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Thread: Genesis' "The Knife" was about Kent State?!?

  1. #1

    Genesis' "The Knife" was about Kent State?!?

    I thought I knew a lot about Genesis, but I'd never heard this before. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/m...abriel-994154/

  2. #2
    I thought it was about a revolutionary figure on a power trip. Wasn’t that in Armando Gallo’s book somewhere ?

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    Member AncientChord's Avatar
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    Yeah there may be a slight reference to Kent State, but the gist of the song has nothing to do with with that incident. More exaggeration and fake news from Rolling Stone.
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    Member frinspar's Avatar
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    I always like a little added perspective, it makes me listen differently. Thanks.

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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by AncientChord View Post
    Yeah there may be a slight reference to Kent State, but the gist of the song has nothing to do with with that incident. More exaggeration and fake news from Rolling Stone.
    Big surprise. I haven't believed or paid attention to anything Rolling Stone has said for decades...especially anything about prog
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Flightwave View Post
    I thought it was about a revolutionary figure on a power trip. Wasn’t that in Armando Gallo’s book somewhere ?
    Yes it was! After all these years, I've never made the connection between the incident at Kent State and Genesis' "The Knife" (also if the song was inspired by the incident, I'd prefer to hear that from Peter Gabriel).

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by WytchCrypt View Post
    I haven't believed or paid attention to anything Rolling Stone has said for decades...especially anything about prog
    +1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by starless and bible black View Post
    Yes it was! After all these years, I've never made the connection between the incident at Kent State and Genesis' "The Knife".
    I don't really see what would the connection be between the two. Kent State was about the national guard shooting student protestors. "The Knife" takes the viewpoint of a radical revolutionary figure who is ready/willing to kill his perceived enemies to achieve his political aims. Except as advocating retaliation against the national guard, I don't see how "The Knife" squares with the Kent State events. Also, the song was recorded in July 1970 - a couple of months seems a little short to write, arrange, and roadtest this song which I would assume had been in their set longer than that.
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    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Or perhaps Gabriel decided to use that line, "Okay men... Fire over their heads!" within his song about a radical revolutionary simply because it was currently in the news and fit the scene of mayhem he was trying to depict at that point in the song. The song itself wouldn't need to be "about" Kent State simply because that phrase was used.

    I grew up near KSU and can remember the day of the shootings. I was in the 3rd grade of elementary school, and have a vague recollection that we were sent home early due to the violence that was happening on and around the university campus, which was a mere 7 miles away. Many years later, I ended up doing both of my degrees there.
    Last edited by Koreabruce; 06-03-2020 at 07:54 AM.

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    Seems unlikely to be "about" the KS incident to me as well, but this thread did bring me to a LOL-at-myself moment. See, for all these years, I have mis-heard that line as "Okay men...fire over that hedge!". The mind is a funny thing.
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  11. #11
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calyx View Post
    Also, the song was recorded in July 1970 - a couple of months seems a little short to write, arrange, and roadtest this song which I would assume had been in their set longer than that.
    This.

    Every song on Trespass had been in the band's live set prior to being recorded in the studio (fun trivia: it's their only album where you can say that). The audio sample could have been based on Kent State and quickly inserted, but The Knife is absolutely not about that incident.
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  12. #12
    I found some more references: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_S...opular_culture (also says that Yes' "Long Distance Runaround" makes a Kent State reference). Also this: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/genesis/the-knife which sounds like Rolling Stone's source. I'm thinking that they threw the Kent State stuff in right before they recorded the song. You'd think that PG (or one of the other guys) would've heard about the Rolling Stone article from a friend or business associate by now. Maybe we'll get a comment eventually.

  13. #13
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    Thanks. Here's the Songfacts quote -

    In the middle of this song, the band dramatize the 1970 shootings at Kent State University in Ohio, where four students were killed by members of the United States National Guard. In the song, a voice says, "Okay men, fire over their heads," a reference to an order supposedly given to the National Guard troops with disastrous consequences, as the bullets kept going and hit students yards away. Neil Young wrote the song "Ohio" about the shootings.
    Interesting, if confirmed. The song was definitely NOT written about Kent State, but that 'sound effect' would have been added during production to give the song an extra dimension relevant to recent/current events.

    As for Yes and "Long Distance Runaround", Jon Anderson has repeatedly acknowledged that "cold summer" (although the shooting was in May) and "melting the anger to stone" were references to Kent State.
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    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calyx View Post
    Thanks. Here's the Songfacts quote -



    Interesting, if confirmed. The song was definitely NOT written about Kent State, but that 'sound effect' would have been added during production to give the song an extra dimension relevant to recent/current events.

    As for Yes and "Long Distance Runaround", Jon Anderson has repeatedly acknowledged that "cold summer" (although the shooting was in May) and "melting the anger to stone" were references to Kent State.
    I thought it was "hot color, melting the anger to stone"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koreabruce View Post
    I thought it was "hot color, melting the anger to stone"?
    Did I say otherwise ? I singled out the two bits (admittedly in different lines) that Anderson said referred to Kent State.
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  16. #16
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Ah, okay. Didn't consider that.

  17. #17
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    It makes sense. There is no consensus from anyone on what The Lamb was about, so...

  18. #18
    Member PotatoSolution's Avatar
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    I am completely shocked.

    Rolling Stone knows that Trespass exists?!

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    This.

    Every song on Trespass had been in the band's live set prior to being recorded in the studio
    (fun trivia: it's their only album where you can say that). The audio sample could have been based on Kent State and quickly inserted, but The Knife is absolutely not about that incident.
    It might have been in Armando's book where it's mentioned that The Knife would sometimes take up 45 minutes of their set.. can't say I've ever heard any recordings that would confirm that.. but I agree they had it in the setlist long before the album was released..

  20. #20
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    No doubt the song is NOT about Kent State since they'd been playing it live for quite a while. However, the shootings happened on May 4, 1970, and Genesis began recording Trespass in June of that year, so it stands to reason that they may have incorporated that spoken line right before the big uptempo solo section to add drama and urgency to a song about revolution. Plus it had been widely reported that several who were witnesses to the events at Kent State had heard someone from the National Guard shout those same words on that day.

  21. #21
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PotatoSolution View Post
    I am completely shocked.

    how does Rolling Stone even knows that Trespass exists?!
    somebody must've told them

    end of debate
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