This song evolved out of a project where Gabriel studied inmates on death row to find out what made them kill. It's an angry song that deals with Gabriel's dark side. He explained to Uncut magazine: "I read lots trying to understand the buttons that operate and make you feel the way you do. When you have self knowledge, you don't fall into the same behavioral traps. One of the keys is - take responsibility. Blaming anyone else, especially in relationships is a futile activity and not going to move you forward."
Gabriel said this song is about "investigating the layers within yourself."
As part of his research on murderers, Gabriel read the book Our Why We Kill. Gabriel recalled to The Daily Mirror: "I'm sure, like any song, it reflects what was going on in my life,. I was reading a book called Why We Kill about what murderers have in common, the psychological make-up that unites them."
"I was also going through therapy myself so that had a bearing," he added. "It wasn't a cathartic experience where I revisited all the emotions, but the contrast between the dark and more reflective mood was something we concentrated on."
After his mega-successful 1986 album So, Gabriel waited six years to release another album, Us. "Digging In The Dirt" was his first new solo vocal recording.
This won a Grammy for best short-form video in 1993. Gabriel opened the awards that year with a performance of "Steam
Gabriel told The Daily Mirror: "That was probably the hardest one to do on the album because it was written around a groove and it just didn't make sense at first. I was really missing the bass and drums."