Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Peter Gabriel Is A Farty Old Englishman...

I'm going to apologize up front because this post might be a bit melodramatic.

On second thought, fuck you! Melodrama makes the world go round. I learned this from Beverly Hills 90210. I am no Dylan McKay but here goes...

On Sunday evening, my wife and I took a little jaunt over to Radio City Music Hall to see Peter Gabriel in concert. For anyone that knows me well, it's no secret that I am and have always been a huge Peter Gabriel fan. I own all of his albums from the time he was in Genesis through his last solo endeavor. In college I even paid Sean Walsh $100 to paint one of his album covers on the back of my denim jacket. I'm not proud of this. In hindsight I looked like a douche and it was stolen. Twice.

I was introduced to Mr. Gabriel by my good friend Dr. Scott in sleep away camp. I remember it like it was yesterday. That summer, my favorite band Queensryche had just released their second album, Rage for Order. It was a masterpiece as far as I was concerned. I listened to it pretty much every God damn day and I'm not sure my bunk mates agreed with my self-righteously skewed sentiment of Queensryche's superiority. They seemed to be powerless against my over zealousness and I also had a brand new boom box. The kind with the automatic reverse on the double tape deck.

It was 1986 and unbeknownst to me, there was another new album on the market. Dr. Scott was like my doppelganger in a way. We both loved music to the core but our tastes were completely opposite. I was into heavy metal. I adorned the walls of my top bunk with centerfolds torn from Circus Magazine; sporting the likes of Van Halen, Judas Priest and Manowar. Dr. Scott was into new wave. A sorry sack of pussy music, I thought at the time. The sounds of Morrissey, Husker Du and The Alarm, wailing like drunken sea lions, bellowing for herring on a wet rock.

I remember the exchange. It's still very vivid in my mind. He offered Peter Gabriel's SO, not unlike a peasant would offer a sacrificial lamb. It wasn't Metal so I was suspicious and I couldn't understand why he wasn't content listening to Queensryche on an endless loop.

Fuck it. Dr. Scott was a good friend and good friends deserve to be patronized.

So I listened.

And listened.

I was instantly transfixed by the urgent call of Gabriel's voice. His raspy tone was sad and desperate but not hopeless. I trusted him as an artist instantly.

Then "Sledgehammer" came on and it sucked.

But once that was over, it happened again.

The connection.

I found myself lost in the words and the melodies. It was as close to spirituality as I had been.

Then "Big Time" came on and it sucked again.

I still wish he hadn't written those two songs but the experience moved me enough to want more.

Over the next several years, I methodically sought out each and every piece of music that Peter Gabriel had ever been attached to. From studio albums to bootleg tapes, nothing was too rare. No song unattainable. I was infected and I wanted nothing to do with a cure.

For me, listening to Gabriel was not unlike an addict abusing his choice of substance. It provided an escape. It made me feel numb. I thought I could relate to his tales of heartbreak and pain. I was able to lose myself in the landscape of words that seemed to touch me in a place that I had never been touched before.

OK that didn't come out right at all.

As a matter of fact, this whole melodrama thing reeks of bullshit. I'm making myself out to be some sort of pansy-ass jerk off. Why don't I just fast forward to the part about my high school girlfriend and the dozens of nights I would lie in my bed, listening to "Don't Give Up", writing breakup poetry?

No way man. I won't do it. I've come too far.

I'm 39 years old and I have other things going on in my life. I don't need some farty, old Englishman getting all up in my brain.

Ugh. I can't lie to you people. I tried but I can't. When it comes to Peter Gabriel, I am and will continue to be a pansy-ass jerk off and I incessantly need he who is a farty, old Englishman to sing to me on special nights like the night at Radio City.

He still moves me and I will always need to be moved.

For every emotional experience I've ever had in my life, there is a Peter Gabriel song that accompanies it.

Seeing him in concert was like lying on my deathbed. I saw my whole life flash in front of my eyes. The good, the bad and the ugly.

His lyrical stylings provide relief, like the cool side of a warm pillow.

Shit. There's the melodrama backfiring on me again. I'm obviously having a really hard time wrapping up this nonsense. I've written like four endings already.

How about this one?

Peter Gabriel will forever hold the key to my heart. I like him almost as much as clam chowder...

Nope. That doesn't work either.