Solsbury Hill (song)

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"Solsbury Hill"
Single by Peter Gabriel
from the album Peter Gabriel
B-side "Moribund the Burgermeister"
Released

1977 (UK)

1978 (US)
Format Vinyl record (7")
Recorded 1976
Genre Progressive rock, folk rock
Length 4:21
Label Atco Records / Charisma Records
Writer(s) Peter Gabriel
Producer(s) Bob Ezrin
Peter Gabriel singles chronology
"Solsbury Hill"
(1977)
"Modern Love"
(1977)

"Solsbury Hill" is a song by British musician Peter Gabriel about a spiritual experience atop Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England. Gabriel wrote the song after his departure from the progressive rock band Genesis, of which he had been the lead singer since its inception. The song was his debut single. The single was a Top 20 hit in the UK and reached #68 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1977.[1] The song re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, reaching #84.

Gabriel has said "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get... It's about letting go.". Former bandmate Tony Banks acknowledges that the song reflects Gabriel's decision to break ties with Genesis, but it can be also applied in a broader sense.

It has been used in a number of films, for example in the soundtracks of the 2001 film Vanilla Sky,[2] and the 2004 film In Good Company.[3] Its prevalence has been called "ubiquitous", particularly its inclusion in a satirical re-cut trailer of The Shining.[4] The song has been covered by many artists, including Lou Reed, moe., Dave Matthews, Erasure, Sarah McLachlan, Saga, Kyte and Justin Hines, among others.

The song uses a 7/4 time signature for the vast majority of the song. The last two measures of each chorus are in 4/4.

Track listing[edit]

7" UK single (1977)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill" – (3:24)
  2. "Moribund The Burgermeister" – (4:17)

7" "Old Gold" single (1982)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill" - (3:26)
  2. "Games Without Frontiers" - (3:50)

UK maxi-single (1983, 1988)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill" – (3:24)
  2. "Moribund The Burgermeister" – (4:17)
  3. "Solsbury Hill (Full Length Live Version)" – (4:45)

7" European single (1990 re-issue)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill" – (4:24)
  2. "Shaking The Tree" – (5:06)

12" UK single (1990 re-issue)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill" – (4:22)
  2. "Shaking The Tree" – (5:06)
  3. "Games Without Frontiers (Live)" - (6:06)
"Solsbury Hill (Live)"
Single by Peter Gabriel
from the album Plays Live
B-side "Kiss Of Life (Live)"
Released 1983
Format vinyl record (7")
Genre Folk rock, progressive rock
Length 4:41
Label Geffen Records / Charisma Records

Live Version[edit]

7" US single (1983)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill (Live)" - (3:58)
  2. "I Go Swimming (Live)" - (4:29)

7" Netherlands single (1983)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill (Live)" - (4:41)
  2. "Kiss Of Life (Live)" - (5:01)

7" US single (1983)[edit]

  1. "Solsbury Hill (Live)" - (3:58)
  2. "Shock The Monkey" - (3:58)

Personnel[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

  • The band Kyte recorded a cover for their album, Two Sparks, Two Stars.
  • Ingram Hill recorded the song for their EP Why the Wait.
  • Dave Matthews Band covered the song twice on their 2009 Summer Tour.
  • Dave Matthews & Friends covered the song for the first time on December 12, 2003 in University Park, Pennsylvania.[5]
  • In 2003 the song was also covered by British synthpop duo Erasure for their cover versions album Other People's Songs and released as a single in the UK on 6 January 2003 and in the US on 14 January 2003. The single reached # 10 on the UK chart in January 2003. The track was chosen for the album by Erasure member Vince Clarke. Clarke and singer Andy Bell turned the song into a mid-tempo electronic dance tune, displaying the signature Erasure sound. The only major change made to the structure of the song was the modification of the 7/4 time signature to a more basic 4/4—except for the chorus, which slips back into 7/4 time for one line.
  • Scala & Kolacny Brothers covered the song on their Circle album in 2010, keeping the standard time signature, but performing with only a piano accompanied by an all female choir, adding the track to their growing list of rock covers.
  • Mercury Rev played a cover of "Solsbury Hill" during their encore following their performance of their classic album Deserter's Songs at the The Roundhouse in London, England on May 21, 2011.
  • Sarah McLachlan included a live version of "Solsbury Hill" on the CD for her 1989 single "Steaming."[6]
  • The song has also been covered by indie-rock outfit Ruby Isle.
  • The song was also covered by Glass Moon on their self-titled debut album[7]

Though not an official cover version, Dream Theater's song "Solitary Shell" was based on "Solsbury Hill" in style, though the lyrics are completely of their own creation.[8][9]

References[edit]