‘Angels’ has been covered by many artists and has been recorded in Spanish (as ‘Ángel’) by Mexican singers Yuridia and Marco More, and in Italian (as ‘Un Angelo’) by Patrizio Buanne. Robbie Williams also recorded a Spanish version of the song. In a 2005 poll, Britons voted ‘Angels’ the song they most wanted to be played at their funeral. Live performances. In 2009, Robbie Williams performed ‘Angels’ at the final of the sixth series of ‘The X Factor’ with Olly Murs. On 14 June 2018, Williams performed ‘Angels’ with Russian soprano Aida Garifullina at the ‘2018 FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony’ held at the ‘Luzhniki Stadium’ in Moscow, Russia.
According to Williams in 2011, he wrote the song with Chambers in 25 minutes about his aunt and uncle. By his account, he and Chambers were sitting outside a cafe watching a water fountain which inspired them to write the chorus. In 2016, Williams said: "It was the first of our songs that we wrote together. We could tell and hoped and prayed that we got something incredibly special. After we wrote the song ... I hailed a cab down. [The taxi driver] played it and said,’that is great, that is, Robbie, 'that is gonna be number one', and you know what: it never was number one." Williams has expressed irritation that some assumed Chambers was the sole author, saying: "It pees me off because everyone thinks Guy penned ' Let Me Entertain You’ and 'Angels', but they're my songs."
Irish singer-songwriter Ray Heffernan asserts that he wrote the first version of ‘Angels’ in Paris in 1995 after his partner had a miscarriage. According to Heffernan, he met Williams in a pub by chance in Dublin. He showed him an incomplete version of the song, and later that week the two recorded a studio demo. Williams confirmed that he had recorded a demo with Heffernan but said he rewrote the song significantly with Chambers. When Heffernan learnt that a version of ‘Angels’ would appear on ‘Life Thru a Lens’ he accepted an offer from Williams's management to buy the rights for £7,500.] In 2017, Williams said: "We could have gone to court, and it all would have been down to whether what way the judge wakes up that day out of bed ... So, I gave him some money, and he went away”.
In term of chart performance, the song was the 38th best-selling of 1997 in the UK, and the 26th of 1998. It was the 34th best-selling single of the decade. Despite only reaching a peak of Number. 4, it is Williams' biggest-selling UK single and according to ‘Official UK Charts Company’ figures, it passed the million sales mark in June 2009, with a combination of both physical and download sales. It has sold 1.2 million copies in the UK as of November 2012. It was released in 1999 in the US, after Williams' debut there with ‘Millennium’. ‘Angels re-entered the ‘ARIA Top 100’ at Number 91, on 5th May 2008. Due to download sales, the song has re-entered the UK Charts on a number of occasions in recent years.
It is surprising how many people believe in ‘Angels’ of one sort or another. It seems to matter not whether they are guardian angels, it provides comfort in thought to believe in the presence of these spiritual beings in our lives.
I will restrict this mornings’ post upon angels to cite only a few quotations, plus those things and sayings my dear mother told me as a child. I suppose that the two tangible characteristics we hold in our minds whenever we think of an angel are wings and radiant light. The Talmud states that angels shine from within by the light of God and this Jewish holy script reminds us that every blade of grass has its own angel whispering in its ear ‘Grow, grow’.
When I was a growing and inquisitive child living in an Irish Roman Catholic household, much of my learning outside the classroom was from my prime teacher, my mother. Through largely what she told me and presumably led me to believe, angels exist to assist us in all manner of wonderful ways. My mother indicated that they come to us in many guises. Sometimes we see their heavenly shadow, brightened by light and mystical radiance. On other occasions, we cannot see them but are able to sense their presence as we feel their nearness guiding our thoughts, eyes, hands and feet in a particular direction. Sometimes, we feel something brush past us as a guardian angel whispers a thought in the breeze that floats into the forefront of our mind. And then, there are the angels that are hidden in places we would never dream to look; shaped and constructed in the form of flesh and bone; humans in our midst, who look no different to ourselves. My mother led me to believe that angels are like butterflies insomuch as they can undergo changed appearance from angelic creatures to humans who walk among us (Metamorphosis). Sometimes, angels are just ordinary people who help us believe in ourselves again and in the miracle of all life form.
I will never forget saying to my mother when I was aged around 8 years of age when she once called me ‘her angel’, “I can’t be an Angel. I’ve got no wings to fly, Mum.” Knowing that I was fascinated by the book illustration of the pilot on the ‘Biggles’ books, my mother replied (I can’t remember her precise words but recall her meaning clearly), “You learn to fly by learning to love, Billy. That’s how we all earn our wings that take us to heaven”. It was only in my adult years that I came to understand that we each have one wing of love and whenever we meet another person with one wing of love also, only then through mutually embracing can we both fly as one perfect human being in the eyes of God.
I have often thought upon my mother’s words and their meaning. Just as the butterfly lives but a brief span of time, it enjoys its life to the full whilst here for its short time on earth. The entire body of a butterfly is lighter than a feather because it carries no burden as it flies from one nectar source to another. Being a pollinating creature of nature, the butterfly spreads life and happiness wherever it goes.
Love and peace Bill xxx