The Song: "Secret World," Peter Gabriel. Words & music by Peter Gabriel. Track 10 of Us, 1992.
How/when acquired: Purchased cassette, 1992.
I might not have bought this tape the day it came out, but it wasn't long after. It was the fall of 1992. I was living in a low-rent apartment complex near Baileys Crossroads, Virginia, and dating a man I suspected didn't even like me much. I bought my first new car — a Saturn XL — and it had a tape deck, which seemed an extraordinary luxury. This tape spent a lot of time in that deck.
As the title suggests, Us is all about finding connections with the people we love, and this is the last song on the album. Depending on one's mood, the song is either a celebration of or a eulogy for the world two people create when they're in love with each other. It's a fragile place, and for many (most?) people it doesn't last; the real world intrudes too sharply. But, bitter spinster that I am, I do believe that people who work at it can keep that secret world going, at least for moments here and there, at least enough to want to spend a life with that one other person. It seems to be the goal, anyway.
I've been a little startled by the venom and ugliness I've seen online in response to the announcement of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton. In her place I would not want to wear William's mother's engagement ring — if ever a piece of jewelry carried a curse, it would be that one — but I understand why he wanted her to have it. And for us Americans, it's really none of our business. We're not paying for any of it, and they're never going to be our heads of state. We settled all that 234 years ago. But any young couple deciding to make that leap deserves support; it's a hard road ahead for any set of newlyweds, and likely to be harder for them.