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Jill Gabriel, who was Peter's wife at the time, told us: "I saw an article in a newspaper about a woman who jumped out of a huge block of flats with her child and killed herself. I gave it to Peter and it was the original inspiration and he was heartbroken to read it. However his lyrics are always multilayered with many different influences."
Peter has also cited a TV show about unemployment and family life, and a photo of a family in the dust bowl depression as influences on the song.
Peter had some kind of nervous breakdown in 1985, and he wrote this song to reward the support he got from his family. This album provides a glimpse of Gabriel's state of mind: it's a mixture of excessive enthusiast songs ("Big Time
") and depressive ones ("Don't Give Up," "Mercy Street").
Gabriel said of this song's message: "The basic idea is that handling failure is one of the hardest things we have to learn to do."
This is a duet with Kate Bush. It didn't start as a duet - Gabriel had to change the lyrics so they made sense for a man and woman to sing them.
Two videos were made. One of the promos showed Bush and Gabriel in a loving embrace for the duration of the song. This version was directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, who made many classic videos, including "Every Breath You Take
" by The Police. Godley recalled in Q
Magazine August 2008: "There wasn't a sexual connotation, just one of mutual support. But the song isn't sentimental or nostalgic, just incredibly moving."
Gabriel's 15-year marriage was in jeopardy at the time (the divorce came in 1988), and he insisted on calling his wife to get permission to embrace Bush. He reflected in an interview with Q
: "I thought that five minutes of groping Kate in front of the world was perhaps not the best thing for a dodgy marriage At the time I felt I needed a blessing. Anyway, Jill was great about it."
Paula Cole sang this with Gabriel on his 1994 album Secret World Live.
This was used in the Miami Vice episode "Redemption In Blood" (aired November 11, 1988), in which Sonny Crockett begins to regain his memory after being in an accident while he was undercover as his alter ego Sonny Burnett. (thanks, Christopher - Burlington, NC)
Bush was not Gabriel's first choice as duet partner. Speaking to The Quietus
, the one-time Genesis vocalist admitted that he'd originally approached Dolly Parton to contribute vocals for the track, but the country legend turned his offer down. "There's an interesting story about this song," he said. "Because there was a reference of America roots music in it when I first wrote it, it was suggested that Dolly Parton sing on it."
He added that he was "glad" that Bush had ended up taking singing duties for the track.
Gabriel and Parton are apparently destined not to work together. He told Spinner
: "What's funny is, we met a couple of times after that, and she ended up asking me to sing it with her on her TV show, but we were never able to make it happen."
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