Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up

Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up

‘Don't Give Up’ is a song written by English rock musician Peter Gabriel and recorded as a duet with English singer Kate Bush for Gabriel's fifth solo studio album So (1986). The single version was released as the second single from the album in the UK in October 1986 and as the fourth single in the US in March 1987. It spent eleven weeks in the UK Top 75 chart in 1986, peaking at number nine. In 1987, the song won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

The song was inspired by the Depression-era photographs of Dorothea Lange, showing poverty-stricken Americans in Dust Bowl conditions. Gabriel saw Lange's images in a book entitled In This Proud Land (1973). He felt that a song based on this was appropriate to difficult economic conditions in the United Kingdom under the premiership of Margaret Thatcher.

Gabriel composed lyrics about a man whose unemployment causes stress in his domestic relationship. He had seen a TV program about the consequences of unemployment on family life, and said that it "played into my own problems at that time. I think a combination of that and domestic difficulties." The verses, sung by Gabriel, describe the man's feelings of isolation, loneliness, and despair; the choruses, sung by Bush, offer words of hope and encouragement. The title was something that Gabriel's former wife, Jill, would say when he was experiencing emotional difficulties. "When he gets into a very deep depressions, I am always saying don't give up. I think the song is very much about us." Gabriel said of this song's message: "The basic idea is that handling failure is one of the hardest things we have to learn to do."

In a 2014 interview, Elton John attributed his sobriety to the song, in particular the lyric from Bush, "Rest your head. You worry too much. It's going to be all right. When times get rough you can fall back on us. Don't give up." He states, "she [Bush] played a big part in my rebirth. That record helped me so much." Similarly, actor Matthew Perry (who struggled with substance and alcohol addiction) was enamoured with the song; it was played at his funeral in November 2023 and was referenced in signed copies of his autobiography Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, which was released a year before his death. Of the song, Perry said in an interview, "It was so cool and I love that. I've been writing it when I sign the book. I always put 'Don't give up' because you shouldn't give up."

Label – Geffen
Songwriter – Peter Gabriel
Producers – Daniel Lanois, Peter Gabriel


[Verse 1: Peter Gabriel]
In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail
No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I've changed my face, I've changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose
[Chorus: Kate Bush]
Don't give up 'cause you have friends
Don't give up, you're not beaten yet
Don't give up, I know you can make it good
[Verse 2: Peter Gabriel]
Though I saw it all around
Never thought that I could be affected
Thought that we'd be last to go
It is so strange the way things turn
Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground
[Chorus: Kate Bush]
Don't give up, you still have us
Don't give up, we don't need much of anything
Don't give up, 'cause somewhere there's a place where we belong
[Bridge: Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel]
Rest your head, you worry too much
It's gonna be alright
When times get rough, you can fall back on us
Don't give up, please don't give up
Got to walk out of here, I can't take any more
Gonna stand on that bridge, keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come and whatever may go
That river's flowing, that river's flowing
[Verse 3: Peter Gabriel]
Moved on to another town
Tried hard to settle down
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs
[Chorus: Kate Bush]
Don't give up 'cause you have friends
Don't give up, you're not the only one
Don't give up, no reason to be ashamed
Don't give up, you still have us
Don't give up now, we're proud of who you are
Don't give up, you know it's never been easy
Don't give up 'cause I believe there's a place
There's a place where we belong
[Outro: Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush]
Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up
Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up
Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up
Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up
Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up
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