Genesis/meaning of lyrics of song carpet crawlers
Buzz wrote at 2006-06-24 10:42:50
I first heard this album back in 1974 and always wondered just what it meant. Thank you for the insight, very deep and if you think about it, very true.
a wrote at 2006-10-07 08:16:12
The song is about a utopian army of babies crawling across the floor, and up the wall.
Adryanus wrote at 2006-11-29 20:51:56
This is amazing! I had think a very similar interpretation of this song lyric.
PC wrote at 2007-09-09 18:59:21
i think you are on the right track about the meaning of the song as far as it is about the cycle of life and death.
"Where the needle's eye is winking, closing on the poor". I think you are off on your interpretation of this line. This line may be referring to the biblical verse Mat 19:24 "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." In other words, the poor are more likely to enter God's kingdom than a rich man who may have many earthly treasures, but has no faith in God. The winking needle means it is a smaller opening and therefore becoming harder to get out.
Debora Persson wrote at 2007-09-10 08:32:24
The above explanation could be true,actually had never thought about it from that point of view...But considering my studies about drugs and drug addicts,I´m very tempted to believe it describes a crack trip,after which crack addicts crwl on the floor to look for remaning stones,that shine on carpets..They also call this carpet crawling.I´d would like to believe the first asnwer is the right one,though..Genesis was always known for not being a band of junkies,after all!
genesis fan far away from home wrote at 2007-09-21 04:20:40
I'm amazed. I just bought the CD 25 years after buying the vinyl--back then, I was 18 years old and did not understand any of the lyrics although this song quickly became one of my Genesis favorites. Then yesterday I listened to the whole album on my iPod while running and thought how much this song made me think of my own kids. I now know why and think you're right on the money
BraveHeart wrote at 2007-10-04 14:43:33
Hi Debora, I wanted to point out that, even if Genesis had been known as a drug-band, the crack form of cocaine was virtually unknown, at least on the UK, US and European drug scenes in the early 70's.
The birth interpretation given makes more sense than anything I've been able to come up with myself. The only part I find hard to believe is that it is nearly completely given as pre-birth, possibly only because the only interpretation I've been able to hold on to over the years is carpet crawlers as crawling-age babies and/or toddlers.
PC's biblical reference seems likely though, because later, there is another biblical reference to "wise and foolish virgins" a reference to a parable Jesus tells His disciples.
paullesq wrote at 2007-10-14 16:12:03
Always had the ability to cry at will to Carpet crawlers, this was done usually in the bath.
Never really new why the song got hold of me, it was a song from my teenage years as were others.
A theory in science brought me again to this song as well as others. Here is a snippet of the theory.
On Thursday September 2 14:34:04 BST 2004 I penned what I now see as the most basic premise.
Everything in the universe is the result of a single chain reaction.
It is my belief that it is not the process of biological evolution that changes but rather the circumstances that the process finds itself in.
With the use of what I see as true observed *statements, and also by regressing and advancing biological evolution without prejudice to material back and forth, I have built a theory of evolution.
The theory is not meant to replace biological evolution in any way and how it is perceived, the theory should be thought of as a view from a totally new and different perspective.
Science may ask as an impartial observer what is the nature of nature, and find that biological evolution has no direction.
A slightly more focussed question will yield a more focussed answer. How is it that I came to exist from the big bang to now? this question gives rise to a perspective whereby evolution gains a direction, this can only be a positive single chain of cause and effect modification descent and selection.
Single chain evolution.
* Everything that displays any level of complexity always starts out as basic.
* Biological evolution by natural selection by virtue of place and material is complex.
* Biological evolution itself evolved.
* The mechanism by which biological evolution works had to come from some where.
The slang word 'evolution' is the name given to what Darwin himself preferred to refer to as modification descent and selection. Viz a Viz.
* The hallmark of evolution is modification descent selection.
The theory of evolution broadened out so far as to give the process no meaning, everything evolves.
An out of reach Blank canvas. punctuation needed.
To explain the theory it has been necessary to bring all types of interaction together and divide them by main type, these are the organic and the inorganic. This gives the process punctuation.
The evolution of the inorganic and its interaction I have called Primordial evolution.
*Cause and effect, the effect is always selected.
Natural selection deals solely with the evolution of life.
The evolution of our own solar systems and the resulting pocket of balance was selected.
Primordial evolution has its own mechanism 0f selection.
'Primal selection,' is best describe as the just naturally so result of interaction between the inorganic and force.
The primal domain is red.
The Earth, biological evolution, life = blue, the blue planet.
The evolution of intelligence by human selection = yellow.
A blank canvass and the three primary colours.
mjb wrote at 2007-11-10 17:10:22
This is song about birth. I think the explanation could go a little further though. If we are to grow and change, the metaphor is we need to be reborn.
This song has a specific message as a piece within the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. In our daily lives, as Rael does, we may struggle with our demons, with things we may want to avoid. This song is about embracing those demons, going with the flow, diving into whatever it is we are avoiding. In reference to the earlier comment about drugs, the essence of this song is that to get rid of an addiction you must become the addict.
"Like the forest fight for sunlight, that takes root in every tree.
They are pulled up by the magnet, believing they're free."
As a sperm, you are not free. Your destiny is fatalistic. To be reborn, to change, to become free you must get in to get out.
