Don't Give Up (Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush song)

"Don't Give Up" is a song written by English musician Peter Gabriel and recorded as a duet with Kate Bush for Gabriel's fifth solo studio album So (1986). The single version was released as the second single from the album in the UK in 1986 and as the fifth single in the US in 1987.

"Don't Give Up"
Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush - Don't Give Up.png
Single by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush
from the album So
  • "In Your Eyes" (Special Mix), "This Is the Picture" (UK)
  • "Curtains" (US)
Released27 October 1986 (1986-10-27) (UK)[1]
GenreArt pop
  • 6:32 (album version)
  • 6:07 (12-inch single edit)
  • 5:40 (7-inch single edit)
Songwriter(s)Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel singles chronology
"Don't Give Up"
"In Your Eyes"
Kate Bush singles chronology
"The Big Sky"
"Don't Give Up"
"Experiment IV"
Audio sample
Music video
"Don't Give Up" on YouTube

It spent eleven weeks in the UK Top 75 chart in 1986, peaking at number nine. The song was included in Gabriel's Secret World Live tour featuring singer Paula Cole. The DVD release of a performance in Italy in 1993 (released in 1994) included the duet. An all-orchestral recording featuring Ane Brun was released on Gabriel's New Blood album in 2011. In 1987, the song won Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.[2]


The song was inspired by the Depression-era photographs of Dorothea Lange, showing poverty-stricken Americans in Dust Bowl conditions.[1] Gabriel saw Lange's images in a 1973 book titled In This Proud Land. He felt that a song based on this was wholly appropriate to difficult economic conditions in England under the premiership of Margaret Thatcher.[3] He composed lyrics about a man whose unemployment causes stress in his domestic relationship. The verses, sung by Gabriel, describe the man's feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair; the choruses, sung by Bush, offer words of hope and encouragement.

Gabriel originally wrote the song from a reference point of American roots music and he approached country singer Dolly Parton to sing it with him. However, Parton turned it down, so his friend Kate Bush took her place.[4]

In a 2014 interview, Elton John attributed his sobriety to the song, in particular the lyric from Bush, "Rest your head. You worry too much. It’s going to be all right. When times get rough you can fall back on us. Don’t give up." He states, "she [Bush] played a big part in my rebirth. That record helped me so much."[5]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.

12-inch (UK)
1."Don't Give Up"6:30
2."In Your Eyes" (Special Mix)7:15
3."This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)"4:16
12-inch (US)
1."Don't Give Up" (LP version)6:30
2."Don't Give Up" (edit)5:26
Limited edition 7-inch poster sleeve
1."Don't Give Up"5:40
2."In Your Eyes" (Special Mix)7:15



Two videos were created for the song. The first, by Godley & Creme, is a single take of Gabriel and Bush, as they sing, in an embrace, while the sun behind them enters a total eclipse and re-emerges. (Of the shoot, Gabriel remarked, "There are worse ways of earning a living."[6]) The video was featured the final broadcast of the channel Europa TV in November 1986.[7]

A second video, directed by Grammy award-winning Jim Blashfield and produced by Melissa Marsland in 1988, features the singers’ faces superimposed over film of a town and its people in disrepair.[8]


Other versionsEdit

Willie Nelson and Sinéad O'Connor versionEdit

"Don't Give Up"
Single by Willie Nelson and Sinéad O'Connor
Songwriter(s)Peter Gabriel
Producer(s)Don Was
Sinéad O'Connor singles chronology
"Success Has Made A Failure of Our Home"
"Don't Give Up"
"You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart"
Music video
"Don't Give Up" on YouTube

The song was covered as a duet between American musician Willie Nelson & Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor in 1993. The single is included on Nelson's Across the Borderline album, produced by Don Was, Paul Simon, and Roy Halee. O'Connor sings Kate Bush's parts in the song. In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Nelson talked about the duet and how it was made. He said:

There was another lady, Dolly Parton, who was supposed to do that part, but she ended up being unavailable. At the rehearsal for the Dylan tribute show in New York, Don [Was] suggested Sinead. I'd heard about the controversy with the Pope, but I'd never heard her sing. Don said, 'She's excellent. It turned out that she and Peter Gabriel were friends and she already knew the song. At the concert, she was booed for the controversy. I asked her, 'Are you sure you still feel like coming in to sing tomorrow?' She said, 'Yes, I'll be there.' She came in the next day and sang her off.[27]

A music video was made to accompany the song, featuring both singers. It has a sepia tone. It was reported that funds raised by sales of the single were in excess of $300,000.

Critical receptionEdit

Martin Monkman from AllMusic felt the duet is the "most stunning song" on the album, and "a brilliant piece of casting." He added, "Nelson and O'Connor's rendition is quietly triumphant and every bit as powerful as Gabriel and Bush's original."[28] John Davis from Austin American-Statesman wrote, "The teaming of his crisp, autumnal baritone with the ethereal, spun-steel counterpoint of O'Connor's voice on Gabriel's paean of hope, "Don't Give Up", is little short of haunting. It is arguably the album's most arresting interlude, as well as Nelson's most accomplished pass ever at a modern pop song. And it nearly did not happen at all."[29] Bill DeYoung from Gainesville Sun described the duet as "heartfelt".[30] Paul Freeman from Los Angeles Times called it "a striking duet".[27] Pan-European magazine Music & Media remarked that Nelson's version "makes a rodeo queen out of his duet partner".[31] An editor from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that Nelson and O'Connor "make an odd but effective couple" on Peter Gabriel's emotional "Don't Give Up".[32] David Zimmerman from USA Today named it a "wonderful stop" on the album, noting its "hope-and-despair seesaw".[33]

Track listingEdit

  1. "Don't Give Up"
  2. "Don't Give Up" (Instrumental)

Alicia Keys and Bono versionEdit

"Don't Give Up (Africa)"
Single by Alicia Keys and Bono
Released6 December 2005 (2005-12-06)
Songwriter(s)Peter Gabriel
Alicia Keys singles chronology
"Don't Give Up (Africa)"
"Every Little Bit Hurts"

"Don't Give Up" was recorded by American recording artist Alicia Keys and Irish musician Bono.[34] Retitled "Don't Give Up (Africa)", the song was produced by Keys and Steve Lillywhite.[35][36] On 6 December 2005, the song was released as a single exclusively on iTunes and a ringtone version was released by Cingular Wireless.[35][37][38] The proceeds of the release went to the charity Keep a Child Alive, for which Keys is a spokesperson.[37] Keys commented that "I love this song. And I love Bono. I really respect what he has done for Africa and how he has used his fame to do good in the world. I hope I can do half as much in my life".[39] Keys and Bono performed the song live at Keys' charity event the Black Ball, which raises money for the organization Keep A Child Alive.[40] They performed the song also on The Oprah Winfrey Show in October 2006.[41]

The recording of the song took place at the Oven Studios on Long Island.[42] Keys spoke of the recording session at the studio with Bono and Steve Lillywhite:

"We were playing them the backing tracks and I don’t know if I started singing, or he did, but something started happening and we tracked it right here on the spot, that’s it, we’re done. There was a crowd in here, everybody came in from the other room because they could tell there was something going on in here".[42]

Track listingEdit

Digital download[43]
1."Don't Give Up (Africa)"4:27


Chart (2005) Peak
US Billboard Pop 100[44] 79

Jann Klose and Annie Haslam versionEdit

Jann Klose and Renaissance vocalist and painter Annie Haslam released their version, produced by Rave Tesar in June 2017. The recording features Jann Klose on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Annie Haslam on lead vocals, John Arbo on upright bass, Rob Mitzner on cajon and Rave Tesar on keys. Proceeds from the sale of the recording benefit Desmond Tutu's TutuDesk foundation.

Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingthwaighte versionEdit

"Don't Give Up"
Single by Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingthwaighte
from the album Home: Songs of Hope & Journey
Released9 December 2006 (2006-12-09)
LabelSony BMG
Songwriter(s)Peter Gabriel
Producer(s)Michael Mugisha
Shannon Noll singles chronology
"Don't Give Up"
Natalie Bassingthwaighte singles chronology
"Don't Give Up"

A cover version was recorded by Australian artist Shannon Noll and former Rogue Traders frontwoman Natalie Bassingthwaighte. It was produced by Michael "fingaz" Mugisha who also produced hits for Jessica Mauboy, Big Brovaz and recorded for the compilation Home: Songs of Hope & Journey. It was released as a charity single for the depression organisation beyondblue. It was the most added song to Australian radio in its first week.[45] It made its debut at number seven on the Australian Singles Chart, and, in its second week, climbed to number two with a Platinum certification. The song was also performed live on the fifth season of Dancing with the Stars. The music video features Noll and Bassingthwaighte in the studio recording the single.


Weekly charts

Chart (2006–2007) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[46] 2

Year-end charts

Chart (2006) Position
Australia (ARIA)[47] 51
Chart (2007) Position
Australia (ARIA)[48] 54


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[49] Platinum 70,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Maire Brennan and Michael McDonald recorded a gender-reversed version of the song on the 1999 Contemporary Christian album Streams.

The song was covered by Olivia Taylor Dudley and Hale Appleman in the penultimate episode of the Magicians (The Balls), which aired on 25 March 2020.[50]


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  35. ^ a b [1][dead link]
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