Tuesday, October 2, 2012

No. 611 – Lilywhite Lilith

Performer: Genesis
Songwriters: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford
Original Release: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Year: 1974
Definitive Version: None

I saw Peter Gabriel last week. He’s doing So in its entirety, so I wasn’t going to miss that, but I’m generally not a fan of nostalgia acts. On Sunday, I saw Grizzly Bear, an up-and-coming band—and one you should check out if you aren’t familiar with them. I love Peter Gabriel, but I’d pay to see Grizzly Bear again. Peter Gabriel, probably not. Time marches forward.

One thing about the Peter Gabriel show interested me in retrospect: He played a bunch of old obscurities—The Family and the Fishing Net and Family Snapshot—and after I realized that I called them “oldies,” I wondered why he never plays any of his REAL oldies.

In other words, why has he never played old Genesis songs live? I mean, a lot of them are his songs. I can’t think of another solo artist who used to be part of a band—a fairly big band at that—who NEVER plays any songs of his from when he was in that band.

Think about it: Can you imagine seeing, for example, Sting and having him not do anything from The Police? Or Robert Plant not do any Zeppelin? I guess for Peter Gabriel, doing Solsbury Hill, which he ALWAYS plays and which, of course, is about him leaving Genesis, is good enough.

That’s enough of a digression. I always liked this song, with Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins dueting on vocals, but I suppose it’s fair to say I like it more now than I ever have. When I started to collect songs for this here list, this one kept moving higher.

Hearing it anew after not really listening to it for a long time brought out elements I hadn’t previously noticed, such as the golden-toned, 1970s acid-rock church organ that shimmers during the verses. I guess at the time I first was listening to this song a lot—the beginning of 1987—I had more on my mind than the subtleties of a particular song.

I had barely survived Intro, and I was moving into the regular curriculum, which I figured would be more difficult. I would be in Business reporting, which wasn’t a strength by any stretch of the imagination. And to top it off, I missed the first week of class due to illness.

There was no question about it: 1987—the year that Peter Gabriel first toured in support of So—was going to be a make-or-break year. It turns out, it was a bit of both.

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