Maggie wrote at 2007-12-15 17:41:06
I just wanted to add the crack was not even known in the U.S. in 1974. And when you're smoking coke, you don't have a "crack trip", you just have an intense high that doesn't last for as long as you would want. Although the song's title is certainly a perfect title for the crack addict.
funkybuddha wrote at 2007-12-17 10:07:15
I personally think it is about the corporate world. To do with the fact that everyone fights with each other to get to the top. They cling to the golden fleece. The reference to corridors. I think it may have something to do with the masons, with his reference to the all seeing eye. The needles eye is winking. Ever since I have had this song 82... I've always looked at this way. I then went onto work in the corporate world and look back on this song and think wow... he was right on it. Just a couple of more points,,, the reference to go to get in to get out, am thinking masons. Welcome to the machine by Floyd was the same type of song. Hope this gives people what they are looking for.
nicki brand wrote at 2007-12-31 03:44:17
I'm not gonna post anything obscene. It just, I came across carpet crawlers, not heard it for about 15 years. What a beautiful song. Not sure I would say its about reproduction though, although that is pretty, like the song. I think its about humanity tho, ever see the video for it? had all these middle class businessmen and women crawling up stairs, to like get to he executive board room/toilet, like everyone is getting ripped off, which of course is true (?). My 2 cents :)
The other one that has a similar effect on my is Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street. None of the Phil Collins stuff does anything for me. In fact he RUINS Carpet Crawlers at the end, like a cat being strangled in the background. ffs. But you love me really :)
Aradia (Nicki Brand)
Mark the Mad wrote at 2008-01-03 03:17:30
I always viewed this as a Christian analogy. The "carpet crawlers" are people kneeling in prayer. The "porcelain manniquin is Jesus; the congealed liquid--Christ's blood; the people with pitchers, the Christians lining up to drink it (communion). The crack--the wound in the side; the stickler--the spear.
The needle's eye is from a Biblical quote (for 'tis easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven)..note, this is a mistranslation as the original Greek referred to "the eye of THE needle"...which was a gate that was low, so the camels had to crawl through it...
Anyway, the Christians are trying to get up to heaven in this song (the one direction they want to go is "up")...and you've got to get into heaven to get out of hell (assuming you believe in all that stuff).
What's all this about sperm and eggs and stuff? I am not sure about the reference to the stickleback but, again, it could be a Christ analogy, as a fish symbol (fisher of men) has been used to represent him since ancient times.
Personally, I think this is a derogatory comment on Christianity (a very subtle put-down). Remember, the band's name is/was GENESIS and there was a strong religious theme in works such as Supper's Ready...
Jo wrote at 2008-01-08 03:54:48
Great reply. I've never looked at it that way. I've always thought of the song as a reference to Communism, or some cultish behavior. "You've got to get in to get out".. In communism you can only rise above the masses by devoutly adhering to the dogma, so in effect rising above the dogma by getting into it.
But I actually think your explanation makes more sense!
NIcki Brand wrote at 2008-01-11 02:09:46
and the line 'the tickler takes his stickle back' is just a play on words. There is no profound meaning, certainly not a christian one heaven help us (peter gabriel is confirmed pagan). Any uk person will recognise stickleback as being a small fish, like a minnow, and tickling being a way of fishing. I think you guys are reading way to deep into this.
Peter the Gnostic wrote at 2008-01-27 21:06:46
I am amazed that you consider and entertain the level of drivel that you do, especially as pertains to Dixon and his discussion of Carpet Crawlers. I have researched and contemplated the Lamb at length and interviewed Gabriel on more than one occasion. It seems you have created an entire site around Dixon's sophomoric and puerile interpretation which seems to be more the product of an oversexed adolescent. Its disgusting and an insult to suggest that a genius like Gabriel would pen something so shallow and bathetic. I sent a very tactful dissent which did not make it's way on to your "democratic" forum. Another writer contributed that she she thought "carpet crawlers" was about Rael using "crack." This letter made it onto your page. If this is your reversed standard of inquiry and review then I guess the situation speaks for itself.
ute wrote at 2008-05-23 01:19:17
Hi folks, I´m German. So it´s a little bit hard for me to explain "my version" of a thing like CC in English. Some of your thoughts scratch the central themes indeed.
First: CC is just a small piece of the whole thing and you can´t get through it by isolating it from the rest of the lyrics. There are a lot of relations to other parts of the album. In fact it marks a center, a focus to the whole. Imagine LLDOB-Album as a double funnel. CC builds the connection between the two single-funnels. It sucks the stuff from one (out)side, the material world, through the "needle´s eye" to the other (in)side, your inner private world, where you have to deal with it and produce reflection and a reaction back to the world. These are principles of orientation and communication.
The carpet crawlers “just” heed their callers. They just crawling on the surface incapable to reflect or react, just following blind, led by moral, ideology, economy or whatever. They see a door: their goal to achieve in expectation of a gratification: acceptance, fame, richness, blessedness. But they are not able to see the tiny needle´s eye that is just open for ideas and interaction [and its “closing on the poor” (in mind or spirit)] that leads you to an independent state of existence.
“get in to get out” is an expression of universal meaning and can filled up with nearly everything. Between in and out you will find any content. “It´s over to you.” The content between birth (in) and death (out) should be life. But it seems to be that the crawlers bring just their bodies in and out.
Also CC is a compendium of the whole lyrics. All themes the whole album deals with are compressed here in the center as if you watch a whole cosmos contracted in just one point like a singularity.
It is the question about reality. What is really real? It is the question about to tell genes from conditioning. To tell truth from fabrication.
Gabriel begins with a simple impression:
"The wool is soft and warm." (The clearest sentence of the whole story!) Something he can sense with his body.
