Monday, June 20, 2011

A song a day: Peter Gabriel - Digging in the Dirt

Artists often use their personal problems as an inspiration but I can't recall anyone being as brutal as Peter Gabriel on the album Us. While it had a couple of 'fun' tracks (limp Sledgehammer clone Steam and the totally lame Kiss That Frog), the rest is a frank exploration of the turmoil he was suffering from the break down of two major relationships and his growing alienation from his children. Digging in the Dirt is musically much like any track off his commercial breakthrough So except the lyrics are much, much darker. They voice two distinct parts of his character - the quieter one conveys his desperate need for understanding through examination of his subconscious motives ("Digging in the dirt, stay with me I need support") and the second voice conveys the inarticulate rage of a man out of control ("Don't talk back/Just drive the car/Shut your mouth/ I know what you are").

The song treads the line between the two narratives, the inner monologue examining the past hurts and primal emotions that have led him to being the person he is and the second is the man in real life, beyond reason, the uncompromising result of his fear, hurt and anger. While the song is ultimately a plea for understanding as he works through his issues, it also shows the emotional limitations of the narrator. Unsurprisingly, the images in the video show Gabriel being consumed by the wilderness, being buried alive and smashing shit up as well as plants that grow to make the word 'help' and 'heal'. As a first single, this shows that being Peter Gabriel in 1992 was not a happy place to be at all.


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