Genesis Revisited and Remembered - October 12
Steve Hackett & Mike Rutherford
Photo © Armando Gallo
Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited II song choice commentary -
A retrospective with memories of the original recordings
CHAMBER OF 32 DOORS
A questing song yearning for answers, not readily found in the city. I was swept up in the tune's expansive chords long before the lyrics were written. I enjoyed the epic film quality. All of us in Genesis were writing this in a derelict and haunted house which did indeed have many doors! I felt it was up to me to weave some guitar lines through the song and to try to echo the tortured lyric. Although it's a song full of doubt in the lyrics, the overall effect was so emotional and positive. One of my favourite tunes from the Lamb.
I wrote this as an entirely unaccompanied solo piece. It was influenced by JS Bach and William Byrd, particularly after I heard the Earle of Salisbury. I deliberately wrote this short piece in the hope that Genesis might use it, as we indeed did to set up Supper's Ready, an introduction to our longest track to date in 1972. This marked the beginning of classical guitar work cropping up from time to time with the band. Though it's a short piece it's expansive in intention. Many fans have mentioned it. It seems to conjure a tranquil and sunny day.
Both atmospheric and ambiguous, this song was written in two weeks. At roughly 23 minutes long, no mere snack... It actually has six courses. Some of my personal favourite parts are the humorous ones found in the Zen inspired Willow Farm. On a deeper level it's a song about finding peace. Towards the end I was trying to make the guitar cry like a voice. It was the first time I was using a Gibson Les Paul drenched in repeat echo, best described as my golden tone. A Goldtop guitar floating, wheeling, flying and crying, at times a bit like a distant violin or string section...
I love this romantic song we co-wrote on The Lamb. A poetic lyric garbed in Ancient Greek mythology, like a laudanum laced Pre-Raphaelite nightmare. The chord changes echo Those in Peril on the Sea. Alternately hymnal, erotic and sublime - a beautiful contradiction. I aimed to make the guitar sound both bluesy and classical and as sensual as the lyric.
DANCING WITH THE MOONLIT KNIGHT
All of old England jousts uneasily in an unequal fight with the burgeoning monolith of growing corporate enterprise. This song was prophetic. We sold off London Bridge to be re-assembled in the USA. The corner shop has given way to the conglomerate and Sir Walter Raleigh lays down his cloak for Uncle Sam to drive over. Lyrically the most ambitious of all Genesis songs, running the gamut of most known styles whilst inventing a few new ones. A total sonic adventure starting quietly, building to a roar and taking it to the mountains with a slow, passive Walt Disney inspired coda as if England admits her defeat and allows herself to be eaten away a piece at a time. Genesis' finest hour of subtly crafted time signatures on a ride full of unlikely twists and turns. A tapping driven extravaganza of which I'm still proud.
FLY ON A WINDSHIELD
One of my faves from Lamb. The working title of this was 'Pharoes' because of its power and dust of spook atmosphere. Influences range from Ben Hur's 'ramming speed' to Hendrix meets Ravel in slow motion. Genesis' doom ridden music at its most unashamedly epic. Mellotron strings invoke the Wall of Death. A tortured oppressive atmosphere descriptive of slaves pressed and whipped into service...
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1974
A track that digs below the surface of the American dream. The not so beautiful aspect of America - the injustice and prejudice. A strange mixture of Blues scale melody juxtaposed with European romantic harmony... a halting rhythm, punctuation and statement intertwined over one bass note, yet it swings in a frightening way. An air-conditioned nightmare of another kind - more Carrie than your happy-go-lucky prom queen. I loved the process of creating this with Genesis. It has always morphed into something new every time and I still love doing it live.
THE MUSICAL BOX
Victoriana meets nursery rhymes run riot... repressed sex and early rejection. Musically at the end I went for imaginary consummation, despite the story insisting this was not so. This one features the first tapping solo ever recorded. It enabled me to play really fast on one string. Once other players cottoned on to this, heavy metal took on a whole new aspect!
CAN-UTILITY AND THE COASTLINERS
A feast of several twelve strings on a Genesis seafaring adventure, referencing the story of King Canute. I was looking for poetical lyrics and the idea of not being deceived by flattery, along with waves of the sea being described with huge waves of sound and bass pedal like a tolling bell.
PLEASE DON'T TOUCH
A Genesis branch, originally rehearsed by the band during the Wind and Wuthering sessions. This was written by me as a variation on the Unquiet Slumbers melody. This has Van Gough's influence, the swirls that characterised his later, madder yet most inspiring stuff, with excessive use of the tremolo arm. I imagined massive overcrowding like an ant hill, or a seething mass of humans as I had once seen in Brazil.
