You wouldn’t have walked up to any member of The Beatles (except perhaps Ringo Starr) and said you’d always loved them since the “brilliant” Yellow Submarine any more than you’d have bought David Bowie a pint down at his local for being the bloke behind The Laughing Gnome.
So it’s probably with some chagrin that, despite a succession of superbly crafted hits, Ian Broudie and his “perfect pop studio project” the Lightning Seeds will forever be remembered (along with fellow culprits/composers and to some extent, comedians – David Baddiel and Frank Skinner) for the recurring football anthem Three Lions.
Still, with the royalties regularly rolling in – even when the England football team aren’t actually winning anything – it must mean that Broudie et al should be living the life of Riley which, strangely enough, was the title of the Seeds’ second hit, reaching number 28 a good four years before Three Lions made its first ascent to the top spot.
According the Free Dictionary if someone lives the life of Riley, they have “a very enjoyable life because they have plenty of money and no problems.”
It adds: “This expression often shows disapproval or envy and probably comes from a song Is That Mr Reilly, which was popular in America in the 1880’s and described what Reilly’s life would be like if he was rich.”
Broudie is a shade more subtle – he’s in the business of writing love songs after all, albeit rather left field ones. For starters, his Riley doesn’t make an appearance until line 17 – by which time we’ve been taken beyond the moon and back: “Lost in the Milky Way
Smile at the empty sky and wait for
The moment a million chances may all collide
I’ll be the guiding light
Swim to me through stars that shine down
And call to the sleeping world as they fall to Earth.”
All very deep but Riley still has to wait: “So here’s your life
We’ll find our way
We’re sailing blind
But it’s certain nothing’s certain
I don’t mind
I get the feeling
You’ll be fine
I still believe that
In this world
We’ve got to find the time” (And at last here it comes): “For the life of Riley.”
Then it’s back to that long day’s journey into night, or to be more correct: “From cradles to sleepless nights
You breathe in life forever
And stare at the world from deep under eiderdown
So here’s your life
We’ll find our way
We’re sailing blind
But it’s certain nothing’s certain”
Riley makes another cameo appearance another 14 lines into the lyrics before ending with a flourish of four name checks before the finish.
It’s not exactly the stuff of karaoke bar favourites is it? But like most of the Lightning Seeds hits it’s sweetly melodic and very catchy if you are prepared to wait – and Broudie’s vocals are instantly recognisable.
It was first released in 1992 with the album Sense and was classed as a minor hit reaching number 28. However the song later gained popularity when the BBC football programme, Match of the Day, began to use it for segments including Goal of the Month – as such the song is still frequently heard at football grounds and associated with the segment all these years later.
As for the title, Broudie cites his son Riley as the namesake of the piece – which seems strange given the rest of the lyrics. Still, if you’ve got a good title stick with it – so it was also used by the band for their greatest hits album, Life of Riley: The Lightning Seeds Collection.
A cover of the song by was used as the theme to the 2009 BBC television sitcom, Life of Riley. The trailers for the show used the original Lightning Seeds version.
The Lightning Seeds were formed in Liverpool in 1989 by Broudie (vocals, guitar, producer), formerly of the bands Big in Japan and Original Mirrors[. Originally a studio-based solo project for Broudie, the Lightning Seeds expanded into a touring band following the album Jollification in 1994.
The band’s name derives from a misheard lyric from Prince’s 1985 hit single Raspberry Beret “thunder drowns out what the lightning sees”.
Whatever happens in meantime expect them to be living the life of Riley again with Three Lions in 2022 – in time for the next World Cup.
|Ian Broudie, Simon Rogers
|The Lightning Seeds
|2 March 1992