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Scratch My Back

Scratch My Back

“A dark, tender and powerful opus” – Daily Telegraph

Scratch My Back was the first instalment of a song exchange, where Peter covered his favourite songs, their authors then reciprocating my reinterpreting a favourite moment from the Gabriel canon. Peter reached for the songbooks of some of the most venerable songwriters ever to put quaver to page, including David Bowie, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Radiohead and Elbow.

With a self-imposed dictat of no guitars, no drums and just orchestral backing, each song remoulded by Peter was often imbued with new meaning. The swagger of Bowie’s Heroes was replaced by a slow-motion melancholy, while Paul Simon’s The Boy In The Bubble revealed a poignancy somewhat disguised by the original’s infectious bounce. As Scratch My Back’s arranger John Metcalfe archly notes, “What’s the point of covers that don’t make any effort?”.

“Songwriting is what drew me into music. The craft and the process of putting together a good song seemed both exciting and magical. I have also wanted to record some of my favourite songs for a long time.

“Rather than make a traditional covers record, I thought it would be much more fun to create a new type of project in which artists communicated with each other and swapped a song for a song.

“The list was pruned several times and nearly all of the writers I ended up choosing for this first Scratch wanted to get involved. Sometimes we’d have an exchange about which song to choose and how to do it. Sometimes it would be hands-off. The intention was that we would each do the songs in our own idiosyncratic ways.”