Things That Bring Back Memories – “Mike & The Mechanics – The Living Years” #MemoriesMonday 39

Things That Bring Back Memories

For this “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something pertaining to the topic of “Music“.  There are so many songs that I can remember from years ago, and since music is a huge part of our family, the memories come streaming back when you hear a certain song.

Do you ever have that tune that comes on the radio, and you can just automatically remember where you were, who you were with and what you were doing?  It amazes me, how as I get older, I can’t remember things from last week – but have that certain song come on the radio on a “Flashback” day, and “BOOM”, I am back in the place I was when I heard it.  Don’t know if it’s the side effects of my brain surgery, which they said might affect certain memory, but I’m so glad that I can remember some things of the “good old days.”mike

So to get on with this “Things That Brings Back Memories” blog post for this week, I’m going to pick “The Living Years” by Mike & The Mechanics, which was released on October 28, 1988.  This song is one that I really didn’t get into, until later in life.  If you don’t remember it, check this out (p.s. I want to hear you singing):

mikeThe song “The Living Years” is one that I really didn’t listen to until years after it was released.  I remember seeing the video on MTV and thinking it was just too slow for me.  Back then I was a headbanger, and if you didn’t have long hair, and a stud bracelet on, I really didn’t want to hear it!!  Crazy, how as you get older, music can mean so much more, even if it wasn’t on your turntable every day of the year. Now for all of you younger folks, a “turntable” was a machine that played records…those old school things before the CD…you can probably find more information in the encyclopedia online. 🙂

Some people know this about me, but most don’t.  When I was 17, I lost my Dad to a heart attack.  Praise God that it had all happened when he was sleeping, so there was no suffering.  Growing up without my Dad, was pretty hard.  Especially later in life, getting married and not having him to walk me down the aisle (my little brother did it though, and it’s one thing I really hold dear).  Not having him around when my husband and I had our son, Dylan.  My Dad never got to meet either of them…praise God again, that one day he will…in heaven!!

Now, as for the memories of the song: “The Living Years“, after I had my son, I was listening to the song one day, and heard this verse…mike

…the song really meant a lot more to me now!  I actually still have it on my MP3 player in the car, and almost every time I hear that part of the song, it makes me kind of have to catch my breath.  After my husband and I had our son, I remember a neighbor of ours seeing DJ for the first time and saying “Wow, it’s just like I’m looking at your Dad.”  That’s another reason why this song has meant so much.  The baby’s newborn tears part makes me know that my Dad is still with us, being a part of our son. 🙂  All in all, this is definitely one of my favorite songs, still today.  It may be old, and may not have a lot of meaning to any other people, but for’s one of those that makes a mark on what my life was and is about.

So, is there a song that brings back great memories for you? Leave a comment below, and let me know.


More Info on the Band:

The Living Years” was a song written from the perspective of a son who has a conflicted relationship with his father. After his father dies, he discovers that he and his dad had a much stronger bond than he ever realized, and the son regrets not saying more while his dad was alive.

It was written by group founder Mike Rutherford and the Scottish songwriter B.A. Robertson; the pair also co-wrote mikethe first Mike + The Mechanics hit, “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground).” Both Robertson and Rutherford had recently lost their fathers when they wrote this song, making it a very personal endeavor for both of them.

The song was written in stages. B.A. Robertson wrote the first verse before his father died in 1986 (the same year Rutherford lost his dad). The pair composed the music based on this verse, and then a while later Robertson came up with the second verse. The final verse didn’t come to him until shortly before the song was recorded. Robertson was staying at a hotel in Los Angeles and was under pressure to finish the lyric before flying back to Europe. He recalls going outside to a garden at the hotel when the verse came to him.  Robertson was working with Rutherford when he got the call that his dad had died, which is reflected in the opening lines of the famous verse in the song.

