Friday, July 15, 2011
An Album That Changed My Life # 2 -Peter Gabriel 'Up'
In 2008, around the time I hit 20, I was inspired to check out some Peter Gabriel material after really digging on his track Down To Earth on the WALL-E soundtrack (it’s a beautiful film, shut up!). All I really knew about Gabriel at that point was that he had sung for Genesis and had that messed up video for Sledgehammer. Based on that, I wouldn’t have put the music as suited to my tastes, but low and behold, I was wrong.
On first impression, the album had that ‘old dog trying new tricks’ feel to it. I thankfully stuck with it, with certain elements catching my attention and resonating with me. I learned the power Gabriel had over conveying so much over so few words.
2009 was the year I left Ireland, my family, my friends, my partner, to finish my education in Wales. Two of the leading tracks on the album, Growing Up and Sky Blue, analyse travelling and changes, uncertainty and the burden. Growing Up takes a more tongue in cheek approach (“Growing up/Looking for a place to live”), while Sky Blue is a flat out testament for the weariness of travel and a constant repetition. I don’t pretend to think I have the short end of the stick, but being away from what was my life for 20 years and never fully settling in to this new country as I knew I’d be moving on all too soon, the declaration of the woes of being chained to these responsibilities and the want to just be free from it was overwhelming.
It was also the year I had a loved one edge close to the end while I was so far away and helpless to do anything. Listening to Gabriel’s album, I was able to internalise it all more fruitfully. The album is melancholy, exploring lost love and separation by death. The reflections I saw in this music, the uncertainty and fear, drew me in. The forth track on the album, No Way Out, tells of a lover dying at a funfair, and watching them slip away. The desperation in that moment resonates in ways all too telling. The album’s final track, told as if leaving an airplane, feels like the conclusion to this, the distanced of city lights going out (like nerves inside the brain), an indicator of sadness, but this is only on the surface. As a whole, the album is not dwelling on death, but using it as a contrast for life.
Signal To Noise is an epic that repeats the lines “Bury the signal/wipe out the noise”, in a world full of distractions, of talking and no action, sometimes you must be prepared to hit reset. Sometimes you must be prepared to separate from your own beliefs and think again. I make films and associate with artistic crowds. There are so many fantastic and wonderful people, but there are also so many who will lead you off the track for their own benefit. Sometimes, under the constant natter of bullshit, you have to be prepared to make a decision and find a laurel to stand by. Gabriel’s music made me know that this sour side was not the rule, but the exception. There will always be the up side, you just have to find it.
The album takes a ‘name it to claim it’ approach. By calling out these demons, they can be dealt with. A peace can be made with the spectre of death and the shadow of change. I can be aware of my own thoughts on the mortality of those around me, and I can be as worried about things changing around me, but I must know I am in control of it all. Bad things happen, but it is my choice how I am affected by it.
An album will never change who you are as a person, but it can help you round yourself to be something more cohesive. My brain is not a tidy place, but this album came at a time with a message that was all too appealing to me. It did not make me want to fight the system or hate everyone. It made me remember that in the end, it is all up to me what happens. I am accountable for myself, and I have the strength to see my fears and imperfections and challenge them.
The albums opening track, Darkness, provided me with a line I have held near and dear since the very first time I heard it: “I have my fears, but they do not have me”.
Rich W,Wicklow, Ireland
P.S Rich also writes an awesome blog, entitled 'This Horror Is Your Face' , you can check it out here http://www.richmwaters.blogspot.com/ , and keep those albums coming in, just mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.Happy Reading!-Ste