Hands up those of you who remember the movie Say Anything, starring a very young John Cusack. If you do, no doubt you recall the classic scene where Cusack finds himself below the window of his beloved’s bedroom, holding a boombox over his head. The song playing from the machine is In Your Eyes, written and sung by former Genesis lead singer Peter Gabriel. Here’s a brief reminder of the scene.
I’ve been a fan of Peter Gabriel since I first got my hands on an early Genesis album; I think it was Foxtrot. What struck me with Gabriel was the sheer versatility of his voice and musical talents. His stage presence as the frontman for the prog rock band was nothing short of magnetic – with a side of insanity, just for good measure. When he left Genesis, he broke the hearts of many a snot-nosed student, who wailed against the injustice of life. There was no way back for the group now, they thought. Until a certain Mr. Phil Collins stepped up to the plate, and the rest, as they say, is history. Certainly, Genesis were more successful as a group when he left, notching up Number Ones in both the US and UK market. But it is fair to say that Genesis became something different when Gabriel broke away from them. Not that there was anything wrong with that. I enjoy to this day listening to songs from both eras. I love the funkiness of I Can’t Dance and the majesty of Mama. But Gabriel went on to more artistic endeavours.
His music globalised, and he drew on traditions from Africa, especially. He brought, through his studio and concert performances, international music back to its roots. But he kept his playful side at the forefront of everything he did. You only have to look at the video for his most successful solo single, Sledgehammer, to see his personality in action.
A couple of nights ago I channel-hopped through the 70 or so different channels on my TV. I fell upon Sky Arts just as they began to show a concert Peter Gabriel gave in Milan in 2003. For two solid hours I was lost in another world; a world were music was king and creativity was the inalienable right of its citizens. At the end of the show, he and his musicians performed what I can only describe as a heart-tugging and beautiful version of In Your Eyes. I defy you not to get caught up in the joie-de-vivre and the buzz that music can create. Needless to say, if I was present at this concert, I would have been a blubbering mess by the end.