Solsbury Hill


Today I rediscovered an incredible song by Peter Gabriel. I was in a friends office Music Match cycled to this and my first reaction this song is incredible”. Inside I could feel emotion well up in side me. Sadness mixed with hope. Very similar to something I feel when I listen to Phil Collin’s Take Me Home”. I didn’t know the lyrics but I think my heart did. When I got home I downloaded the song and pulled up the lyrics. Oh man does this song coin where I am at.



There are two main theories on its meaning. It’s about PG’s departure from Genesis or it’s about a man leaving an institution. Oddly enough those who hold to the second theory believe that Take Me Home is about the same guy.



For me this song captures the relationship I have with modern evangelicalism. Deep down inside I don’t think I fit in to church as we know it. I feel too transparent, too vulnerable, too real. I care too much. I feel like the more I’m involved the more the system is killing me. Perhaps my eagle has flown out of the night come to take me home.



I find it odd that the music I connect with is rarely Christian. Christian music is all too often shallow and meaningless. We sing and say so many unrealistic flowery things that we really don’t mean. Even in our art we don’t know how to be naked or real.



Solsbury Hill



Climbing up on Solsbury Hill

I could see the city lights

Wind was blowing, time stood still

Eagle flew out of the night

He was something to observe

Came in close, I heard a voice

Standing stretching every nerve

Had to listen had no choice I did not believe the information

[I] just had to trust imagination

My heart going boom boom boom

“Son,” he said “Grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”



To keep in silence I resigned

My friends would think I was a nut

Turning water into wine

Open doors would soon be shut

So I went from day to day

Tho’ my life was in a rut

‘Til I thought of what I’d say

Which connection I should cut

I was feeling part of the scenery

I walked right out of the machinery

My heart going boom boom boom

“Hey” he said “Grab your things

I’ve come to take you home.”



When illusion spin her net

I’m never where I want to be

And liberty she pirouette

When I think that I am free

Watched by empty silhouettes

Who close their eyes but still can see

No on taught them etiquette

I will show another me

Today I don’t need a replacement

I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant

My heart going boom boom boom

“Hey” I said “You can keep my things,

they’ve come to take me home.”

Peter Gabriel





  1. #1 by Russ on March 14, 2003 - 10:53 am

    I’ve always thought this song–and the first verse in particular–was reminiscent of the scene in Wordsworth’s “The Prelude” when he is taken home from boarding school. The feeling of the song seems to capture that Wordsworthian “spots of time” feeling perfectly. I wasn’t aware of the potential biographical overtones in the song; that’s interesting. In any case, we’re in complete agreement on one thing: it’s an amazing song.

  2. #2 by doug on March 14, 2003 - 6:12 pm

    That’s a beaut song. The song “Darkness” on “Up” follows the same thread.

  3. #3 by Holly on March 22, 2003 - 1:28 am

    The first time I heard Solsbury Hill I started to cry and a flood of emotions and memories began to floor through my mind. It was only about a year ago, I happened to hear it on the background of a movie and went and downloaded it. Well now a year later, just out of curiousity I played it off the mp3 online and started crying and it was again a magic moment for me, like my life is flashing before me, scenes of early childhood, special memories, faces of loved one’s who have passed away, feelings of butterflies reminiscent of my first love and how he made me feel, feelings of being little, with my brother and me outside on a fall day playing in the leaves. Feelings of how I felt when I was in the Air Force and got to my first overseas base in Korea, 19 years old, very attractive blonde, the sky’s the limit, shy, flirting, all attention on me. Then of the realization that its almost 10 years later and I’m 50 lbs overweight and sometime feel like my life is over,feel like guy in Vanilla Sky after car crash. If only this work out program will stick. OR just give up again and go to sleep and cry, but supported by a loving husband, but held hostage in my own miserable, desolate depression, imagining using this song as a letter of goodbye to my family. But in reality won’t give up, will keep trying,flashes of faces of early childhood, love, safety, it will be o.k, I won’t give up, I’m only 29 years old, and not obese just overweight, I can do it still, still very pretty, very smart, can still finish degree and be something, brother’s successful lawyer, I’ll catch up,this song takes me through this journey in my mind. Today for the 1st time I downloaded the words, I had no clue what the lyrics were, just like you my friend, the lyrics were in my heart, but these lyrics are where I’m at now too. So strange and coincidental to stumble upon your writings here, when trying to research what this song is really about and what PG was trying to say in them. Good luck to you Leighton.

  4. #4 by Randall on March 24, 2003 - 12:20 am

    wow. sweet.

    Thanx Leighton, thanks Holly.

  5. #5 by Jesse Henderson on May 15, 2003 - 5:39 am

    The first time I heard this song, I too started to cry. Someone played it on the radio for whatever reason….when I heard it, it seemed to me to outline in some ways what it’s like to follow christ, to make that commitment. I mean, the first part is an obviously spiritual experience, and then later on he’s worried about what people in his life would think about him. “turning water into wine”, and all that….Portions of the later verses almost are reminiscent of Paul’s statements on what it means to be a follower of christ but to still be a human, and still make mistakes. I mean, I know that Gabriel probably didn’t mean for it to be like that…but man, you can see so many undertones of a walk with christ and all that it gives as blessing to the soul, and all the sacrifices it entails on earth. I’ve been looking all around the net for someone who would at least agree with me on that much, so I know I’m not part of the actual heresy or something :)

    well, whatever…I could imagine making a really cool video to this song about the power of belief in God’s love for us…

  6. #6 by Jesse Henderson on May 15, 2003 - 5:39 am

    The first time I heard this song, I too started to cry. Someone played it on the radio for whatever reason….when I heard it, it seemed to me to outline in some ways what it’s like to follow christ, to make that commitment. I mean, the first part is an obviously spiritual experience, and then later on he’s worried about what people in his life would think about him. “turning water into wine”, and all that….Portions of the later verses almost are reminiscent of Paul’s statements on what it means to be a follower of christ but to still be a human, and still make mistakes. I mean, I know that Gabriel probably didn’t mean for it to be like that…but man, you can see so many undertones of a walk with christ and all that it gives as blessing to the soul, and all the sacrifices it entails on earth. I’ve been looking all around the net for someone who would at least agree with me on that much, so I know I’m not part of the actual heresy or something :)

    well, whatever…I could imagine making a really cool video to this song about the power of belief in God’s love for us…

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