This is the final installment of “Cycles and Seeds” — songs, poem, and other connections to the theme of fathers and sons.
“The Living Years” written by B.A. Robertson and Mike Rutherford Recorded by Mike and the Mechanics
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
My thoughts: Much of this song is about regret — how we do not and cannot get the words out when someone is alive, and to tell them what it is we really want to say. This song seems to carry a lot of frustration and anger, yet lifts up at the end with the stanzas I included above. With the passing of the father and then a new born child, the cycle continues. We can only hope we can do better next time. This song pairs well with the Hayden poem “Those Winter Sundays.” When we are young, we miss so many things, are so unaware. It can only lead to regret, which then leads to hope for better days.
Text Connection: last section from “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
“Everything I Own” written by David Gates
Recorded by Bread
You taught me how to love
What it’s of, what it’s of
You never said too much,
But still you showed the way
And I knew from watching you
Nobody else could ever know,
The part of me that can’t let go
And I would give anything I own,
I’d give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own,
Just to have you back again
My thoughts: If not listening closely, one might think this is your normal love song. And in a sense it is. David Gates wrote this after his father passed away, and it found a special place in my heart when I knew that about the song. It is gentle, and somewhat eulogizing. But mostly it is about the need for being thankful for what once was. What our fathers deliver to us — in their presence or their absence — is the stuff of which our lives are made. The cycles are eternal, and the seeds we throw should be worthy of us. Mostly, no matter our relationship, no matter the anger or the pain or the joy, we must keep moving forward. The final legacy for each of us is that our fathers had a part in giving life to us. And for that, we are grateful.
Text Connection: last two stanzas of “Throw Yourself Like Seed” by Miguel De Unamuno
Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field,
don’t turn your face for that would be to turn it to death,
and do not let the past weight down your motion.
Leave what’s in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself,
for life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds;
from your work you will be able to one day gather yourself.