The Living Years – Mick & The Mechanics

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………………on March 25th of 1989 Mike & The Mechanics sit at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart with “The Living Years”. It was written by group founder Mike Rutherford and the Scottish songwriter B.A. Robertson; the pair also co-wrote the 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. Mike Rutherford, who was the bass player and later the guitarist for Genesis, formed Mike + the Mechanics as a side project, using Paul Carrack and Paul Young (the one from the band Sad Café, not the solo artist). Carrack, who had a hit in 1987 with “Don’t Shed a Tear,” sang lead on this song. This was the second single released from the Living Years album, following the mid-tempo “Nobody’s Perfect,” which stalled at #63 US in December 1988 despite a video directed by Jim Yukich, who helmed many popular Genesis videos and also the previous Mike + The Mechanics clips. “The Living Years” runs 5:30, which in another era would be considered too long for radio play, but in 1989 listeners had a fair degree of patience: Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” Roxette’s “Listen To Your Heart” and Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You” were also US chart-toppers that exceeded five minutes in length. The song’s vocalist Paul Carrack had a personal connection with this song, as his father died in a mining accident when Paul was young. The children’s choir on this song came from the King’s House School in London. 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. The song was also a big hit in the UK where it reached #2.