"Sledgehammer" as written by and Peter Gabriel....
You could have a steam train
If you'd just lay down your tracks
You could have an aeroplane flying
If you bring your blue sky back

All you do is call me
I'll be anything you need

You could have a big dipper
Going up and down, all around the bends
You could have a bumper car, bumping
This amusement never ends

I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don't you call my name
Oh let me be your sledgehammer
This will be my testimony
Show me round your fruit cakes
'Cause I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruit cakes
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be

I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don't you call my name
You'd better call the sledgehammer
Put your mind at rest
I'm going to be-the sledgehammer
This can be my testimony
I'm your sledgehammer
Let there be no doubt about it

Sledge sledge sledgehammer

I kicked the habit (I kicked the habit)
Shed my skin (Shed my skin)
This is the new stuff (This is the new stuff)
I go dancing in, (We could go dancing in)
Oh won't you show for me (Show for me)
I will show for you (Show for you)
Show for me (Show for me), I will show for you

Yea, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I do mean you
Only you, you've been coming through
Going to build that power
Build, build up that power, hey
I've been feeding the rhythm
I've been feeding the rhythm
Going to feel that power, build in you

Come on, come on, help me do
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you
I've been feeding the rhythm
I've been feeding the rhythm
It's what we're doing, doing
All day and night, come on and help me do, come on and help me do


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

"Sledgehammer" as written by Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Sledgehammer song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThe song is about sex. Don't overthink it. All three verses are clearly referring to sexual acts or sexual parts, and others have explained it perfectly above. Even the video begins with swimming sperm, and the last fruit he eats is a cherry.

    The one line the "drug" proponents point to as the start of their explanation is "I've kicked the habit." A habit is also a religious garb, typically worn by nuns, monks, and other religious orders. Kicking the habit is followed by shedding his skin. The combination of those two suggests throwing away his inhibitions and/or peeling off his clothes. It is a great play on words. Enjoy!
    Mrkhan1024on November 16, 2011   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationOh c'mon everybody--it's sex! Not to take away from anybody's higher-minded interpretations, but the terms used are almost blatant. Peter is awesome for being able to write so blatantly about sex and still have people wondering "Is that what he meant?"

    First, listen to the overall tone of the song--it's upbeat, playful--almost silly. If PG wanted a brooding song, then by gosh he would have brooding music.

    Second--What's all this, if not sexual innuendo?
    "You could have a steam train, If you'd just lay down your tracks."
    Well darling, if you lay down your "tracks" (legs?), you'll get the "steam train." (ahem). I just peripherally mention the notion of a train entering a tunnel....

    "You could have an aeroplane flying, If you bring your blue sky back."
    I think this is maybe a "don't be a grouch" admonition (blue skies vs. being under a cloud). Maybe if she cheers up, he'll give her an airplane. :D


    "You could have a big dipper, Going up and down, all around the bends."
    Think of the bends, and ups and downs as the curves on a female body. The Big Dipper...well, you get it.

    "You could have a bumper car, bumping. This amusement never ends."
    Bumping. Bumping! Do I have to list the relevant euphemisms for sex that use the word "bump"?

    "Show me round your fruit cakes, 'Cause I will be your honey bee.
    Open up your fruit cakes, Where the fruit is as sweet as can be."
    Imagery of a flower "opening" for a bee (pollination/fertilization), or a butterfly searching for nectar.

    Third, the wind-up and the pitch...

    "I kicked the habit"
    I agree with other commentators here that this is probably a nun's habit, symbolic of chastity (or being a "monk"). It could also mean getting out of a rut for the "new stuff" of adventure.

    "Shed my skin"
    Literally, getting buck naked, but also shedding skin like a snake, which sheds skin when it is growing. You can even take that a couple of ways--emotionally and...you know...a snake. (Am I just dirty minded, or is Pete really hitting this sex theme hard--like a sledgehammer?)

    "This is the new stuff I go dancing in."
    The song breaks this sentence up and makes it sound like two different thoughts, but it isn't. The new stuff he goes dancing in (he just shed his skin) is Ye Olde Birthday Suit. He's nekked, and he's looking for trouble!

