Friday, September 14, 2012

Peter Gabriel - "Games Without Frontiers"

Games Without Frontiers - Games Without Frontiers / Games Without Frontiers (Japan Aircraft - Indaba Remix) - Single

(Debuted August 16, 1980, Peaked #48, 11 Weeks on the Chart)

"Jeux sans frontieres."

That's the French translation of "Games Without Frontiers." As I've said here before, I don't understand French (I took Spanish in high school) so I spent several years trying to figure out just what the hell Peter Gabriel was singing throughout this song. I was trying to understand how "she's so funky, yeah" or "she's so popular" tied in with the rest of the lyrics, but a reading of the lyrics when the song was played on the Direct Choice service around 2001 showed me I was mishearing the lyrics because I was listening to them in the wrong language.

The rest of the lyrics have references to adults acting like children (in fact, "Games Without Frontiers" is itself a reference to the methods often used in international diplomacy). The names refer to people in history, such as Adolf -- who built a bonfire -- and Enrico, who played with the fire. This is a reference to Adolf Hitler and Enrico Fermi, the man who built the atomic bomb. As a child of the Second Wrold War who grew up under the threat of a nuclear Holocaust, Gabriel definitely used the images from his own life to frame his song.

A track from the third self-titled solo Gabriel LP -- known to fans as "Melt" to distinguish it from the others -- "Games Without Frontiers" missed the Top 40 during its initial chart run. However, Gabriel's popularity during the next decade kept it in the public stream of consciousness.

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised it missed the top 40. This song got a lot of airplay on the pop stations in Phoenix.