Don't Give Up
Peter Gabriel w/ Kate Bush
So, 1986
Lyrics; Peter Gabriel

About an American family struggling to survive during the Great Depression. The song includes a duet section that seems to represent a dialogue between husband and wife. The artist explained, "I started off on that song singing both parts myself, but I thought it would work better with a man and a woman singing, so I changed the lyrics around."

According to Peter Gabriel, there were two specific sources of inspiration for this song, " was a TV program on how unemployment has affected family life, and the other was a photograph taken by Dorothea Lange during the Dust Bowl Depression..."

Natalie Merchant's 1989 song, Dust Bowl deals with a single mother's struggle to provide for her family during difficult financial times. "...I've tried and tried but I can't save. the hole in my pocketbook is growing.There's a new wind blowing they say, it's gonna be a cold, cold one. So brace yourselves my darlings, it won't bring anything much our way but more Dust Bowl days..." Natalie Merchant has explained that this song was inspired by personal accounts of the Great Depression, as well as childhood memories of her mother and her own family's financial struggles.

While both of these songs were inspired by the despair and hardship of the Great Depression, their powerful message of courage, perserverance, and sacrifice are timeless and universal. Peter Gabriel has stated, "...The basic idea is that handling failure is one of the hardest things we have to learn to do."

Reference(s): Interview by John Hutchinson'  "From Brideshead to Shrunken Heads" Musician - July 1986 - Number 93

Music and Lyric Resources:

Peter Gabriel Official Web Site

Natalie Merchant Official Web Site

Real World

Solsbury Hill

Referenced and Related Works:

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address

Legend of The Starfish

Dorothea Lange Photograph

Dorothea Lange Quotes

Grapes of Wrath

Natalie Merchant's "Dust Bowl" / Out of the Dust - By Karen Hesse

Constructed Response Activity

Out of the Dust  ( external link )

The American Experience: Surviving The Dust Bowl  ( external link )

American Folklife Center, Library of Congress: Voices from the Dust Bowl  ( external link )

YouTube – “Don’t Give Up” (external link)

YouTube – “Don’t Give Up Version 2 (external link)


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