Has Gabriel ever said if this song was inspired by any actual events? As an American, it makes me think of the JFK assassination, but, of course, Gabriel’s not an American, so it’s entirely possible that it could be about someone else.
I remember reading on songmeanings.net that it was about the assignation of Governor George Wallace. The site is down so I can’t verify.
Can’t be. The song says, “And the governor’s car’s not far behind. He’s not the one I’ve got in mind.”
Was he singing about an American Governor of a State, or a British Guv’nah?
Gabriel’s song was meant to get inside the mind of an assassin and explore his motivations.
I wanted to be somebody
You were like that too
I think the song is not about any specific real assassination, but depicts a fictional one to explore the subject of assassins in general. The line about “the governnor’s car” does make us think of the JFK assassination, except for the fact that Governor Connally rode in the same car as Kennedy. Gabriel seems to have imagined a similar motorcade, but with the governor and the unspecified leader in separate cars.
From Spencer Bright’s authorized bio: