I have fallen into the abyss of Peter Gabriel. I have to be honest, I have not deep dived into Genesis and Gabriel’s catalog before. A few months ago, I decided to invest in my first Genesis album, From Genesis to Revelation. I took an extreme liking to Gabriel’s vocals and I’ve been a goner in his solo endeavors since.
My first of many takeaways from Peter Gabriel’s albums are his lyrics. Gabriel’s lyrics are written in the eye of the beholder for listener’s interpretation. As I looked up the meanings to his songs and his original intention, I found that I received a completely different message. Gabriel’s songs read like Shakespeare. Everything is beautifully worded. Each passage, taken in and out of context, can have different meanings.
Disjointed is the best term to describe Peter Gabriel’s self-titled debut.It ranges in many different musical stylings from jazz and pop to story songs like show tunes. It’s an eccentric journey that takes you through mountains, woods, flat lands, and jungles.
“Moribund The Burgermeister” is the first song off of Gabriel’s album. A story song written about the nervous disorder “Saint Vitus’ Dance,” that is laced with off the wall sound effects set to a rhythmic beat. This song is followed up by Gabriel’s first solo hit “Solsbury Hill.” This autobiographical tune easily lends itself to it’s uptempo folksy backing. I love the honesty of this song as it relates to Gabriel’s departure from Genesis.
Side A closes with the ballad like “Humdrum.” From my research, Gabriel intended this song to be about a journey into the unknown. That was a completely different meaning than what I took from the song. Although I’m the last to talk about love, I immediately thought this was a love song about breakup. Gabriel’s vocals are delicate and emotional on this track. They reminded me of abandonment from the first line. This is a prime example of Gabriel’s interpretive lyrics.
Side B opens with “Slowburn.” This song starts out with a riveting piano solo that quickly turns into a quasi-rock/disco tune. Next comes “Waiting on The Big One.” This song completely threw me for a curve ball. I can see how Gabriel blended folk, rock, and disco, but this tune listens like a straight up jazz/ cabaret song. “Waiting on The Big One” has poignant lyrics that point to how one always craves the next big thing. At least that’s how I interpret the song.
Lastly, the album closes with “Here Comes the Flood.” This song, with it’s gospel like chorus and power ballad tendencies, is about a world where all can read each others’ minds. It sounds like a sci-fi novel at first, but this would only cause one thing. This song is about a dream- universal honesty. The “flood” of truth would create an honest world with no lies. This is Gabriel’s more nuanced version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”