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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 58
Mon. Mar 23, 2013

“Don’t Give Up”
Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

1987

“♫ Don’t
give up/
you’re not
the only
one
♫”

I’ve been sitting at my desk listening to “Don’t Give Up” on repeat since I hung up the phone with my Papi. The words give up never entered in my own vocabulary, in our family my parents literally forbade us even mentioning the words like surrender in our house. I couldn’t believe that my Mami was considering giving up. I was shocked. The words, the music, Kate and Peter’s voices in “Don’t Give Up,” were much needed lyrical relief on this day of struggle and contemplation.

Did you know Peter Gabriel had another singer in mind when he first decided to record “Don’t Give Up?” Peter told The Stool Pigeon, “Because there was this reference point of American roots music [spiritual/folk] in it when I first wrote it, it was suggested that Dolly Parton sing on it. But Dolly turned it down, and I’m glad she did because what Kate did on it is… brilliant. It’s an odd song. A number of people have written to me and said they didn’t commit suicide because they had that song on repeat, or whatever, and obviously you don’t think about things like that when you’re writing. But obviously the power of the song came from the way that Kate sings it. Dolly later asked me to sing it with her on her TV show but I couldn’t because I was on tour, I thought it would be interesting.”

Kate Bush returned the accolades when she said this about her “Don’t Give Up” duet partner in Mojo Magazine, “I have huge amounts of respect for Peter and his work. He is one of the rare artists who is instantly recognizable through his music, with his stunning voice and his individual style of writing and arranging. ‘Ah yes, I know who that is, that’s Peter!’ He is always delightful to work with, a really lovely person who knows exactly what he wants, its fun just being with him. I think the most intriguing thing about him is his transformation when he is on-stage. This is part of his charm and I think it’s adorable. He then steps onto a stage and becomes an alarmingly powerful, confident, sexy and enormously charismatic performer. Playful, brave and absolutely fascinating. I really love Peter; he’s one of my favorite human beings.”

So is my older brother’s favorite Peter Gabriel albums, and today our family needs “Don’t Give Up” now more than ever. I am reminded of Elton John’s moving words on how “Don’t Give Up” saved his life when he explained, “When I took drugs, in the worst period, that is when I was perfectly aware of where I was slipping, a song helped me resist: ‘Don’t Give Up’, by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. I was listening to it and I was continuing to repeat aloud: “I will not let go, I will not throw in the sponge”. The problem was that I did not know how to abandon the hole into which I was hurled. Then I understood; I would have to ask for help: to say “I need help” … I will never forget that track from the album ‘So’ by Peter Gabriel. Every time that I allowed the situation to beat down, every time that I thought that this life was not worth anything, I put on ‘Don’t Give Up’ and I convinced myself yes, it is worth the pain. Still now I cry, when I feel it.” I hope my familia feels it too because I am currently finding solace within the comforting words of Peter Gabriel. Coming from a family where giving up was not even a consideration to hear those words coming from my Papi, was numbing. Here’s hoping—“Don’t Give Up’s” positive words will make a difference— and Pete Gabriel’s poetic perseverance anthem becomes the soundtrack to her revival.

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