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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. Hot 100 but a little more successful on the UK chart where it peaked at #24.

Track listing

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.

  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

Production credits


The 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 a Grammy award in 1993 in the Best Short-Form Video category.

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 even 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 fly. This time, Gabriel returned to stop motion and claymation- that had served him so well in the 1980s, forgoing (the then primitive and time-consuming) computer graphics used in "Steam".

From the onset, the word "help" forms in the grass while dark imagery plays. Gabriel eerily morphs into a skeleton while at the same time trying to excavate himself. Ultimately, the viewers are left with a gleam of hope as "help" morphs into "heal" after Gabriel (very symbolically) rises from the soil, 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 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.

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