Writer(s): Peter Gabriel (see lyrics here)
Released: March 21, 1977
First Charted: April 9, 1977
Peak: 68 US, 81 CB, 80 HR, 2 CL, 3 CO, 13 UK, 92 CN, 45, AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 68.91 video, 168.93 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Peter Gabriel was one of the founding members of Genesis in 1967. The English progressive-rock band didn’t get much attention in the United States, but built a following in the UK, eventually garnering top-10 albums with 1973’s Selling England by the Pound and 1974’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Then frontman Peter Gabriel, who’d largely given the band its identity with outlandish stage costumes, left.
The band’s drummer, Phil Collins, stepped up to the mic and led Genesis toward a more commercial sound and worldwide success. Gabriel launched a solo career, focusing on more experimental, alternative rock, and eventually world music. He would also find unexpected commercial success in 1986 with So and the #1 song “Sledgehammer,” one of the most celebrated and viewed videos of all time.
His career started, however, in 1977 with “Solsbury Hill,” the lead single from his self-titled debut. Much like Genesis’ early years, the song didn’t get much attention in the U.S. where it peaked at 68, but it was a top-20 hit in the UK. It has become “a radio staple on various formats and remains popular.” SF
The song “is a partly enigmatic, partly autobiographical personal statement that stands as one of the most immaculate pop/rock songs of the late ‘70s.” BB It has been viewed as a statement about his departure from Genesis and the anticipation of his solo career ahead. He explained that it was “about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get…It’s about letting go.” WK He was inspired by a spiritual experience at Little Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England. WK
Musically the “7/4 stomp of ‘Solsbury Hill’ is one of its indelible and striking features, that feeling of a beat missing in every measure giving the song a constant sense of struggle.” BB “The song hits the ground running – launching right into its primary guitar riff, with its groove already in cruise control by the end of the first measure.” BB
First posted 8/7/2022; last updated 10/28/2022.