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My completed 'Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' essay

 
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PapaNez22



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 18


PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 2:22 am    Post subject: My completed 'Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' essay If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

This is something I had written and posted on The Shop a few years ago. I refined it and submitted it to be put up in the essays section, but seeing as how the updates were few and far inbetween, it never made it there. So I figured it was time to let it be seen, full completed and hopefully effective. I had been trying to figure this beast of an album out for years, then back in 2002 I found a few site that put some ideas into my head. I took those as a starting point and tried to find my own way through it. Seeing as how it's probably the most influential album to me in everyway from the moment I heard it back in 1999 as a senior in High School, it was something very important to me just to try and find out what Peter was on about. For those who went through these rambleings the first time around, there's a bit more to it now. Like I said, I went through and refined it a bit about a year ago. So here we go. Cinch it up, and hunker down...it's a long ride.


"The people in memory are pinned to events I can't recall too well, but I'm putting one down to watch him break up, decompose and feed another sort of life. The one in question is all fully biodegradable material and categorised as 'Rael'." -Peter Gabriel's 'story'

This opening paragraph to Peter Gabriel's story is the introduction of our favorite Puerto Rican chain-ganger, Rael. But who is it that is informing us of this? And why do they refer to Rael in such odd ways like 'fully biodegradable material?' Well that's simple...The narrator of the written story is not a living being of flesh. It is The Lamb. The Lamb of God, so to speak. Rael's relationship with God is basically non-exsistant, as described in the next few lines of the 'story:'

"Rael hates me, I like Rael, -- yes, even ostriches have feelings, but our relationship is something both of us are learning to live with. Rael likes a good time, I like a good rhyme, but you won't see me directly anymore -- he hates my being around. So if his story doesn't stand, I might lend a hand, you understand?" -Peter's 'Story'

The Lamb is there to see to it that...well, we'll get there.

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway: We are introduced to the early morning Manhattan surroundings. The usually intense New York daily experience taking place. Then out of the Subway sprints our 'hero' with his spraypaint gun hidden under his heavy jacket.

As we learn through the story, Rael didn't have what you would call a happy childhood. As he aged into his teens, he found himself obsessed with 'making a name for himself.' What better way to gain recognition than to join a gang and plunder? What about spray painting your name on a subway wall where thousands of people pass by a week?

A line in the title track that always seems to elude people is "There's something moving in the sidewalk steam." There's two important things about this line: 1) Steam being the line between reality and dreams. 2) The object moving within this steam is indeed The Lamb.

Lyrics from 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway:'
"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.
Rael Imperial Aerosol Kid, Wipes his gun -- he's forgotten what he did,
And the lamb lies down on Broadway."


Rael is strictly 'buisness as usual,' making his way thru the streets. Greeting the scornful looks of the public with contempt ("Wonder women draw your blind! Don't look at me! I'm not your kind. I'm Rael!"). He notices the object moving in the steam, but not being able to make out what it is, he just ignores it.

"With casual sideways glances along the wet street, he checks the motion in the steam to look for potential obstruction. Seeing none, he strides along the sidewalk, past the drugstore with iron guard being removed to reveal the smile of the toothpaste girl, past the nightladies and past Patrolman Frank Leonowich (48, married, two kids) who stands in the doorway of the wig-store. Patrolman Leonowich looks at Rael in much the same way that other Patrolmen look at him, and Rael only just hides that he is hiding something. Meanwhile from out of the steam a lamb lies down. This lamb has nothing whatsoever to do with Rael, or any other lamb -- it just lies down on Broadway." -Peter's 'story'

The reason the lamb 'has nothing whatsoever to do with Rael' is simply because Rael has nothing to do with The Lamb (faith). This kind of wordplay is why many people don't 'get' the concept of The Lamb. The story is full of contradictions because when there's an up, there must a down. With Heaven, there must be a hell. And what is Rael, has to be Real.

Fly On a Windshield: The lyics to this tune tell the tale pretty clearly:

"There's something solid forming in the air,
The wall of death is lowered in Times Square.
No-one seems to care, They carry on as if nothing was there.
The wind is blowing harder now, Blowing dust into my eyes.
The dust settles on my skin, Making a crust I cannot move in
And I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway."


