Father and Son

Some years ago we bought Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman CD, mainly for the very brief title track, which was featured at the end of each episode of Extras and which we all (all four of us, that is) really liked. Another track on the album, which of course I already knew well, was ‘Father and Son’.

The CD has been playing in the car quite a lot recently, and I have been paying more attention than of old to the words in ‘Father and Son’, which alternate between the father’s and son’s points of view.

The father is counselling calmness and conservatism (‘It’s not time to make a change’). The son is complaining about deficiencies in his upbringing. Among the son’s lines are:

How can I try to explain?

When I do he turns away again
It’s always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk
I was ordered to listen

All the times that I’ve cried

Keeping all the things I knew inside …

Sean’s upbringing was the antithesis of this. From the moment he could talk he was encouraged to talk, and he got all the love, attention and respect he needed. He never had to keep things inside. I never turned away (nor did his mum, of course, but I am concerned here with the father–son relationship).

The father in the song comes across as a smug, platitudinous old git who really ought to be ashamed of himself. The advice he offers is mere statements of the obvious.

My father was a decent man and was very good to me, but I never had a relationship with him that compared with the relationship that Sean had with me.

I had a son – a wonderful son. I have him no longer, in the sense that he is not physically here with me. I will never have a son in that way again, and life will never be as full as it was.

But I had a son, and my son had a good father. We clasped hands joyfully and often. We looked into each other’s eyes and saw love, pride and connection. He had every chance to develop and flower; he had freedom and he had guidance.

In a sad world, these are bright and happy facts.



Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music, Philosophy of life

2 responses to “Father and Son

  1. Ike Jakson

    Hi Brendan

    You had a special relationship; that you will always be able to treasure.

    Our father was in his late thirties when he got married and I was born the second son when he was 42 years old; the day I discovered that I loved him came when I was 24 because he had been an old man in the days when the word and decisions of the father was the law. We then had only 3 years before he passed on but I now miss him often though I am four years older now than he was went he went to the Lord.

    My relationship with my son [now 42] was to a large degree. I could say but that changed three years ago. An acrimonious divorce from his wife tore the family apart; being his father I fought like a wild tiger for him but in the end I had to call him in and had to say to him, “Son, you made a mistake when you married this creature; it’s time you realize that and accept responsibility for what is now taking place.”

    He didn’t like that. I discovered he is a man now and let him go.

    It’s a difficult one. You have been luckier than I have been in a sense. I miss my son for what once was but is no more. The memories of my father are forever.

    It’s so nice seeing you again. I am just about retired from Blogging now; the old urge has been replaced by other interests and responsibilities.

    Ike Jakson

  2. Hello Ike – it’s nice to see you again. Thank you for sharing that.

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