O'Really?

January 26, 2021

No need to run and hide, it’s a wonderful, wonderful life

Five years ago today, Colin Vearncombe passed away. While his birth name might not be familiar to many people, his stage name Black and the song Wonderful Life he wrote and performed are much more widely known. Wonderful life achieved commercial success across Europe in 1987.

The music video for Wonderful Life was shot in black and white around the English seaside resort of Southport, Merseyside and Wallasey on the Wirral

This haunting tune caught my again ear recently. The lyrics are particularly appropriate given the pandemic because it’s a sad but strangely comforting song written in a minor key. The refrain “no need to run and hide, it’s a wonderful, wonderful life” is optimistic and contrasts with the otherwise melancholy mood of the song.

Like many other listeners, I took the lyrics at face value and thought they were optimistic until I read a little about the circumstances that inspired the song:

“By the end of 1985 I had been in a couple of car crashes, my mother had a serious illness, I had been dropped by a record company, my first marriage went belly-up and I was homeless. Then I sat down and wrote this song called Wonderful Life. I was being sarcastic.”

Colin Vearncombe quoted in The Irish Times:
Memorial service video celebrating the life of Colin Vearncombe, played at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, 19th February 2016

As described in the memorial service video above, Colin once dedicated this song to “anyone suffering needlessly in the world right now”.

No need to laugh and cry. It’s a wonderful, wonderful life. Rest in Peace Colin Vearncombe, born 26 May 1962, died 26 January 2016.

References

  1. Barry Roche (2016) Funeral of singer ‘Black’ to take place in County Cork: Liverpool-born ‘Wonderful Life’ singer died after car crash on way to Cork Airport, The Irish Times, irishtimes.com

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