This wall of death that surrounds only Rael (right after The Lamb fully comes into the picture nonetheless) brings to us the moment of Rael's physical death. The dust blowing into his eyes keeps him from noticing that he's about to be railed over by a moving automobile (which is indicated by the initial burst that starts Broadway Melody of 1974).

Broadway Melody of 1974 is a trip thru time, indicated in the lyrics and Pete's 'story.'

"The moment of impact bursts through the silence and in a roar of sound, the final second is prolonged in a world of echoes as if the concrete and clay of Broadway itself was reliving its memories. The last great march past. Newsman stands limp as a whimper as audience and event are locked as one. Bing Crosby coos "You don't have to feel pain to sing the blues, you don't have to holla -- you don't feel a thing in your dollar collar." Martin Luther King cries "Everybody Sing!" and rings the grand old liberty bell. Leary, weary of his prison cell, walks on heaven, talks on hell. J.F.K. gives the O.K. to shoot us, sipping Orange Julius and Lemon Brutus. Bare breasted cowboy double decks the triple champion. Who needs Medicare and the 35c flat rate fare, when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are dancing through the air? From Broadway Melody stereotypes the band returns to 'Stars and Stripes' bringing a tear to the moonshiner, who's been pouring out his spirit from the illegal still. The pawn broker clears the noisy till and clutches his lucky dollar bill." -Peter's 'story

Lyrics from Broadway Melody of 1974:
"Echoes of the Broadway Everglades,
With her mythical madonnas still walking in their shades;
Lenny Bruce, declares a truce and plays his other hand.
Marshall McLuhan, casual viewin', head buried in the sand.
Sirens on the rooftops wailing, but there's no ship sailing.
Groucho, with his movies trailing, stands alone with his punchline failing.
Ku Klux Klan serve hot soul food and the band plays "In the Mood"
The cheerleader waves her cyanide wand, there's a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond.
Caryl Chessman sniffs the air and leads the parade,
He knows in a scent, you can bottle all you made.
There's Howard Hughes in blue suede shoes, smiling at the majorettes smoking Winston cigarettes.
And as the song and dance begins, the children play at home with needles; needles and pins."


Life carries on as normal in the streets of Manhattan. Not a single person has noticed what just took place. Looks like Rael hadn't made a name for himself after all.

Cuckoo Cocoon is Rael waking to find himself in purgatory, but he refuses to believe it ("Don't tell me this is dying, 'cos I ain't changed that much."). This is where his journey begins that will present him with many trials to determine whether he will end up in Heaven or Hell.

In The Cage tells the tale of him struggling with the decisions he made in his former life and it's preventing him from moving forward. Seeing the face of his brother (who is also dead), Rael screams for John to help him. After saying nothing with just a blank lifeless look on his face, John disapears and the cage disolves while Rael is left spinning.

The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging: Where does Rael find himself? Hell, of course! He sees members of his old gang in this 'Parade' as well as his brother John. Two hints that Peter give that this is indeed Hell is the fact that everyone there is a lifeless doll-like shell as your soul can no longer exsist in Hell (I guess). The other clue is in the 'story,' Peter writes the line: "his mind moves into a reconstruction of his old life, above ground-" The more the story moves along, Rael seems to move 'higher.' Beginning with returning to his former life.

Back in NYC tells the 'reconstruction of his old life.' We are told of his parents (who were always on him about something), joining the gang, and ending up in the Pontiac reformatory (which was the only thing that earned him the respect of the gang). This goes back to the beginning of Peter's 'story' as well which goes into Rael 'wanting to make a name for himself.' Spraypainting his name on the wall of a subway station seemed to be the best way to go about this. We learn about his more destructive side and his 'hairy heart.'

Hairless Heart: "That night he pictured the removal of his hairy heart, and to the accompaniment of very romantic music, he watched it being shaved smooth by an anonymous stainless steel razor." - Peter Gabriel's 'story'

He has seen the errors of his ways and judgement, and thus is ready for his trials.