Then: The salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed. You can proof that with your eyes. But: In ancient times (say just 100 y. ago some places) people thought, salamanders are creatures of the fire and can´t destroyed by heat (so they throw them into flames ´cos they thought they were the cause of all kinds of burning). So you have to be alert. Who gives you the guarantee everything you were told of is true?
Next step is to mix it up:
"Imaginary creatures are trapped in birth on celluloid" is a mixture of reality and fabrication or construction, the cultural reality we live in.
You can divide it in:
“Imaginary creatures are trapped on celluloid” and
(real)"creatures are trapped in birth".
Trapped on celluloid means: it is burned in your brain by conditioning.
"Each thought and gesture are caught in celluloid. There´s no hiding in my memory. No room to void" (avoid).
You will not be able to wipe it off. It became a part of your reality. (If you "burned" as an Englishman you can´t be a German or more strange for example: Chinese; if you were 25 years old in 1600 you are not able to survive in 2008-society). As an adult, your conditioning became as real to you as your genetic code.
"The fleas cling to the golden fleece, hoping they´ll find peace":
1. “The fleas cling to a fleece” of course! That´s the thing you can watch, the real thing. The fleas follow their instincts to survive, a natural mechanism. To add … “hoping they´ll find peace” makes the whole thing absurd (or leads you to take “fleas” as a symbol and create a association). Fleas doesn´t “hope” anything at all, it´s an only human ability. But you will find more sentences in this song that are constructed the same way like: “pulled up by a magnet believing they´re free” or “A manikin fears attack”. To compare the flea-sentence with the magnet-sentence shows you that humans follow mechanisms as well but here these mechanisms are not always natural, most of them are constructions of society the people not aware of (= believing they´re free). But as a human being there is a chance to break these mechanisms by awareness and then you got the ability to choose (leads to chamber of 32 doors) personal freedom.
2. Remains to the struggle of sperms to enter the ovum. Why? Maybe just because "hoping they´ll find peace" describes a human aim of sexual motivation, that leads you here to a powerful imagination. [An example how our instincts are connected to our emotions and how strong they really are and it also shows you how easy it can be to “manipulate” people by using (or abusing) their instincts.]
3. The "golden fleece" is something like an artefact of an old Greek myth. (Look for it in Wiki) In ancient times people in east Europe used the fleece of sheep to wash gold out of the rivers. So in Greek culture the lamb have had another spiritual meaning as in Jewish or Christian cultures. So believe it: "This lamb has nothing whatsoever to do with Rael, or any other lamb - it just lies down on Broadway." (find it in LLDOB-Song; Cover-Lyrics). Means: LLDOB´s got nothing to do with religion. Related to the Greek myth, the lamb is a symbol of wealth, making money, hunting the coin.
The lower verse beginning with: “Mild mannered supermen…” dealing with a special aspect of our condition. The gender role and the relationship between genders.
Superman is an idealized “person”, an imagination of being a man at all. It contains the double character of manhood: the strong, wild “version” fits to rule the world and the soft one (Clark Kent), the civilized (mild mannered), also fits to gain a woman. The double character is very hard to achieve and a cause for inner (self-)destruction (held in kryptonite = in the Superman-Saga a dangerous element of the planet Krypton which nullifies the strength of its inhabitants).
Remember: this was written in 1974, just short time after the sexual revolution of the 60s.
The virgins are wise and foolish at once. They are wise to accept the rituals and rules of their times to achieve their reachable goals but if you see it in the light of awareness of their situation as a depressed part of society they act foolish at the same time to accept their role.
“Through a door a harvest feast is lit by candlelight;”… there is another door to achieve. By following the rules of the gender roles it is promised a fulfilled and rich future to come.
“It's the bottom of a staircase that spirals out of sight.” …At first the division of gender roles was a necessity to survive in archaic culture. To get rid off strong determined behavior and instincts gives flexibility to adapt to chancing environments quickly. But it also means the newborns need more protection, care and time for learning (now they have to be conditioned to compensate the lack of genetic determination.) The necessity of teaching the young leads to a division of responsibilities between men and women and the hunter(men) –gatherer(women)-society. The Cause of the division never comes to awareness to humanity for a long time, it was forgotten (spirals out of sight) and the relationship between the genders get out of balance with the increase of power of men caused by his part of responsibilities.
“The porcelain manikin with shattered skin” is a “fallen virgin”. With the “shattered skin” she lost most of the influence in her own faith in society. She altered from a “hollowed imagination” (“their bodies glowing bright” another idealistic vision) to a puppet, reduced to an “object” without prevention of society (fears attack). Today that seems ridiculous, but once it was a real matter of society and in 1974 there where still enough traces left in the minds of most of the peoples.
Following this thoughts “The eager pack lift up their pitchers, they carry all they lack.” (associate pitchers with Baseball!) reminds to the fact that the content of the “pitchers” is pure and clean and so there is a chance to alter society rules and rites (or culture) in a very short time compared to alter the genetic code. “The eager pack” lacks of the right conditioning and so every time the “liquid” congeals, (which has seeped out through the crack) in the same old fashioned way as long as everybody arranges himself with the results.
“The tickler takes his stickleback” is a very funny sentence in its German translation. Retranslated in English you will get: The clit takes his keyholesaw (or stickleback).
The original could express two things:
Tickler is male: go on this way and you will be lost in masturbation. Similar meaning as: Erogenous zones I question you- Without you, what would a poor boy do? Without you, mankind handkinds thru' the blues.
