1. The original working title of So was Jo as Peter Gabriel intended to make an album devoted to Facts of Life’s Jo Polniaczek.
2. Peter wanted to make a tetralogy of albums named for the four main characters in Facts of Life and envisioned four albums, Jo, Blair, Natalie, & Tootie to bookend the final years of the 1980s.
3. Some people criticized Gabriel’s migration towards a more accessible pop sound in So. Those people can fuck right off.
4. The song “Sledgehammer” is literally about Jo Polniaczek. Specifically, how when she was introduced to the girls at the Eastland School, she adopted a blunt, forceful, and downright domineering demeanor.
5. “In Your Eyes” is about Mrs. Garrett. Obviously. Peter met Mrs. Garrett, or Edna, when he visited the set of Facts of Life while he was doing research for his then-titled Jo album.
6. Peter and Edna began a love affair shortly after meeting.
7. Harry Styles did a really great cover of “Sledgehammer” when he was on the Howard Stern show in 2020.
8. So is 35 years old and therefore constitutionally old enough to be president of the United States. I’m not saying So should run for president.
9. I’m also not not saying that So should run for president.
10. “Don’t Give Up” was inspired by the Facts of Life episode where Blair’s former opponent in the student council election takes her life when she discovers her parents are getting a divorce.
11. Peter Gabriel had to change the album’s name due to contractual skirmishes with the Facts of Life producers.
12. “Red Rain” was inspired by the Facts of Life episode where the girls get into a paint fight while painting their bedroom. While they were not painting the room “red” per se, Peter felt that “Red Rain” sounded more dramatic than “Taupe Rain.”
13. There were lots of songs about rain in the 1980s. Prince’s “Purple Rain,” and Eurythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again,” and the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” come to mind.
14. Mrs. Garrett got the job at Eastland when she sewed a costume for a play in which Kimberly Drummond, an Eastland student, was performing.
15. However, there are lots of songs about rain every decade. Like in the 1970s, there was “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
16. And in the 1960s, Bob Dylan sang “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” and BJ Thomas sang “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”
17. Mrs. Garrett also sewed many of Peter’s costumes, including that crazy lightbulb one he wears at the end of the “Sledgehammer” video.
18. Peter originally wanted "In Your Eyes” to be the last song on the album but because of its heavy bassline, it had to be at the beginning of Side 2, as the stylus which picks up sound on a vinyl LP picks up bass better on the outer edge of a record. Also, Mrs. Garrett liked it there.
19. During and after their lovemaking, Edna would tell Peter stories from all the places where she had served as a domestic helper. Peter had never heard the story of Willis and Arnold Jackson, and was so taken by it that he was inspired to write the song “Big Time” because come on, Mr. Drummond just finds them and lets them live with him? That’s big time.
20. Janet Jackson played Charlene, Willis’s Diff’rent Strokes love interest. Her breakthrough album Control was also released in 1986 and is thusly constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States.
21. There are many definitions of the word “so,” and one of them is “thusly.”
22. TV theme songs were big in the 1980s, and no one has ever told me that Peter Gabriel did not write the theme song for Facts of Life.
23. Edna clarified with Peter that Mr. Drummond did not just randomly pick the boys out of a Harlem playground. Willis and Arnold were Mr. Drummond’s former housekeeper’s sons, and Mr. Drummond promised her that he would take care of them when she died.
24. Peter Gabriel didn’t hear that part because she told him that while they were making love and Peter was likely focused on gratifying Edna.
25. A song called “Gratifying Edna,” which contained many euphemisms and innuendos about performing cunnilingus on Edna Garrett, was intended for, but ultimately left off of, So.
26. A Control/So presidential ticket would be un-fucking-stoppable.
27. The drummer from the Police plays drums on two of So songs, and it’s like, "Do all the British rock stars just have each other phone numbers? Like can you just dial British 411 and say, ‘Connect me to Sting please?’”
28. According to Billboard, So was the 35th most popular album of 1986, in between Run D.M.C.’s Raising Hell and Journey’s Raised on Radio.
29. “Mercy Street” is dedicated to poet Anne Sexton and was inspired by her poem “45 Mercy Street.”
30. Let’s not even discuss that episode of Diff’rent Strokes where that guy from WKRP in Cincinnati tried to molest Arnold and his friend Dudley.
31. Or when Mr. T came on the show. Or Nancy Reagan, when she was moved by Arnold’s story of how someone was doing drugs at his school. It’s like, “what?”
32. If Harry Styles ever covers the Facts of Life theme song I bet he’d do a great job.
33. Many people think “We Do What We’re Told” is about Stanley Milgram’s 1961 social experiments. But really it’s about the Eastland girls listening to Mrs. Garrett’s life lessons.
34. Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” from their 1986 album Slippery When Wet was inspired by Anne Sexton’s poem, “Wanting to Die.”
35. Prior to So, Peter Gabriel’s biggest hit was “Solsbury Hill.” After the demise of their relationship, Peter changed the song to “Salisbury Hill,” an ode to Mrs. Garrett’s Salisbury Steak, a beloved Eastland School cafeteria staple.