Counting Out Time is Rael recalling his first sexual encounter. He doesn't have much confidence in himself as a lover so he purchases a book to guide him through it. It's pretty obvious what is taking place throughout the song knowing that much. It's also now obvious that his lack of self confidence is what has led him down the paths that he chose.

The Carpet Crawlers is Rael returning from his 'mixed up memories' to find himself stuck in the passage he was prviously lost in. This time however, it's a long carpeted corridor with people crawling their way to a 'heavy wooded door.'

From Peter's story: "With broken sighs and murmurs they struggle, in their slow motion to move towards a wooden door at the end. Having seen only the inanimate bodies in the Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging, Rael rushes to talk to them.

'Each one if us is trying to reach the top of the stairs," says one of the crawlers, "a way out will await us there'"

The crawlers are the lost souls of those stuck in purgatory.

Rael rushes up the corridor past the crawlers and goes through the door to find a sprawling stiarcase that is The Chamber of 32 Doors. With his own confidence issues, he also has extreme distrust in everyone else. This is where his trust in others is tested. He meets 'Lillywhite Lilith,' who is blind and in need of a guide. "I've got some where to go," she says "if you take me through the noise, I'll show you. I'm a creature of the caves and I follow the way the breezes blow"

Without a clue of which door is the right path, he puts his trust in her and she leads him through the correct door.

Lyrics from 'Chamber:'
"Back inside
This chamber of so many doors;
I've nowhere, nowhere to hide
I'd give you all of my dreams, if you'd help me,
Find a door
That doesn't lead me back again
-take me away"


This is his first step towards Heaven, and thus ends the first half of the album.

Lilllywhite Lilith & The Waiting Room: Lillywhite Lilith leads Rael into 'what Rael judges to be a big round cave, and she speaks a second time asking him to sit down.' She tells Rael that "They will come for you soon. Don't be afraid." She walks off, not giving any sort of hint of what Rael is waiting for. After she exits, a light appears at the end of a tunnel. He let's his fear get the best of him, and as the light becomes blinding he feels the ground for a stone and chucks it at the light. As the sound of breaking glass echoes throughout cave 'two golden globes float into the room' and, as they disappear, the cave collapses all around him.

The track Anyway is him panicing and soon accepting the stone cold fact that 'it's over.' He screwed up and now doomed to be burried in this pile of rubble forever, having failed this second test of trust. The lyrics of the song consist of him talking to himself:

"All the pumping's nearly over for my sweet heart,
This is the one for me,
Time to meet the chef,
O boy! The running man is out of death.
Feel cold and old, it's getting hard to catch my breath.
It's back to ash, 'now, you've had your flash boy'
The rocks, in time, compress
your blood to oil,
your flesh to coal,
enrich the soil,
not everybody's goal.

Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse,
But I'm sure I hear a train.
O boy! I don't even feel no pain -
I guess I must be driving myself insane.
Damn it all! does earth plug a hole in heaven,
Or heaven plug a hole in earth - 'how wonderful to be so profound,
when everything you are is dying underground.'

I feel the pull on the rope, let me off at the rainbow.
I could have been exploding in space
Different orbits for my bones
Not me, just quietly buried in stones,
Keep the deadline open with my maker!
See me stretch; for God's elastic acre
The doorbell rings and its
'Good morning Rael
So sorry you had to wait.
It won't be long, yeh!
She's very rarely late.'"


A very powerful song and definately the turning point of the record, as Rael is given a second chance because of his newfound willingness to trust others. This part of the 'story' also contains my favorite little section of Rael dialogue from Peter's 'story': "Anyway, I'm out of the hands of any pervert embalmer doing his interpretation of what I should look like, stuffing his cotton wool in my cheeks."

Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist: "Exhausted by all this conjecture, our hero gets the chance in a lifetime to meet his hero: Death. Death is wearing a light disguise, he made the outfit himself. He calls it the "Supernatural Anaesthetist." Death approaches Rael with his special cannister, releases a puff, and appears to walk away content into the wall." - Peter Gabriel's 'story'

The Lamia: Rael manages his way through the rubble by following the scent of odd gas that was released from the cannister. The aroma becomes incredibly strong as he soon reaches a pool filled with pinkish colored water. Three Lamia reside in the water and, at first glimpse of the beautiful snake like creatures, Rael stands "astonished doubting his site, struck by beauty, gripped in fright."['i] His fear soon passes as they welcome him to drink from their water.

