This song is about a man with amnesia being asked a bunch of questions. Gabriel had an interest in psychiatry and explored the topic on this album. In a 1980 interview with Sounds, he called himself "a purveyor of amateur psychiatric cliches," adding, "The only way I can make it work is compare my own experience with the theories."
Robert Fripp, Dave Gregory, and David Rhodes all played guitar on this. Fripp was a member of King Crimson.
This song was heavily processed, especially at the end where the music is slowed down and distorted further over some barely-audible whispering by Gabriel. The bass and midrange were equalized out of Gabriel's vocals, giving him a tinny sound similar to a phone line.
Gabriel wrote this using a new approach. The rhythm was put in a programmable drum machine and the chords and melody built around it. Drum machines were new at the time.
Jeff from B-townFor me, it always felt like this song is a tongue-in-cheek play on a conversation between a man and his gf where the gf is inquiring about some other woman/event/misadventure and the man is simply pleading the fifth, as it were, to save his skin... Hehehe. How many times has your spouse said to you, 'listen, just tell me the truth and it will be okay'? Musically, early shades of 'Shock the Monkey'... World beat metal?
Anthony from New York, NyWhat exactly is he singing in the chorus when his voice is distorted? Can’t make it out & no lyrics site has it included in the lyrics.
I don’t think it’s simply “I don’t remember”. It sounds like he’s saying something else but I could be wrong.
Tim from Springfield, MaOne of my favorite Peter Gabriel songs. My mom would play the shaking the tree album all the time when I was little, and for a long time I coudln't remember anything about the song except the line "I don't remember"
Eric from Lyndonville, VtJust one of many of great songs by PG.
Jason from San Francisco, CaI think this song is about an ex-girlfriend. It is him telling his ex-girlfriend that he is free of her. "What is gone is gone and i don't give a damn". It seems like they bump into each other or she tries calling him to get back together but he's not having it. "Strange is your language and I have no decoder." I love the ending of this song where Peter is singing, "I don't remember" and it sounds like the guitar is say "the bad things". I don't remember the bad things.
Laura from London, Englandlmao. Best thing in this song is the almost 'yodle'ing sound of Peter going...."Aheaeaeaeaeaeaeaea" lol What a ledgend!
Ed from York, Pathis is pretty heavy, for a Peter Gabriel song
Gustav from London, EnglandI had just finished reading 'The Bourne Identity' and this song goes well with the book. It's about a man who is saved at sea by fisherman and has no memory of who he is or what he did.
Sandy from Newburgh, InOne of those all-white guys in the video looks like Patrick Stewart. Anyone else make that connection?
Lauren from Bensalem, Pai agree about the political prisoner thing, because of the fact that Biko a song about a political prisoner is also on that album.
Dee from Indianapolis, InYes, one of his better tunes for sure.
Neeraj from Delhu, Indiai think its a wonderful song. it seems to have been picked out of an ordinary conversation where one says i don't remember. The song is very liberating, how convenient it would be for us to say we don't remember, if we could forget the pain in our lives and prepare ourselves to start afresh.
Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaI thought it was about torture of political prisoners, at the time it was written, people like Pinochet were conducting a reign of terror in South America. "With your eyes to the sun and your mouth to the soda saying tell me the truth you got nothing to fear".
Jana from Lee, NhI love this song!!! It's got such an awesome beat. Makes me want to learn how to dance well.
Phil Oakey recorded his vocals for "Don't You Want Me" in the studio bathroom. The recording was disrupted by guitarist Jo Callis reaching through an open window from outside to repeatedly flush one of the toilets.