Peter Gabriel Third Album Here’s a clip of one of my favourite Peter Gabriel songs – “Family Snapshot”, taken from his excellent third album with the title Peter Gabriel (AKA ‘Melt’) from 1980.

The song contrasts two profiles of the same person. One is the obsessive, fame-hungry assassin, with a gun fixed on a man of achievement and means in order to gain fame himself. The other is a “lonely boy hiding behind the front door” who is in “need of some attention.” When I first heard the tune, I thought of Lee Harvey Oswald , seeing as this is the most logical cultural reference. But, lately it’s the other portrait of the neglected child that stands out most for me, calling out to his parents for some attention, while instead learning that “if you don’t get given, you learn to take”.

The violence in the song is two-fold; the assassination when the central character “lets the bullet fly”. But, also the violence done to the child who gets none of the attention he is begging for. For me, this song reinforces what a crucial time childhood is, and how important the role of the parent is. In this song, we’re shown how easy it is for a child to become lost, only to find himself as a man seeking to fulfill that which was denied him, and doing so through violent means. And it makes me wonder if this would be a less violent world if it was understood how this dynamic plays out in the lives of children.

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