Lyrics from 'The Lamia:'
[i]"Putting fear beside him, he trusts in beauty blind,
He slips into the nectar, leaving his shredded clothes behind.
"With their tongues, they test, taste and judge all that is mine.
They move in a series of caresses
That glide up and down my spine.
As they nibble the fruit of my flesh, I feel no pain,
Only a magic that a name would stain.
With the first drop of my blood in their veins
Their faces are convulsed in mortal pains.
The fairest cries, 'We all have loved you Rael'."


Rael let's his newly found trust get the best of him and gives in to lust. As the Lamia 'knead his flesh' their bodies become lifeless and fall to the ground.

From Peter's 'story:' "Distraught with helpless passion he watches as his lovers die. In a desperate attempt to bring what is left of them into his being, he takes and eats their bodies, and struggles to leave his lovers' nest (Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats)."

The Colony of Slippermen: Rael exits from which he came and ends up in a 'freak ghetto.' He finds himself surrounded by people 'covered in slimy lumps & twisted limbs like rubber stumps.' It turns out that these people (the slippermen) also gave in to the temptation of the Lamia and Rael is doomed to the same fate.

Slipperman:
"We, like you, have tasted love
Don't be alarmed at what you see,
You yourself are just the same
as what you see in me."


He is directed toward his brother John, who was tricked by the Lamia as well, and he informs Rael that the only way out of this fate was to go see Doktor Dyper to be castrated. A test that will indeed be a difficult one to endure.

From Peter's 'story:' "They survive the ordeal and are presented with the offensive weapons in yellow plastic tubes, with gold chains."

As the two leave, a black raven swoops down and steals Rael's 'necklace.' Pleading for his brother's assistance John replies; "I will not chase a black raven. Down here you must read and obey the omens. There's disaster where the raven flies." John's purpose is to assist in Rael's trials, not to help him get through the trials themselves.

Rael gives chase and the raven leads him into a tunnel which then opens into an enormous subterranean ravine. The bird drops the item into the rushing waters and Rael stands in disbelief and pondering what to do. Then, all of a sudden...

The Light Dies Down On Broadway: A portal opens in the sky and through it lies Rael's home of New York City. The life he once knew is right there for him to return to and he calls out:"MY HOME!"

Lyrics from 'The Light Dies Down:'
"Is this the way out from the endless scene?
Or just an enterance to another dream?"


Just as the portal begins to close he hears a scream from down below. John has been swept up in the waters of the ravine and, though remembering how his brother abandoned him in his time of need, he now must choose to either return to his home or save his brother's life.

Lyrics from 'The Light Dies Down:'
"'The gate is fading now, but open wide.
But John is drowning, I must decide
Between the freedom I had in the rat-race,
Or to stay forever in this forsaken place;
HEY JOHN!'

He makes for the river and the gate is gone,
Back to the void where it came from.
And the light dies down on Broadway."


Riding the Scree: Rael puts all of his fear aside and dives into the raging waters of the ravine.

In The Rapids: The undertow sweeps Rael quickly downstream and past his brother. He grabs and holds tightly onto a rock for stability as he battles the raging waters. As John comes rushing by he grabs him by the arm and they make their way to land. As he looks down at John's face he sees his own face instead. Rael has saved himself. He has passed the final trial by finding trust and love within himself. By finding that family is more important than 'acceptance,' he no longer has to worry about 'making a name for himself' or living to impress anyone. By sacrificing his own saftey to rescue his brother, he has indeed saved himself. (It is of my belief that John was 'saved' as well since he was a key role in Rael's salvation).

From Peter's 'story:' "As he hauls his brother's limp body onto the bank he lies him out and looks hopefully into his eyes for a sign of life. He staggers back in recoil, for staring at him with eyes wide open is not John's face - but his own. Rael cannot look away from those eyes, mesmerized by his own image. In a quick movement, his consciousness darts from one face to the other, then back again, until his presence is no longer solidly contained in one or the other. In this fluid state he observes both bodies outlined in yellow and the surrounding scenery melting into a purple haze. With a sudden rush of energy up both spinal columns, their bodies, as well, finally dissolve into the haze."

it: 'It' is Heaven, pure and simple. Everything mentioned in the lyrics is exhilarating as well as the music that's set behind 'it.'