Tickler is female: Be aware of your power and choose (take) the “stickleback” who is willing to liberate gender relationships to influence and alter society and bring it to a new balance between the sexes.
Over the whole album one of Gabriels aim is to connect the male and (cut off or subconscious) female aspects of his personality to get out as a whole and complete person. To be able to act from an intact inner center instead to be (de)formed by outside influences.
Leonard Cohen describes a similar dilemma in his song “Suzanne”. But while Suzanne is still an “outside” person (The reason of the melancholy in the song is the knowledge to miss something of yourself in her absence.) and you have to met her to get the feeling of wholeness, Gabriel finds his Suzanne inside himself in the figure of “Lilith”. The name Suzanne (Hebrew: Shoshana) means lily. The first time Lilith shows Rael/ Gabriel the meaning of wholeness [two golden globes (= closed spheres), (just) together producing a blinding white light (a symbol of their combined power)] he was shocked of its intensity and refused it on the first try.
JustMe wrote at 2008-06-14 18:00:36
That was a great "explication/explanation" of your interpretation of Carpet Crawlers, one of our all-time favorite Genesis songs. Have always felt it was about Rebirth/Reincarnation: Gotta get in to get out... Genesis lyrics have always enchanted with their mystery and multiple references to classical myths, literature, Bible, etc. Nice work!
PaulC wrote at 2008-06-17 19:20:00
Well since the original Q. was asked in 2000, this might be well past being practical, but did you ever think of just writing to PG, explaining your book concept and ask for his help/contribution/explanation?
Spoony wrote at 2008-08-10 05:27:01
To Peter: Reading your response, I'm not too surprised as to WHY your dissent was rejected.
Just because you've supposedly done so much research and interviewed Gabriel several times doesn't mean you're some sort of authority on who can interpret a song and that you can just insult anything that you don't agree with by calling it "sophomoric" or whatever other unnecessarily long word you chose to use. One of the best things about prog-rock is that the meaning of a song isn't shoved in your face, and Carpet Crawlers is DEFINITELY not an exception. Only Gabriel truly knows what this song is about, so let the rest of us have our fun, alright? I don't like the crack explanation, either, but I won't attack it for somehow "demeaning" the song.
Personally, the birth explanation is logical, especially seeing as it follows right on the heels of Counting Out Time, a song that is quite explicitly about Rael's first sexual encounter, and it's only natural that some of that energy would be carried over in an album designed to be a single story. I don't believe that it covers the whole song, but it definitely has a place in the lyrics. For the most part, I really like Ute's interpretation.
Spoony wrote at 2008-08-12 05:44:41
One more thing to Peter: You claim that someone saying that Carpet Crawlers might have vaguely sexual and birth metaphors is "puerile" and "sophomoric" and "beyond the genius of Gabriel"
Obviously, you haven't studied this album as well as you've claimed. You do know that Gabriel wrote all but ONE song on this album, right? And among the songs he wrote are "Counting Out Time", a song about a sexual encounter, "The Lamia", which involves Rael getting felt up by snake women, "The Colony of Slippermen" and "A Visit to the Doktor", both about CASTRATION, and "The Raven", in which the...*ahem* thing that had been removed is STOLEN BY A BIRD.
Not saying that any of this is bad, of course, but just because something is sexual doesn't automatically mean it's shallow. And if Carpet Crawlers is indeed partially a birth/sex metaphor (which, given the rest of the album, isn't far-fetched), it's a lot more subtle than other parts of the album in that regard.
It's a beautiful song and a great album, and one of its beauties is its complexity and the fact that so one really knows what it means. We can only make educated guesses.
PETER THE GNOSTIC wrote at 2008-08-25 01:43:17
POST SCRIPT :TO MR SPOONEY
I DON'T HAVE TIME TO GO POINT BY POINT WITH YOU RIGHT NOW, BUT IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE ADEQUATE FRONTAL LOBES TO TAKE ME ON, ILL MAKE THE TIME. SEE AFTER ALL THE TIME I'VE SPENT I WONT HAVE SOME WHIMSICAL HACK JUST REPEAT WHAT HES READ ON THE FOLLOWING PAGE AND HAVE IT SERVE AS AN ARGUMENT. I GUESS YOU MISSED THE DEBATE TEAM IN HIGH SCHOLL, BUT THATS ALL RIGHT JUST PRESENT SOME SENSIBLE (MEANING LOGICAL) GENERAL ARGUMENTS AND THAT WILL BE FINE
Spoony wrote at 2008-08-28 23:18:30
To Peter: LOL.
You didn't even counter ONE of my points, but rather just spew more unnecessarily long words at me and accuse me of being a "whimsical hack" and "just repeating what I've heard" while backing out of a debate by saying "I don't have time".
I'm not even claiming that I believe the birth explanation, but rather defending people's right to believe it and saying how it could possibly make sense. YOU are not the Holy Protector of this album and Gabriel's ideas. It is not YOUR job to tell people how to interpret a song or an album. To claim that you are isn't LOGICAL, it's ARROGANT. We're talking about a man who walked onto a stage wearing a FOXHEAD and a RED DRESS. Who's Slipperman costume included a set of inflatable genitals. Who drove an invisible lawnmower back and forth across the stage. Nothing about Peter Gabriel suggests that he would even WANT to be taken this seriously. In fact...I've heard that Gabriel was particularly secretive about the meaning of this album. Care to tell us how you got the answers out of him when not even a single magazine or interviewer has? Hmm?
