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, Solisbury Hill
Where were you when you really heard this song for the first time? Not tapping your fingers on the steering wheel while you drive hearing it, but listening to the lyrics and absorbing the weight of what Peter Gabriel was saying to the world? We all confront tough choices, and the toughest choice of all is when everything is going well and we follow the call to change anyway.
This decision, I will show another me, is the root of change. It’s what Henry David Thoreau was saying in Walden:
Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate… The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
I think a person ought to read Walden every year, to gauge the changes happening within themselves. You might say the same about Solisbury Hill; you hear it differently depending on where you are in your life. Closing in on two years since the beginning of the pandemic, I hear it differently than I did a few years ago. Maybe you do too.
The theme mirrors Bob Seger’s Roll Me Away, right down to the bird of prey weighing in on the decision the protagonist is about to make. But Solisbury Hill sneaks up on you differently. Maybe it’s the English versus the American take on life-changing moments. Roll Me Away was always a driving song, pulling you relentlessly to the freedom of the road. Solisbury Hill is about a very distinct moment in Peter Gabriel’s career, when he decided to leave Genesis and begin a solo career. And in writing it he blazed a trail for everyone following him in making their own choices in life.
Should you listen to that voice, trust imagination, and take the leap.