365 Day Song Challenge: Day 159 – “Mama”

Day 159: A song that reminds you of your best friend. (Volume II)

“Mama” – Genesis

MamaIn reality, this probably could have been any Genesis song.

Or Tony Banks song.

Or Phil Collins song.

Or Peter Gabriel song.

Or even anything by Mike Rutherford or Mike + The Mechanics.

But I chose “Mama” because there is some irony about it. You see, I have Justin (a.k.a. Woody) to thank (or blame) for my love of Genesis. And (almost) all things Genesis. (The jury is still out on Steve Hackett.) Sure, before his influence, I knew the popular stuff, but without Justin, I’d likely have no idea about amazing songs like “Dance On A Volcano,” “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” or “Supper’s Ready.” (Unfortunately, I’d still know about “Hold On My Heart” but some things can’t be helped.)

Continue Reading

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 152 – “Duke’s Intro (Behind The Lines)”

Day 152: A song by your favorite band/artist whose name begins with “G”.

“Duke’s Intro (Behind The Lines)” – Genesis

Genesis Encore BostonI waited many years to see Genesis live. Many, many years. Many, many, many years.

In 1986 for the Invisible Touch tour I barely knew who they were. By the time 1992 rolled around for the We Can’t Dance tour, I was a much bigger fan, but I was actually on my student exchange when they played Foxboro Stadium (Back when it was still “Foxboro Stadium”).

And then Phil Collins left. Things looked grim. But Mike and Tony decided to forge ahead with the Genesis name.

By 1997 when they announced the Calling All Stations tour with new lead singer Ray Wilson, I was a huge fan of the entire catalog. It wouldn’t be the same without Phil, but I was still excited to go. Continue Reading

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 54 – “Home By The Sea”

Day 54. The song that got you hooked on your favorite band/artist.

“Home By The Sea” – Genesis

Home By The Sea SingleI don’t have a lot of time for today’s post. So if it sucks, tough.

Sorry about the back-to-back Genesis entries. Now you know why I was holding off on others a week or so ago. While I love Genesis (and would love to convert every single one of you), I know they’re not for everyone.

That said, I could make a case that “Home By The Sea” (with its uncredited second half, “Second Home By The Sea”) is for everyone. I say that because, as the challenge states, it’s the song that really turned me on to Genesis.

It’s another suite (this time a two-piece) that runs well over 10 minutes. But unlike something like “Supper’s Ready” where you have to do some work to get into it, “Home By The Sea” is from Genesis’ 80s period, when their music was more accessible (even the longer songs). So, like “Domino” that followed, “Home By The Sea” is more rock- and pop-based than the older, 70s-era suites. Heck, they even released the first part standalone as a single (in a couple of countries, countries that were not the US or the UK).

Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click the > button above to hear samples.

Now, I certainly knew about Genesis before I heard this song. I was familiar with Invisible Touch (it was 1986/87 how could you not be?) and at the point, was all about “The Brazilian.” But, although released in 1983 on the Genesis album, I didn’t hear “Home By The Sea” until 1987, and on first listen, it didn’t register much. (I have to admit that initial listen was as I was acquiring a huge batch of music all at once, so I wasn’t paying close attention, either. And no, it wasn’t illegally copied! How dare you? The fact that I purchased two 10 packs of blank tapes just prior has no relation whatsoever.)

Then in 1988, I was reintroduced. I have my friend Justin, (a.k.a. Woody) to blame… er… thank for that (as well as the addiction and copious purchasing that followed; and no, there is no 12 step program for Genesis addicts).

As I mentioned in my “Rockford Files” post (I will find a way to include links to every post I’ve ever done), sometimes it’s a sound that grabs me. And to some extent, that’s the case here. At about 1:40 (and multiple times throughout), after Phil Collins sings “So many years ago/before the time when we first heard ‘welcome to the home by the sea’,” Tony Banks begins playing some arpeggios (which you unfortunately don’t get to hear in the preview). The combination of the arpeggios and the keyboard voice he chose grabbed my attention, and somehow it was magical. I’d never heard anything quite like it.

I was hooked.

“Home By The Sea” instantly became my favorite Genesis song and one of my favorites overall. It’s become less magical over the subsequent 25+ years and dozens of plays, but I still get a little shiver on those rare occasions when I get to do nothing but listen.

At its core, it’s a ghost story, something described pretty well here (although I don’t agree with the first two paragraphs). Someone enters the house, the ghosts trap them, and they force them to listen to their stories. Over and over and over.

Sit down Sit down
cos you won’t get away
no with us you will stay
for the rest of your days – Sit down
As we relive our lives in what we tell you
Let us relive our lives in what we tell you

Creepy, huh?