Judging by the way you responded (All-caps, overly-defensive attitude, insults everywhere, arrogance oozing out of every word), I don't think I WANT to debate you. I'd just be running round in circles.
And finally, to quote a very detailed online analysis of The Lamb:
"I think it is a mistake to think the Lamb is "about" something, especially about one particular thing, and to think there is some correct answer to the question that starts "the Lamb is about ..." and goes on with a single "true" answer. (I would also advise you to be wary of people who claim to have a one true answer to the question, because they are probably missing a lot.) The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is something that every listener must decide a personal meaning that satisfices as an explanation."
And a quote from Gabriel himself, about The Raven:
"So you see, my sexual organ and my brother John's were placed into fully sterilized yellow plastic tubes by the notorious Doktor Dyper, reformed sniper, with a decent fee and guaranteed to remove our very own windscreen wipers."
Adieu to you, Peter. :P
PETER THE GNOSTIC wrote at 2008-09-17 02:22:04
DEAR MR SPOONEY,
I MY HAVE MADE A MISTAKE AS PER THE ORDER OF SONGS ON THE ALBUM, I DONT HAVE IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I DO AGREE WITH YOURE QUOTATIONS, REGARDING "THE RAVEN", ETC. AS TO YOUR COMMENT ABOUT HOW ONLY PG KNOWS THE MEANING---SOMETIMES I WONDER. I HAVE PUBLISHED POETRY IN VARIOUS NY LITERARY MAGAZINES. SOMETIMES WORDS COME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND IF YOU WERE TO ASK ME FOR AN "EXACT" EXPLANATION" IT MIGHT TAKE TIME TO GIVE YOU ONE. MY ONLY INTEREST IN MY DIALOGUE WITH YOU IS TO GET "CLOSEST" TO THE TRUTH AS POSSIBLE--I DON'T HAVE TO BE RIGHT---IN FACT I'D BE HAPPY TO BE WRONG, AND THINK THAT ALL WAS AS SIMPLE AS YOU PORTRAY. UNTIL THEN I WILL CONTINUE TO THINK AND RESEARCH, AND LISTEN AND TALK TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU, UNTIL I THINK I HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING----BUT I WILL NOT CHOKE ON SOME FOOLS IDEA BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLE AND COMFY. I'M NOT A ROBOT OR A LEMMING--AND ALL YOUR SURLEY EMAIL WON'T CHANGE THAT.
PETER THE GNOSTIC wrote at 2008-09-18 14:46:37
TO THE EDITOR, WEBMASTER, ETC
I VERY MUCH APPRECIATE YOUR FORUM AND SITE. HOWEVER I SENT A SECOND EMAIL WHICH HAS NOT BEEN POSTED--AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY(THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, WHICH MAKES ME WONDER)...THIS IS FREE EXCHANGE OF OPINION AND INFORMATION IS IT NOT? PERHAPS THERE ARE TECHNICAL REASONS AND YOU HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO GET TO IT YET--BUT I WOULD HATE TO THINK THAT IT IS DUE TO PERSONAL DISTENTION---REMEMBER, HITLERS MINISTER OF PROPAGANDA, HERR GOERBELS (NOT SURE OF THE SPELLING OF THAT) OF STALIN FOR THAT MATTER. I THINK YOU MIGHT PAY SOME LIP SERVICE TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT(I DON'T KNOW WHAT COUNTRY YOUR IN) BUT I'M SURE YOU HAVE A SIMILAR IDEOLOGY. MY SECOND EMAIL WAS CONCILIATORY AND I DO HOPE YOU WILL POST IT. ANYWAY , WE ALL HAVE TO LIVE WITH OURSELVES AND I PROBABLY CANT CONVINCE YOU TO DO ANYTHING. BUT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I APPRECIATE YOU SITE AND THAT I'M JUST TRYING TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THE TRUTH. IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF YOU HINDERED THAT DUE TO PERSONAL PREFERENCES.....THANKS FOR YOUR TIME --PETER
Peter the Gnostic wrote at 2008-10-24 02:17:21
Dear Sir Spooney,
I have done further research and thinking. We are on more of the same page than I had thought. I convey that messeage without any words too big for you to understand. Well that some solice.
Peter the Gnostic
ute wrote at 2008-11-19 18:05:58
Quote of Spoony:
"I think it is a mistake to think the Lamb is "about" something, especially about one particular thing, and to think there is some correct answer to the question that starts "the Lamb is about ..." and goes on with a single "true" answer. (I would also advise you to be wary of people who claim to have a one true answer to the question, because they are probably missing a lot.) The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is something that every listener must decide a personal meaning that satisfies as an explanation."
This is quite true. In the end: everybody who tries to explain the content of "Carpet Crawlers" (or the whole "lamb"), does nothing but just to explain him-/herself. So in this case "Carpet Crawlers" becomes a mirror of your own mind. And maybe that´s the best sense, you can get out of it. For me, this is genius enough to be amazed of this story and I love to hear what other people make out of it.
For example: paulesq´s explanation (above) is interesting enough to give some thoughts to it. It touches my opinion (somewhat) about this song and the album too. It is nothing what´s mentioned by any word in that story. But it is expressed in the "center-position" of CC in the universe of the lamb-story. If there is another hint, it might be:
The lamb seems right out of place,
Yet the Broadway street scene finds a focus in its face.
Somehow it's lying there,
Brings a stillness to the air.
Though man-made light, at night is very bright,
There's no whitewash victim,
As the neons dim, to the coat of white.
