A song for Robert

My Silver Son is a song I wrote for my second son Declan, just before he turned two. I finally managed, a couple of months ago, to write one for my first son Robert.

First In My Eyes is a song about being a father, making the most of the time we have with our kids, and the hopes we have for them.

Audio only:

I finished writing it in time for Robert’s 5th birthday in October, but between a busy period at work and a troublesome appendix I didn’t manage to record it in time. (They finally took the aforementioned appendix out just last week.)

I spent an evening at Mathieu Siegrist’s K-yak Studio in Gland in late November. He did a really nice job on recording, arranging and mixing the song, with great ideas for the instrumental parts and harmonies. I’m hoping we’ll have a chance to work together more in future.

While I wrote this for Robert, its sentiments apply – of course – equally to Declan… they’ll both be first in my eyes, whatever paths they eventually choose to take. I think/hope the sentiments in this song will resonate with any parent. (And I’m not just saying that in case Declan is reading this text many years from now! Don’t forget, Declan, you got your song first!!)

You can download the song from Soundcloud here.

First In My Eyes

You fell off the swing that day; it seems just like yesterday,
I pushed you too hard, I rushed you too soon.
Now you like flying high, a big boy, a bigger smile,
Maybe someday you’ll fly to the moon.

I’ll keep holding your hand for as long as you want to hold mine,
I’ll be reading you stories as long as you think that’s alright.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

I love singing songs with you, or playing a board game too,
We can hop on the bikes, go for a ride.
I think now I understand how the child makes the man,
From father to son and on down the line.

I’m teaching you things but I’m learning from you all the while,
So I’ll tie your laces and maybe one day you’ll tie mine.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

I won’t forget the day we met, they put you in my arms, I tried not to break you;
I buttoned up your tiny vest, cradled you against my chest, we made you, we made you.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes,
I don’t care where you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

A song for “my silver son”

Tomorrow, 2 April 2015, our second son Declan will be one year old. As any parent to more than one child will know, there’s a huge disparity between the amount of time and attention showered on baby #1 compared to baby #2. For Robert’s first birthday we created a montage of photos of some (!) of the people he met in his first year – see below. We couldn’t do this for Declan because he didn’t meet as many people, he was held by even fewer, and those rare occurrences were almost never photographed!

Robert's first year montage

That we took fewer photos of Declan does not, of course, mean we love him any less than his big bro. No, this common phenomenon is mainly down to two factors: having two kids to care for instead of one (and thus rarely a free hand to take a photo, or a free head to even think of it) and, second, the fact that the novelty, naturally, wears off. For Robert (who was also the first grandchild on Nadine’s side of the family) it was important to record all of the firsts; with Declan I think we feel more able to actually just watch and enjoy them: to be in the moment. (Hmmm… Maybe that last point is stretching it a bit, but it sounds good, right?!)

All of this is to explain why I was keen to do something for Declan that I haven’t (yet) managed for Robert, and that was to write a song for him. I had also been trying to capture short snatches of video footage now and again with the intention of putting together at least one video like those I made for Robert. (This one still makes me smile whenever I watch it.)

Well, I did manage to write the song and to do a reasonably good acoustic demo recording of it; and I did have just about enough footage of Declan to put a video together. The song is My Silver Son, for Declan, “my only second one“.

There are quite a lot of songs written by parents for/about their kids. My favourites include two by Ben Folds (Still Fighting It, for his son, and Gracie, for his daughter). I also like Loudon Wainwright’s song Daughter, and of course Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle is rightly considered a classic. In a way I believe such songs are the truest, most noble kind of love song.

But in general I think it’s a really hard thing to get right. It seems to me that something about the context – writing for your child – makes it difficult to avoid sentimentality, and sentimentality is often the enemy of quality. To put it bluntly, a lot of the songs written by parents for their kids are really cheesy, and although the world needs cheesy music, it’s not generally the place to look for great songs and great songwriting.

I didn’t find it easy to write this song for my son, but I got there in the end. I’m certain some people will find it cheesy and I don’t make any claim to being a great songwriter. But I’m glad that I wrote it and I’m proud of the end result. Hopefully one day I’ll write one for his big brother too. For now he’ll just have to take comfort in the fact that we took ten times more photos of him! (And at least I included a reference to him in the chorus.)

[The audio is available for download from SoundCloud, here.]

My Silver Son (Song for Declan)

The birds don’t sing for you,
They’ve been singing since the day you came, it’s true,
But you know, that’s what they do
So I will sing for you,
Anytime you need a melody or tune,
Whatever kind of song you might need,
Your daddy’s got it right up his sleeve.

And so my silver son, my only second one,
Well who is the man you’re gonna become?
With your brother’s big blue eyes,
And your mother’s open smile,
You will always find a world that’s bright as a silver sun.

Time will wait for you,
Take as little or as much as you need to,
Your smile will see you through.
Cos the world that waits for you
Is so full of possibilities, so new,
But maybe while you’re taking your time
You’ll hang around with me for a while.

And so my silver son, my only second one,
Well who is the man you’re gonna become?
With your brother’s big blue eyes,
And your mother’s open smile,
You will always find a world that’s bright as a silver sun.

Keep smiling, keep smiling, keep smiling,
Keep smiling my silver son.

The Vich Herald

As Robert’s birth was announced two and a half years ago in The Geneva Bugle, we couldn’t let the birth of his little brother Declan pass without a sequel. Having moved from Meyrin to Vich in the meantime a new masthead was required.

The Vich Herald

He’s almost five weeks old as I type this and is doing really well. Sleeping for decent stretches at night, feeding well (with Nadine doing a super job) and generally a content little lad. Robert has taken on the mantle of big brother without too many problems. He pushes the boundaries with us a bit more than before, but with Declan he’s been very gentle and loving. He’s also alive to the fact that he now has a captive audience for his performances:

Two happy and healthy boys who have the best mother in the world (who also happens to be the best wife in the world). I’m a lucky man.