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Thread: What is Here Comes the Flood about?

  1. #1
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    What is Here Comes the Flood about?

    I have no idea, always wondered. Anyone know if Gabriel ever explained? Or what's your interpretation.

    When the night shows
    the signals grow on radios
    All the strange things
    they come and go, as early warnings
    Stranded starfish have no place to hide
    still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
    There's no point in direction we cannot
    even choose a side.

    I took the old track
    the hollow shoulder, across the waters
    On the tall cliffs
    they were getting older, sons and daughters
    The jaded underworld was riding high
    Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
    and as the nail sunk in the cloud, the rain
    was warm and soaked the crowd.

    Lord, here comes the flood
    We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
    If again the seas are silent
    in any still alive
    It'll be those who gave their island to survive
    Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

    When the flood calls
    You have no home, you have no walls
    In the thunder crash
    You're a thousand minds, within a flash
    Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
    The actors gone, there's only you and me
    And if we break before the dawn, they'll
    use up what we used to be.

    Lord, here comes the flood
    We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
    If again the seas are silent
    in any still alive
    It'll be those who gave their island to survive
    Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.
    Last edited by JKL2000; 06-13-2015 at 04:32 PM.

  2. #2
    "When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others' thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it." ('Peter Gabriel' by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)
    National Flat Earth Society: The only thing we have to fear, is sphere itself.

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    I thought it was about the Earth becoming 100% water again and starting over. Thanks for posting Peter's explanation.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    "When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others' thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it." ('Peter Gabriel' by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)
    Also, from 1977 ‘Night at 11’ program on CHUM-FM “The Solo Album Debut of Peter Gabriel”:

    Peter: “The Flood is a sort of impressionistic song, which was written very quickly, in fact."

    Interviewer interjects: ‘It sounds very fatalistic’.

    Peter: "In some ways it is. I’m not quite sure whether it is pessimistic or optimistic, though, because, as I see it, it’s a sort of flood of the mind, a telepathic flood, which some people are able to swim, and others not. The situation where those people, who cut themselves off as islands, not being honest with themselves or with other people, will be bombarded by other people’s thoughts and other people reading their own minds, and the people who have been open and straight forward would be no different.”

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    My definitive version of this is the one from Fripp's Exposure album. Just amazing.



    Of course, this one ain't bad either, from the Kate Bush special:

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  6. #6
    Yeah, initially the lyrics might give you the impression that the song is about nuclear war or something, but of course, Peter being Peter, it's about something a lot weirder.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I thought maybe it had something to do with the "great flood" from the old testament.

    I just found a nice, more recent version on YouTube from some televised performance called The Guitar Center Sessions. Is this just the one song, or is there a whole set out there somewhere? Never heard of it.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I thought maybe it had something to do with the "great flood" from the old testament.
    It's a kinda punky-poetic approach to an incident when Pete was out camping in a very small tent at the ridge of a cliff once when there suddenly occurred a nocturnal storm and he'd eaten some bad dades n'so got diarrhea and had to go out on that cliff to release himself over it. It was very dramatic, that.
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  9. #9
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    About a changing climate?

    On this youtube version from Exposure there is a 'preamble' by John G. Bennett:

    "From the scientific point of view it is now very likely that there will be again another Ice Age, quite soon, in the world, that we shall have the north part of the world all frozen like it used to be, and we're beginning to have natural disasters, from the scientists' study it seems likely that we should soon begin to have these great changes in the earth's climate so people will not be able to live where they have, and the oceans will rise, and many cities will be flooded, like London, and Calcutta, and so on. These things, they say, will happen, according to scientific theory, in about forty years at the most, but maybe even quicker."


  10. #10
    chalkpie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    It's a kinda punky-poetic approach to an incident when Pete was out camping in a very small tent at the ridge of a cliff once when there suddenly occurred a nocturnal storm and he'd eaten some bad dades n'so got diarrhea and had to go out on that cliff to release himself over it. It was very dramatic, that.
    No, you're thinking of "Here comes the Fudge".

  11. #11
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    I like the German version. The lyrics sound angrier.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    It's a kinda punky-poetic approach to an incident when Pete was out camping in a very small tent at the ridge of a cliff once when there suddenly occurred a nocturnal storm and he'd eaten some bad dades n'so got diarrhea and had to go out on that cliff to release himself over it. It was very dramatic, that.
    And so beautiful...
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    I like the German version. The lyrics sound angrier.
    I had a version of this on one side and English on the other.. always kick myself for misplacing that.. Nice album cover as well as I recall

  14. #14
    Member Haruspex Carnage's Avatar
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    Huh interesting. i always thought this was some biblically referenced yeah-ok-cool-whatever type of IS-it-Christian? thing.

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    It's always reminded me of the later portions of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Peter may not have consciously intended it as such, but the parallels are surprising. And for that matter, so does "Watcher of the Skies".

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    There are scenes in the song taken straight from a great apocalyptic book by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle called "Lucifer's Hammer." I believe I've seen Gabriel reference it, but that would have been a long time ago.

  17. #17
    I've always thought climate change, based on the speech on Fripp's version.
    Quite advanced to be referencing this in 1978.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    "When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others' thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it." ('Peter Gabriel' by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)
    ... and he was I all these years, thinking it was just an innocent little song about the coming apocalypse.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    the German version.
    His pronounciation is pretty good for an anglophone. Can we thank Charterhouse School for that?
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    About a changing climate?
    From the 'preamble' by John G. Bennett:
    "From the scientific point of view it is now very likely that there will be again another Ice Age, quite soon, in the world ...
    Yet again, Bennett got it right. Almost.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    And for that matter, so does "Watcher of the Skies".
    I thought Watcher was specifically inspired by Childhoods End... and written by Mike? Have to look that up.

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    I know I've read that Watcher of the Skies was specifically inspired by "Childhood's End".

    Here Comes the Flood however does not seem to have any particular relation to that novel, "Childhood's End" is not about an apocalypse as such, it is about the arrival of an alien race forcing humankind to "come of age."

    If PG was obsessed with short-wave radio, it's possible that the lyrics were inspired by the short story "The Waveries" by Frederick Brown - although again the connection is rather tenuous. It's more likely that the lyrics are a collage of impressions from various things Gabriel had seen and read.

  23. #23
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    PG always seemed to have the apocalypse on his mind both before and after Genesis---so Here comes the Flood for me is revisiting this theme---with whatever artistic way he wants to explain it.

  24. #24
    Childhood's End or not, it cribs a line from Keats's "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer":

    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
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    whatever it's about, my favorite by PG. one of the best songs he ever wrote.

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