“Home Sweet Home” by Peter Gabriel

“Home Sweet Home” reads like a tale of rag to riches, albeit an unusual one, as perhaps to be expected from vintage Peter Gabriel.

The story commences with the narrator, whose name is “Bill” by the way, meeting “this girl called Josephine”, upon which the two of them have a sexual fling. This encounter results in Josephine becoming pregnant and promptly giving birth. 

Also, it is one of those types of scenarios where upon pregnancy, the apparently-young couple is compelled to get married. So now Bill has an unplanned family he has to cater for. On top of that the two, or should we say three of them end up getting “chased out of town”. 

So the implication is that even after becoming married, their union was never approved of by their families or whoever. 

“Home Sweet Home”

So they are forced to acquire their own residence elsewhere, a move that consumes all of the meager funds at their disposal. This is the “home sweet home” being referred to in the title. And in the chorus we see that it is actually an apartment “11 floors up in a tower block”. 

In other words, they live in a housing project, the type of less-than-ideal residential option reserved for those who usually can’t afford to live elsewhere.

In the second verse, such being the case is poetically verified. For instance things regularly malfunction in the apartment and then perpetually remain in a state of disrepair. The couple also lives in the type of environment where their friends do not visit in the nighttime, implying that it is a crime-infested community. 

Moreover, as housing complexes tend to be, their young one has “no place to play”. Yes, perhaps there’s a playground somewhere around, but sending a small child up and down 11 storeys to get there isn’t ideal anyway. 

Additionally, as alluded to earlier this isn’t a safe neighborhood, and it appears to be a far cry from the standard in which the couple was brought. So Josephine concludes that they have to bounce, which Bill, who is working to support his family, agrees to. 

But apparently he is unable to make a power move fast enough, as she proceeds to commit suicide, along with child in tow. So by this time the second chorus rolls around, it is clear that the phrase “home sweet home” is a sarcastic one, since there’s obviously nothing sweet at all about the vocalist’s living conditions.

Suicide Aftermath

Well it appears that Josephine and perhaps even the child had life insurance, so upon their passing Bill receives some money. And it ‘seems dirty’, i.e. tainted, to him. But anyway he gambles it at a casino and, lo and behold, ends up winning big. 

In fact the take is large enough that he’s able to move out of this crappy apartment and into a nice house in the country, the types of which he could probably only dream of prior.

Then as far as the final chorus, Bill is obviously reminiscing back to the “home sweet home” he shared with Josephine. Perhaps it can be said in the aftermath of this whole ordeal that he is missing his late family. But, that’s it, folks. There isn’t any moral of the story presented or anything like that. 

“Home Sweet Home” is a Rags to Riches Tale?

This is simply the tale of an average dude who starts a family before he’s fully ready to handle the responsibility. Shortly thereafter, his wife and child die tragically. Then as luck has it, he’s able to score big via the insurance money paid out from their passing and sort of goes on to live happily ever after.

So again, when most people set out to write a tale of rags to riches, they wouldn’t concoct a story like this. But we know from covering Peter Gabriel in the past that sometimes his artistry can be unorthodox.

"Home Sweet Home" Lyrics

Peter Gabriel

This song is from Peter Gabriel’s second album, which itself is entitled Peter Gabriel. This same album is sometimes referred to as either Peter Gabriel 2 or Scratch. And the reason for that is, being who he is, Gabriel actually named all four of his first albums Peter Gabriel.

Now being in his elder years, Peter Gabriel doesn’t make music like he used to. However, he had a notable run during the late 20th century. During that period, he dropped a couple of UK Albums Chart toppers – Peter Gabriel (1980) and So (1986) – in the process. 

It was also during the 1980s that Gabriel came out with a handful of songs that topped the Billboard Hot 100, where he tended to fare even better than on his native UK Singles Chart. 

That period of time also witnessed Peter achieve a number of accolades, such as winning four Grammy Awards between 1990 and 1996.  But as far as the 21st century goes, his star power has decreased significantly. 

But that being said he’s one of the most renowned musicians in British history, being recognized for possessing an award-winning history as a human rights activist as well as a musician. For instance, he received a Nobel Peace Prize-related Man of Peace award in 2006. Also he made the highly distinguished Time 100 list as recently as 2008.

Home Sweet Home

Writing Credits for “Home Sweet Home”

Peter Gabriel wrote this song, which was released on 2 June 1978. And its labels are Charisma Records in the UK and Atlantic Records in North America.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like...