Lyrics from 'It:'
"If you think that 'its' pretentious, you've been taken for a ride.
Look across the mirror sonny, before you choose, decide
'it' is here. 'it' is now
'it' is Real. 'it' is Rael

'cos 'it's' only knock and knowall, but I like 'it'..."


The last line of Peter's 'story:' "All this takes place without a single sunset, without a single bell ringing and without a single blossom falling from the sky. Yet it fills everything with its mysterious intoxicating presence. It's over to you."


Last edited by PapaNez22 on Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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IanWagner



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 1736


PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 2:42 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

That is really, really beautiful and enlightening. You really brought out the spiritual elements there. That will be a permanent feature here soon, if you would be gracious enough to allow it. Thanks so much for posting it.
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PapaNez22



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 18


PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:13 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Ian, you do with this as you please. I appreciated your kind words upon it's original form and posting back in the day. Hell, your the one who pushed me to finish it when I had only written half of it. It was actually Jon who inspired me to do it as he wanted more knowledge of the story of this wonderful record. Again, it was you who inspired me to finish it in the end.

I'd be honored to have this a part of anything. It's one of the only two legnthy writings of a record I've done (the other being 'Be Here Now' which is sadly gone forever now with the demise of The Shop), and it definately brings a smile to my face that someone loves it. Moreso for the fact that this massive Genesis album is the record that opened my eyes to music that stretches beyond the realm of conventinal tuneage. Without 'The Lamb,' I never would've appreciated something like SMiLE. This record was my education in music. It means the world to me.
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IanWagner



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:15 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Quote:
Rael is given a second chance because of his newfound willingness to trust others.


That sentence says a lot about the record and spiritual thinking in general (I don't necessarily mean religion when I say that).

I would be honored to have your Be Here Now essay here as well. We need an Oasis thread anyway.
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PapaNez22



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 18


PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:12 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Sadly, I never saved the 'Be Here Now' essay for my own. I had just posted it as I had written it on the Shop. It is gone forever, and due to it's legnthy and instense 'of the moment' nature, it's not something I wish to attempt to recreate.
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IanWagner



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 1736


PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:16 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

BUMMER!
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Matinee Idyll (129)



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 239
Location: Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:36 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Holy shit! Can't wait to print and read tonight Papa, I've been meaning to kick back and enjoy the whole record, doing that with your writing would be simply awesome. You rule!
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MoogDroog



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 94


PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:34 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

This is what got me interested in the record in the first place and i've finally started to "quite like" it. That may be upgraded to a vague sense of pleasure after reading your words again tonight. Glad to see it again
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Matinee Idyll (129)



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 239
Location: Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:42 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Tehe, It's been 3 years since I first heard it and I'm still discovering mindblowing stuff on the album... no rush Moog. Smile

'Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats' is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard in my life. Coming home from University on the train last night, the Lamia started as I pulled into my station, Steve's solo had me in tears (puzzled looks from my fellow commuters), and walking home in the pouring rain to the strains of 'Silent Sorrow', bloody hell. I could've died happy at that moment.
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Giant Hogweed



Joined: 28 Jun 2007

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 2:17 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Silent Sorrow is amazong, and so is Hairless Heart when it explodes and that monolithic synth comes in. I've never really understood the story that well.I went to see 'The Musical Box' doing the LLDOB live in London and it was amazing, they had the original slides and everything!
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zelilgirlI1ncenu



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 265
Location: Dublin

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:29 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Great and enlightening review of a rather obscure tale. The innocence of the story itself stands in sharp contrast with the images conjured by the words and the pictures from the album and from the show (which I did see).

To me the attraction of this record comes precisely from its dream/nightmarelike quality. You could also say that the battle which rages within Rael is a fight to surmount the wildness of his "id". I think Gabriel purposely conjured up this strongly both slimy and sexual/sensual imagery, and in this way it also symbolises the fear and the attraction of growing up for a young man.
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