According to Gabriel, the lyrics could refer to either the love between a man and woman or the relationship between a person and God.
African musician Youssou N'Dour sang backup. In 1991 Gabriel performed this in N'Dour's native country of Senegal before a crowd of 70,000.
This was featured in the 1989 movie Say Anything in a scene where John Cusack plays this from a Boom Box he holds over his head to win the heart of Ione Skye. Cameron Crowe, who directed the film, was going to use Billy Idol's "Got To Be A Lover," but it didn't work with the scene. Crowe got the idea to use this when he played a tape from his wedding which had the song on it. Because it was a deeply personal song, Gabriel did not want to let him use it, but when Crowe called and sent him a tape of the movie, Gabriel loved it and gave his approval.
The producers of Say Anything
(see a still
) were charged about $200,000 to use the song, but it was worth the price as it became one of the most famous scenes in movie history. The scene became a cultural touchstone, which was a little strange for Gabriel. He told Rolling Stone
in 2012: "I've talked to John Cusack about that. We're sort of trapped together in a minuscule moment of contemporary culture."
Gabriel combined various real and electronic instruments to create the song. He worked the Fairlight CMI synthesizer and the Linn drum machine, and also played piano. Other musicians on the track, along with N'Dour, were:
David Rhodes - guitar, backing vocals
Jerry Marotta - drums
Richard Tee - piano
Larry Klein, Tony Levin - bass
Manu Katche - drums, talking drum, percussion
Ronnie Bright - bass vocals
Jim Kerr (from Simple Minds), Michael Been - backing vocals
A special 7:14 mix of this song was released to radio stations by Geffen Records. It features extended singing by Youssou N'Dour. This promotional copy also included a 6:15 version of the song, and an 8:36 of Gabriel's "Biko."
Rob - Hutchinson, KS
This is one of the few slow songs that gets consistent airplay on rock radio. It was not real popular when it came out, but continues to get constant airplay on a variety of formats, as listeners never seem to tire of it.
The band SR-71 also does a cover of this song. They performed it live at the 2004 Gravity Games.
Brad - Hickory, NC
In 1994, Gabriel did a version of "In Your Eyes" live, which appears on Disc 2 of the double CD set of Secret World Live
, and lasts 11:34. On this version, he improvises a lot in the song with the backup singers.
Glenda - Austin, TX
The singer/guitarist Jeffrey Gaines recorded a popular version of this song that got a lot of airplay on Adult Contemporary radio and appears on his 2001 album Always Be. Gaines writes most of his own material, but his cover of "In Your Eyes" has become his best-known work. When we asked him about performing a song written by someone else, he replied: "The conviction I have within that material is my joy of singing."