Rutherford was from a distinguished family. His father was naval officer, Captain William Rutherford. He was sent to one of England’s top private schools, Charterhouse, where he met future Genesis bandmates Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks. Rutherford was the band’s bass and rhythm guitarist, contributing important parts to the sound but taking a back seat to lead guitarist Anthony Phillips (who was soon replaced by Steve Hackett). The band became renowned throughout the 1970s for their elaborate, classically influenced progressive rock, which gained a growing cult fanbase. Gabriel left in 1975 but the band grew in commercial appeal. When Hackett left in 1977, the band decided not to replace him and Rutherford became their sole guitarist on subsequent studio albums. They would soon move away from their status as a cult band and into mainstream success, becoming one of Britain’s biggest bands of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Mike Rutherford began writing songs for the album in September 1987, shortly after the conclusion of Genesis’s Invisible Touch Tour. However, he found himself immediately stricken with writer’s block, a circumstance he attributes to stress over the complications with his wife’s current pregnancy, which nearly mikeended in the death of the child. The baby (Rutherford’s third) was safely delivered in November, and Rutherford said that the relief made him feel “like a new man”. In January he entered an extremely prolific songwriting period, and by the end of the month he had what he and producer/co-writer Christopher Neil felt was a good album’s worth of material. In light of this, Neil wanted to move up the recording sessions, which had been scheduled for April. Rutherford vetoed the idea, however, and with his burst of inspiration still running, most of the songs that eventually appeared on the album were written over the next two months.

The first single taken off the album, “Nobody’s Perfect,” peaked at number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100. The next single off the album, “The Living Years”, was a worldwide number one hit, reaching that mark on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week ending 25 March 1989. The song also reached number one on the Australian ARIA singles chart the week ending May 13, 1989. In the United Kingdom, it spent three weeks at number 2 in January and February 1989, behind Marc Almond and Gene Pitney’s reworking of “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart.”

The song was co-written by Rutherford and B. A. Robertson, both of whose fathers had recently died. However, the lyrics were written solely by Robertson, and dealt with Robertson’s strained relationship with his father and the birth of his son three months after his father’s death. Paul Carrack, who would sing lead on the recording, had himself lost his father when he was only eleven years old.

A third single off the album, “Seeing is Believing”, reached number 62 on the Billboard chart.

Phil Collins and Tony Banks, Rutherford’s Genesis bandmates, made a guest appearance playing the riff on “Black & Blue” (a sample by Banks of Collins and Rutherford playing a riff during the Invisible Touch sessions).

The Living Years Deluxe Edition was released on 20 January 2014, featuring a new recording of the hit song with Andrew Roachford on vocals and a bonus CD of live and rare tracks.

Story Mike Wrote About The Song:

“As a teenager in the late 1960’s, the last thing I wanted was to be like my father. He was a retired naval captain who’d fought in the second world war; I’d just recorded my first album with Genesis, had hair down to my elbows and lived in jeans and a military jacket from Kensington market that smelled like an entire battalion had worn it at some stage or another. It never occurred to me that he might see this as disrespectful.

Dad was always punctual, methodical and orderly, whereas I took after my mother, who wasn’t. At 13, they sent me to Charterhouse school, which I hated, and eventually I got chucked out. He believed that the guitar was a symbol of the youth revolution and even banned me from playing it. I couldn’t stand rules and regulations whereas that’s what Dad’s life revolved around – yet the funny thing is that my life and his have ended up being oddly similar.

My father, William Francis Henry Crawford Rutherford, was born in 1906. When he was eight his father, an army medic, went off to serve in the first world war. I was born in 1950 and 18 months old when Dad went off to the Korean War. I don’t remember him going but I do remember him coming back two years later: he asked how many teeth I had, then let me crawl all over his car – both good opening moves, I thought.

In 1955, Dad was made captain of the gunnery school on Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour, and my mother, sister and I all went to live in the captain’s house. Dad seemed to me like he was at the center of everything on the island – every ceremony revolved around him, everyone saluted him – but then he failed to get promotion to the rank of admiral and was expected to retire from the navy. With a young family, that was out of the question.

Dad eventually got a job at Hawker Siddeley (which later became part of British Aerospace) in Cheshire. I didn’t see him much of him as I grew up – by the time he came home from work I’d be in bed and then I was packed off to prep school at the age of seven – and I think that’s probably why those times we were together felt so important.

