Thursday, April 19, 2012

No. 777 – The Feeling Begins

Performer: Peter Gabriel
Songwriter: Peter Gabriel
Original Release: Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ
Year: 1989
Definitive Version: None

As I’ve intimated, my first two years in the newspaper game were known for their austerity. The reason for that was simple: I wasn’t making much. My first job, at the Michigan City News-Dispatch, paid me less than $300 a week; my second job, at the Daily Herald, paid me $350.

Once you took away the essentials—rent, food, gas, transmission repairs, cable TV—there wasn’t a lot left for anything else. During my first year, at the N-D, I saw only one movie in a theater—Big—and the only album I bought during that time was the aforementioned Surfing with the Alien.

But after the move to Herald City, I had a little more spending money—enough to occasionally add a tape here or there. I had to be judicious though because of one particularly large—and particularly stupid—purchase that I made after my move, as I’ll recount at a later time.

But Passion was a no-brainer. Jin had seen The Last Temptation of Christ, and one thing she particularly loved was the music, which was done, of course, by Peter Gabriel. This was news to me. Religion-themed movies aren’t my bag even in the best of economic times (Life of Brian being the notable exception, of course). Music was a different matter.

By this time, I had discovered Gabriel’s solo music, and So already was shooting up my list of favorite albums. I wasn’t hooked into the music scene as much then (due to money), but it seemed like an inordinate gap between the release of the movie and the release of the soundtrack, much to my chagrin.

When Passion finally came out around my birthday in 1989, I understood why: Gabriel had decided to go beyond a mere soundtrack and flesh out the music, so it could stand on its own. I still remember giving it a first listen in my Mount Prospect apartment, with its bad gold carpet in the living and dining room and being stunned how great it all sounded, even though there wasn’t a single lyric in the whole thing.

Years later, I read something in Rolling Stone that forever changed the way I thought of this album, however. I can’t remember the context—it might have been artists discussing their favorite albums by other performers—but I’ll never forget that Sarah McLachlan mentioned Passion as the best album to have sex during. As if she couldn’t be any hotter!

I definitely hear what she was getting at—particularly during this turgid opening song—and promised to file away that valuable piece of information for the next time appropriate time … the playing of Passion, that is, not the image of a writhing, nude Sarah McLachlan. No, I’d save that for a more (ahem) private moment of reflection.

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