The universe, as far as we know today, grown out of one SINGLE “root” (singularity), is expanding and evolving. And so do we. We are not "adressed" to run in endless circles, our world never stands still while our roots always remain.
And: As the only emphatic and understanding beings in this world (as far we know today too) we´re witnesses of the existence of this world and every mind is the center of his unique reality. Just alive everybody is a last pearl in the row of evolution but also we know this is not the end, many other pearls will follow and changes will go on. If we don´t want to accept this, one revolution (or mess, you can choose the good or bad term) will followed by the next one to give space for the inevitable changes.
So here you will see that CC is also “able” to convey you to the field of philosophy.
blkirish wrote at 2008-11-25 01:53:31
What a relief to find some thoughtful interpretation of this classic Genesis song. I find the entire "Lamb" album full of religious imagery. The "needle's eye is winking" line is but one example. Another line which no one has written about involves a reference to the "wise and foolish virgins" from Matthew 25. According to the parable, the wise and foolish virgins were waiting for the "bridegroom" to lead them to a a "wedding feast". When the foolish virgins returned, they find the door to the "feast" locked to them (redemption denied). "You've got to get in to get out" may in fact speak to an escape from the cycle of Karma (admittedly an Eastern concept). This point is reinforced at the end of the album where the character of Rael -while attempting to save his brother John in the tumult - redeems himself instead ("something's changed, that's not your face it's mine"). "Carpet Crawlers" references free will ("they are pulled up by the magnet, believing they're free"); "Upward to the ceiling" speaks to the purported location of Heaven "where the chamber's said to be"; and a detailed description of persons "netted by their strings, free to flutter in memories of their wasted wings" (from "the Cage") like the the frightened "porcelain mannequin", the "mild-mannered supermen" and even the "eager pack" who are led astray (away from salvation) by their evil "pitchers". This song is pure genius and an inspiration. It's also become a favorite of my four-year-old twin sons.
Hermotimus wrote at 2009-01-02 08:34:09
Okay, I think almost everything I have read so far regarding this question and the answers and comments miss several very important points both about the album and the song "The Carpet Crawlers."
The last line of the Intro gives you a key to the meaning of the song. "Imaginary creatures are trapped in birth on celluloid." Celluloid is the common reference to film, pictures, or in this case, specifically, movies. or it can also refer to the color lens used for the lighting for the stage of a live production of the theater. Lambswool is of course carpet (which all good quality carpet is made of lambswool) and so we have the carpet of a theater (on Broadway!) The salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed refers to the fact that the movie projector burns high grade carbon filament in order to provide the high intensity light needed to project the film onto the screen or it can also refer to the high intensity burning carbon lamps that make up the stage lights of a live Broadway show. There is no hiding in memory because the film or play can be watched as many times as needed.
The fleas clinging to the golden fleece is a metaphor for how people cling to their wealth and their display of that wealth, especially when attending the theater. The Golden Fleece of myth was a fleece used to filter golden through it to catch the heavier gold particles and allow the lighter non-gold soil and rocks to past through the fleece. Fleece was still used in places during the California Gold Rush and we have historical records showing that fleece was used to trap gold in sluice mining since the beginning of recorded history.
The second verse follows naturally from this image of the theater and the picture or play being shown on the screen. From the balcony of the theater all the people coming to be seated look like carpet crawlers. The red ochre corridor is a common color for the foyer and entrance to the older theaters that line Broadway. The heavy wooden door is the door from the foyer into the theater, and that door excludes the poor because poor people cannot afford to pay the price of admission to the theater. The needles eye is winking refers to the flashlights used by the ushers directing people to their seats for the performance. The "second sight of people, They've more lifeblood than before" is an indication that they are excited to be attending the performance, not only because it is a performance, but their attendance makes them special people.
The chorus, from this perspective is self-explanatory in that in order to get out and prove that you have the power and wealth to attend the theater, you must first be able to attend the theater, and after the performance you can tell others of the performance and give your opinion of the performance. Attending the performance is a right of privilege and wealth and power and so the Carpet Crawlers are all about their wealth and prestige and power that that can be Carpet Crawlers.
In the next verse. People when they are bored with a performance tend to look around and the ceilings of these old Broadway theaters have masterful decorations that are designed to draw and catch the eye and thus bored attendees of the theater will look up and study the ceiling. The reference to being pulled up by the magnet, believing they are free is, I think, a reference to the fact that even though they may not be watching the performance, they are hearing and remembering the words and music much as recorder used magnetic tape to record sounds to play them back later.
The last verse refers to the inanity of the whole process of attending the theater to see a performance in which one is not really interested, but they attend it because their position and wealth and power dictate that they must attend and give witness to the performance, regardless of how good or bad that performance may be. It describes the whole process of the theater as a surreal experience for the wealthy and powerful and you have this experience only because it is expected of them, not because they enjoy the experience or find the experience of importance to their lives other than to be able to tell others that they have attended the performance.
The whole song becomes a commentary on the whole syndrome of the Broadway mentally of the New York High Society and how they support the arts because it is the thing "to do" not something that they enjoy or take pleasure in doing it. High Society supports the arts, not because they "love" the arts, but because they are expected to love the arts as part of their position in High Society.
Uli wrote at 2009-01-21 19:18:36
I think this interpretation is absolutely right! So we see that 'people' were well educated in the 70 ies (the songwriters). Maybe more than today. What a song by genesis ...! We have to get in to get out. A lot of true pictures, signs,colors and symbols would fit this answer and point of view (excuse my Germanic English by the way).