Dad had also been to boarding school and I’ll never forget his words as he left me behind for my first term: “Now Michael, you’re the son of a naval officer, you must behave like a naval officer and be strong at all times.” And I was, for about three weeks. Then I realized I’d been done and burst into tears one break, as I was drinking my milk. But I got used to it in the end.

My parents took me to my first gig – Cliff Richard at the Manchester Apollo – and Mum even took me to buy my first electric guitar when I was 10. They never stood in the way of my musical career.

By my final year at Charterhouse I was getting terrible reports – the only good thing about being there was meeting Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel and the other founder members of Genesis. By the time Dad decided we should talk about my future I was committed to Genesis. 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.

My life changed when I married Angie in 1977 and moved to the country to start a family. But a band is a very selfish being and two days after Angie came home from the hospital with our first child, I flew to the Netherlands for three months to work on a new record.

Genesis in 1974, from left Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett. Photograph: Dennis Stone/Getty Images
As time went on, I realized I was following in my Dad’s footsteps: like him I was often away from home and touring the world surrounded by a huge crew, only he had medals and I had gold discs. But when I was at home, Angie, the kids and I enjoyed a lot of sport together. It bonded us in a way that I’d never been able to bond with Dad: with him there was no shared language. He’d always ask me how work was going and he read all our press – he even came to concerts, making sure his gunnery earplugs were firmly in place first – but would never just pick up the phone for a chat. I was as bad.

By the early 80s, life was a blur: album, tour, album, tour. We had four US Top 5 singles and our first US No 1. It was great – private planes, the best of everything – but it was also so busy that when I got home, I almost felt I didn’t have to make an effort in other areas of my life. Angie had to nag me to ring my parents, but because I paid for them to go on a cruise each year, I’d kid myself I’d done enough. Then one night in 1986, when I was on tour in America, the phone rang at 3am. Dad was dead.

My biggest regret was not telling him what a wonderful man he’d been in my life. But I’d also been to public school where you learned to hide your feelings to survive. And fathers and sons of my generation just didn’t say things like “I love you” to each other.

What Dad had impressed on me was the importance of duty. In his world, if you had an obligation, you fulfilled it – it was as simple as that.

My third child was born a year after Dad’s death – that’s when BA Robertson and I wrote the song The Living Years, which we recorded with my new band, Mike and the Mechanics. BA and I had both lost our fathers and his lyric tied into both our lives. The number of letters that we’ve had about that song continues to amaze me. When I write something I never really think anyone’s going to hear it, but The Living Years has changed people’s lives – made them pick up the phone to their fathers after years of silence sometimes – and I’m very aware how lucky we were to have a song do that.

It was only after my father died and I was going through an old trunk of his that I discovered my parents had had money worries later in life. I think if only I’d known, I could have given them an allowance instead of just sending them off on a cruise. But I also discovered something else in there: a copy of my father’s memoirs. My grandpa had successfully published two volumes of his memoirs during his lifetime but Dad’s book had been rejected by all the publishers he’d sent it to.

I think now how hard it must have been for Dad to have to face rejection, but the great thing for me is that when I read his book for the first time, it was almost like we were having the conversations I’d missed out on when he was alive. A different side of him came through on paper: he always had a sense of humor, but it really came out in his stories. I also learned what he’d done during the war – including how he’d been involved in sinking the Bismarck – he’d never talked about it.

Dad’s book was the best legacy he could have left me and, having followed in the family memoir-writing tradition, I hope my kids feel the same about my book too. They’re under orders to read it.”

Some Other Interesting Facts:

  • The children’s choir on this song came from the King’s House School in London.
  • The video was directed by Tim Broad, who did many of Morrissey’s clips. Mike Rutherford appears with his young son, Thomas, in the video in a spectacular coastline setting in the Somerset Levels in England.
  • This garnered a Grammy nomination for Song Of The Year, but lost to “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” It did, however win for Best Song at the Ivor Novello awards.

Connect With Them





You Tube









Thanks for stopping by today.  Please be sure to leave a comment, if this song meant something to you, too.  Or to just let me know what you think of the story in this post! Thanks and have a great day!!  TigerStrypes claims no credit for any images used on this post, unless otherwise noted. Images in this post are copyright to their respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email us with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed. Thanks and have a great day!!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

Thank you for sharing this. I get emotional whenever I listen to this song. I think about the people or friend or a family member that passed on in life. I may have never been in good terms with them when they passed on. But it also gives me the courage to always be grateful of the older generation before my generation. To always respect them.

