Wallflower

Songfacts®:

  • This song was inspired by an Amnesty International pamphlet Gabriel read that dealt with political prisoners in Latin America. "It was written with Amnesty International in mind, prisoners of conscience, people being tortured," he said in a 2011 video interview posted on his website.
  • The title doesn't appear in the lyric, which paints a picture of a prisoner trapped in a small cell, in danger of being forgotten. A "wallflower" is a person who shies away from others at social gatherings, typically staying by a wall and blending in with the scenery. Gabriel uses the term to describe someone who doesn't have the option of interacting with others.
  • Running 6:30, this song gradually builds as Gabriel offers words of encouragement, exhorting, "hold on, hold on." The song has a specific inspiration, but many fans find it relates to their own personal struggles.
  • Gabriel recorded an orchestral version for his 2011 album New Blood. That year, he used the song to lend support to International Bridges To Justice (IBJ), an organization dedicated to the protection of human rights.
  • Gabriel covered Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade out)" for a covers album called Scratch My Back in 2010 and expected the band to cover "Wallflower" from the companion album "And I'll Scratch Yours," but they never did.

Comments: 4

  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaThis explanation is minimal and the song title seems incongruous for a song about political prisoners. I always thought this echoed Gabriel's "Lead a Normal Life" - presumably about the plight of people in mental institutions.
  • Hernan from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaI always thought that Wallflower was born as one of the songs of the soundtrack of Birdy, the 1984's Alan Parker movie.
  • Miles from Vancouver, CanadaBy far one of his best and most wonderful songs both musically and lyrically.
  • Agustin from Santiago, ChilePeter Gabriel sang Wallflower as lead singer in october 1990's Amnesty International's concert "Desde Chile, Un Abrazo a la Esperanza", at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile, with chilean folk music band Inti Illimani as support band. Introducing that number, in front of 75000 people, Gabriel told to the audience that he had composed that song after knowing about torture in Chile. They (Gabriel + Inti Illimani) also played then "El Arado", a song composed by chilean musician Victor Jara (tortured and assassinated in 1973), with Gabriel as lead singer, in spanish.
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