Saturday, July 26, 2008

Floored by Peter Gabriel

For those that haven't heard, my mother passed away after a bad fall in her home in California back in April. During an intense conversation with Vince, a jovial Anglican Irishman who works as chaplain at Eisenhower Medical Center, I was told that there would be times where music may trigger memories that would cause grieving emotions to overcome me and that this was perfectly natural. I listened, but took this advice somewhat in stride since I've worked in the music and radio business for a long time and listen to music almost constantly. I figured there would be quite a bit of desensitization at work as a result.

That changed drastically this morning. I was up early feeding our early-rising, 20-month-old son Aiden and had the classic rock station on the kitchen radio. Suddenly, this song began playing (I'm including these lyrics for proper context):

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Solsbury Hill (Lyrics by Peter Gabriel)

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night

He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
I had to listen had no choice

I did not believe the information
Just had to trust imagination
My heart was going boom boom, boom
Son, he said, grab your things, Ive come to take you home.

To keeping silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut

So I went from day to day
Tho my life was in a rut
till I thought of what Id say
Which connection I should cut

I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart was going boom boom boom
Hey, he said, grab your things, Ive come to take you home.
Yeah back home

When illusion spin her net
I'm never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free

Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes, but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me

Today I don't need a replacement
Ill tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart was going boom boom boom
Hey, I said, you can keep my things, they've come to take me home.

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Upon hearing the lyric "grab your things I've come to take you home," I was hit by emotion like a ton of bricks. It took two songs after this one before I re-composed myself. Oddly enough, I was first introduced to this song by a cover version performed by Sarah McLachlan, which was the artist that introduced me to my wife due to us both being on an online e-mail list dedicated to McLachlan (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy or FTE). I'd heard a lot of Gabriel's solo stuff long before discovering McLachlan, but her live version of "Solsbury Hill" is simply stunning. (I'm still a big fan of Sarah's cover songs. She's a great interpreter of other people's work -- often more so than her own.) Isn't it funny how things can be so inter-related?

I guess it takes a pretty honest man to admit a song made him cry like a baby. This song certainly did this to me. I feel it was a very positive thing, though -- a natural part of the grieving process. It helped me realize that God (or whatever you may refer to Him as) told her to grab her things as she was taken "home." I still miss my mother terribly every day, but moments like this help bring clarity to the "big picture."

All I can say in conclusion is that if that radio station followed that song up with R.E.M.'s "Belong," I'd still be stuck to the kitchen floor this evening.

1 comment:

Michelle Gartner said...

Hey- thanks for dropping by I lost my Dad- May 2007. He's the guy in the Have a Nice Day hippie picture on my blog. It's strange what triggers grief- songs, being in certain places, hearing words, television, shows etc.

I like Peter Gabriel a lot- but I can't think of how this song goes, as in a melody- despite you posting the words.

I am sorry about your Mom- that's all I can say about that, there's not much people can say to me about my Dad just sorry to hear...