Saturday, June 7, 2014

We Get So Strange Across The Border

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."


Paul Di Benedetto said...


I just returned home to NOLA from a 26 day trip following Peter Gabriel through eastern Europe. After seeing only four concerts and running thru the associated airports & train stations to get to them, I was exhausted. I cannot imagine how he did the same amount of traveling and then performed sixteen 3 hour shows at 65 years old. Like you, I have been a huge fan since 1978. And like you I somehow lost interest there for a few years as well. But now, after traveling eastern Europe and speaking to people in those former Soviet Republics, I have a new found fascination with Peter as both an artist and a humanitarian.

ANCIANT said...

That's very cool. I had no idea he was still touring--you're right, astonishing that he's keeping that kind of schedule at his age.

I only saw him live once, during the Us tour, of the early 90s. Fantastic show, with great production value. The phone booth that rose from the center of the stage--I still remember that.

Dezmond said...

Glad to see your enthusiastic rediscovery of one of my all time favorite artists. I believe Gabriel has been touring performing the 'So' album in its entirety for its anniversary release.

I, III, So, Passion...not to mention his Genesis stuff. Also, if you buy the recent Deluxe Edition of 'So', there are two extra discs of a show from the 'So' tour (in Greece, I believe) that is just outstanding. Well worth the (re)-purchase.