    "Oh won't you show for me? I will show for you."
    He's prancing around naked now, asking for a little reciprocation here. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

    Even way back when I was a stupid teenager I thought this song might be about sex, but I thought everything was about sex then. It seems that I might have been right. But as much crap that gets put into song about sex, this song doesn't have a "dirty" feel to it--it's almost a one-on-one party. Very clever and oddly wholesome musical expression of sexual intimacy.
    drdisasteron August 04, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is about sex. And sex is fun.

    First off:
    Sledgehamemr = penis (obviously)

    he's saying he'll use his sledgehammer (penis) to nail down her tracks (he wants to NAIL her)....that's a hilarious allusion by the way.

    also...more sexual double-entendre in the song:

    You could have a steam train
    If you'd just lay down your tracks
    (uh yeah)

    You could have a big dipper
    Going up and down, all around the bends
    You could have a bumper car, bumping
    This amusement never ends
    (hahaha - this is great stuff)

    Show me round your fruitcage
    'Cause I will be your honey bee
    Open up your fruitcage
    Where the fruit is as sweet as can be
    (blatantly ridiculous)

    You've been coming through
    Going to build that powerr
    Build, build up that power, hey
    I've been feeding the rhythm
    I've been feeding the rhythm
    Going to feel that power, build in you
    Come on, come on, help me do
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you
    I've been feeding the rhythm
    I've been feeding the rhythm
    It's what we're doing, doing
    All day and night
    (ok i think i've made my point)

    About sex. That's it. The music video illustrates this quite clearly, as well.
    rog27on November 26, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA lot of people (critics, et al) have pointed this out: "So" (the album this song comes from) was the first of Gabriel's albums to show his face unobscured. It was as if, for the first time, he was discovering that he was a fairly good-looking man--he had been ashamed of his face before and hiding it from the world. It seems as if one day, he woke up and said, "Hey, you know, I'm not that bad-looking a chap."

    This song, filled with double entendres as it is, really brings that emerging "sexiness" (for lack of a better term). "Hey," Gabriel seems to be saying, as if discovering it for the first time, "I'm sexy! I'm the SledgeHammer!"

    Gabriel's music has always been about the marriage of lyric, music, and image to present the most complete message. The music absolutely must fit the lyric and the image (including the album cover, video, and live performance) most bring the whole thing together into a full performance piece that must be enjoyed/experienced as a whole. This song is no exception: the absolutely funky music in the background (Thank you, sweet Jesus, for Nile Rodgers!) seems to bring Gabriel's emerging sexiness to the fore even more.

    The song even seems to have the rhythm of sex embedded in it--try having sex with SledgeHammer playing, and you'll see what I mean. If you're not having hot animal sex within a few seconds, you're a better person than I am. ;)

    Personally? I'm just waiting for the day I finally look into the mirror and say, "Y'know? I'm not that bad-looking a chap." :)
    tomd1969on December 19, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'd be willing to bet money there's quite a few "born in the autumn of '86" babies who were conceived to this song.
    harukion October 05, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhat?! 20 comments?! Something's wrong here...

    This is really the perfect pop song. Upbeat, happy, and a little naughty. Though I never really looked at the sexual innuendos before everyone else brought it up, lol. I really love the first part:

    "You could have a steam train
    If you'd just lay down your tracks
    You could have an aeroplane flying
    If you bring your blue sky back

    All you do is call me
    I'll be anything you need"

    Just sounds like a really sweet way of saying he'll be there for her whenever she needs him. See guys? THAT'S how you reel chicks in! ;D
    babyghostrogueon September 23, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti always thought that this song was about sex since the first time i heard it, all the innuendo are known or recognised by me even though english is a foreign language to me. i also read in those days that it was about liberation and peter's new creative direction and new found spirituality, i think that even if this song is not about sex, it must surely and purposely have been made to sound like sex, its too obvious for it not to be
    MsManomenon August 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is so great. the video rules.
    weezerific:cutleryon June 03, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBrilliant song. The video is also cool, especially for that time.
    Karlon April 13, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWow, It never occurred to me that this song would be about sex, but now that I think about it, it really does make sense.

    Before I read everyone's comments about the blatant sexual innuendo that I somehow missed, I thought that this song meant that he would become the driving force to totally change some girl's life. Like a sledgehammer, he would break up and shake up her personality and view on life.

    I thought my meaning was awfully profound but hey, if it's just about sex, then I guess that's cool too.
    xdonutxon December 16, 2007   Link

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