Sunday, June 23, 2013

Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill.

Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill. Official Video. itspetergabriel, May 20, 2012. YouTube. Also here, and at Peter Gabriel website. Video with lyrics here.

Peter Gabriel website.

Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill (Secret World Live Tour 1994). Video. Laura Sosa, September 20, 2007. YouTube. Also here.

Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill (Growing Up Live). Video. itspetergabriel, May 11, 2013. YouTube. Also here, and at Peter Gabriel website.

Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill (Live on Letterman). Video. PeterGabrielVEVO, November 15, 2011. YouTube.


Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
Had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
[I] just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
“Son,” he said “Grab your things,
I’ve come to take you home.”

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Tho’ my life was in a rut
’Till I thought of what I’d say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
“Hey” he said “Grab your things
I’ve come to take you home.”

When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
“Hey” I said “You can keep my things,
They’ve come to take me home.”

Peter Gabriel’s first solo hit, “Solsbury Hill” is an evocative and joyful ode to liberation, full of mythic symbolism. The genesis of the song came out of Gabriel’s decision to leave his gig as lead singer of Genesis and strike off on his own. It was also inspired by a spiritual experience Gabriel had on Solsbury Hill (better known as Salisbury) in the countryside near his home in Somerset, southwestern England. It was the site of a Celtic hill fort in the third and second centuries BC and may also have been Mount Badon, where King Arthur, according to legend, led the Britons to victory against the Saxons around 496 AD. Solsbury takes its name from the Celtic goddess Sulis, identified by the Romans with Minerva, and worshipped as a life-giving mother goddess at the springs in Bath. So given the hill’s mythic and historical resonance that goes back to pagan Celtic Britain, Gabriel may well have had a Druidic vision, a mystic encounter with Sulis. For me “Solsbury Hill” has been the theme song of the mythopoetic journey in my own life; the quest to follow my bliss in pursuit intellectual, spiritual, and ecstatic liberation, integration, and love.

The Temple of Sulis-Minerva at Bath. By I. A Richmond and J. M. C. Toynbee. Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 45, Pts. 1 and 2 (1955).

The Temple of Sulis Minerva at Bath. By Barry Cunliffe. Archaeology, Vol. 36, No. 6 (November/December 1983).

Gilt bronze head from the cult statue of Sulis Minerva from the Temple at Bath,
found in Stall Street in 1727 and now displayed at the Roman Baths (Bath).
A new age vision of Sulis