Live and Let Live by Peter Gabriel
Live and Let Live is the final song on the playlist of I/O, Peter Gabriel’s 10th studio album. All 12 songs on the project were respectively released as singles in the order that they appear on the playlist, and for the most part were done so on a monthly basis. As such, Live and Let Live did eventually come out as a single, through Peter Gabriel’s own Real World Records, on 27 November 2023. And the song did manage to make a showing on the UK Singles Download Chart.
This track features vocal contributions from the Soweto Gospel Choir, being the third track on the album (besides Road to Joy and I/O) in which Gabriel opted to do so. In fact, he pointed out that Live and Let Live was inspired by a couple of legendary South African freedom fighters, Desmond Tutu (1931-2021) and Nelson Mandel (1918-2013). And as for the song’s cover art, which is an image that has been dubbed “Soundsuit”, it was created by American artist Nick Cave, not to be confused with the Australian musician of the same name.
Interpretation of this Track’s Lyrics
Live and Let Live is about forgiveness, a subject which Peter did not want to write about at first but then, once again being inspired by the likes of Bishop Tutu and Mandela, decided to do so. And the sentiments expressed are pretty straightforward.
Lingering feelings of anger, vengeance or what have you are classified as being akin to emotional and psychological ‘burdens’. So what Gabriel is espousing is that instead of holding onto or giving into such feelings, it’s better to gradually let go of them and “move on” with one’s life rather being weighed down by negative emotions.
The issue with songs such as this one, as well as some of the other ideological pieces found on I/O, is that they don’t acknowledge that reordering or transforming the way one thinks and behaves is a lot easier said than done. But you have to appreciate Peter Gabriel nonetheless. He may go off on tangents here and there, but one of the recurrent themes of the album is that life can be more edifying, when we make a conscientious effort to think more holistically, sympathetically and positively.