365 Day Song Challenge: Day 125 – “The Rhythm Of The Heat”

Day 125: A song by your favorite male vocalist.*

“The Rhythm Of The Heat” – Peter Gabriel

The Rhythm Of The HeatI’ve talked before about Peter Gabriel’s penchant for spiritual experiences. A couple of times, in fact. So I guess it should be fitting that he provided me with one. Sort of. Not sort of fitting, but a “sort of” spiritual experience.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to try this, but I do remember what happened.

I put on Peter Gabriel. (The fourth one. The one they called Security in the US but was referred to as yet another album titled Peter Gabriel in the rest of the world.)

I turned out the lights.

And turned the volume way up. Way up. Continue Reading

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 59 – “Don’t Give Up”

Day 59. A song whose lyrics you take advice from.

“Don’t Give Up” – Peter Gabriel (featuring Kate Bush)

Don't Give UpSometimes you get those situations where life just beats you down.

I ran into one of those many years ago. I won’t go into details, but I’d been wrongly accused of something, and the accusation hit me hard. I was depressed. (Even thinking about it now brings me down, so this post will be short.) At the time, I had no idea what to do or what was going to happen.

I was listening to Peter Gabriel’s So album (yes, he was finally coerced into an album name other than Peter Gabriel) one day while all of this was going on. I was very familiar with the album by that point, but there had never been any real personal connection.

And then “Don’t Give Up” came on. The song on the whole deals with a man who’s at the end of his rope because of employment and financial issues. While that was not my situation, there were many lines in the song that seemed to hit home.

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Like this:

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

And this:

Rest your head
You worry too much
It’s going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don’t give up
Please don’t give up

But mostly this:

Don’t give up
‘Cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not the only one
Don’t give up
No reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up
You still have us
Don’t give up now
We’re proud of who you are

This last part was what really hit home. This is basically what my family was telling me, if not in so many words. They knew what was being said wasn’t true, and they were behind me. I don’t know exactly why their words didn’t affect me as directly as the lyrics to the song did, but that’s how it worked out.

I don’t know how the protagonist in Peter Gabriel’s song fared in the end, but my story’s ending was good. The truth came to light, which brought the whole ordeal to a close. There are still some emotional scars that haven’t healed, but that’s all part of life.

The important thing is I never gave up.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 48 – “Solsbury Hill”

Day 48. A song that you wish you could’ve written.

“Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel

Solsbury HillFor those that don’t know, long before “Sledgehammer” and “Steam,” there was “I Know What I Like,” “The Knife” and “The Battle Of Epping Forest.” No, you won’t find those last three on any Peter Gabriel solo album. You see, before his solo career, Gabriel was the original lead singer of Genesis.

He left the band in 1975. (Many thought that the departure could spell the end of Genesis. Thankfully, it didn’t.) In 1977 he released his first solo album, called, surprisingly enough, Peter Gabriel.  (This album was followed by a new one in 1978 called Peter Gabriel, another in 1980 called Peter Gabriel, and one in 1982 called… you guessed it… Peter Gabriel. He’s quite a creative songwriter, but he sucks at album titles.) The first single from Peter Gabriel—uh, the first Peter Gabriel—was “Solsbury Hill.”

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Click the > button above to hear samples.

“Solsbury Hill” wasn’t a patently obvious choice. I knew I wanted to pick something that was a bit unconventional, and often for me that means long and at least somewhat complex. Since I’m still holding Genesis off-limits for a little longer, I had to look beyond things like “Firth Of Fifth” and “Duke’s Travels.” I then thought of “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel, but since I’d already done one of his songs, I didn’t want to do that either.

Then I thought of “Solsbury Hill” and that pretty much decided that. There were a number of reasons:

  1. It’s a great song. A pretty song with pretty lyrics. But they’re also lyrics of empowerment, of taking a chance and doing what it is you really want (or need) to do, regardless of the risk involved. Too often people go through life afraid to make a change. And then there are always the people who are going to tell you, “no, you can’t do that” or “that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.” Gabriel decided he wasn’t going to listen to them. (And you shouldn’t either.)
  2. It’s reported to be about Gabriel deciding to leave Genesis. (A decision made while having a “spiritual experience” at the song’s namesake location. He likes those “spiritual experiences,” but more on that later.) So, in order to have written the song, you’d have had to have been in Genesis, which would have been pretty cool in the first place (says the die-hard fan).
  3. Third, there’s more going on in this song than meets the… uh… ear. That is, not only is the song structure and melody well done, but it uses a 7/4 time signature for most of the song (except the last two measures of each chorus, which are in 4/4). This is an unconventional time signature, but Gabriel makes it sound effortless and natural, which is rarely the case for songs in “7”. (So it fits my previously stated “unconventional” and “somewhat complex” criteria.)

Even after I subsequently realized that I’d already penciled in a Gabriel song for Day 58 (which totally negated my logic for not picking a Billy Joel song), I decided I didn’t want to reconsider or go back to “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.” (So I’ll have to find another topic to use that one for.)

“Solsbury Hill” is an achievement and something I would have liked to have written. I have written a number of songs; not a huge number, but a number. It’s not easy to write even a bad song much less one you can be proud of. My songs have never strayed out of the 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, and my lyrics are not really strong. (I’m a good prose writer (if I say so myself), but not a great poet.) 

Now album titles? Yeah, I got it all over Pete on that front…