Watching the generally ridiculous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony last night on HBO, I saw Chris Martin introuce the venerable Peter Gabriel into the hall. Now in my long ago youth I was quite the Peter Gabriel fan, but it's been a long long year since I really listened to his work. But then he came up and did a few songs--a duet with Martin on "Washing of The Water", a version of "In Your Eyes"-- and I thought to myself, watching: Jesus Christ. Peter Gabriel is no joke. (Meatwad: "Boxy don't play") I mean, here he is, at what, 70, and he's still up there crushing these songs. I thought I could never again hear "In Your Eyes" and get anything out of it, but there he was, up there on stage, bopping around and just...emoting. He has a unique ability to be vulnerable without seeming naive or fatuous. Which is...first of all, amost impossible, but also... deeply insprisng and moving.
I've also now acquired a new respect for Chris Martin. His intro speech was quite impressive. (Contrast it to the indignant and idiotic intro that Michael Stipe delivered on behalf of Nirvana. That speech I think made me like Nirvana LESS than I had before hearing it).
So now I'm on a Peter Gabrel jag. I've been listening all day to Peter Gabriel III ("Melt"), an album I loved in high school but somehow lost track of. Why did I lose track, I wonder? Partially I think it's because I associate him with a really terible person I knew in high school, and partially I think it's just, I forgot about him. He suffers, Gabriel, from the same ubiquity that makes, for example, the Beatles start to seem unexciting. His songs are so familiar they come to seem contemptible.
But in case anyone doesn't already know this: Peter Gabriel is amazing. Even leaving aside how good his voice is--and honestly, you could listen to him sing "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" and be perfectly happy--he's a top notch songwriter. Especially powerful to me right now are the songs one rarely hears on the radio--the ones that haven't been repeated past the point of having any power. So, for example, "Biko"; "I Don't Remember"; "Family Snapshot" (has there ever been a better song told from the vantage of an assassin? I know--small category--but still).
"Snapshot's" the one I'd urge you all to go revisit. "Friends have all gone home. And there's my toy gun on the floor." I actually started to tear up. Listening to that song.
"I need some attention...I shoot into the light."