“I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don’t you call my name?”
Written by Peter Gabriel
Produced by Daniel Lanois
Taken from the album So
Also released on Shaking The Tree, Secret World Live and Hit
US #1, UK #4
The video for ‘Sledgehammer’ would be almost as popular – if not more popular – than Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, and stands as one of the most acclaimed videos of the eighties and of all time. The stop-motion animation is still amazing today, I can’t imagine how cool it would have been back in 1986. Still, the incredible video wouldn’t be half as good if it didn’t have a strong single to back it up, and that’s exactly what ‘Sledgehammer’ was.
Peter Gabriel’s best song was also his big international breakthrough. Up until this point he had been successful in Britain and very much an art-rock singer somewhere else, much like his spiritual twin Kate Bush. Just like she came into her own finally with Hounds Of Love in 1985, so did Peter with So. ‘Sledgehammer’ was the perfect bridging of his progressive overtones and newfound pop sensibility, matching a huge chorus with his usual lyrical genius.
‘Sledgehammer’ is of course about SEX SEX SEX. “I wanna be your sledgehammer” is pretty obvious, but when you think of all the other innuendos in the song (“You could have a big dipper”, “You could have a steam train, if you just lay down your tracks”) but the worst/best has to be:
“Show me ’round your fruit cage
‘Cos I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruit cage
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be”