“In Your Eyes” was a hit song that could have become an albatross for singer-songwriter Jeffrey Gaines. To his credit he didn’t let that happen. Fundamentally, a singer/songwriter whose three decades of sensitive ballads straddle musical categories, Jeffrey made his biggest splash with a number that owes its “genesis” to Peter Gabriel.
Yeah, I know. That’s a groaner.
“It’s super weird that (a large number of people into that song) are feeling more for the one song I don’t feel than the ones that I do feel. I’m just singing it for singing’s sake. I don’t even know what these lyrics are about.”
Jeffrey’s core audience in the three decades since “In Your Eyes” was first released follow his career more for his originals than they do a redo of a pop song by a British rock star. “I was getting like top-40 radio, major market top-40 spins on a song that was a live cover that happened to have been recorded at a gig.”
Jeffrey recalls the time he met the song’s writer Peter Gabriel originally of Genesis. Gabriel showed up at one of Jeffrey’s shows at a venue Jeffrey calls a dive. “(Peter Gabriel) was the perfect gentleman of gentlemen: so well dressed, so polite, so well-mannered, and respectful of stepping into a show of mine. It was wonderful that he would come into such a dive. He was backstage before I got in there. He’s with his date, and he said, ‘I’d love to hear it. I’d love to see it live, but if you could put it up at the beginning of the set, that would be fantastic ’cause I’ve got dinner plans.’
“He’s got some Brazilian, you know? The perfect supermodel date for a rock star guy. Sure! I get it. She’s not gonna sit through my set. Let’s just make it the first song so the man can get on his way.”
That said, Jeffrey took Gabriel’s presence as an honor. “He said, ‘I wish I’d sung it with so much soul.’ After he said that, I was like, absolutely I will carry the torch.”
A live version of the cover song first appeared on Jeffrey’s first album in 1992. He released another version on his fourth album, Always Be, in 2001. He’s released a total of eight albums in 32 years and toured with artists as disparate as The Monkees, Gregg Allman, and Tom Petty. He’s been quoted as saying, “When it’s just me playing, I only know the first song I’m going to play, but from there the energy and the vibe tell me what the next song is going to be.”
His current tour which includes a Friday, January 12th stop at the iconic coffeehouse Caffe Lena in Saratoga, New York is selling out. He has a core audience of fans who love his mellifluous voice and introspective lyrics.
He’s heavily influenced by his late mother. “I probably was trying to impress my mother when I sang ‘In Your Eyes’ because she was always singing. She had Otis Redding, Johnny Taylor playing all the time, and you better have that instrument.
“My mother didn’t work and was doing the housewife mom thing. We hung out really close. Everywhere she went, I went. I was matching her moves. A lot of kids try to walk in stride with their father; you know what I mean?
“The other night I was going to my show. I found this really old bottle of my mom’s perfume. It had probably turned or whatever, but I sprayed it in the air and started to walk under it. It kind of smelled like leather. So, I put that on the top of my left hand. I just reached out and grabbed a little sniff and put myself in alignment like a little smell.
“It was empowering. When I aligned that initial snort, I was empowered by it. It didn’t make me sad. It was a cool slap in the face, like ‘exactly. Ok! Right! So, you check yourself where the recollections come in.
“I took that into the show, and the reviews were righteous. So, sometimes a series of fans after the show will line up and collectively remind you of the same impression that is left with them. ‘Yeah, I was feeling that, too.’ In your mind you’re like, ‘I’m glad you got that ’cause I was definitely delivering that.’ I felt that while I was doing that. I felt that feeling myself. Like that was great, great rationality.’”
Jeffrey Gaines Tour:
Fri, Jan. 12 Caffè Lena – Saratoga Springs, NY
Sat, Jan. 13 Red Room Sound Studio – Torrington, CT
Sat, Jan. 20 Private Event – Trenton, NJ
Thu, Feb. 8 Falcon – Marlboro, NY
Fri, Feb. 9 Firehouse Center for the Arts – Newburyport, MA
Fri, Feb. 16 Elkton Music Hall – Elkton, MD
Sat, Feb. 17 Factory Records – Dover, NJ
Sat, FEB 24 Lizzie Rose Music Room – Tuckerton, NJ
Tue, Mar. 12 Rams Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD
Sat, Mar. 23 West Shore Theatre – New Cumberland, PA
Sat, Mar. 30 Rivet: Canteen & Assembly – Pottstown, PA