If You Don’t Cry, it Isn’t Love: Art & Peter Gabriel

If you don’t cry, it isn’t love. That’s a quote from a song by the Magnetic Fields and it’s how I feel about most art. Film, music, theater, experimental dance.


It’s gotta have you in its CRAW, not letting go. It could be so funny that you don’t know if you’ll ever breathe again, it could have visuals that are so striking that you simply don’t understand how science could connect eyes and emotion that fucking hard.
Any way you slice it, from eyeball to eardrum, if you don’t cry, it isn’t love.
I’m going to see Peter Gabriel tonight & I’m listening to Mercy Street which makes me cry every time.I cannot even imagine what it might sound like at the Hollywood Bowl, a location I have been visiting since I was a small child (if not since I was in utero!).  Just the thought fills me with awe.

Some artists command their work like a preacher commands a church. It’s a terrible analogy, but Gabriel’s grip on music is so far-reaching it seems spiritual to me. So perhaps he is more of an old style mystic reborn into soundtracks and rock bands? John Cusack lifting that boombox up in SAY ANYTHING is iconographic, to be sure, but it is not entirely for Cameron Crowe-reasons, or Cusack-reasons. It is the spirituality of Gabriel.
His last name, Gabriel, is the name of an angel.
This has not gone unnoticed by me.
So in late 1999 or early 2000, I was in these really shitty seats in London, seeing The Magnetic Fields do their opus album, 69 LOVE SONGS over 2 nights at the Hammersmith Odeon. I was beside myself. This was my favorite band, a favorite album, the whole thing. So I’m in the balcony, and they bring out some guy to sing with them, but, as it was so far below me, he was completely unrecognizable visually. I got disgruntled for a minute. “Who’s that old guy?” I thought, in my early 20’s idiocy.

Then he opened his mouth and began to sing “Book of Love.” I will, for the rest of my life, be apologetic for ever having been initially disgruntled at the man I didn’t recognize as Peter f-g Gabriel being on stage with my favorite band. I nearly fell over the balcony and died that night. No joke.

Tonight I will cry.
A great deal.
Unapologetically and without any kind of sadness. In fact, I will do so with great joy.
I will cry because I am in love with the fact that music makes me feel. I will cry because music reminds me that I have opposables and that I’m not always attached to a computer or a phone or technology. That humans can connect to each other through sound, touch, feel and sight. Because art is as real as any relationship you might have with a friend because it CAN effect you that deeply and you can get that much out of it.
If you don’t cry, it isn’t love, if you don’t cry you just don’t feel it deep enough and that means the universe to this L.A. girl.

It always will.

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