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Sunday Singalong: Don't Give Up

A tune from one of the great albums of the 1980s, Peter Gabriel's "So." This one features Kate Bush on the chorus, in a song of hope and despair.

Love has always been the default subject of songs. Other than food, love seems to drive the primal engines of human experience. There are so many shades, so many permutations, and so many outcomes, it's no wonder songsmiths never seem to run out of material with the subject.

But most of those songs deal with the rush of first love, or the heartbreak of love that's ended. Those are the extreme bookends of love, and tend to define our culture's expectations around the subject. You're either crazy head-over-heels with the one person you're going to love forever, or your heart has been broken so badly you're bound to be alone for the rest of your life.

But as all of us eventually find out, love is far more than a playground of heady emotions. Life goes on after the excitement wears off. Things settle down, life goes on. And it turns out that a relationship is no protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. That's when love gets tested.

Here is a rare song that dares to tackle this more mundane and realistic aspect of love. The man is at his end, he cannot find work, despair has moved into his heart, and he's ready to end it all, at least emotionally, if not physically. But his woman urges him on: "don't give up, you still have us." She reaches for him as he stands at the abyss, and gently tries to pull him back. We never know if this song has a happy ending, but I have always liked to think she managed to help him through his darkness.

By the way, the lush synthesizers and tribal percussion define this landmark album, probably Gabriel's finest hour. "So" is a true musical masterpiece. And this is certainly one of its  strongest tracks.

Enjoy. And happy Sunday.

Kayleen Parks February 17, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Excellent song. I like that the lyrics always have something new to connect with depending on my own circumstances. Kate Bush's vocals have a hopeful power. Thanks for finding a gem from the 80s.

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