Eliz Frank
Eliz Frank
9 years ago

I remember the band and the song as it meant as much to me too. Like you, my dad passed away from a heart attack and the memories are still ripe. Music and photos create a wonderful space for memories. 🙂

Kaye Fig / I Love Keisha

I used to hear my father listening to their songs.

9 years ago

Wow! I didn’t realize all that about Mike and the Mechanics… It indeed is a great song!

Linda Kinsman
9 years ago

Hey former headbanger! I still crank up the Rock n roll, but like this song too. I think you have to be a bit older and wiser and understand the loss of a loved one before you can totally get this song. Great choice. Sorry you lost your Dad so young too.

Katriza @ Everything Home Life

I feel so young as I’ve never heard of them before! Thanks for sharing!

9 years ago

Flashback! It makes me feel so proud that I totally remember this!

The Pinterested Parent

I loved this song. I lost my mother many years back & I understand that line that you quoted from the song. My mother never met her granddaughter. After my daughter was born I felt something different towards my mother that I had never felt before.

9 years ago

Oh my gosh! I totally love this song! I love the group too!

Chelley @ A is For Adelaide

Garth Brooks, The River… always brings back such a flood of memories for me!

Carmen Perez (listen2mama)

I used to love them way back when…wow, am I feeling old now!

Chelley @ A is For Adelaide

Oh man… all the new music coming out, in general, make me feel old!

9 years ago

Music can be such a powerful thing, whether it’s invoking good memories or sometimes bad memories. Music has always been a huge part of my life, as I like to say, I tend to have a soundtrack playing through my head at any given time.

9 years ago

I find that so many songs bring back memories!! That is a good one. It’s hard growing up without a dad.Hugs!!

Mhar Sefcik
9 years ago

I miss the great singers and bands from long ago. I love their songs.

Jillian Fisher
9 years ago

I vaguely remember listening to them as a kid. I will have to go on youtube and watch them to bring back some memories.

9 years ago

How wonderful to have found those memoirs. And how wonderful that they were appreciated.

Anne Campbell
9 years ago

I lost my dad, too, and I think about him all the time when my boys do things that he isn’t here to see and experience with them. I can see him in all of them, though. This song is a wonderful memory for me, too. I also love “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. That one always makes me cry for some reason. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

9 years ago

Almost all of wilson Phillips and Bon Jovi bring back memories for me!

Tough Cookie Mommy
9 years ago

Sometimes, different scents bring back memories for me. It is almost like the smell brings me right back to that moment.

Megan Elford
9 years ago

There are so many memories that I have that are wrapped up in music! And like you said, quite often the words take on different and deeper shades of meaning as we age.

Liz Mays
9 years ago

Ha! I listened to that (on cassette) relentlessly. I probably still would if I had anything that could play cassettes. What a fun blast from the past!

Angela McKinney
9 years ago

I have never heard of this band or the song. I did play it just now and its pretty good. I was born in the 80’s so that’s probably why I haven’t heard of them.

Yona Williams
9 years ago

I remember this group, especially the lead singer – he had a distinct look with his hair and nose. I was 10 in 1988. And, I remember this song…it always sounded so sad to me.

Barb W.
9 years ago

How interesting! I didn’t know the story behind the song before, but it’s one that I enjoy listening to, too, and also one that gives me pause as I reflect on missing my dad. He is still here with me and I certainly see those reflections in my children. Amazing what emotions and memories songs can evoke!

9 years ago

I remember Mike and the Mechanics.. That is some story Mike wrote.. thanks for sharing this information it brought me back some memories for sure

Robin (Masshole Mommy)
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
9 years ago

I loved them back in the day. Then they just fell off the face of the earth lol.

tara pittman
9 years ago

I remember this song. Heard it a lot when I was dating my husband.

L. E. Mastilock
9 years ago

Look at those 80’s fashions! I do remember MTV used to have music