Meaning of Peter Gabriel’s I/O

I/O is the title track to Peter Gabriel’s 10th studio album, which his label, Real World Records, introduced to the marketplace in early December of 2023. A few months afterwards, on 6 April 2023, this song itself was also issued as the fourth single from the project, as it is also the fourth track on the album’s playlist.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Peter Gabriel's I/O at

This is one of three songs on the album, besides Live and Let Live and Road to Joy, in which Gabriel is backed by The Soweto Gospel Choir, whom he has worked with in the past. Peter’s track Down to Earth, which served as the lead and only single from the soundtrack of the 2008 Disney-Pixar outing WALL-E, had him feature the selfsame Soweto Gospel Choir.

Going back to I/O, this is a track that Gabriel wrote, as well as produced, on his own.  And after being issued as a single, it managed to peak at number 70 on the UK Singles Download Chart.

The Lyrics

As some readers would already be aware, the term I/O is used as computer jargon, standing for input/output. But these lyrics don’t have anything to do with technology, rather being very people and nature oriented.

As explained by Gabriel, the input/output element points to “stuff we put in and pull out of ourselves, in physical and non-physical ways”. He then went on to express his belief that there is an “interconnectedness of everything”. So as idealized, perhaps personal problems can be solved if we adopted more of an interrelated mentality, seeing ourselves as “part of a whole” instead of thinking like rugged individualists.

And with that backdrop in mind, this is actually one of the more straightforward songs found on the album, in a manner of interpretation. For example, earlier on Peter forthrightly asserts that he’s “just a part of everything”. And later down the line, he seemingly points to how, after death, our flesh decomposes to fertilize the earth.

But whereas, as noted earlier, he apparently intended this piece to speak to how we’re interconnected more on a social or psychological level, but the time all is said and done it rather points to our evolutionary connection with the world around us, the circle of life, if you will. And it is quite interesting that Gabriel chose to use computer-based terminology to rather drop a track about the natural world.

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