“Here I go out to sea again.
The sunshine fills my hair,
And dreams hang in the air.”
With the painfully sad news that the singer Colin Vearncombe aka Black died this evening and with Wonderful Life turning 30 this year, I felt the need to write about the first song I remember hearing at a very young age and it leaving a lasting impression on me. I managed to find a copy of the record of the same title a few years ago for £1, and I think it’s signed. I was so happy to find it.
There were two songs that I remember always hearing when I was very young- Groove Is In The Heart and Wonderful Life. I can happily recite Q-Tip’s rap to you and copy the dance to the song, no problem (I might need the help of a Long Island Iced Tea or 4 before I do this.) However, Wonderful Life ended up being the song that I first felt an emotional and I guess spiritual connection with. The song felt like, and always will feel like a soulmate to me. Everything about the song oozes sadness and joy at once. The way Colin sings this song fills you with hope but also breaks your heart. I’ve said many times that I want this playing at my funeral, I just think the whole sentiment of the song is gorgeous and reassuring. I play this song when everything seems a bit too much and it’s got me through my own take om Hell numerous of times. It eases any kind of suffering a person may feel.
Wonderful Life opened me up to just how fragile life is and how delicate people can be. The chorus is simple but still feels like a philosophical phrase to live by. Maybe we should, we’d probably be happier with ourselves and what we have.
I’m fairly sure that on my first holiday I can remember to Italy to see my dad’s family, I subjected everyone in the car to this song constantly. Maybe I sang the wrong words, maybe I didn’t. In a way, it reminds me of my childhood and hearing it at such a young age made me realise the urgency of life and how easy it can come and go. I learnt a lot from this song, some of it I keep to myself but the rest is pretty obvious.
I’ve always wished I could write something as beautiful as this song, and I know it is so simply done. But maybe that’s why it is a stroke of genius and such a loved song. It can like I mentioned, break your heart entirely but some of the lyrics just fill you with joy and the hope that it all turns out alright, because for the most part it does.
I suppose you can create your own meaning with the song. Maybe it is a painfully sad song, maybe it’s about an invisible friend or maybe it’s a declaration of being alright with being on your own. I have no idea. My take on it changes all the time, but I’ll always be sure that this is one of my favourite and one of the greatest songs of all time.
“No need to run and hide,
It’s a wonderful wonderful life.”
“Wonderful life” was – is – not only one of the defining songs of my eighties (in that popular music wasn’t necessarily a dirty word) but also a song that I could guarantee would lift me when ever I was in a dark place. Why is you have to wait for an artist to pass away before you go digging through their back catalogue?