Peter Gabriel: Don’t Give Up (1986)

Don’t Give Up (Version 1)

Don’t Give Up (version 2)

Don’t Give Up (Secret World Live with Paula Cole)

Peter GabrielReturn with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear, a time before music had turned to crap, a time when people who made music could actually sing and play instruments.

Peter Gabriel’s tenure as lead singer of Genesis marked the band’s creative heyday. After his departure, Genesis went on to become a hugh commercial success (emphisis on the word commercial), while Gabriel eventually became a megastar in his own right. No cause-related benefit concert of the 1980s was complete without Gabriel performing Red Rain and Biko.

I was at Gabriel’s first-ever solo show at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ on March 5, 1977. The opening act was Television. Unfortunately, the suburban prog-rock audience wasn’t ready for Television’s New York new wave sound, and the band was literally booed off the stage.

But I digress. The reason that I chose to highlight this particular song isn’t because it’s Gabriel’s best or even my favorite. I selected it because it’s topical.

Don’t Give Up, a duet with Kate Bush, tells the story of an unemployed man who’s at the end of his rope because he can’t find a job during hard economic times.

We’re living in that time now. The current American president cares more about nationalizing the private sector and listening to the sound of his own voice than doing anything effective to stimulate the economy so people can get back to work.

There are three videos this time. The two studio versions were directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The first features Peter and Kate embracing and revolving while the sun slowly goes into and out of an eclipse. The second shows Gabriel superimposed over a town with people in hard times. The last video is a live version filmed at the Secret World Live concert in Italy and features Paula Cole as the other singer in the duet.


Röyksopp – What Else Is There? (2006)

Röyksopp is an electronic music duo based in Norway comprised of Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge.

“What Else Is There?” appears on Röyksopp’s second album, The Understanding. The vocals are sung by Karin Dreijer Andersson of the electronica duo The Knife. The video for the song, by director Martin De Thurah, has model Marianne Schröder lip-synching to the lyrics, although Andersson makes a cameo appearance.

The song made it to #32 on the UK Singles Chart and reached #1 on the British Dance Chart.

The otherworldliness of the song and the accompanying video is extraordinary. It’s difficult to tell what the song’s really about—perhaps the woman singing is dead, killed in a car crash, as evidenced in this excerpt from the  lyrics:

It was me on that road
But you couldn’t see me
Too many lights out, but nowhere near here

It was me on that road
Still you couldn’t see me
And then flashlights and explosions

The singer mentions being given “just one week,” which makes me wonder if she was allowed to come back to Earth for a short time. If so, the song is thematically similar to The Musical Box by Genesis. Here’s the description of the song from the album:

The musical box:

While Henry Hamilton-Smythe minor (8) was playing croquet with Cynthia Jane De Blaise-William (9), sweet smiling Cynthia raised her mallet high and gracefully removed Henry’s head. Two weeks later, in Henry’s nursery, she discovered his treasured musical box. Eagerly she opened it and as “Old King Cole” began to play, a small spirit-figure appeared. Henry had returned – but not for long, for as he stood into the room his body began ageing rapidly, leaving a child’s mind inside. A lifetime’s desires surged through him. Unfortunately the attempt to persuade Cynthia Jane to fulfill his romantic desire led his nurse to the nursery to investigate the noise. Instinctively she hurled the musical box at the bearded child, destroying both.

Here’s The Musical Box from a performance on Belgian TV.

You can hear musical similarities between What Else is There and Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. I’ve included the video for Running Up That Hill (extended edition) below.

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