Digging in the Dirt

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"Digging in the Dirt"
Single by Peter Gabriel
from the album Us
B-side "Quiet Steam"
Released 14 September 1992
Recorded 1989
Genre Rock, post-punk[1]
Length 5:16
Label Geffen Records
Songwriter(s) Peter Gabriel
Producer(s) Daniel Lanois
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel singles chronology
"Solsbury Hill"
"Digging in the Dirt"
"Solsbury Hill"
"Digging in the Dirt'"

"Digging in the Dirt" is a 1992 song by British musician Peter Gabriel. It was the first single taken from his sixth studio album, Us. The song was only a minor hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it topped both the Billboard Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts. The song was moderately successful on the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at number 24.

Music video

The music video for the single was directed by John Downer and utilised stop motion animation, a technique used in the videos for Gabriel's earlier hits "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time". The work was painstaking, especially for Gabriel himself who was required to lie still for hours at a time over the course of several days. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1993. The woman in the video is played by Francesca Gonshaw.

The video is largely an exploration of the issues in his personal life at the time, the end of his relationship with Rosanna Arquette, his desire to reconnect with his daughter and the self-healing he was looking for in therapy.

In the video, Gabriel is displayed in a variety of disturbing imagery, including being buried alive, consumed by an overgrowth of foliage (thanks to a gruelling stop-motion process) and flying into a rage while trying to swat a wasp. This time, Gabriel returned to stop motion and claymation that had served him so well in the 1980s, forgoing the computer graphics used in "Steam".

Initially, the word "DIG" forms in the grass while dark imagery plays. Gabriel morphs into a skeleton while at the same time trying to excavate himself. Ultimately, the viewers are left with a gleam of hope as mushrooms sprout to form the word "HELP," followed by "HEAL" in blooming flowers after Gabriel has emerged from underground, now clad in white.

The Secret World Live version of the song is far more intense than the studio version. This is due to a chaotic blend of disturbingly high pitched distorted guitar (by guitarist David Rhodes), as well as occasional jarring synth bass stabs (Tony Levin) and an expansive performance by Manu Katché on the drums. The stage craft for the song is considered[by whom?] a highlight of the show. Gabriel wore a special "helmet" with a video camera attached in an antennae-like way, showing in great detail his facial expressions, while moving in time with the music. This is used to create a particularly grotesque image of Gabriel, most prominent during the "freak-out" sequence in which the camera is graphically pointed down Gabriel's throat.

Track listings

CD maxi
  1. "Digging in the Dirt (LP Version)" — 5:16
  2. "Digging in the Dirt (instrumental)" — 5:10
  3. "Quiet Steam" — 6:25
  4. "Bashi-Bazouk" — 4:47
7" single
  1. "Digging in the Dirt" — 5:16
  2. "Quiet Steam" — 6:23

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.


Additional musicians
  • Richard Blair – Additional programming
  • Hossam Ramzy – Surdo
  • Leo Nocentelli – Additional guitar
  • Ayub Ogada – Backing vocals
  • Peter Hammill – Backing vocals
  • Richard Macphail – Backing vocals
  • Babacar Faye – Djembe
  • Assane Thiam – Tama


Chart (1992) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[2] 23
Austrian Singles Chart[2] 29
French SNEP Singles Chart[2] 34
German Singles Chart[2] 23
Swedish Singles Chart[2] 9
Swiss Singles Chart[2] 12
UK Singles Chart[3] 24
US Billboard Hot 100[4] 52
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[4] 1
US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks[5] 1
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[4] 37

See also


  1. ^ http://www.stereogum.com/1396971/peter-gabriel-albums-from-worst-to-best/photo/attachment/us/
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Digging in the Dirt", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved December 8, 2008)
  3. ^ "Digging in the Dirt", UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved December 8, 2008)
  4. ^ a b c Billboard allmusic.com (Retrieved December 8, 2008)
  5. ^ Peter Gabriel Album & Song Chart History – Alternative Songs. Billboard.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010.

External links

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