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Music: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is a Concept Album released by Genesis in 1974. It is their last album with Peter Gabriel.

The story follows a young half-Puerto Rican street kid from New York City named Rael as he embarks on a fantastical journey to find his brother John. Or something like that.... Seriously, there's an entire book that contains various interpretations of the story.


Tropes:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The final line of "Counting Out Time":
    Without you, mankind handkinds thru' the blues.
  • Aerith and Bob: Rael and his brother John.
  • All There in the Manual: The story Gabriel wrote for the liner notes.
    • Rael's "guide to erogenous zones" in Counting Out Time, in-universe.
  • Artistic License - Geography: Rael comes "out of the subway" at Broadway which is evidently "just like Twenty-Second Street". The New York subway system does not work that way. Averted when performed live, as Phil Collins sometimes sings "just like Forty-Second Street" instead.
  • Beneath the Earth
  • Big Applesauce
  • Bitter Almonds: From "Broadway Melody of 1974":
    The cheerleader waves her cyanide wand
    There's a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the synopsis of the album included in the liner notes, Rael tells readers to "Keep your fingers out of my eye."
  • Breather Song: "Hairless Heart", "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats"
  • Body Horror: The Slippermen.
  • Concept Album
  • Darker and Edgier: The musical, lyrical and conceptual tone of the work was deliberately meant to be this trope, as compared to the very pastoral, English, whimsical (if often very ironic) sounds and styles they were known for prior to the work. They always had dabbled in dark (or dark-humored) themes and harder-rocking sounds, but The Lamb was a full change of pace from, say, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)".
  • Dark Reprise: "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" is sort of a twisted reprise of the theme from the first song, mixed with part of The Lamia's melody.
  • Fake American: A half-Puerto Rican street kid from New York City would be unlikely to refer to money as "notes and coins". But he does anyway in "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging". And in the next song ("Back in N.Y.C.") he says "progressive hypocrites" instead of "liberal hypocrites" — "progressive" wouldn't become a common term in America for another fifteen or twenty years.
    • At least he got trucks and gas stations right. Any reference to "lorries" or "filling stations" would have raised a red flag.
  • Gainax Ending: "It" doesn't seem to be about anything clearly related to the story, but the end of the story in the liner notes is pure crazy. Rael saves his brother John's life only to discover that he and John are actually the same person, they have an out-of-both-bodies experience, they are "outlined in yellow," and they and the scenery melt into purple haze. Figure that one out.
  • Intercourse with You: "Counting Out Time."
  • Meaningful Echo: Several musical cues reappear throughout the album. Most notably, the melody from the bridge of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" is reused as the intro of "The Carpet Crawlers".
    • Not to mention "The Light Dies Down on Broadway", which begins with motifs from "The Lamia" and turns into a full-blown Dark Reprise of the title track.
  • Mind Screw: The main character's emasculation is a major plot point. Also, pretty much everything else.
  • Mind Screwdriver: the story that Gabriel wrote for the liner notes. It still doesn't explain everything, though. For that, this site might help...probably.
  • No Ending: See Gainax Ending above.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I'M RAAAAAEL!!!!"
  • Rearrange the Song: "The Carpet Crawlers" was rerecorded for Turn It On Again: The Hits as "The Carpet Crawlers 1999" in... well... 1999. Notable for being the last time to date all five members who worked on this album — Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford, Banks, and Collins — have performed together. Due to Collins' retirement from music, it is likely to remain that way.
  • Rock Opera: One of the most famous.
  • Sequel First: Due to a late injury to Steve Hackett during rehearsals and the necessary switching of venue dates that followed, the American leg of the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour was scheduled to happen before the album itself had even been released in the US. The band ended up playing the entirety of the album to audiences who hadn't heard it yet and certainly weren't expecting anything like that.
  • Sex Changes Everything: The Slippermen are an extremely literal example of this trope.