BLOOD ON THE ROOFTOPS
A classical guitar intro for a Jimmy Webb inspired tune about 'televisual' apathy. The box can often take over from family life and communication. Phil Collins, who came up with the line Blood on the Rooftops, thought I was doing a Pete on this anthem to the electric paradise brought to life in every home, and indeed there was an aspect of the Lamb about my lyrics.
THE RETURN OF THE GIANT HOGWEED
Pete had the idea of the Hogweed story from a newspaper report and I suggested we call it "The Return of..." as if it was a horror movie series. There's something of the Rocky Horror show or The Sorcerer's Apprentice about it. Tapping starts the chase which kicks off probably the most preposterous jig you've ever heard!
Freudian dream material stretched over a web of slender threaded massed twelve strings like a cluster of spaced out harpsichords. A romantic throw back to the Nursery Cryme period, intricate and interweaving... I thought the synth sounded like a female soprano. Tony wrote the chorus whilst I wrote the verses.
ELEVENTH EARL OF MAR
A romance of place and time... an atmospheric rock song about a failed Scottish uprising. A look at the underdogs of history in a time when the rule of England had a lot to answer for. A stomp and a march over distorted bass and guitars. Tony's Mellotron at the beginning gives a sense of an early warning system. Some of it we wrote separately. For instance, although Mike wrote most of the lyrics, I wrote the gentle song introduced by kalimba in the middle at home.
A poignant song about the ravages of time and particularly the ephemeral nature of female beauty. It's very much in the style of early Genesis based on the magical sound of two interlocking twelve strings complimenting each other. It was essentially Mike's song, Tony added the middle part and I created the guitar solo, deliberately playing it high to give it a Victorian chocolate box feel. The Dickensian pictures on A Trick of the Tail reflect this atmosphere.
UNQUIET SLUMBERS FOR THE SLEEPERS
Wind and Wuthering at its most atmospheric. A tune evoking imaginary ghosts from the haunting Bronte story which influenced both Genesis and Kate Bush. It follows Cathy and Heathcliff, the lovers who can't find themselves in life, but there's always the second chance of the afterlife. Percussion instruments with repeat echo are used as wash to conjure the cold wind. The aspect of agitation was created by Mike's shimmering twelve string strumming. I tracked up several nylon and electric guitars to give it an impressionistic feel.
IN THAT QUIET EARTH
This is twinned with Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers. Tony came up with this title taken from the closing part of Wuthering Heights. A mercurial melody like Heathcliff's character, which I wrote over Mike's chords that had an entirely different rhythm to the one suggested eventually by Phil.
A beautiful paean to love from Tony and sensitively delivered by Phil. A great song and an unusual take on the driving force of love. I played the guitar like the left hand piano work of the Beatles at their most simple but effective.
A TOWER STRUCK DOWN
Another Genesis branch which I played at one point with Mike and Phil. A killer riff by my brother John makes it sound like Led Zep meets Stravinsky, or do I mean Prokofiev meets Bernard Hermann? Steve Wilson's fave evil track of mine, dissonant yet as compelling as the tarot card that inspired it.
Partly a dream I had in the early eighties about working with Genesis in the golden 1973 period when we were coming up with an intriguing hybrid sound like syncopated classical music. There was a big band jazz influence that particularly inspired Phil at the time. Camino Royale took this spirit further, straddling three worlds; the drive of rock with the syncopation of Cuban music along with the heartfelt harmonies of classical music. The other aspect of the dream was the New Orleans setting. Once again you have a hybrid, this time the cultural cross between French, Afro and Native American which all influenced the musical collision that is this song. It's also bookended by a great instrumental melody from Nick Magnus.
SHADOW OF THE HIEROPHANT
A Mellotron driven primal extravaganza with bass pedals to rival Bach on the coda written by Mike, which reminded Pete of a Greek tragedy, hence its inclusion as the last lost Genesis branch and deleted scene from Foxtrot. I wrote the song part on the ubiquitous Mellotron strings. It was one of the first to be recorded to a click track in 1975 as the drums came in as guest appearances between the vocal lines. A while back I unearthed the original take that had been lost in my Dad's shed for thirty years that was about fifteen minutes long! It was included in a remastered version of my first solo album. Thanks to Steve Wilson's recommendation that I should feature this song in my shows, it has recently again a favourite with audiences...