I have a real find for you this week, if you don't already know the song. And if you know the song but not the video, you still have a treat coming.
I'm still listening to one of my CDs full of random mp3s, and this song, as performed by Iain Matthews, came up the other day. I had heard it first on a mixtape sent to me by Daniel Nichols quite a few years ago, and really liked it. But I remember thinking at the time that it seemed a bit familiar, and later on when I ran across the fact that it was a Peter Gabriel song, I thought I might have heard it when I borrowed the Gabriel album So from a co-worker. For whatever reason the album didn't make much of an impression on me, but it's apparently regarded as a classic, so I ought to give it a try.
But I'm wandering--anyway, listening to the Matthews version the other day, I decided to look up the Gabriel original, which I like even better. Moreover, there is this beautiful video. The sound level is very low so you may need to turn up your speakers.
I also discovered that the song is dedicated to Anne Sexton. That makes some of its details, like the insitutional corridors of grey and green juxtaposed with the suburbs, make more sense. Sexton, if you don't recognize the name, was a poet who wrote about her experiences with mental illness and general misery. She committed suicide in 1974, and her posthumous volume of poems was called 45 Mercy Street. No doubt someone familiar with her work would recognize many allusions or quotations in this song.
I never read her very much, partly because I just wasn't much drawn to then-contemporary poetry, especially the sort of confessional-feminine work that hers seemed to be (never cared much for Sylvia Plath, either), and partly because she was something of a feminist poster child for the horrors of male oppression. But this song makes me wonder if I should take another look at her.