“It’s too late when we die to admit we don’t see eye to eye”

– The Living Years, by Mike &  The Mechanics

Praise for the Author: Mike & The Mechanics is a British pop band formed by a former member of the music supergroup Genesis, Mike Rutherford, in 1984. The band’s first self entitled album produced two top ten hit singles and made Top 40 in America. Their next album, “The Living Years,” produced a single also by that name which was so successful it gained worldwide recognition and praise, becoming the number eighteenth best-selling single that year. Through major shifts in band membership and the tragic death of vocalist Paul Young, Mike & The Mechanics has demonstrated the unwavering drive and dedication to music that is found lacking in many younger artists in the pop industry today.

Paraphrase: Sometimes petty fights or grudges last a lifetime, but we should not wait until it’s too late to try to make amends and reconcile differences. If an argument does drive people a part, sometimes death is the only thing that puts things into a clear perspective.

Causes/Reasons for Saying:  Far too often meaningful relationships are driven a part by relatively meaningless and petty differences or arguments. The inability to not “see eye to eye” can last a lifetime and even over generations. It can even be looked at in terms of large groups of people, such as Democrats and Republicans; people of different faiths, such as Muslims and those who follow Judaism; or even entire civilizations. The song “The Living Years,” and the lyric above in particular, demonstrate that opposing opinions/perspectives/beliefs on an issue should not be the reason for closing your life off to a particular person whom you would otherwise value having a relationship with. This quote underscores the importance of realizing sooner rather than later that sometimes people just don’t agree or see “eye to eye,” and one should never wait until they completely lose the inability, due to death, to reconcile with another. It is unfortunate that losing someone forever is sometimes the only thing that puts trivial differences into perspective and leads to needless regret. Misunderstandings, petty differences, different perspectives, and life-long grudges tear the world apart.

Contrast: “He conquers who endures” – Persius. This quote is contrasting because if one were to live by the belief that endurance and perseverance are values that should be given absolute priority, they are most likely not going to follow Mike & The Mechanic’s advice. Sometimes an individual can be so stubborn and heard-headed that reconciling differences with someone means defeat, and they then live with the regret of that opinion when it’s too late.

Comparison: “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future” – Paul Boese. This quote means that the simple act of forgiving cannot erase the past and eliminate any previous hardships or hurt feelings, but it can make a better and brighter future. In many cases, not seeing “eye to eye” means one party may have negatively affected the other, and there is no time like the present to forgive and move forward.

Example: The song “The Living Years” is actually based on the relationship the bands creator, Mike Rutherford, had  with his father. Throughout Rutherford’s adult life there had been a severe lack of communication between his father and himself, resulting in unresolved tension and consistently driving the two farther and farther apart. Rutherford never had the chance to make amends and lost his father just twelve weeks before the birth of his son.

Testimony: Actress Tori Spelling has had a public and well-known feud with both of her parents throughout most of her adult life and career. However, in a 2006 article of People magazine, she described how much she valued the chance to mend her relationship with her 86 year old father before his fatal stroke. She stated, “I’m grateful I recently had the opportunity to reconcile with my father and most grateful we had the chance to tell each other we loved one another before he passed away.”

Epilogue: The pop/rock music industry might not always be the best source for meaningful advice on life. However, this lyric is composed in such a strikingly understandable and powerful way that perfectly underscores the importance of realizing before it’s too late that even though someone has a different belief than you, it is no reason to throw away what would otherwise be a valued relationship.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Holland, everyone in the class ought to see this–it’s very thorough, with all sorts of material from surprising but entirely apt sources!


  2. Posted by bsoda on September 20, 2011 at 1:23 am

    I’ll admit it: I know this song ONLY because a glee club sang it on Glee. It was a Glee club that was made entirely of old people (oh the irony). I must say that reviewing your chreia in class made me want to listen to the original song, and really pay attention to the lyrics. I think that you analyzed the song (specifically, the line) in a way that the artists would be proud of. The song is deeper than a lot of other “live for the moment, live now” songs, and, as proven in your chreia, is a perfectly creditable source.


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