Monday, October 27, 1986

Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush “Don’t Give Up” released

Don’t Give Up

Peter Gabriel

Writer(s): Peter Gabriel (see lyrics here)

Released: October 27, 1986

First Charted: November 1, 1986

Peak: 72 US, 69 CB, 7 CO, 9 UK, 40 CN, 5 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 47.74 video, 36.64 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In his years since leaving progressive rock band Genesis in 1975, Peter Gabriel established himself as a critically-acclaimed artist with four albums from 1977 to 1982. All reached the top-10 in his native UK, but none cracked the top-20 in the United States. His fifth, album, 1986’s So, was a blockbuster success. It reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the U.S., where it sold more than five million copies. The lead single, “Sledgehammer,” was a #1 hit in the U.S. propelled by what became the most watched video in the history of MTV.

Other singles weren’t as successful, but “In Your Eyes” became an iconic song a few years later because of its use in the movie Say Anything and “Big Time” also reached the top 10. Those three songs, as well as “Red Rain,” all reached the top three on the Billboard album rock chart. Also from the album – the song “Don’t Give Up” was a minor hit in the United States, but a top-10 hit in the UK. The duet with Kate Bush

Gabriel was inspired by Dorothea Lange’s 1973 book, In This Proud Land, which was a collection of her photograhs of down-and-out Americans during the Dust Bowl of the Depression era. He saw parallels between that time and the current economic conditions in England. WK Gabriel also said he’d seen a TV show about unemployment and his then-wife, Jill, said she’d given him a newspaper article about a woman who killed herself. SF

Gabriel worked those ideas into a song about a man dealing with the stress of unemployment WK He also reflected on the support he received from his family after suffering a nervous breakdown in 1985. SF He said the song’s message was “that handling failure is one of the hardest things we have to learn to do.” SF It won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. Elton John attributed his sobriety to the song. WK

Because Gabriel wrote “Don’t Give Up” using American roots music as a reference point, he approached country singer Dolly Parton to sing it with him. She said no, and he asked his friend Kate Bush to duet on the song instead. She sings the chorus, which offers “words of hope and encouragement” WK while the verses, sung by Gabriel, “describe the man’s feelings of isolation, loneliness, and despair.” WK


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First posted 10/29/2022.

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