Peter Gabriel, “Mercy Street”

Late at night, when almost everyone is asleep and my mind wanders over the width and breadth of my life, those thousand sordid images, I find myself drawn to certain songs. It’s an instinct that I’ve had since I was very little, and I’m sure my father, and the music he lulled me to sleep with, has everything to do with it. This song has ever been one of the late-night songs. I first heard it when I was about ten. My uncle Troy had the “Sixteen Golden Treats” disc, and he would let me borrow it from time to time. I remember staying up in the small hours listening to it over and over. Over the years, I’ve really come to admire Peter Gabriel’s originality. His fierce, and often impossible, integrity as an artist. I don’t really intend to go too deeply into it, as I’m really only here to share this brief moment with you. (Never fear, though: Peter will certainly be along soon enough in the “Songs” series.)

I want this section to offer the chance, however sporadically, to share moments of the present with you. There are plenty more “Songs” stories to come. But where shall I place all the catchy songs that move the world for a few days? All the half-remembered moments? All the things that are coming to me, even now? It is my hope that this breath, this song, will belong here among these other entries.

Tonight, as I often do, I listen to this song and I think about driving into the night with Julie. This song has always had such a magical hold on the two of us, and I love singing it while we drive. She said once that the percussion sounds like icicles, and I think of that image every time I hear it. And now, dear reader, I give it to you.


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