Monday, March 27, 2006

Ships (1979) – Barry Manilow (Ian Hunter)

Pop music occasionally acknowledges the relationship between a father and son: Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle” and Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” come to mind. These songs regretfully explore the inherent tension in a father and son’s inability to fully appreciate each other’s company or even to co-exist, whether it be due to lack of time or effort, or an emotional estrangement. Others, such as Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father,” and the Ian Hunter-penned “Ships,” take a more tender approach in recognizing the fondness a son might feel toward his father, even when he is unable to express these feelings. In “Ships,” a man reflects upon life’s impending deadline. He hasn’t shared an affectionate moment with his father in years—certainly not in physical terms. As an adult, he only communicates with his father through the impersonal salutation of a greeting card or comfortable separation of a long distance phone call. But in close proximity, neither truly understands how to relate to the other, so they prefer the brief encounters where small talk suffices but a true connection never ripens. He likens their lives to boats skimming along the horizon—objects heading toward their destinations, whose passengers happily wave to each other in a moment briefly shared before leaving each other behind. Through the foggy perils of Barry’s trademark melodramatic tendencies and American Idol/Dancing With The Stars promotional forays, “Ships” is a beacon reminding us to heed our emotional compass to navigate the unforgiving riptides of fleeting opportunities and familial strife to reach a safe harbor of communion.

  • Listen to "Ships" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • No comments: