Family Snapshot

"Family Snapshot" is a song written and performed by English rock musician Peter Gabriel, appearing on his third eponymous album.

"Family Snapshot"
Song by Peter Gabriel
from the album Peter Gabriel (Melt)
Released30 May 1980
RecordedLate 1979
GenreArt rock, progressive rock
LabelCharisma, Geffen
Producer(s)Steve Lillywhite


The song was inspired by An Assassin's Diary, published in 1973 and written by Arthur Bremer, who attempted to assassinate George Wallace, a politician who supported racial segregation. Gabriel talked about the book in a 1988 authorized biography:[1]

An Assassin's Diary was a really nasty book, but you do get a sense of the person who is writing it. Bremer was obsessed with the idea of fame. He was aware of the news broadcasts all over the world and was trying to time the assassination to hit the early evening news in the States and the late night in Europe to get maximum coverage.

Gabriel stated in the introduction to the song during his concert at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle, 10 August 1983, that the song is, "partly taken from the writings of Arthur Bremer and The Diary of an Assassin and mixed with a few images of Dallas twenty years ago".

The musical transition reflects the progress and emotions throughout the story. It starts off as a slow, understated piece, where the killer goes through his plan, becoming more intense as the target unwittingly comes closer to the assassin. Finally, the song transitions back to a quiet, mournful climax as the shooter, having just shot his target, remembers his childhood loneliness and thirst for attention that led him to where he now is.[citation needed]

The recording features Gabriel's first use of the Yamaha CP-70 Electric Grand Piano.[2]



  1. ^ Bright, Spencer (1988). Peter Gabriel: An Authorized Biography. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-283-99498-3.[page needed]
  2. ^ Hecker-Stampehl, Jan. "Peter Gabriel - III ("Melt")". Genesis News.

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