I thank Bill Gaither for suggesting this song to the Isaacs and the Isaacs for recording it, because heaven forbid there should be any great 80s songs I haven’t yet discovered! For those who know it already, you might have thought it strange to see the ISAACS of all groups covering a secular Brit-pop track. But that just shows you Gaither’s genius, and the production talents of the Isaacs in making it their own. I went and found Mike and the Mechanics’ original after listening to their performance at NQC, thinking it couldn’t possibly measure up to what they did. Surprisingly, I found the original quite strong as well. Paul Carrack is a great vocalist. I do think the choir sections are a bit dull, but Paul improvises well over top of them.
The song itself, of course, is a classic, particularly the opening and closing verses. In my opinion, it’s not the chorus but those verses that really make it great, with that “Cat’s Cradle/Time In a Bottle” feel. B.A. Rutherford, the behind-the-scenes lyricist, wrote it as an autobiography about his strained relationship with his father. To my mind, it recalled a story like East of Eden.
So which version do you prefer, dear readers? I personally might give different answers depending on the specificity of the question—vocals, production, etc. You decide: