural shifts that took place during the twentieth century. A book for every father and son.
There's an aspect of this song that I've never really seen anyone address...
Captain William Francis Henry Crawford Rutherford
I still don't understand why he decided to support me after all he'd spent on my education, but he did – he even put up some more money so we could buy equipment and then persuaded Pete and Tony's fathers to do the same. And when Phil Collins joined the band as our drummer in 1970 my parents let us stay at their house in Farnham while we rehearsed.
Did you read it... did you catch it... did you see it?
That one aspect that is overlooked...
I don't understand why he decided to support me... but he did.
and if you don't give up
and don't give in
you may just be okay
Yes, this song was written by a man who didn't tell his father (before he died) that he loved him... but I kind of get the impression that his father knew that his son loved him.
This song can speak as much truth and life into parents as it does into their adult children.
You see, my question is this...
what would have happened to the father-son relationship if Captain Rutherford had written his son off when Mike followed his own career path?
But he didn't.
Instead, Captain Rutherford supported his son and his choice of career.
And that's what relationships are all about.
Captain Rutherford had a choice --
to either support his son in the career path that his son chose for himself
to instill tension in the relationship with his son because of his son's career choice
So maybe the next time you hear this song...
just listen to it.
We may not see eye to eye with someone...
but maybe we can simply listen
(we all) can listen as well as (we) hear
I want my future generations to see me as a listener.
If I'm a listener, then I'm a learner.
If I'm a learner, then I have listened well.