Music Video Friday: Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer 

Today’s video is Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.

This song is filthy! On My Top Ten Songs That Are Actually About Sex list that I posted yesterday, this song was my number one. I love Peter Gabriel, although this wasn’t a favorite Gabriel song of mine overall (I prefer Games Without Frontiers, Red Rain & In Your Eyes).

I don’t think I realized that this song was about sex when it first came out & Gabriel was asking you to “open up your fruitcage“. I was a little bit too young at the time but I probably realized it at least subconsciously later on. Here are the lyrics from

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 fruitcage
‘cos I will be your honey bee
open up your fruitcage
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’ve kicked the habit
shed my skin
this is the new stuff
I go dancing in, we go dancing in

oh won’t you show for me
and I will show for you
show for me, I will show for you
yeah, 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

Feed that rhythm, Peter!

The ENTIRE SONG!!! Every line is ABOUT SEX. Yet he never says anything blatantly dirty. I love it.

Anyway, I think everyone has seen this award-winning video. I also just read at Wikipedia that “As of 2011, Sledgehammer is the most played music video in the history of MTV.” Here’s a little more info from that link:

The song’s music video won a record nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards and Best British Video at the 1987 Brit Awards.

“Sledgehammer” had a widely popular and influential music video commissioned by Tessa Watts at Virgin Records, directed by Stephen R. Johnson and produced by Adam Whittaker. Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame) and the Brothers Quay provided claymation, pixilation, and stop motion animation that gave life to images in the song.

Interesting to know that Aardman Animations was involved. I also looked up the video’s director, Stephen R. Johnson, to see what else he’s done. Besides Sledgehammer, he also did the videos for Gabriel’s Big Time & Steam plus Walk Of Life by Dire Straits & Road To Nowhere by the Talking Heads (another huge favorite band of mine! I’ll feature them one of these Fridays. Love David Byrne). But, on top of these great videos, he also directed the first season of Pee-wee’s Playhouse!!! Well, that’s just awesome. That show rules, man. And I still think that even at my current age. 😉 I’m not ashamed!

Anyway, here’s the video for Sledgehammer which you’ve of course all seen. Luckily it’s not filthy like the lyrics (not that it would’ve mattered to MTV considering the pervy videos they’ve played over the years…). 🙂

24 thoughts on “Music Video Friday: Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer 

    • Ha! I know!!! It’s funny – I never thought about the lyrics until recently. It was just such a big mainstream hit. Yay! A Talking Heads fan!! I love David Byrne’s voice. : )

  1. I love Peter Gabriel. I worship Peter Gabriel. I saw Peter live in Denver back in the early 90’s. Amazing concert. We had to drive from Austin, TX, had car trouble, and got there as the lights lowered. Didn’t miss a note. My girlfriend broke up with me right as the concert ended. Still an amazing concert. I saw him on the street once. (I’ve met many many many of my heroes. It’s just something that happens to me) I was on a line to see Aladdin (the movie). Actually I was first on line. By myself (which is how I like to see movies). Right near the box office. And Peter Gabriel just walks up to the box. I remember my heart started beating really fast and I had this stupid smile on my face. It just stuck there. Peter was trying to get special treatment because the line was long and he was who he was and he didn’t want to have to wait on line. (I used to work at a few movie theaters and celebrities do that. It’s a perk of the job treating celebs like regs… no one gets special treatment. [I have a story about Regis Philbin that’s very funny. But I digress]) So Peter is begging for special treatment and the woman is turning him down gleefully. So after what seemed like forever he turns to walk away… from her. Toward me. Understand my face has been stuck in a smile as long as he’s been there. And when he turns my smile is… I don’t know what it had morphed into. But Peter Gabriel, a god who walks among us, one of my personal heroes, thinks that I’m laughing at him or something. He gives me a dirty look, that even the memory of it stops my heart today. He thought my face was saying “Ha ha. You’ve got to go to the back of the line.” But what I really wanted my face to say was, “I would drop to my knees and prostrate myself before you if I didn’t think it would embarrass you.” He walked away thinking I was a piece of shit. It almost made me cry. I was frozen. Looking back on it, what I should have said was, “Mr. Gabriel. Big fan. For all the years of amazing music. From Genesis to WOMAD. You sir can stand in front of me. If you do not have a ticket, you can have mine. I love you.” But of course that’s not how it went down.

    My favorite songs: San Jacinto, Mercy Street, The live version of I Have The Touch, And the best ode to the human ego ever written… Big Time. The list goes on, all of US, all of SO. Genesis before they started doing syrupy pop.

