Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sinking & Falling: When You’re Falling

Afrocelt Sound System with Peter Gabriel: When You’re Falling


The easy way to address our new theme would be with songs about falling in love. There is nothing wrong with that approach, but I am more interested in what else falling can refer to. In When You’re Falling, the falling is quite literal, especially in the notorious official video. I have used a live version instead for two reasons. First, the sound quality is better, allowing you to really hear all of the moving parts of a great song and band. And second, some people may react to the official video in exactly the way the record label feared at the time, and that would be an unfair distraction from a fine song. Let me explain.

On the commercial strength of Sledgehammer in particular and the album So in general, his label Virgin let Peter Gabriel start his own vanity label. Others, like Prince with Paisley Park, would use such labels for their releases and those of friends. Gabriel, however, launched Real World as a home for contemporary world music, as opposed to the more traditional forms. Afrocelt Sound System caught his ear with their amazing fusion of Irish and African music. It sounds unlikely until you hear it, but Irish traditional music has a percussiveness that the band uses as a bridge to the music of another world, and the result is infectious and very danceable. The band had released two albums of instrumentals that are well worth seeking out, before deciding in 2001 to broaden their appeal by working with guest vocalists. Gabriel was an obvious choice. When You’re Falling sounds like Gabriel must have written it, but in fact his only role was singing it.

I mentioned the official video, which I called notorious. It depicts a man falling out of the sky, into a city that appears to be New York. He falls through the sidewalk and through the earth itself, and out the other side into space. Along the way, he is observed by three separate characters played by Peter Gabriel. One of these characters is an airline pilot. The video came out briefly in the late summer of 2001. Of course, then 9/11 happened, and the label pulled the video for fear that people would associate it with the tragedy. Hence the notoriety I mentioned. For Afrocelt Sound System, this meant that the wider fame and popularity they were seeking eluded them. They deserved better.

blog comments powered by Disqus