Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Lamia / the Slippermen (More Earth than Sea)

OK. You may or may not agree with this. But I'm going with it because I believe it is true. And if we don't identify what is true, what can we betray later?

Here it is.

"The Lamia" may be the most beautiful song ever made, and certainly more beautiful than anything else Genesis ever made. The flexuousness of Peter Gabriel's incredible voice, the odd yet sexy subject material - it's a piece of absolute, exquisite, scary, beauty.

Rael stands astonished doubting his sight,
Struck by beauty, gripped in fright;
Three vermillion snakes of female face
The smallest motion, filled with grace.
Muted melodies fill the echoing hall,
But there is no sign of warning in the siren's call:
"Rael welcome, we are the Lamia of the pool.
We have been waiting for our waters to bring you cool."
I guess like Lamia herself, it's a symbol of male insecurity. The Lamia bring sexual ecstasy to the
tired, disorientated Rael. But as soon as they taste his blood - which, apparently, is what sexually-confident women do - they die. Rael steps from the room - his lovers are dead from their brief encounter. And yet. And yet.

When he gets to the Colony of the Slippermen, he discovers that it's he who has lost a lot (and has a few inches more to lose - and let's face it, insecure males worry about such things). The Lamia, he discovers, are capable of regeneration. Every one of the Slippermen has known that same short-lived ecstasy as Rael and - when he thought the Lamia were dead - has crawled off, wart-covered and loathsome. The Lamia have suffered merely a petit mort-  although it seemed much more. It is Rael, his brother John and the Slippermen who are afflicted on an ongoing basis. Rael realises he has to lose his virility to survive - the Slippermen are stuck in their self-inflicted goo.

The moral of this story appears to be that young men shouldn't mess around with snakes. I will point out that Gabriel describes the colour of the Lamia as "vermillion". Quite appropriate, as that's the colour of wyrms. Isnt't that neat?

I will also suggest that the "violining" that Hackett uses in this piece is possibly the best, most snaky, bit of violining ever achieved by any lead guitarist with an effects pedal. Ever.

1 comment :

  1. I love the version of "The Lamia" on Steve Hackett's "Genesis Revisited II", worth a listen if you haven't already IMO (the whole album is good, particularly his "Afterglow")


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