Peter Gabriel – Intruder

      2 Comments on Peter Gabriel – Intruder

A few years after 3 came out, The Police released “Every Breath You Take” and showed the world what a song about a stalker could sound like. It also showed how badly Peter Gabriel whiffed with “Intruder.” In trying to represent the song’s character through sliding guitar picks, gated snare drums, and dissonant chords, Gabriel failed to follow the lead of the greatest masters of suspense: the scariest situations are those that appear completely benign. The ticking of a clock in The Telltale Heart, the roadside motel in Psycho, the stalker in the Police song who danced his way into thousands of weddings and high school proms. It’s a shame, because the lyrics in “Intruder” are truly disturbing.

(In defense of Gabriel’s decision to pair unhinged music with an unhinged character in “Intruder,” “Family Snapshot” from the same album juxtaposes a different sociopath with a lovely and multifaceted composition and arrangement, demonstrating his diverse approaches to songwriting.)

Album: Peter Gabriel (aka 3 or Melt)

About Chuck

Chuck is a lifelong music lover. He spent his 20s working as a professional musician before discovering he enjoys listening to music more than playing it. He knows a little bit about most genres, though electronic dance music, rock, and hip-hop are his favorites. Eleven albums/shows that transformed how he sees and hears the world (in order he encountered them): Fleetwood Mac Rumours; Van Halen Fair Warning; The Cure Standing on a Beach; John Coltrane Crescent; De La Soul Three Feet High and Rising; Puccini La Boheme (de los Angeles, Bjorling, Beecham); Everything but the Girl Walking Wounded; Carl Cox, Twilo, NYC, May 2000; Godspeed You! Black Emperor Yanqui U.X.O.; Grateful Dead. Fillmore East, NYC, April 1971; Taylor Swift 1989.

2 thoughts on “Peter Gabriel – Intruder

  1. bobvinyl

    I wonder if “Intruder” and “Every Breath You Take” are really two different ways to portray the same disturbed mind with the former being more the internal workings of the sociopathic brain and the latter being how the sociopath portrays himself to an unsuspecting world. To be sure, there is something special about “Every Breath You Take” that is perhaps similar to what makes “Games Without Frontiers” so amazing: You have to dig a little below the surface to really get it. But I don’t think that makes “Intruder” a whiff. I think it’s more appropriately considered a somewhat different angle and perhaps also a little less ambitious.

  2. Chuck Post author

    Yeah, I was unfair on this one. The fact that Family Portrait succeeds in doing what I wanted Intruder to do just shows that Gabriel made a perfectly legitimate artistic choice here. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean he whiffed.

    But I don’t like it. I think the music that accompanies the song is obvious and cliched and lazy. These lyrics are powerful and they bothered me more than any other song on the album. The line about “I like the touch and the smell of all the pretty dresses you wear” is so incredibly violating and succeeds in saying an enormous amount with only a few words. I guess I just wanted the music to be as haunting as the lyrics. I wish he’d been willing to make us work on this one the way he does on Games Without Frontiers.


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