Yesterday I was feeling well enough to spend the day catching up on chores — doing dishes, laundry, cleaning litterboxes. I had the TV on for company and the commercials for Katherine Heigl’s new movie, “Life As We Know It,” had the most piercingly beautiful popular song that I just had to take a break and go online to find its name. I thought surely it would be in the soundtrack, but it isn’t — it’s just on the TV commercial. It turned out to be “Solsbury Hill,” written and sung by Peter Gabriel. He wrote it after having a spiritual experience on the real Solsbury Hill near his home in England. It describes his reasons for leaving Genesis, the rock band he founded, for a solo career. It came out in 1977 and was his first solo hit.
I’m embedding a clip of Gabriel singing in a live performance in 2003 because Gabriel and his fellow performers and the audience are all so joyful. This is a song that makes the heart soar. By the way, most of it is in the 7/4 time signature — it’s easier to count as 1-2-3/1-2-3-4, and in the song the emphases usually fall on the first and fourth beats. For me it creates a feeling of wanting to spin and swoop — my heart going boom boom boom.
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 I had to listen had no choice I did not believe the information 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 keeping 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.” Yeah back 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.”