Then, things change. The song moves into the second half of the suite, which is all instrumental (save for a few lines at the end.) This section has a heavy, almost oppressive feel to it at times. My “other mom” once said it sounded like a death march, and while I was offended by that at the time, in retrospect, she was right. And I actually think that was the intention. Mission accomplished.

You know how it is when you discover something really cool: I had to hear more. In the end, the infamous tape (a la Woody), with Abacab on one side and Genesis on the other, got played 18 gajillion times. I literally wore it out.

Alas, “Home By The Sea” is no longer my favorite Genesis song. Discovering the remaining 16 albums has a way of shifting your favorites around just a little. But it’s still quite high on the list. And I suspect it will stay that way.

Now, it literally just occurred to me that in essence, with this blog I’m reliving my life with what I tell you. How’s that for a creepy little circle…

So, please: sit down. Sit down…

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 53 – “Supper’s Ready”

Day 53. The song that you’re most proud of knowing all the words to.

“Supper’s Ready” – Genesis

A Flower?

Yesterday’s song was just over a minute long. Today’s song, “Supper’s Ready” is often referred to as an opus (no, not the penguin from “Bloom County,” although Opus in the flower costume (right) is a funny mental image). Or an epic. Either one is an apt description:  depending on the release, “Supper’s Ready” clocks in at about 23 minutes, plus or minus a few seconds.To put that in perspective, the average sitcom runs 24 minutes without commercials. (“Supper’s Ready” has a better plot than the vast majority of them.)

Any hardcore Genesis fan has a special place in their heart for “Supper’s Ready.” Keyboardist Tony Banks still counts it as the best thing they’ve ever done; many fans do as well.

Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click the > button above to hear samples.

The song has 947 words. To put that in perspective, my average post length is around 700 words. So, while it’s not quite the length of a college essay, it’s also not a song you learn in a single sitting; I’ve listened to this many times. While you may scoff at the hours that I’ve spent on it, it’s well worth the listen(s). As you might expect, at 23 minutes, this isn’t your typical verse/verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus construction. As a result very few of the words repeat. And, since it’s essentially a suite built around seven distinct sections, it’s musically diverse and interesting as well.

Like “Solsbury Hill” Peter Gabriel started writing the lyrics based on a “spiritual experience.” (He seems to have many more of these that the average person.) He described it in Armando Gallo’s excellent book, I Know What I Like, about the early years of Genesis:

“The first sequence was about a scene that happened between me and Jill [Gabriel’s first wife]… It was one night at Jill’s parents’ house in Kensington, when everyone had gone to bed… There was this room at the top of Jill’s parent’s house. This room was the coldest part of the house. I always used to get the shivers when I went in there. It was covered in strong purple and turquoise wallpaper. Everything was bright purple and turquoise… We just stared at each other, and strange things began to happen. We saw other faces in each other, and… I was very frightened, in fact. It was almost as if something else had come into us, and was using us as a meeting point.”

He claims they were completely sober, no drugs or alcohol. Uh… sure. I’ll leave that to you to decide. The resultant lyrics:

Walking across the sitting-room, I turn the television off.
Sitting beside you, I look into your eyes.
As the sound of motor cars fades in the night time,
I swear I saw your face change, it didn’t seem quite right.
Coming closer with our eyes, a distance falls around our bodies.
Out in the garden, the moon seems very bright,
Six saintly shrouded men move across the lawn slowly.
The seventh walks in front with a cross held high in hand.

I’m sorry, but when you see seven guys in white walking across your lawn with a cross, you’re either in the Deep South and about to be in for some trouble or decidedly un-sober. That’s my opinion, anyway.

At any rate, the remainder of the song goes through its series of sections, many with allusions to, and imagery from, the Bible, ultimately culminating in the salvation of the narrator at the Apocalypse. It’s some pretty powerful stuff when you hear it.

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Genesis perform this song live. They stopped doing it in its entirety back in the late 70s, and the last time they performed any part of it was 1987. (It was released in 1972.) The closest I’ve come was seeing it performed by a tribute band called The Waiting Room. I have to say, short of hearing Gabriel himself sing the song, you can’t get closer. I was blown away at how much the lead singer sounds like Peter Gabriel. And he had the flower.

“What’s with the friggin’ flower?” you ask.

Well, along with the long songs that I’ve alluded to in the past, Gabriel often used costumes (sometimes outlandish costumes) as part of the performance. During the middle of “Supper’s Ready,” at the end of the “How Dare I Be So Beautiful?” section are the following lyrics: “Social Security took care of this lad./We watch in reverence, as Narcissus is turned to a flower./A flower?” At this point Gabriel would appear wearing the flower costume featured at the top of this post. It’s an iconic image from those days of the band. That’s the deal with the friggin’ flower.