The supermen are the sperms! Held by krypton
means those that 'cannot do their job' and die.
And both it is a link to the film superman, Broadway, America and so on... Now, I am more interested in the special sound, rhythm and composition of this very special song. What makes it so 'psychedelic', that you can hear it so many times again and again. There is another secret in the kind of melody, rhythm and music...
AFTERGLOW wrote at 2009-01-31 22:15:54
I think that pretty much all the answers given hold a lot of the truth,what you have to remember is that a lot of prog rock stars of the 70's were very middle class particularly Genesis who with the exception of Phil attended Charterhouse public school and would have been exposed to all sorts of religious iconography particularly when it came to sex and reproduction and the description given in Carpet crawlers is basically about life and birth but interpreted as they were told it. The best thing about prog rock is that it can and does tell a story in the most fantastic way and is probably the only music genre that does this so keep listening to it and whatever you think it means your probably right!
deathmetalhippy wrote at 2009-02-13 20:40:06
Its about drugs.
When you Carpet Crawl you are searching for dropped drugs. U crave more drugs like the trees crave sunlight. Rael is hospitalized and there are addicts and people walking around on trazadone and stuff. They get medicated at a time of day and otherwise pace around like zombies. You have to get in to get out. You have to be an addict to quit addiction. And it of course has sexual allegory as well.
george zeigler wrote at 2009-04-19 07:29:37
GZ Interpretation of symbols
innocence … just reincarnated … womb is soft and warm …
I googled this one … from my study of metaphysics I have learned that the salamander is highly symbolic … never quite knew the significance … here’s from the google results:
The salamander represents those who pass through the fires of passion and of this world without stain. Therefore, it stands for chastity, loyalty, impartiality, virginity, courage, Jesus, Mary, and the faithful.
The salamander is also used to symbolize the flames, which it passes through, and so is a symbol of fire, temptation, and burning desire.
Ego … limited identity we derive from the culture … and accept it as ‘who we really are.”
Instead of having identities that continously unfold in accordance with
our nature … we get trapped in celluloid
Humanoids as they function in their limited ego state … a puny vestige of who they really are in their true essence
Googled this one with interesting results … four different interpretations from four different writers
• Superhuman power
• Divine wisdom
PEOPLE, THEYVE MORE LIFEBLOOD THAN BEFORE.
Despite appearances … human race is evolving
the inevitable passage out of this world into the next.
NEEDLES EYE WINKING
Higher Power … “go through the eye of a needle” … who’s winking at us in a knowing sort of way.
WEVE GOT TO GET IN TO GET OUT.
Liberation is found deep within the Self
LIKE THE FOREST FIGHT FOR SUNLIGHT, THAT TAKES ROOT IN EVERY TREE.
The soul has to fight hard to achieve liberation … the Superconscious Self is built like a building … brick by brick … line upon line … precept upon precept … a long epic journey requiring great commitment … and then someday … boom … … the tree struggling for light … which brings life … just as we must reach out to the LIGHT … lots of glimmerings … then someday … boom !!! a flash of enlightenment.
A 55 Yard Line experience.
MILD MANNERED SUPERMEN
true infinite nature
ARE HELD IN KRYPTONITE,
disempowered through socialization
AND THE WISE AND FOOLISH VIRGINS GIGGLE WITH THEIR BODIES GLOWING BRIGHT.
Joy connected to inner child which is connected to our divine selves … which we can recapture through the an absolute purity of intent to strip away the conditioning and become all of who we can be.
BOTTOM OF A STAIRCASE THAT SPIRALS OUT OF SIGHT.
Bottom of the staircase
Earth and our current postion here.
Spirals out of sight
Infinity … spiritual growth can be likened unto an evolutionary spiral … where we revisit the same themes numerous times … each time more consciously and soulfully, until the lesson is fully learned.
PORECELAIN MANNIKIN WITH SHATTERED SKIN FEARS ATTACK.
Ego which will always be rooted in fear and pride.
EAGER PACK LIFT UP THEIR PITCHERS
Humanoids … the masses … continuously trying to satiate their desires.
Inquirer wrote at 2009-07-23 02:01:39
Hi, I've been a fan of Genesis for quite sometime but lately got fascinated by hearing and reading the lyrics of this song. I still have to hear the whole album but in the meantime I'll post an opinion. Well it is certain that Gabriel and the others should be able to recall what was the basis of the song but to me this is a crudely accurate portrayal of what goes around in the so called "heaven" where many believers want to go to be saved. It is VERY interesting the reference about jerusalem in the past comment since it seems to be the root source of this concept. Think about it, person do crawl over carpets made of lambs (i.e. Other people) to reach a door where the food, comfort a d riches awaits for their drunken behavior (...the monk reference). Back then many people were able to see the unseen (heaven) by the aid of drugs and related stuff.
