Digging in the Dirt

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"Digging in the Dirt"
Single by Peter Gabriel
from the album Us
B-side"Quiet Steam"
Released7 September 1992 (1992-09-07)[1]
GenreArt rock[2]
Songwriter(s)Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel singles chronology
"Solsbury Hill"
"Digging in the Dirt"

"Digging in the Dirt" is a song by British musician Peter Gabriel. It was the first single taken from his sixth studio album, Us. The song was a minor hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 52, but it topped both the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and Album Rock Tracks charts. The song was moderately successful on the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at number 24, and it reached the top 10 in Canada, Portugal, and Sweden.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the single was directed by John Downer and utilised stop motion animation, a technique used in the videos for Gabriel's earlier hits "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time". The work was painstaking, especially for Gabriel himself who was required to lie still for hours at a time over the course of several days. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1993. The woman in the video is played by Francesca Gonshaw.

According to Gabriel himself, "the meadow of flowers from the final scenes of the "Digging in the Dirt" video were actually filmed at the edge of the carpark at Real World Studios."[3]

The video is largely an exploration of the issues in his personal life at the time, the end of his relationship with Rosanna Arquette, his desire to reconnect with his daughter and the self-healing he was looking for in therapy.

In the video, Gabriel is displayed in a variety of disturbing imagery, including being buried alive, consumed by an overgrowth of foliage (thanks to a gruelling stop-motion process) and flying into a rage while trying to swat a wasp (after being stung). This time, Gabriel returned to stop motion and claymation that had served him so well in the 1980s, forgoing the computer graphics used in "Steam".

Initially, the word "DIG" forms in the grass while dark imagery plays. Gabriel morphs into a skeleton while at the same time trying to excavate himself. Ultimately, the viewers are left with a gleam of hope as mushrooms sprout to form the word "HELP," followed by "HEAL" in blooming flowers after Gabriel has emerged from underground, now clad in white.

The Secret World Live version of the song features a chaotic blend of high-pitched distorted guitar (by guitarist David Rhodes) as well as occasional jarring synth bass stabs and an expansive performance on the drums. Gabriel wore a special "helmet" with a video camera attached in an antenna-like way, showing in great detail his facial expressions, while moving in time with the music. This is used to create a particularly grotesque image of Gabriel, most prominent during the "freak-out" sequence in which the camera is pointed down Gabriel's throat.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1992 Grammy Award[4] Best Male Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
Best Rock Song Nominated
Best Music Video Won
1993 MTV Video Music Award Video of the Year Nominated
Viewer's Choice Award Nominated
International Viewer's Choice Award for MTV Europe Nominated

Track listings[edit]

All songs were written by Peter Gabriel.

CD maxi

  1. "Digging in the Dirt" – 5:16
  2. "Digging in the Dirt" (instrumental) – 5:10
  3. "Quiet Steam" – 6:25
  4. "Bashi-Bazouk" – 4:47

7-inch single

  1. "Digging in the Dirt" – 5:16
  2. "Quiet Steam" – 6:23


Additional musicians

  • Richard Blair – additional programming
  • Leo Nocentelli – additional guitar
  • Hossam Ramzy – surdo
  • Babacar Faye – djembe
  • Assane Thiam – tama
  • Ayub Ogada – backing vocals
  • Peter Hammill – backing vocals
  • Richard Macphail – backing vocals


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 5 September 1992. p. 21. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Stereogum".
  3. ^ "Log into Facebook". Facebook. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  4. ^ Winners - 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards (1992) grammy.com Retrieved June 29, 2019
  5. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1863." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9, no. 41. 10 October 1992. p. 39. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 40, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9, no. 40. 3 October 1992. p. 26. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Peter Gabriel – Digging in the Dirt". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Peter Gabriel Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Peter Gabriel Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Peter Gabriel Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Peter Gabriel Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  23. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1992" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 56, no. 25. 19 December 1992. p. 8. Retrieved 23 March 2019.