Honestly, I’m stunned. I cannot believe Genesis will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That just blows my mind. Being a fan of the band since the early 80’s, and having seen how the press typically hates anything Phil Collins has ever touched in the last 30 years, I was shocked, surprised, but really freakin’ glad to hear that on September, 23 2009 Genesis was even nominated .
One of my best friends – (let’s call him “Chris” because that’s his real name) — was asking me – “The Dude” — why I liked them. Well, this thought runs through my head often. Why do I keep choosing to listen to Genesis when I have nearly 34,000 songs on my iTunes that could play for more than 108 days (That’s 15 weeks, non-stop, day & night!)
I think there are several factors. But first, I’m excited to report that YouTube is now allowing my Genesis video for the 1970 song “Stagnation”. Watch it here:
Here are some cool things about Genesis in no particular order:
1. Genesis functioned as a true democratic band. Most of the musical ideas and lyrics were fleshed out amongst the 3-to-5 musicians. The singer (be it Peter Gabriel: 1968-1975, Phil Collins: 1976-1992, Ray Wilson: 1997) didn’t always (or even typically) write the lyrics. This is pretty rare in rock ‘n’ roll.
2. Melody is king. Not just the vocal melody, but the piano/keyboard lines, the guitar “solos”, even the drum parts can be hummed.
3. It’s all about the Song. Each song is like a short story. Every instrument contributed to the telling of that story. Solos were not just to dazzle other musicians or make non-musicians worship the ground they played upon. When they used odd time signatures, it was also for the proper shaping of the song. Not just to show off that they could play in 7/8. (IMHO, of course).
4. Variety of lyrical concepts. Probably because each musician contributed whole or part of the lyrics, the topics are all over the place. “The Fountain of Salmacis” was a tale about the first hermophrodie, “Can-Utility and the Coastliners” is based on the legend of King Canute, who supposedly ordered the seas to retreat to mock the sycophancy of his followers. (I don’t even know what that means!) “Eleventh Earl of Mar” refers to the historical figure of John Erskine, 11th Earl of Mar. But Genesis could occasionally still romance the ladies in those early days. Peter Gabriel sings “Hello Babe with your guardian eyes so blue. Hey my baby, don’t you know our love is true. I’ve been so far from here, far from your warm arms. But now I’m back again. And, babe, it’s gonna work out fine. Can’t you feel our souls ignite?” Lyrical variety is even on their #1 pop/rock album “Invisible Touch” – Romantic lyrics (“Throwing It All Away”) next to an 11-minute epic with a nuclear war scenario (“Domino”).
5. Songs often developed through jamming. I love that many of their songs just came about while jamming for hours in the studio. The guys would then take the tapes home and return with the bits & pieces that they thought worked well. And the wide-range of musical moods within each song is so unlike what other bands do.
6. Underrated musicians. Founding member Tony Banks is one amazing keyboard/piano player. Pretty humble guy too, from what I can tell. Oh sure, he’s stubborn as a mule, but you’ll never see him showboating. Heck you’ll hardly ever see him move from his hunched-over stance. Founding member Mike Rutherford may not be the best guitar player out there, but his bass guitar work is up there with the “greats.” (Listen to “No Reply At All” for some excellent bass playing.) Phil Collins is probably more remembered for his use of drum machines in the 80’s than his stellar drumming in the 70’s.
7. Trench coats. So many videos of Phil, Mike & Tony in trench coats, walking the streets of London or sitting in an auditorium. Who doesn’t love grown men in trench coats, a little nervous that they may get flashed any moment?
8. Ok, strike #7.
9. Innovators. Genesis have always been on the leading edge of technology. Show lighting and instruments were always the latest. The Yamaha CP-70 electric piano is practically synonymous with Genesis circa 1979-1987. And who could possibly discount the incredible roll Peter Gabriel played in bringing 3rd-World music to the West?
10. The new remixed and remastered series. I hear something new and interesting every time I listen. Worth every penny.
Chris… I hope you enjoy your birthday present of a 4cd “mixtape” of Genesis. C’mon man, give ‘em a chance.
The Dude says…
Favorite Genesis studio albums
1. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
2. Duke (1980)
3. Abacab (1981)
Favorite live Genesis album: Seconds Out (1978)
Favorite Genesis songs:
1. Behind The Lines (Duke, 1980)
2. In The Cage, Live Medley (Three Sides Live, 1982)
3. Stagnation (Trespass, 1970) — watch TheDailyVinyl Video #23
4. Lilywhite Lillith (The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, 1974)
5. Evidence Of Autumn (Extra Trax 1976-1982)
So there you go.
And here’s an interview w/ Mike Rutherford & Tony Banks about the induction: www.rollingstone.com/artists/genesis