Peter Gabriel: inspired by shortwave radio

Peter Gabriel Photo by By Skoll World Forum (Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship Ceremony) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Gabriel Photo by By Skoll World Forum (Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship Ceremony) via Wikimedia Commons

SWLing Post reader, Chris, writes:

Your recent post about John Lennon triggered my memory about an interview I heard years ago with Peter Gabriel. He too had a fascination with Shortwave Radio listening and it inspired some of his music. 

Chris then shared a link to the following promotional video for the Real World 25 music collection with Peter Gabriel’s introduction:

“I was listening to shortwave radio in a village about seven miles away from here. As night came, you’d suddenly pick up all sorts of radio stations that you couldn’t in daylight. So that was quite mysterious to me and beguiling…and I would explore all sorts of strange sounds, noises and music.”

Real World Records is Peter Gabriel’s label–and Real World 25, a three-disc collection, is the story of their first 25 Years. I listened to samples of songs and purchased my own copy. At $17 US, it was a no-brainer; I love world music (as well as Peter Gabriel’s music) and appreciate anything that Gabriel would consider for his label. (Note: the CD set is actually less expensive than the MP3 album at time of posting.)

Chris also noted this quote from Peter Gabriel, which describes his “obsession” with shortwave radio and its influence on his hit song, “Here Comes The Flood.” Via the website Planet Jeffro:

“When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others’ thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it. (‘Peter Gabriel’ by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)”

Fascinating! I particularly like this live version of “Here Comes The Flood:”

Chris, I owe you a debt of gratitude: while I’ve been a fan of Peter Gabriel for well over two decades, I never knew about his connection with shortwave radio. Time to revisit some of his tunes with that in mind…

Spread the radio love

6 thoughts on “Peter Gabriel: inspired by shortwave radio

  1. David Shannon

    Another musician who has been influenced by shortwave is William Basinski. He released an album called Shortwave Music where he combined loops of music he wrote along with shortwave static.

  2. Matthew

    Another thing blog readers might not be aware of is that Peter Gabriel wrote the lyrics for Tom Robinson’s “Atmospherics: Listen To The Radio.” There’s a line that goes, “Atmospherics after dark
    Noise and voices from the past
    Across the dial from Moscow to Cologne
    Interference in the night
    Thousand miles on either side
    Stations fading into the unknown”

    I think this describes perfectly what we all do. Here is the link to Tom’s official YouTube version:

  3. Walter

    Desde que escuché a Peter Gabriel se convirtió en algo más que un buen músico en mis favoritos. De alguna u otra manera la Onda Corta posee una energía especial que une a solitarios y buscadores remotos.

  4. Robert

    Right with you – Peter Gabriel has been a favorite of mine since my college days back in the late 70s/early 80s. I too did not know of this connection with SW radio! Fascinating!!

    Many thanks for posting this!
    Robert AK3Q


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