It's Peter Gabriel's new album. Peter Gabriel is my favoritest of all time. Best concert I ever saw was the Secret World Tour - the finale involved "In Your Eyes" which had the entire audience up on it's feet and jumping - and then immediately followed with "Biko" which left not a dry eye in the house.
When "Us" came out, I was going through the first awful heart-break of my life - my first true love and i had broken up (mostly my fault, really) and I had been trying to win her back for ages. We hadn't spoken in months, probably pretty close to a year. Month after month of yawning heartache, making wishes on falling stars, throwing coins in fountains, the whole awful sturm-and-angst of "why don't you love me anymore?". And then "So" comes out, and one evening my First True Love (long since known as "She Who Must Not Be Named" ) calls me up. Hadn't heard from her in ages, and she says, "So, do you know Peter Gabriel, that you got him to write an album for you? "Come Talk to me?" C'mon - it's like he wrote it for you!" Of course, I had thought the same thing. So, to make a long story short, "Us" was incredibly relevant to me, and still is. I still get furiously charged up when I listen to it. I sing along with it at the top of my lungs in the shower. Sometimes I get all misty. Still.
Now, ten years later, "Up" comes out. To say I was excited was an understatement. I think I nearly hyperventilated when I saw areview on Salon of the new cd. I ran down to Main St. Music and got the CD. I know, I'm unemployed and all.. but this is special! Ten years!
I brought my cd player just so I could listen to it on the way home. I had already nabbed a couple of songs online, without guilt since I knew I was about to go buy it anyway. I was prepared to be overwhelmed in an ocean of emotion - dragged under by tides of sentiment of that "Oh god yeah, that's just how it is!" feeling that I always get from PG.
It just didn't happen.
This one is more like his older stuff - a little more harsh, a little more dissonant. If "Us" was the songs of a sad and injured man finding hope and joy - then "Up" is the shrieky reflections of a man without any real complaints. Oh, don't get me wrong - it's still excellent, and technically perfect - but it lacks that crucial sympatico that hit me in all the places I was hurt in the past. Hey, maybe when I'm fifty that will be how I feel... reflective, a little dark, a little angry, a little wry.
There are a few tracks that can drag me down into those dark, introspective depths. His remake of "I Grieve" is as good as "I Grieve" only -- it was on a CD four years ago. The remake isn't so different that it needs to exist... and I think actually, I prefer the original. "Don't Leave" has an awesome thumping stand up bass line by Tony Levin ( a very nice man I met in New York once), the song is jazzier than a lot of stuff that Gabriel has done in the past, and I really do like it. One day on the train into the city "Don't Leave" came on, and it occurred to me it was the perfect soundtrack to watching the city glide by on a grey and glowering day -- and just as it hit it's melancholy peak, I saw a plastic bag, caught on a strip of razor wire and fluttering pathetically like a soldier on the wire at Verdun. "Don't Leave" is in many ways a sequel to "Come Talk To Me" in it's theme -- and yet it lacks the uplifting energy. It's the song of a man worn down, rather than a man finding the strength to carry on, and reconnect. If "Come Talk To Me" is about never giving up on each other, no matter the pain and anguish - then "Don't Leave" is about just being too tired to fight... but honey, why not just sit down with me and let's hold hands, and be together anyway.
So "Up" isn't bad. I like it. I like it a lot. I'm listening to it again and again and searching out it's little hidden nuggets of soaring triumph and bitterly-won wisdom. But it hasn't crashed into my heart and become a part of me the way "Us" and "So" did. None of the tracks on this CD would be on the "Soundtrack of My Life" - you know, that mythical CD that encapsulates all you've experienced and felt. And I swear, I think the soundtrack of my life would have to be done by Peter Gabriel, the same way he did "Birdy" and "Last Temptation of Christ". But it wouldn't have any songs from "Up" - at least not so far. Who knows, maybe it will grow on me?