Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Peter Gabriel: "the Cross worked!"...and Supper's Ready

This song, "Supper's Ready," the 24 minute opus/midrash on Revelation by the group Genesis (full of biblical imagery) was part of the early process of my conversion.  Prevenient (and convenient) grace, indeed.

A few years before said conversion was made official, I would worship (the best I knew) to the lyrics "Lord of Lords, King of Kings...has returned to take His children home/To take them to the New Jerusaleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem!"

Phil Collins was singing his heart out...and as if for his life...  in the last few minutes:

Little did I know then  that  there was an original version , with Peter Gabriel as lead singer,  and he was singing for his life:

Biblically, the New Jerusalem is mentioned in Revelation 21, where it describes Mankind reuniting with God. After completing the lyrics in this section, Gabriel would then pick up and raise an active blacklight tube, holding it near himself, upraised with both hands, as though it were a sword. Gabriel would be the only one lit onstage at this point and would actually appear to be glowing from the combination of blacklight, his reflective white costume and fluorescent makeup. Gabriel considered this effect to be a theatrical way of symbolizing the victory of good/light over evil/darkness. Some believe this "glowing" also reflects a spiritual transformation, changing from a fleshly body to a spiritual one as is depicted in the Biblical Rapture, also referenced in the preceding lyrics, "Can't you feel our souls ignite..". A last word:
PG: :Often I felt that I could talk to the audience through the band's material, and the audience would understand what I was trying to say, and I would have a release, and a conversation with the audience through that. I was singing my heart out there when I used to sing the 'New Jerusalem'… I was singing for my life. I was saying this is good over evil, and… you know, it was an old fashioned gesture, but I meant it and I was fighting."link
Ending section with Gabriel:

Peter Gabriel: "The first sequence was about a scene that happened with me and Jill [Gabriel's then wife]… "

John Anthony, the Charisma records house producer, befriended Peter and Jill more than the rest of the band. One night, Anthony went with Jill and Peter to her parent's flat at the Old Barracks in Kensington Palace.

PG: "It was one night at Jill's parents' house in Kensington, when everyone had gone to bed… we'd just been talking to John… there's this strange room in the house in Kensington… I can never sleep there. It was decorated in turquoise and purple which are colours that are both quite high in the frequency range, and I think it was like an echo chamber for what was going on. It was late at night, and we were tired and all the rest, so it was quite easy for us to hallucinate or whatever… we hadn't been drinking or drugging, but… there was this girl who was an old girlfriend of John's and was trying to get back at him or something, and she was into magic and that sort of thing… "

Anthony: "Jill and I were having a conversation about power and strength and will. Suddenly I was aware that the whole room's atmosphere had changed, Jill had gone into some sort of trance. Suddenly the windows blew in, followed by extreme cold, followed by this psychic phenomenon."

PG: "… [Jill and I] saw other faces in each other, and I was very frightened, in fact. It was almost as if something else had come into us, and was using us as a meeting point. The curtain flew wide open, though there was no wind, and the room became ice cold… "

JA: "Neither Peter, Jill, or I were doing drugs or drinking. I realized it was a basic manifestation. I have seen it before, the room was full of cold astral smoke, psychic ether. The thing that scared me was that it started moving in the form of a tourbillion – the great wheel that projects spirits into the astrosphere. It is nothing to do with death. It is a phenomenon that can occur with people with strong psyches. If you go through one there is a good chance that if you come back you will never be the same."

(5) PG: "And I did feel that I saw figures outside, figures in white cloaks, and the lawn I saw them on wasn't the lawn that was outside. It was just like a Hammer horror film, except it was for real… I was shaking like a leaf, and in a cold sweat. ..Jill suddenly became a medium, and started spouting in a different voice… and it is very strange when someone you live with suddenly starts talking with another voice, and eventually I made a cross with a candlestick and something and held it up to Jill when she was talking in this voice… she sort of reacted like a wild animal. John and I had to hold her down. And the rest of the night we eventually quietened her down, and made her a cup of tea, and tried to talk her through. Then she slept downstairs in the sitting room, but neither I nor John slept a wink that night. Fortunately it hasn't happened since because it terrified her. At the same time, some weird things happened at the place where she worked, and at her house. These notes arrived with dates on them… her birth-date, and another date that was coming up in a month's time. We could only assume it was this girl who was trying to get back at her. We were very frightened when the date came up, and I stayed with Jill all day, checking that she wouldn't be… nothing could happen to her… no one could come and kill her, or something like this. Fortunately, we went past that date, and when twelve'o'clock came, and the day was over, I was very happy. Anyway, that's how I got into thinking about good and evil, and forces working against each other. That's the sort of thing that Supper's Ready was… fed on. This was the thing, you see. This is why I was put into this sate of mind really, only because the cross had worked. The cross, as a thing, meant nothing to me. I did it because I had seen horror films, and… just anything really that might have worked. I had experienced a sense of evil at that point – I don't know how much of this was going on inside my head and how much was actually happening, but it was an experience I could not forget and was the starting point for a song about the struggle between good and evil."

Gabriel has also been quoted by some as saying he felt he was "led" to the various sources he used in putting together the lyrics for the song.

Lyrically it mingles imagery of a man returning home after a long time to be greeted by his lover, and mention of supernatural imagery ("six saintly shrouded men"), which Gabriel claims relate to a genuine supernatural experience which occurred with himself, his wife Jill and producer John Anthony. According to Gabriel, during a late-night conversation, his wife began speaking with a completely different voice. Gabriel held up a makeshift cross out of a candlestick and another household item, and Jill reacted violently. Jill was eventually calmed down and taken to bed, but neither Peter nor John Anthony slept that night. On another occasion, also late at night, Gabriel looked out of the window of his wife's parents' house to see what he perceived to be an entirely different lawn, across which seven shrouded men were walking. Gabriel recounted that these experiences led him to contemplate notions of good, evil, and the supernatural, and eventually inspired the lyrics to "Supper's Ready."..

The song has been highly regarded by fans for its epic nature and cathartic climax, with Gabriel in particular delivering an emotionally charged vocal performance at the close of the song. Referring in part to the song's lyrical depiction of a struggle between good and evil, Gabriel has been quoted as saying he felt he was "literally singing for his life" in the recording studio. In contrast, Hackett is said to have responded to a fan who enthused "Steve, I actually saw God at the end!" with the rather more down-to-earth "Well, I was just trying to get the notes right"- link

Live footage of complete soing from Gabriel era:

One more:

Original studio version (the guys were still poor, and this was poorly produced, but still classic):

Purist fans won't even admit the much later Ray Wilson-fronted era of Genesis even existed..
and many literally don't know that it ever did. But Ray did alright on his Gabrielesque vocals.
He may not have been singing for his life and salvation...maybe to keep his job.
He didn't:


 Full circle..I see  that the full Collins version (on "Supper's Ready" ..with St. Chester Thompson on drums, see  "Church with Sts. Andy Rogers and Chester Thompson" video) that called me into the Kingdom (and the Supper)..is not online..though several other versions are (here). I guess that's good, I'd probably combust/rapture....or at least sing for my life.


See also:


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