    Sorry about the long comment. I got excited. Sledgehammer is a great song, love the ending, but I never thought it was about sex. I thought it was about third world dictatorships allowing basic human rights to gain services and infrastructure and an entrance into the modern world. But yeah if you have a dirty mind it could be misconstrued as being about sex. Sure. (just kidding)

    • Ha! YES!!!! Okay – I’m now trying to decide which comment I like more: this one or the one with The English Patient story… ; ) Or our Top Ten numbering discussions! lol! I think this one tops them all. Now I must hear the Regis Philbin story… 😀 Did you say you’re in Texas? How have you met so many heroes? I’ve met NO cool famous people! Only spotted a couple shitty boy band members since moving to England. : ( Glad to hear from a Gabriel fan! I haven’t explored all his stuff as much as I should (especially his oldest stuff). My hubby is a big fan. I like your interpretation of this song! Lol. I thought that was more what Games Without Frontiers was about. ; ) Road House……

      • That story takes place in NYC, midtown. In a pretty affluent neighborhood. I’ve lived in New York most of my life (But also many other big cities in the US) and I like movies and books. So when I go to new city I get a job at a book store. When I was younger it was movie theaters and video stores. So I’ve met a lot of famous people (from C. Thomas Howell to Andy Warhol) My dad was a respected musician so he had a lot of talented famous friends who when they were in town would eat at my house. And I was a party guy. So in NYC when you club hop and know all the bouncers and bartenders (and sell drugs) you meet a lot of people. My list is long but it is played out and dated. (I’m old. lol! Madonna, David Lee Roth, Matt Dillon, Frank Zappa) My list is full of dead people. The Regis story isn’t really that good. he just pulled the “Do you know who I am?” card and I hate that question and all it implies so I embarrassed him in front of a large auditorium at a movie premiere and he ran away. There was a section for people in the movie. He wasn’t in the movie. It was simple. He didn’t get it. I was cruel and I was theatrical and I was loud. And as he scurried away I yelled after him “So yes, I do know who you are. And the rules still apply to you!” I got applause. My show was actually better than the movie.

      • C. Thomas Howell!!!! Is that the one I should get all excited over?? Lol. That’s hilarious about Regis Philbin! Outside of America, people would go “who the hell is Regis Philbin?”. Doubt my hubby knows him. Wait a second…. That (sell drugs) bit was so casually thrown in that I missed it the first time around! HA! : ) Man my life is boring…

  2. I love this song, and the video (of course). Never knew it was about sex, though. I feel so innocent. Not something I feel often…

    Totally with you on Games Without Frontiers — an even better song, and used brilliantly in The Americans‘s first season to boot (that show uses music so, so well). I must re-listen to your other two picks though, because I see I gave In Your Eyes just one star on my iTunes (in my defence, it seems I listened to it once, 12 years ago!) Instead, I will mention I Don’t Remember and Solsbury Hill, all of which I’m also going to go listen to now.

    (P.S. I’m terribly behind on reading your blog and must get round to catching up soon. Sorry!)

    • Hehe. Sorry to break it to you… ; ) Games Without Frontiers is brilliant! I’ve not seen The Americans (don’t even know it – will have to look it up!). Oh, wow… You broke my heart over In Your Eyes! Not a Say Anything fan?! ; ) Hey – no worries – I’m SO behind on blog reading! Tried to catch up earlier but realized I’m also way behind on replying to comments so now I’m desperately trying to reply to them all before they disappear from my app’s notifications! 😳 lol. Stressful…

  3. Listening to this again it sounds SO eighties. And no, I don’t like it. 🙂 I was listening to so called alternative indie stuff. And grunge was in Australia well before Nirvana. Amazing – we’re usually way behind England and the US in all manner of things, though not so much as in the seventies, thank goodness.

    • Ha! Well, this was never an absolute favorite song of mine although I like a lot of Gabriel’s stuff. : ) I have pretty uncool taste – my favorite band is Iron Maiden and I’m pretty sure I’m the only middle aged mother in England who would say that. Oh, and Black Sabbath! I really should try to listen to more current stuff – pretty sure my kid thinks I’m not at all cool. ; ) (although we both love Bowie…)

  4. Why do you think he made such an extravagant video? To distract us from the rude lyrics of the song!! 😛

    Nowadays they don’t even bother with such deception, they just mucky videos to go with the mucky songs… <_<

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