The Toast | Scratch My Back

The other day at work, my coworker and I began talking about music and some of the best concerts we’ve been to. I said Springsteen and he said Peter Gabriel. I immediately told him how jealous I was and asked when he thought Gabriel would put out ano

ther record. Apparently, this was a silly question.

In 2010, Peter Gabriel put out a record called Scratch My Back and it slipped past me. My coworker told me to put my headphones on and turn up the volume. I love getting suggestions for music, especially when it’s an artist I really enjoy, so I was really looking forward to listening to this record.

Before I get into it any further, let me give you a little background on this album, because it’s a really cool concept. According to Billboard.com article, Gabriel picked songs to cover by artists that would later cover songs of his on album to be titled I’ll Scratch Yours, but some of the artists choose not to participate. Some of my favorite tracks he covered are originally by David Bowie, Bon Iver, and The Magnetic Fields. The other artists on the album include Regina Spektor, Neil Young, Radiohead, Lou Reed, The Arcade Fire, Paul Simon, Elbow, The Talking Heads and Randy Newman. Did I mention he’s backed The London Scratch Orchestra?

“Heroes” is originally a Bowie song, but even with the theatrics of Ziggy Stardust, it couldn’t compare with Gabriel’s interpretation. The tension you feel throughout the song with a building crescendo can only be described so much with words. The climax of the track comes with violins, big booming drums and Gabriel singing his heart out. It was a great start to this record.

“Flume”, originally by Bon Iver, is one of the newer songs that Gabriel covers. Bon Iver returned the favor by covering “Come Talk to Me” in March of 2010. What was originally an acoustic song morphed into an epic production with Gabriel’s reconstruction. What I liked best was how calm it felt was throughout most of the song, but as soon the chorus comes in, the track gets a lot bigger and dramatic.

Hands down, my favorite track is “The Book of Love,” which you may recognize from the television show “Scrubs.” The Magnetic Fields singer, Stephin Merritt, is also fan of the cover. Merritt said in a 2010 New York Times article, “At first, I thought, ‘How hilarious, he’s got a completely different take on the song . . .but after a few listens, I find it quite sweet. My version of the song focuses on the humor, and his focuses on the pathos. Of course, if I could sing like him, I wouldn’t have to be a humorist.” I couldn’t agree more with Merritt. When I listened to the original, while enjoyable, I feel like it lacked the passion that Gabriel puts in. His rendition moved me so much that I decided to incorporate it into my wedding. The song also includes Melanie Gabriel, his daughter.

While this is by no means a new album, I suggest to you, as my coworker did to me, to put on some headphones, turn up the volume and let the music take over.

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