Solsbury Hill (song)

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

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"
"Modern Love"

"Solsbury Hill" is a song by English 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 has often been used in film trailers for romantic comedies.[2]

Gabriel has said of the song's meaning, "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get... It's about letting go."[3] 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.

Use in soundtracks[edit]

It has been used in a number of films, including the 2001 film Vanilla Sky[4] and the 2004 film In Good Company.[5] Its prevalence has been called "ubiquitous", particularly its inclusion in a satirical re-cut trailer of The Shining.[6]

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)


Cover versions[edit]

Erasure version[edit]

"Solsbury Hill"
Single by Erasure
from the album Other People's Songs
B-side "Tell it to Me"
"Ave Maria"
Released 6 January 2003 (2003-01-06)
Format CD, DVD
Recorded 2002
Genre Synthpop
Length 3:57
Label Mute
Writer(s) Peter Gabriel
Producer(s) Gareth Jones,
Erasure singles chronology
"Moon & the Sky"
"Solsbury Hill"
"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)"

"Solsbury Hill" was recorded by British synthpop duo Erasure in 2003 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. This Erasure single became a hit, reaching # 10 on the UK single chart in January 2003,[7] # 7 in Denmark,[8] # 29 in Germany,[9] # 39 in Sweden[10] and # 41 in Ireland.[11] 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.

Track listing[edit]

CD Single #1 (CDMUTE275)[edit]
  1. "Solsbury Hill"
  2. "Tell It To Me"
  3. "Searching"
CD Single #2 (LCDMUTE275)[edit]
  1. "Solsbury Hill" (37B Mix)
  2. "Solsbury Hill" (Manhattan Clique Extended Remix)
  3. "Ave Maria"
DVD Single (DVDMUTE275)[edit]
  1. "Solsbury Hill" (Radio Mix)
  2. "Video Killed The Radio Star"
  3. "Dr Jeckyll and Mistress Hyde" (Short Film)
U.S. CD Maxi Single (9200-2)[edit]
  1. "Solsbury Hill" (Radio Mix)
  2. "Solsbury Hill"
  3. "Tell It To Me"
  4. "Searching"
  5. "Video Killed The Radio Star"
  6. "Solsbury Hill" (37B Mix)
  7. "Solsbury Hill" (Manhattan Clique Extended Remix)
  8. "Ave Maria"
  9. "Dr. Jeckyll And Mistress Hyde" (Short Film)

Lou Reed version[edit]

In 2010, Lou Reed released a version of the song, as part of the project "Scratch My Back" where Peter Gabriel did cover versions of other artists, and letting them provide covers of his songs, in return. Lou Reed’s version has nothing at all to do with Gabriel’s merry original. Reed has transformed the original into a completely different song, just like Gabriel did with many of the songs on "Scratch My Back".

Steve Hunter version[edit]

In April 2013 an instrumental version of Solsbury Hill was included in guitar player Steve Hunters album 'The Manhattan Blues Project'. Hunter had played on the original Peter Gabriel (1977 album) recording and he invited his friend and original Solsbury Hill bass player Tony Levin to play bass on the track. In the 2014 biography by Daryl Easley Without Frontiers Gabriel gave Hunter credit for coming up with the guitar parts which became a signature for the song.


  1. ^ "Peter Gabriel Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 3 February 2015
  2. ^ "Peter Gabriel: Story That Bruce Springsteen Was Inspiration for 'Solsbury Hill' Is 'Hogwash". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 February 2015
  3. ^ Daryl Easlea (2013)."Without Frontiers: The Life & Music of Peter Gabriel". Music Sales Group
  4. ^ "Vanilla Sky (2001) Soundtrack". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "In Good Company (2004) Soundtrack". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Linda Holmes (14 March 2011). "Recut 'Ferris Bueller' Trailer Accidentally Nails The Real 'Ferris Bueller'". National Public Radio. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "UK Charts". The Official Charts Company UK. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Danish Chart". Danish Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  9. ^ New&kategorie=single&bereich=c_suche "German Chart" Check |url= scheme (help) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Swedish Chart". Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Irish Charts". Irish Charts. Retrieved 10 August 2014.