Song of the Day, December 4: Mother of Violence by Peter Gabriel

GabrielScratchMotherToday’s song is Mother of Violence from Peter Gabriel’s second eponymous disc, nicknamed “Scratch” for the distinctive cover image by Hipgnosis. Gabriel’s first solo disc after leaving Genesis (Peter Gabriel I or “Car”) was ambitious, exploring many of the things he wanted to do but felt constrained by the structure of the band. Scratch is more focused, in part thanks to stellar production by Robert Fripp, but lacks the messy joy of Car and the brilliant, almost claustrophobic focus of Peter Gabriel III (“Melt”). It’s an intriguing set, however, and features a handful of strong tracks that hold up well 35 years later.

A highlight is Mother of Violence an exploration of psychological themes that would become central to some of Gabriel’s finest songs in the coming years. It’s very much a less-is-more song, with minimalist instrumentation, dominated by a creepy off-kilter piano that sounds like it comes from a haunted dance hall. Gabriel’s vocal is equally spare, a rough whisper in his higher register, serving the dark meditation of the lyrics nicely. The overall effect is perfect, a tense, compelling meditation on the power of fear.

Mouth all dry eyes blood shot
data stored in microdot
Kicking the cloud with my moccasin shoes
T.V. dinner, T.V. news

Fear, fear — she’s the mother of violence
don’t make any sense to watch the way she breed
Fear, she’s the mother of violence
making me tense to watch the way she feed

Enjoy this compelling song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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