I became a Peter Gabriel fan in 1994, working at Blockbuster Video in Federal Way, Washington. I was an assistant manager and our store manager played Secret World Live in the overhead monitors just about every day. I knew who Gabriel was, of course. I knew songs like "Sledgehammer" and "In Your Eyes." I knew he'd been the lead singer of Genesis. I had seen the groundbreaking videos. I didn't dislike Gabriel before '94 but he was pretty far from what I was listening to at the time. It wasn't until I spent day after day absorbing the hits and the more obscure, watching and really listening that I came to appreciate just how good he really is.
The song that first popped for me was "Digging in the Dirt." I didn't know why that was other than I liked the "live" performance (some post-production was done on this concert document). Looking back, I think I see a little more to it. 1994 was the age of grunge. Kurt had just died, but I was still listening to the Seattle sound and was, of course, living back in the area again. While "Digging" didn't have a particularly grunge sound musically, the lyrics weren't completely alien to what the bands of the time were presenting.
Where Cobain, Staley, Cornell, Lanegan, Vedder, and company might provide the visceral images of the hurt and alienation, Gabriel was the mature elder in search of the source. He was a detective sifting for clues, a scientist trying to understand them. All these years later, I see that more clearly and the music sounds as good as it ever did.
Starting with Secret World Live, I visited a fair portion of the Gabriel discography. I have many favorites now, but "Digging in the Dirt" remains atop the list.