Posts Tagged ‘Mike & The Mechanics’

Not Ready Yet

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

I was waiting for Mom to return to our table at the Ace yesterday, sipping a beer and looking forward to lunch. As I sat, I idly cataloged the music coming from the speakers in the ceiling: The last chunky chords of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Then Macca faded away, a Van Morrison tune came and went, and then came a wash of synth, joined soon enough by some rhythmic backing and then the vocals:

Every generation blames the one before . . .

I knew it immediately, of course: “In The Living Years” by Mike & The Mechanics. And the sound of it put me in my apartment in Anoka, Minnesota, the place I went to after two mostly difficult years on the North Dakota prairie. My place there was one of the nicer places I’ve lived, certainly it was the roomiest apartment I’ve ever had. The huge kitchen had a pleasant dining area that I doubt I ever used, preferring instead to take my meals at a table in the equally huge living room.

At least at the table in the living room, I could hear the stereo at the other end of the room without turning the volume up so high that my landlady and her kids would hear it in their place one floor up.

Having been infected with the collecting bug during my years in Minot, I brought lots of records to Anoka, some by groups new to me (or at least relatively so). Among those relatively new groups were Mike & The Mechanics. I’d heard their hit singles, of course, from the time they emerged in 1985: “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground),” “All I Need Is A Miracle,” and “Taken In.” And then, sometime in the first weeks of 1989, I’d heard “The Living Years” and went out and bought the similarly titled album.

That purchase took place was while I was in Minot, but the strains of the tune yesterday put me in mind of my apartment in Anoka some months later. I must have played the album more then, probably quite often as background music during weekly dinners with a ladyfriend. But somewhere between Anoka in 1989 and St. Cloud in 2015, I quit playing the album and pretty much forgot about Mike & The Mechanics. (The group has been mentioned only three times in this blog over the course of eight-plus years and some 1,800 posts.)

Back in 1989, I thought “The Living Years,” with its themes of father and son and of generational differences and regret, was a fine track, perhaps a bit over-written and a bit over-produced. Good, but nothing that grabbed me very hard. But back then, my father was still alive. As I heard its opening strains from the ceiling at the Ace yesterday, and as my mom returned to our table no more than ten seconds later, I thought to myself that perhaps I should listen to the track again sometime soon and find out how much I’ve changed.

I miss my dad. Later this month, Mom and I will note quietly the day that would have been his ninety-sixth birthday. I’m not sure I can listen to “The Living Years” without lots of tears, so I haven’t done so yet. But here it is, and I’m sure that sometime in the next few days, I’ll take a deep breath and click the “play” arrow and then weep.