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

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 defense

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late 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 O.K.

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

Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Living Years Lyrics as written by Mike Rutherford (gb) B.a. Robertson


Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Living Years song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +10
    General CommentThis song made me cry as a kid with the thought of my Mom dying. Now that she's gone, it makes me cry even more.
    filmgirl79on May 06, 2011   Link
  • +6
    General CommentThis song means so much to me b/c my dad died when I was 7 and this song had come out pretty close to that time. Even though I was only 7 I still have very fond memories of him and videos. Even time I hear I get goosebumps.
    Biggdaddyton August 26, 2005   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationAs a child, I always hated this song. My mom always said it was about telling your parents you love them before they're gone. Yeah, not so much.

    I heard this song for the first time in years today. I'm still not crazy about it but the lyrics make more sense to me now.

    In my mind, it's not about burying the hatchet or making nice with a parent you would rather stayed out of your life. It's about not holding a grudge but getting everything out in the open, and then letting it all go. Tell them exactly how you feel, instead of just letting this cloud of tension hover over everything while you fake being nice to them. Don't let them go to their grave wondering. Air it all out, and then walk away. At least then you both know where you stand.

    For all the things my father did to me growing up, I don't wish him any ill. I severed all ties with him a decade ago and I'm a much better person without him in my life. And I have no regrets, I said what I needed to say and gave him a chance to say his peace, and washed my hands of it. I did just what the song said, I told him while he was still alive to hear it.
    Coasterman72on December 01, 2014   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationI can't find a single line in this awesome song that doesn't strike a chord in my soul. Being the 7th child of my Mom and 5th for my Dad (last child for both) I most definitely was deprived and ignored and misguided growing up. I'm not plying for any sympathy here, Only understanding. I actually thought I had an awesome childhood growing up. Came and went as I pleased. Played hooky from school often, Never punished. Was a total punk and truant. Did some other things that I as a parent would NEVER permit my child to do. In a nutshell, I was forgotten. I didnt get the guidance I needed. The discipline. The mentoring. The love and affection. No fishing trips. No working on a car together. No playing catch. No nothing. I wasn't cared for. I didn't get proper health care. Dental care. Decent clothes to wear. Healthy food and proper meals. I never had my own room. I had only a handful of pictures taken of me by ANYONE growing up. With 4 sisters 2 brothers and a Mother and a father. I could never get close to my father. He was always too busy or unavailable or just flat uninterested in me.. But he is not to be vilified by me for his lack of concern and interest in me. I've never walked in his shoes. That's number one. I failed him as a son in my adult years- when I had opportunity to establish a relationship with him. Now he's gone. I wish I would have told him- all I wanted to say, in his living years.
    Alabama Boy
    Jbob2bopon March 10, 2016   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI herd this song when I was little, I always remembered it and sang to it , it was later i started understanding the lyrics, My cousin asked me if I remembered this song, she explained it was played at my dads funeral. I finally understood why this song meant so much to me... I was only 5 when he died , wish I got to know him , I wish I got to tell him all the things I have to tell. And I swear years later when I gave birth to my baby girl I did hear his echo in my babies tears , I really do wish I got to meet him in his living years. My kids speak of him as if they knew him and jump on the trampoline hoping if they jump real high they might just touch him in the sky... I know he never got to meet my kids but my kids sure do know him sometimes i think more than I do.
    I understand the lyrics to be to listen not just speak. Listen to what people are trying to say instead of speaking what you want, you learn soo much more of hearing. DOnt let things be unsaid, let people know you care. I wish I had a chance with my dad , but I do have a chance with the people whom are here right now!!
    nyzergirlon October 22, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis song has been my absolute favourite for over ten years now. I had trouble finding it but a friend knew it was Mike and the Mechanics and I've been a great fan of theirs ever since. The song makes me want to cry every time I hear it and to me it's just saying how important it is to tell people how you feel and get things out into the open, because life is just too short for misunderstanding, and harbouring grudges.
    tjf4375on July 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song's meaning is deep, but should be fairly clear. The singer is expressing his regret that he was never able to be close to his father, to express his love for his father, before his father died. Now that his fatehr is dead, it's too late to try and make up for past differences. It is implied that the relationship between the father and son was not good, and the son is now regretting his lost opportunities to make amends.
    worlebirdon November 13, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI look at this song and think what great lyrics it has, how passionately its sung and how strong and true the meaning behind it but some people wont pay attention to this, and this is what the song is saying say it NOW OR NEVER.
    NowOrNever666on January 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretationit allows you to reflect on your past and want to change from doing wrongs
    baby123on November 27, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is such a great, sad song i heard it on the radio last night for the first time in years, so i downloaded it, ha! now i have to comment on it.
    LiveUrLifeon June 01, 2002   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top