In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel song)

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"In Your Eyes"
Artwork for 1986 12-inch maxi-single release
Single by Peter Gabriel
from the album So
Released2 September 1986 (1986-09-02)[1]
  • 5:23 (album version)
  • 6:12 (remixed 7" version)
  • 4:53 (7" Special mix; 1989 re-release)
  • 7:10 (12" Special mix)
Songwriter(s)Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel singles chronology
"Don't Give Up"
"In Your Eyes"
"Big Time"
Music video
"In Your Eyes" on YouTube

"In Your Eyes" is a song by the English rock musician Peter Gabriel from his fifth solo studio album So (1986). It features Youssou N'Dour singing a part at the end of the song translated into his native Wolof. Gabriel's lyrics were inspired by an African tradition of ambiguity in song between romantic love and love of God.[3]

"In Your Eyes" was not released as a single in the UK but released as the second single from So in the US, achieving strong radio airplay and regular MTV rotation. It reached number 1 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks on 13 September 1986,[4] and peaked at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November.[5] Gabriel released two extended versions of the song as a 12" vinyl single in the US. The first ran 6:15 and was the single version. The second, "Special" mix, ran 7:14 and was the B-side. In Australia, "In Your Eyes" peaked at number 97 in November 1986.[6]

The track was featured in the teen drama film Say Anything... (1989) starring John Cusack and Ione Skye.[7] The song was the finale of the Secret World Tour and the final track on the 1994 Secret World Live album, where it is over 11 minutes long and includes the extra lyrics from the Special Mix, in addition to solos by the other singers and players. It was included on the US version of his 2003 compilation Hit, but not the European or Japanese versions.

In 2005, the song brought Gabriel his first Gold single, certified in the US by the RIAA.[8]


Inspired by a trip to a cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, Gabriel wrote lyrics for another So era song, "Sagrada". This song was scrapped early on, although some elements, including the vocal melody and chord changes, were transferred over to "In Your Eyes".[9] The song incorporates vocals from Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour and an African talking drum.[10]

When determining the album's track order, Gabriel wanted to have "In Your Eyes" as the final track, but its prominent bassline meant it had to be placed earlier on the vinyl edition where the phonograph stylus had more room to vibrate. This restriction was no longer an issue for later CD releases, and the track was placed at the end of the album.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Cash Box called it a "sweet and tuneful ballad" and praised Gabriel's "plaintive voice and sensational spacious production work."[12] Billboard called it a "dreamily textured mood piece."[13]

Say Anything...[edit]

The song was used twice in the 1989 US Cameron Crowe film Say Anything..., as well as its trailer. A famous scene from the film occurs when broken-hearted Lloyd Dobler serenades his ex-girlfriend, Diane Court, outside her bedroom window by holding a boombox up above his head and playing the song for her. Repopularized by its usage in the film, the song reentered the Billboard Hot 100, only reaching #41. This release was shorter, with a length of 4:53.[5]

Crowe says that Rosanna Arquette, who is believed to be the inspiration for the song, encouraged Peter Gabriel to consider allowing the film to use the song.[14] Gabriel asked to see Crowe's film and Crowe asked the production company to send Gabriel a rough cut. Gabriel approved the use of his song, but told Crowe that he was uneasy about the overdose of the main character at the end; the studio had erroneously sent Gabriel the film Wired instead.[citation needed]

In a September 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, discussing the 25th anniversary of So, Gabriel commented on the cultural impact of the scene, "It definitely gave [the song] a second life, because now it's so often parodied in comedy shows and it is one of the modern day Romeo and Juliet balcony clichés. I've talked to John Cusack about that. We're sort of trapped together in a minuscule moment of contemporary culture."[15] In October 2012, as Gabriel played the first few bars of the song during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl, Cusack walked onto the stage, handed him a boombox and took a bow, before quickly walking off again. Cameron Crowe was also present at the concert and later tweeted "Peter Gabriel and John Cusack on stage together at the Hollywood Bowl tonight. Won't forget that... ever."[16]



Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1986–1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 97
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 29
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 50
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 26
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 1


On the This Way Up Tour tour (1986–1987), it was performed with an extended vocal duet with Youssou N'Dour, mainly during his North American concerts.[20][21]

In 1993, Gabriel performed the song on Saturday Night Live, during its 18th season.[22]

On 10 April 2014, Gabriel performed the song with an extended vocal duet with N'Dour as Gabriel was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The event, which took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, was filmed and was later televised in late May 2014 on the HBO cable channel.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "In Your Eyes". Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  2. ^ "The 35 Best Albums of the Last 35 Years". Spin. 6 December 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  3. ^ John McCullough (20 February 2012). "Peter Gabriel & Africa". Archived from the original on 15 January 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  4. ^ "AllMusic: Peter Gabriel (Awards)". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 222. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
  6. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 120. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  7. ^ "John Cusack relives 'Say Anything' boombox moment with Peter Gabriel". NBC. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  8. ^ Peter Gabriel – "In Your Eyes" Archived 26 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine. RIAA. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  9. ^ Bowman, Durrell (2 September 2016). Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener's Companion. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 136–138. ISBN 978-1-44225-199-1.
  10. ^ Pareles, Jon (15 June 1986). "Peter Gabriel Sings of Lost Ego". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  11. ^ Google; Gabriel, Peter (22 October 2012). Peter Gabriel: "Back to Front", Talks at Google (Interview). Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Single Releases" (PDF). Cash Box. 30 August 1986. p. 9. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  13. ^ "Reviews". Billboard. 30 August 1986. p. 83. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  14. ^ Adams, Jason (3 November 2009). "'Say Anything' turns 20: Cameron Crowe's crazy story behind 'In Your Eyes' and Lloyd Dobler's boom box". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  15. ^ Q&A: Peter Gabriel Reflects On His Landmark 1986 Album So Archived 9 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 4 September 2012
  16. ^ Peter Gabriel's Performance of In Your Eyes Interrupted By John Cusack Holding A Boombox Archived 18 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 October 2012
  17. ^ Daniel Lanois talks producing and his memories of making So with Peter Gabriel: "If you don't get to a soulful place making a record, don't put it out"
  18. ^ "Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes". Top 40 Singles.
  19. ^ Retrieved 22 June 2008.
  20. ^ Soundtrack of my life: Youssou N'Dour The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2011
  21. ^ "Peter Gabriel On Tour (5): This Way Up Tour 1986–87: Big Time (Success)". Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  22. ^ SNL Archives | Episode. Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 27 August 2007.

External links[edit]