Top Ten Most Cryptic Genesis Lyrics


I always thought the members of Genesis have written some of the most clever and intricate song lyrics I have ever seen, some of which I am still struggling to understand.  It occurred to me that it would be interesting to do a top 10 list of most cryptic lyrics (for me anyway) and see if I can get some help from my ever-knowledgeable fellow 'laters.  I also included my own far-out theories for your amusement.  Any comments, information, facts, interpretations, or alternative lists are welcome.  Btw, the list is in chronological order.            

1. From "Can-Utility and the Coastliners"
> Nothing can my peace destroy as long as no one smiles.
> More opened ears and opened eyes,
> And soon they dared to laugh.
> See a little man with his face turning red,
> Though his story's often told you can tell he is dead

The first 3 lines would make some sense if the protagonists were playing a game of seeing who can keep a straight face the longest.  But this does not fit with the last 2 lines or the rest of the song.

2. From "Supper's Ready"
> 666 is no longer alone,
> He's getting out the marrow in your backbone

While I had great trouble coming up with any hypothesis for the meaning of the above phrase, my friend (who knows little about Genesis) came up with two interesting guesses in no time at all:  1. 666 is a vicious prisoner, 2. 666 is a spy's secrete code name just like 007.  Inspiring, isn't it?  

3. From "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight"
> Off we go with: 
> You play the hobbyhorse,
> I'll play the fool.
> We'll tease the bull
> Ringing round & loud, loud & round.

As the rest of this song evokes a very British imagery, I venture to guess that this bit refers to some kind of English children's game.

4. From "Cinema Show"
> Once a man, like the sea I raged,
> Once a woman, like the earth I gave.
> And there is in fact more earth than sea.

I used to think this was Peter's way of hinting that he was bisexual, but then I found out that he did not write the lyrics to this song.  Too bad, it would have explained a lot.

5. From "Back in N.Y.C."
> As I cuddled the porcupine
> He said I had none to blame, but me.
> Held my heart, deep in hair,
> Time to shave, shave it off, it off.
> No time for romantic escape,
> When your fluffy heart is ready for rape.  No!

I don't know what "porcupine" and "fluffy heart" were supposed to represent, but the whole thing seems a tad masochistic.

6. From "It"
> Yes it's only knock and knowall, but I like it.

I have a nagging sense that there was more to this than a simple twist on that famous line from the Stones.  Actually the theme behind the whole song remains a mystery to me.  Is the elusive "it" just an abstract device employed by PG to thread his ideas on?  The sarcasm comes through loud and clear, but who's the target?  Somehow I feel we've all been taken for a ride.         

7. From "Man of Our Times"
> And in the beating of your heart
> There is another beating heart

I don't know what MR was getting at, but this must be the most anatomically-incorrect lyric in the entire Genesis catalog. 

(to be continued on next page)



Index Page

Next Post