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
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
Though my life was in a rut
'Til I thought of what I'll 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"
(Hey, 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"

Lyrics submitted by bambi3k, edited by K0WNAGE, Tom74, adzre, McThuggin2011

Solsbury Hill Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Solsbury Hill song meanings
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  • +20
    General CommentAnybody who knows Peter Gabriel knows that he likes to take personal experiences of his own (even those in dreams) and write songs about them. But he is so good at hiding the exact meaning. He is never quite literal with anything which means many of his songs have a personal meaning to him just like they may have a completely different personal meaning to you.

    So Solsbury Hill could essentially be about anything you want it to be about. But to Peter Gabriel it is about his decision to leave Genesis. He has made this quite clear. You could go line by line and it all makes perfect sense considering the situation he was in at the time.

    He was fed up with the industry and life as a rock star in general. He was being thrust out as the star of a group whose works had actually been evenly divided between the 5 members. Because he and his costumes were the focal point of live shows, everyone assumed Peter wrote all the music, all the lyrics, set up the stage, and that the rest of the band were just his backing band. This was far from the truth and Gabriel hated the attention.

    But as much as he hated the attention at first, he was beginning to enjoy it, which was taking him away from his audience. He no longer got the butterflies before shows. The music didn't touch him the way it used to. He felt as though he was just going through the motions. He didn't like what he was becoming. "To keep in silence, I resigned."

    Besides all these internal things, Genesis was getting on his nerves as well. He refers to Genesis as "the machinery." It was a constant cycle of write, record, tour, write, record, tour. etc... They would schedule gigs non-stop with hardly any breaks. There was no room for freedom. Gabriel hated knowing exactly where he was going to be in 18 months, as he did with Genesis. He said Genesis was like the army. You had to turn up to the studio every morning at 9am and you were either 100% committed or you weren't at all. "I walked right out of the machinery."

    On top of that, the band had decided to write a concept album - The Lamb. Gabriel wanted to give this album a little bit of "balls", as he puts it, and no one else in the band was going to deliver that. He also felt that a concept album, AKA a story, should be written by one person. It needs one clear and coherent direction, which their democratic system of writing could not accomplish. This pissed off the other band members. Gabriel was beginning to realize that he could not last for long being "tied down to the old hierarchy." His creative ambitions were exceeding those of the rest of the band.

    The tipping point came during the writing for "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." Gabriel's wife was going through a horrible pregnancy and they didn't think his daughter was going to survive. So Peter was making these long trips back and forth between London and where the band were writing and recording out in the middle of nowhere England. This meant that he was absent during much of the writing. The band were writing music in one room while Peter was writing lyrics to what was already there in another room or wasn't there at all to attend to his wife. No one else in the band had been married or had kids at this point (besides Phil Collins) and so they didn't understand. They were mad because Peter was gone all the time. Peter was mad because to him there was no question what his priorities were. It was a matter of life and death for him. His family was far more important than writing an album. The band could not understand this and that really pissed Peter off. "So I went from day to day, though my life was in a rut. Til' I thought of what I'd say, which connection I should cut." "No one taught them etiquette."

    After leaving Genesis, Gabriel felt a sense of jealousy. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with his life at the time (he didn't begin his solo career right away, not until 1977). He wanted out of the music industry as a whole. His pride got the best of him when he saw Genesis having greater success without him and decided to get back in, but this time on his own terms, doing his own thing.

    And the rest is history.....
    SongMeaner24on March 03, 2012   Link
  • +7
    General CommentI think it's wonderful to be able to express how a song has affected one's life. This song is very inspirational to me. I have had to make some difficult career choices in the past year; ones that may not have made a lot of sense (financially, especially!!) to people that do not share or understand my values. What this has to do with Solsbury Hill (finally getting to that): I've heard from other websites that he wrote this song to sort of tell the story of his experience as he was trying to break free from Genesis. He was the lead singer of that group before Phil Collins. And he had apparently gotten artistically couped up with them and was wanting to move on to do his own work. He wasn't sure about how to make such a transition, so "to keepin' silence he resigned"; and he didn't want to make any sudden moves and alienate himself in the industry ("turnin' water into wine, open doors would soon be shut"). But soon he came to his conclusions about what to do and obviously went for it ("'til I thought of what I'd say, which connections I should cut"). So I think it's a song I relate to now at a time when I'm making decisions, as I mentioned, are not popular, yet I feel for my own happiness, I need to make.

    FELICITYon April 05, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI heard that the eagle that flew out of the night was Bruce Springsteen. Apparently, Gabriel decided to go solo after seeing one ot the Boss' legendary mid-70's epic shows. "He was something to observe" and Peter "had to listen had no choice." The rest of the song is Gabriel explaining his departure from Genesis.
    jnb987on January 08, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentIt's about a man breaking free of his own past and rediscovering himself. I think it may well be about his leaving Genesis.
    At first standing on top of the world looking down, then he was told, or he realized, things would have to change (the eagle). He went through the day-to-day contemplating this decision to move on, but keeping it to himself. Giving up everything he had would surely close doors and he needed a strategy(which connections to cut).
    BlkWarrioron November 10, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe song is, as BlimpyJones said, about Peter Gabriel leaving Genesis. There's a bit more to it than that.

    After he left, he wasn't sure if he would continue making music - he felt he had lost his inspiration. But he went to see a Bruce Springsteen concert and was invigorated by Bruce's love and energy; that, at least partly, inspired him to start his solo career.

    The eagle in the song is Bruce: as petere gabriel sings, 'he was something to observe". (Bruce is also the subject, though less flatteringly, of Prefab Sprout's Cars and Girls.)
    mattythetigeron February 28, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWHY do they call this website "Song Meanings" when very rarely is there a description from the actual artist? It's just a discussion forum full of people guessing. Which is all well and good but I think this website should change it's name since a lot of the times we are not actually getting the definition or meaning of the songs posted.
    DavidWolfon June 17, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is the Yin to my Yang, so to speak. It has seen me through the worst times and also the best times in my life. The song was written as a farewell to PG's Genesis days. I can put this one on my cd player, hit the 'repeat' function and never tire of hearing it. For true fans of this song, check out the Secret World Live cd. There's a trememdous version of this song on disc number one. My proverbial hat is off to the bold individuals who have stepped forward and posted their feelings about this hugely under-rated song!
    tomcat2112rushon June 08, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIm more of a rap fan, so if i like a song like this u know that its good. This song is probly the greatest non rap song i ever heard.
    KonArtiston August 30, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI like Peter Gabriel solo far more than Genesis.
    Major Valoron September 01, 2006   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningWhen interviewed, Peter Gabriel has stated that the song "Solsbury Hill" is about his decision to leave Genesis and go his own way. He has stated that he had a "spiritual experience" atop Solsbury Hill.
    zxcv4231on June 13, 2013   Link

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