The Life Of Riley

Album: Sense (1992)
Charted: 28 98
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Songfacts®:

  • Chief Lightning Seed Ian Broudie wrote this song about the birth of his son, Riley. When he wrote the first verse, Riley had yet to be born, but the name was picked out. In that verse Ian anticipates fatherhood ("Smile at the empty sky and wait for").

    "I was wondering about what would happen and whether I was ready for it," he told Songwriting magazine. It's the whole idea of serendipity, that everything just comes together to create this one person, out of all those little sperms and all those chances... Then they come to Earth and it's up to you to not miss that moment and be in that moment."

    Broudie wrote the second verse after Riley was born, which explains the cradles and sleepless nights.
  • Riley is a common Irish name so Broudie (who is English) made the music sound like a jig in tribute.
  • For many years this was the music that accompanied BBC Match Of The Day's Goal of the Month.
  • You don't see the word "eiderdown" in many songs, but Ian Broudie got it into this one:

    You breathe in life forever
    And stare at the world from deep under eiderdown


    An eiderdown is a quilt filled with duck feathers. In this case it's keeping baby Riley warm.
  • The phrase "the life of Riley," meaning "to have a high old time, wallow in luxury, live it up, without much effort, have an easy life," is thought to come from a lyric in a 1919 song by Harry Pease with the title "My Name is Kelly." The song goes:

    Faith and my name is Kelly, Michael Kelly
    But I'm living the life of Reilly just the same


    In the 1940s there was a popular American radio comedy series titled The Life of Riley, starring William Bendix. It was continued as a television series from 1949, originally with Jackie Gleason playing Bendix's role.
  • "The Life Of Riley" was the first single from the second Lightning Seeds album, Sense. The "group" is really an Ian Broudie solo project; he recorded the album in a studio he set up at his brother's house and got help from Simon Rogers with the production and instruments. The song was a modest hit in Broudie's native UK, where it went to #28, and also made the American chart (barely) at #98. In America, Lightning Seeds are best known for their debut single "Pure," but in the UK they had a #1 hit in 1996 with "Three Lions," a celebration of English soccer.
  • The original music video is set in space, with Ian Broudie performing the song while composited in front of planets and stars. After the song became associated with soccer thanks to its use on Match Of The Day, a new video was made using soccer footage as the visuals. This became the official video.
  • The song's title was used for the Lightning Seeds 2003 greatest hits collection, Life of Riley: The Lightning Seeds Collection.
  • Riley Broudie became one of his dad's collaborators when he got older, contributing to Lightning Seeds projects and performing with the band on guitar. So he would sometimes find himself on stage playing a song written about his own birth.

Comments: 1

  • Bender from East West Virginia, VaMy daughter of 10 years old knows every word to this song.
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