Monday, March 28, 2016

Perfect songs: Don't Give Up - Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

This is one of those songs that seems to appear when I most need it. I have many go to tunes, Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python, and of course Bridge of Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.
But this stunning duet by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush really strengthens me in many ways.
I’ve loved this song since it came out in the mid 80s, a big Gabriel and Bush fan, the two of them together was too much for me to bear. I loved the album So, and played it until I was sure the grooves in the vinyl wore, and this track was no exception. Sledgehammer was the big track and a huge hit, visually and vocally, and then there was In Your Eyes from Say Anything. Every song was an instant classic, but the duet brought me to my knees, I played it over and over again, singing along to both parts.
It is a song I know very well, and is definitely, to me, a perfect song. I guess as my list of perfect songs has shown so far, I am drawn to melodic and melancholy songs, and again this fits that bill.
And yet it is not a song I play purposely these days, but it is true that it always seems to appear on the radio when I need it the most. There is no explanation for this, it simply happens, call it serendipity or synchronicity, I feel that it follows me to make sure I am ok. Only a few weeks ago I was in a bit of a bad place, and was driving home from somewhere and this came on the radio. It made me cry but it also gave me hope, and as I sobbed and sung I could feel my fog lifting.
Don’t Give Up.
It’ll make me cry, it’ll make me think, but it will matter what...make me feel stronger and more alive than I was prior to hearing it.
Rest your head, you worry too much - those lyrics, it is like they know me, have gotten in my head.
The melding of those two lovely and unique voices is a perfect pairing, they sound amazing together. Gabriel’s clear, strong voice along side that theatrically stunning almost operatic voice of Bush.
Gabriel sings with fear and despair (the story was inspired by depression era photos AND thatcher) whilst Bush offers hope and encouragement within the chorus and her harmonies.
And so it goes, two intense verses from Gabriel and the soothing and comforting return from Bush within the chorus.
And then it lifts with the all important bridge, Kate singing powerfully and with conviction, “rest your head, you worry too much, it’s gonna be alright, when times get rough, you can fall back on us, don’t give up, please don’t give up.”
Gabriel sounds even more powerful in voice, though maybe not so much in words, as he counteracts with his section of the bridge.
The song continues with another verse and Kate riffing on the chorus. Where things head, who can know, but I feel the power and strength in her voice, through her vocals and words. Surely only positivity is next. Maybe that is not the intent of the song, but for me, that is what it is about, friends and those who love you holding you up and supporting you, giving you strength when you don’t feel so strong.
And then of course there is the superb Godley and Creme video that accompanies it, with Kate and Peter hanging on to each other as if their lives do indeed depend on it. It is as evocative and as sensual as the song itself, a perfect visual representation of how I think the song unfolds.

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