I could talk a long time about this song. (In fact I’d be happy to discuss with you any time.) The lyrics are all over the place, and in some places border on nonsense. In other places they’re pretty deep. But no matter what, I’m still pretty impressed that I know them all. But at the end of the day, you’re still going to think I’m crazy. Most of you, anyway. The rest know who you are.

As impressive as “Supper’s Ready”‘s 947 word count is, I briefly considered a couple of other possibilities. (Mostly because I’m trying not to double up on songs, and there’s a challenge a little ways down the road about the longest song you like. But I found a way around it.) One option was another Genesis song, “The Battle of Epping Forest,” which runs right around 11:45 and has 782 words. That is, until I realized that I didn’t actually know a bunch of them. Although, neither did Peter Gabriel half the time. But that’s another story.

I also considered “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. But, same story. I know most of them until they get into the “Gonna make a break and take a fake/I’d like a stinkin’ achin’ shake/I like vanilla, it’s the finest of the flavours” section. Yeah, I know the last line just fine, but get to the  “stinkin’ achin’ shake” and I start to lose it.

So back to “Supper’s Ready” it was. It’s a good choice. A fine choice. An epic choice.


365 Day Song Challenge: Day 9 – “On The Shoreline”

Day 9: A song that if someone said they liked it, you would like them a little bit more

“On The Shoreline” — Genesis

genesis-on-the-shoreline-virgin-csYes, three Genesis songs in five days. I promise this is the last one for a while. This will not be the “365 Songs of Genesis Challenge.” We now take you to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

As we determined in yesterday’s post, I am not of fan of “Hold On My Heart” from Genesis’ We Can’t Dance album.

That said (and I’d gladly say it again), my road to being a Genesis fanatic began with that album. Oh sure, I was a fan before that. I had liked Invisible Touch well enough, and in 1988 my friend “Woody” had introduced me to the rest of Genesis’ 80s output (namely Duke, Abacab and Genesis for those who are interested, and you should be interested. No one leaves here until they say they’re interested!).

Okay. Deep breaths.

Anyway, it was that 1991 collection where I decided I really needed to find out more about these guys, thus starting my journey down the slippery slope to fanatic.

You see, my serious collector bug kicked in and, not being satisfied with albums alone,  I started buying singles to get B-sides, rare edits, live tracks, and so on. (What? Six different “Jesus He Knows Me”singles with marginally different track listings to get different “I Can’t Dance” remixes? No problem!) Yes, it’s collecting. Not a sickness. I’m perfectly fine. Just leave me alone while I rock back and forth…

So one night Woody and I end up in a record shop in Wollongong, NSW after a radio station contest. I saw “No Son Of Mine” bundled with a new “I Can’t Dance” single. Of course, I already had a copy of “No Son Of Mine,” but I had to have that “I Can’t Dance” single! It had an unreleased B-side! I must have it!

Single verily purchased, we head home and frantically put on the new disc to hear the unreleased track, called “On The Shoreline.” Its intro has some interesting sounds (including a reuse of the “elephant” sound from “No Son Of Mine”) and then the music really kicks in. I was hooked after the first few notes.

They had skipped over this to include “Hold On My Heart” on the album? What? Seriously, I had to have been thrown into an alternate universe where Mr. Spock has a beard and Phil, Mike, and Tony have lost their minds. (Yes, a Star Trek reference. The geekdom spreads…)

It didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense. But then, they’d done the same thing with “Feeding The Fire” and “Do The Neurotic” on Invisible Touch, too, so I guess they’re not infallible. (Seriously, try to track down those tunes, too. Great stuff.)

Twenty-two years later (ouch, I can’t believe I just typed that), “On The Shoreline” still ranks very high on my list of favorite Genesis songs. And, the fact that it never got a proper album release means that it’s virtually unknown outside of the serious Genesis fan community. So, if you randomly came up to me on the street and said “Hey, I really like this Genesis song called ‘On The Shoreline'” I would immediately have some affinity for you. (Assuming you truly liked it weren’t saying that only because you’d read this post.) And thus, its placement in today’s challenge post.

Incidentally, I learned later that it was left off because Mike Rutherford thought “On The Shoreline” sounded like something they’d done before. Mike has always been my least favorite band member, and that didn’t help his standing. Years after that I had an epiphany listening to “Another Record” from Abacab. I can’t confirm this, but the dual chord grouping in each song seems to suggests, at least to me, that Mike may have been thinking of that song.

So, to summarize: “Hold On My Heart” bad. “On The Shoreline” good. You are interested in 80s Genesis output. Find me on the street and make a new friend. Return tomorrow for another post.