Friday, 6 May 2011

In your eyes the light the heat In your eyes I am complete In your eyes I see the doorway to a thousand churches

From the Sappy Song Department

“In Your Eyes”, Peter Gabriel, (1986)

I remember wearing the cassette tape out of this album in my knock-off ‘walkman’ tape player. I played the crap out of the “So” album. I loved “Red Rain”, “Sledgehammer”, “Don’t Give Up”, and “Mercy Street”. The one that struck me the deepest was “In Your Eyes”.  I played this tape walking, doing my laundry, washing my dishes, driving my car, in a plane, on a train. I believe I liked it Sam-I-Am!

Peter Gabriel, (already hugely famous in Genesis1), left the band to pursue his own projects in 1975. His wife had a very difficult pregnancy and he opted to stay home with his subsequently sick daughter and wife. The rest of the band resented it, but that was the end of Genesis. The song “Salisbury Hill”, his first solo single is about leaving Genesis. It seems to me that Gabriel made the right call.

Gabriel used to recite dream-like stories before songs on stage with Genesis. His work is deeply emotional and symbolic, even spiritual. The sound darkly engineered at times – he worked with Robert Fripp, who was highly experimental with the production of sound. Add some Afro-World percussion and the soulful Senegalese Youssou N'Dour, and you have a monumental, unforgettable song.

Gabriel bears the raw feelings and thoughts in analogy and symbolism but at times strips it right down to stark clarity – "In your eyes, the light, the heat... I reach out from the inside" - it happens as if in a dream.”Without a sound, without my pride. I reach out from the inside” - reminiscent of Poe’s, ‘A Dream within a Dream’, with a difference: Gabriel’s plea is to see the reality as clearly as possible with “the resolution of all the fruitless searches”... “and the grand facade, so soon will burn”. This is unfettered perfect love; alas not a dream! Poe’s is the aftermath of that perfect love; upon the death of his sweet beloved, the only way he can deal with it.

A Dream within a Dream
- Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!                             
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

If your kid asks you, “How do you know when you are in love?” Tell them to give “In Your Eyes” a listen.

Other great Gabriel songs are “Games Without Frontiers”, “Shock the Monkey”, “Steam”, and “Digging in the Dirt”. He worked with fellow Brit Kate Bush on “Don’t Give Up’ and a few other projects. We will cover the extraordinary Ms. Bush in a future blog. 

Peter’s latest album, 2010’s “Scratch My Back” includes an interesting version of the brilliant Paul Simon penned “Boy in the Bubble”. 

Heavy stuff this thing called love. D.

1)       The massively successful ‘Genesis’ was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.      

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