Bill wrote at 2010-04-16 12:31:40
I would add to this interpretation with a more psychospiritual take on the line "gotta get in to get out". Although I clearly agree that a sperm cell must penetrate the egg in order to eventually become human, this line has always meant much more to me. "Gotta get in to get out" triggers thoughts of a spiritual journey. Many of us try to find help in our external lives. Money, lovers, work. These are all external sources of happiness that are not lasting or true. Our true happiness, chi, path, or corridor lies inside ouf our body and mind. This is where our true spirit is. So, when I hear "gotta get in to get out" there is a more metaphorical meaning about how to conduct one's spiritual life, from the inside. This is where we will find the staircase and, eventually, the harvest feast lit by candlelight!
barry scahill wrote at 2010-09-08 17:30:16
Hi, They were stoned rock stars. It is what they saw in their heads, the 70's! Get it? Analyze my butt! It was the 70's
joedosty wrote at 2010-10-07 06:52:12
This songs lyrics are haunting but I believe the true meaning of the lyrics is to take them as a parellel metaphor. Two meanings behind every word. Peter was a great poet and loved to put double meanings in everything he wrote back then. The first meaning is sexual copulation and birth. Second meaning is organized religion. The winking eye of the needle could be interpreted as the opening of the cervix into the womb or the rich man going through the eye of the needle. I think its meant as an indictment on organized religion telling people sex is wrong even though they need a continual supply of people to replenish members who die or go elsewhere. Like the line you have to get in to get out. It could also show that the unborn child itself has no belief system or structure and has potential for anything , a complete blank slate. Peter loved to really interweave his lyrics so they could stand alone as a genuine work of poetry and so people like us could try to decipher his coded meanings.
paysonkimmel wrote at 2011-09-16 20:02:37
I think there are parallels in the song which show different aspects of the same phenomenon, and how they are similar to the life cycle. The phenomenon has to do with the weird combination of conformity with competition for real or imagined benefits. A few parallels could be consumerism and/or corporate culture(conforming to strict norms with the belief that you'll become different from the herd), sex and religion.
slp wrote at 2011-09-26 14:21:57
I agree that the song is about intercourse and/or birth. I think the fact that the song comes after "Counting out time" says much.
Rael6 wrote at 2011-10-30 19:16:42
Been studying the lamb for years! The key line to this song is "Where the needles eye is winking, closing in on the poor." Meaning that "Rael" being poor never really had a chance to "Get In" because of who he was." Needles eye" is a imaginary reading of New york. The needles eye is set to red,which means that new York is a tough place to be at this point in time. so, to survive, Rael must make a name for himself and show his gangster side in public. Never had a chance to get in because he did not fit into society. We've got to get in to get out. The poor really never get a chance to get in! He self destructs because of his actions.Thus spoiling any chance to fit in or Get in.
"A salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed."
BTW, going to Musical Box perform The lamb Live in six days in Chicago....I will be watching it very closely to get some tips perhaps...Anyway,they say she comes on a pale horse..Jim
POMPITOUS of LOVE wrote at 2012-05-03 22:08:13
Carpet Crawlers...to be brief is the prettiest song ever written about sperm cells. The whole album is about the birth process but Carpet Crawlers is really focusing on the job of sperm..."you gotta get in to get out"...that is pretty much the job description.
gonzalok wrote at 2012-08-12 03:24:34
I just saw this article. Same opinion. Only thing to add, is at that time, P. Gabriel had some problems with his pregnant wife, to reinforce opinion. See Carpet Crawl Wikipedia... (do you think its possible?
Genesum wrote at 2013-09-04 16:57:08
All I can say is wow. This song is amazing, Gabriel and Genesis are amongst the best there ever were and I am happy to read so many different interpretations of a song that I cannot figure out.
I appreciate most those that wrote the biblical references because that is not easy for us to do if we are not familiar.
I heard that Peter Gabriel said that even Phil Collins does not know what the song means which I think is a mean of Gabriel but adds to the mystery. Can I call it a double allegory?
Christopher wrote at 2015-02-01 11:24:32
The Lamb who lies down is obviously a reference to Jesus Christ! After that it's joker's wild. Why on Broadway, who knows.
When considering lyrics like this it is worth considering the depth of collusion between God and his Divine inspiration and the Angels who wrote the words in the first place. These Angels (meaning messengers) viz.Archangels MICHAEL Rutherford and Peter GABRIEL et. al., are not sure themselves where the lyrics come from but hey! They should be asked in the first place. Even the master wordsmith Bob Dylan doesn't know where his lyrical gems have emanated from! He prefers to call them MAGIC. This was observed in one of his early interviews.
Anyway I digress but half baked answers about sperms and eggs can be commissioned to the ether from where they came!
I trust the foregoing has given you all something to think about, oh! and yes, the band isn't called GENESIS for no reason, think about it and listen to most of the lyrics which are immediately decipherable.
Larry Witherspoon wrote at 2015-12-28 04:56:17
Every song on The Lamb must be understood as part of the entire opera. The protagonist is Rael, and the whole story is about "Reality".
I also agree with some of the above, specifically that Pete was taking the God-acid and his revelations on this record were probably not totally comprehensible even to himself.
That said, the image I take from this song is about something called a 'life-monad', which is a concept from eastern tradition that has to do with the absolute center of consciousness, the smallest point of awareness. The notion that 'we've got to get in to get out' is about the reason why this life-monad enters the world to begin with.
A lot of the other lyrics, such as "There is lambswool under my naked feet" are about the bigger story going on in the opera. When the song begins, he's on the back of the lamb, hence "the wool is soft and warm, gives off some kind of heat."
But I always try to keep in mind this story is about Rael's own journey. The other critical thing is that Brother John is actually Rael himself, and we find that out when he pulls him from the rapids.
A masterful story without question, and probably without any parallel in the realm of rock and roll culture. Mind was blown when I started listening to this. I've been trying to get the entire picture for 13 years now. I am not religious, but I think people like Peter Gabriel are vehicles, like a prophet of sorts.
You have to listen to the album in it's entirety to even begin to understand it. 'Back in NYC' is another track that has been burned into my psyche. And the Enossification on 'Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging' is classic.
All I got.