Day 125: A song by your favorite male vocalist.*

“The Rhythm Of The Heat” – Peter Gabriel

The Rhythm Of The HeatI’ve talked before about Peter Gabriel’s penchant for spiritual experiences. A couple of times, in fact. So I guess it should be fitting that he provided me with one. Sort of. Not sort of fitting, but a “sort of” spiritual experience.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to try this, but I do remember what happened.

I put on Peter Gabriel. (The fourth one. The one they called Security in the US but was referred to as yet another album titled Peter Gabriel in the rest of the world.)

I turned out the lights.

And turned the volume way up. Way up.

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Now, to be clear, I wasn’t on anything. Because I’m a square and have never tried drugs of any kind (short of alcohol).

The song beings with a wail, followed by a single note of thunderous bass. (At extremely high volumes, this will scare the crap out of you if you’re not expecting it.)

The song is sparse and slow to begin, but as Gabriel’s vocals become more insistent, the tension builds. And builds. Until he virtually shouts “The rhythm has my soul!”

This first one was enough to freak me out.

Then the drums start. And the chanting. And then it builds again…

The rhythm is around me,
The rhythm has control,
The rhythm is inside me,
The rhythm has my SOUL!

Gabriel holds that “soul” note so long that his voice starts to crack. And you believe that the rhythm does, indeed, have his soul. And that second time, it felt like something was after mine. A feeling came over me that I can’t explain. No. It was more than just a feeling. It was an experience. I was suddenly more than just freaked out: I was afraid. It was visceral.

As the tribal drums took over the track, I shook it off. And then that familiar “flushing of the face” feeling that I get came over me, but this was more than just an extreme instance of what usually causes that. This was different. It was weird.

And afterward, I decided I kind of liked it.

So I later tried to recreate the experience with a few of my college roommates. We crammed my big-ass speakers (this was before speakers could be small and sound good) and our four bodies into the amazingly large (long and narrow) closet we had in our dorm room. And shut out the lights. And cranked the song.

That time it was cool, but not the same. I did not feel anything otherworldly. In fact, all I think I got that second time was the face flush. And a little more deaf.

Maybe it was because I was expecting it. Maybe it was because I wasn’t alone. But apparently it had been a one-time shot. As bizarre spiritual experiences will tend to be.

Ask Peter Gabriel. He probably had another one about six minutes ago…


Go to about 3:30 which will build up to the part I’m talking about…

* For the purposes of this post, I’m defining “vocalist” as someone who is known for singing rather than playing an instrument (even if they play one). It can be a standalone artist or lead singer in a band. Paul McCartney wouldn’t count since he plays bass (and everything else, really). Michael Bolton would count… Scratch that, he wouldn’t count either, he’s awful. Let’s say Stephen Page from Barenaked Ladies would count because he’s known mostly for his singing, even though he plays guitar.