  • Shirtless Scene: Peter Gabriel during the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty of the songs' lyrics shout out or paraphrase popular standards or rock oldies of the '50's and '60's ("On Broadway", "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", "Needles And Pins", etc.). "The Colony Of Slippermen" 's first line is also, "I wandered lonely as a cloud".
  • Snakes Are Sexy: The Lamia
  • Take That: Apparently, on various legs of the tour, Peter Gabriel (jokingly) compared the Slippermen to either guitarist Mike Rutherford or drummer Phil Collins.
  • The Ending Changes Everything
  • The Walrus Was Paul: Gabriel's liner notes do little to clear the Mind Screw.
  • Thieving Magpie: A raven plays a pivotal role in the story when it flies off with the yellow tube containing Rael's genitals.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: We discover at the very end that Rael and his brother John whom he's spent the entire album chasing are actually the same person.
    Hang on, John! We're out of this at last
    Something's changed, it's not your face
    It's mine! It's mine!
  • Troubled Production:
    • For starters, Peter Gabriel insisted on writing all of the lyrics himself, feeling that a consistent story would be necessary. At the time, his marriage was in trouble and his newborn daughter was in an incubator. This led to most of the music being written in his absence by the Banks/Rutherford/Collins trio.
    • The location of the recording, Mick Jagger's Stargroves mansion, which was often a favorite recording location for Led Zeppelin, turned out be be rundown, infested by rats and was believed by band members to be haunted. The group had very little sleep, and what was supposed to be a way of solidifying group unity actually led to stress and strain for the band.
    • Arguments over included songs and lyrics. The other members of the band would occasionally rewrite Gabriel's lyrics to better fit their music, and Gabriel wrote several songs on his own (to bridge already-written sections) without the rest of the band's input (one of them, "The Carpet Crawlers", would be a live staple for the post-Gabriel band). Gabriel also ran into writer's block with "The Light Lies Down On Broadway", leaving Banks and Rutherford to write both music and lyrics.
    • In the middle of the album sessions, Gabriel received an offer to work with William Friedkin on a movie screenplay, and couldn't see why the rest of the band thought leaving in the middle of an album session might be a bad thing. Genesis' manager Tony Smith had to call Friedkin and get him to back off, which led to discontent on Gabriel's part. Gabriel made it clear he was leaving the band, although he stayed to do the live tour.
    • Due to stress from being creatively sidelined on the album and his own failing marriage, Steve Hackett snapped a wineglass in his hand during rehearsals, injuring tendons in his thumb and delaying the start of the tour. After some juggling of venue dates, this meant the first wing performed was the American wing, where the album hadn't been released yet. Ticket sales went "meh." Hackett would record his first solo album shortly after the tour, and leave the band within two years.
    • The live show was troubled by faulty equipment (including the slides meant to visually display the story). The band performed the entire double album, and only performed older, more recognized material in encores. Gabriel eschewed his trademark costumes for most of the show, and when he donned them for the second half, the overly elaborate designs prevented him from getting a microphone near his mouth, rendering the lyrics incomprehensible.
    • In the end, the album tanked on the charts, was savaged by critics and fans alike, and the band lost their ass on the tour, nearly breaking up in the process. For obvious reasons, almost all the members of the band treated it as an Old Shame for many years, only beginning to warm up to it much later when they could put the stress of creating it behind them.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Or in this case, Rael and the three Lamia.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Rael is practically made of this trope.
  • Wham Line: "Something's changed, it's not your face! It's mine! It's mine!"
  • What Could Have Been: Mike Rutherford reportedly suggested the idea of writing a Concept Album based on Antoine De Saint-Expuery's novel The Little Prince, but Peter Gabriel wanted to use a grittier, less fantasy-tinged, more American concept.
    • The bookend song-cycles of Genesis' 1980 album Duke touch on some concepts similar to The Little Prince.
  • What Happened To The Lamb?: It's mentioned only once, and then...
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Rael is shown like this on the back cover.
  • "You Are Number Six": "Brother John is number nine", from "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging".

Juno And AvosRock OperasLost In The New Real
SoAlbums IndexAmerican Idiot
Ge.ne.sis.The SeventiesPeter Gabriel

alternative title(s): The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
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