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Home By The Sea



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This is about some people moving into their new "Home by the Sea" where they encounter some ghosts. The ghosts start to tell their story and in doing so they condemn the new tenants to an existence as prisoners in their own home.
This song was particularly popular in Eastern Asia, because of its use of the pentatonic scale, which contains 5 notes per octave and is the basic scale of Chinese music.
Phil Collins in an 1986 interview: "What we did on a song like 'Home by the Sea' was to record with a programmed drum machine. Tony (Banks) would play a guide keyboard part, Mike (Rutherford) would play a guide guitar part, and I'd sing a guide vocal. These 'guide parts' enabled us to settle on the format for the songs. If we liked what we got, we would then go in and record. Tony would go in and record his keyboard parts, Mike would record his guitar and bass parts, I'd replace the Linn drums with my drums, and after all of that I'd go in and rerecord my vocal." (courtesy:
This was the first part of a 2 song suite. The second part, the nearly all instrumental "Second Home by the Sea," ends with the main theme of "Home By The Sea." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above)
Genesis Artistfacts
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Comments (14):

Two points. Firstly, all the comments here about Phil Collins are irrelevant - Tony Banks wrote this lyric. Secondly, Tony has explicitly stated that 'Home By The Sea' is about a thief breaking into a haunted house - it's no more complicated than that.
- Kyle, Sydney, Australia
So sorry, folks, but the answer is this - the song comes directly from Steven R. Donaldson's book, "The Wounded Land", printed in 1980, describing the curse of Lord Foul laid upon the Giants of Seareach. They were known as the Unhomed, and lived in the Coecri, or, Home by the Sea. Read it and you'll see it's an exact match.
- Jumper, Ottawa, ON
con't: sorting thru their memory, putting them away; something doesn't fit; my mother had alzheimer;s and that's a very apt way of describing the confusion and disorientation she experienced; there are all kinds of possibilities; a lot of different ways to interpret it, use your imagination; as a creative person, i don't feel i have to have a literal simplistic explanation to enjoy the song
- maggie, small town outside bobcaygeon, ON
the comments posted remind me of a conversation with a friend i once had; who took the lyrics of a song way too literally and i tried to explain, they're basically all metaphors; heaven's gate wont' open, prison gates won't open, four walls closing in; etc. and the singer is asking the one he loves to save him; but she just didn't get that; I am a writer and metaphor is a great method for describing how one feels, when your character is dealing with something very painful; yes, the first two verses creeping up the blind side and shinnying up the wall implies a thief or intrusion of some kind, but that can represent a lot of things; madness, as some have said, recollections of youth or a happier time, death, maybe; we portray death as an actual being: the grim reaper and most of us don't exactly welcome it with open arms...picking up the pieces...that could refer to someone sorting through their memory
- maggie, small town outside bobcaygeon, ON
Mark-you are right-Redstar-It is about something as stupid as robbers in a haunted house- how deep do you think Phil Collins is now? Great song, but check wikkipedia for the meaning.
- lisa, melrose, WI
I always associated this song with Alcatraz and it starts with the person breaking into someone's house through a window and checking to see if anyone is there. Soon it becomes a story about him in Alcatraz (the "Home by the Sea") and he is being told "Welcome to the Home by the Sea" especially when he says "No you won't get away. No with us you will stay for the rest of your days" and so on. It is in reference to how nobody could ever escape from Alcatraz.
- Melissa, Spokane, WA
I think it is a confused old person coming to realize he has been put in a retirement home and will never get out. "Welcome to the home by the Sea" is what they said to him when he checked in and he is marking his freedom to the time "before we first heard welcome to 'The Home By The Sea'" (It is capitalized like that in the lyric sheet, clearly showing it is a proper name.) I think the images of haunted people and shadowy figures is the elderly people inside wasting away to their deaths, mere shadow figures of their former self. The first two verses are indeed tough to reconcile, but may be really obtuse references to being secretly put in the home and the sort of dreamy confusion of senility. Collins is not the "deepest" of songwriters, but I can't imagine it is about something as stupid as robbers trapped in a haunted house.
- Redstar, Redding, CT
I thought it could be a rest home / retirement home. That would explain them hearing "welcome", the lack of freedom, and need to talk. But the first verse doesn't fit.
- John, Goleta, CA
Christian, I agree with you.....ever since hearing this song, I have always believed it to be about fits with the song perfectly
- Becky, Box Springs, GA
My partner at work REALLY digs this song...and his theory seems the best. It's a caught burglar doin time in Alcatraz... As rockman said: "Creeping up the blind side, shinning up the wall Stealing thru the dark of night Climbing thru a window, stepping to the floor Checking to the left and the right Picking up the pieces, putting them away..."

Get me outta here!
Welcome to the Home By The Sea...Alcatraz.
- Christian, Kansas City, MO
When I listen to this song, I don't imagine ghosts as much as I do a bunch of crazy people in an institution. "Adrift without direction, eyes that hold despair. Then as one they sigh and moan." Even the term 'home by the sea,' although ad-libbed during a jam sess, as Collins claims, sounds to me like a polite way of saying totally nuts. Far away from the rest of civilization. Someone let us out of here!
- Matt, New Castle, NH
When I was very miserable in grad school in 1985 and I felt trapped there by circumstances, I would listen to HOME BY THE SEA, and sing along with my stereo, especially the lyric SOMEONE LET ME OUT OF HERE!
- Tony, Toledo, OH
I think what I had heard was that it was a thief in a haunted house. He encounters the ghosts who then hold him prisoner there. Seems like I heard that in an interview with Phil at some point. Don't remember where or when.
- Mark, Austin, TX
your first fact is wrong the first lines of the song speak of "Creeping up the blind side, shinning up the wall
Stealing thru the dark of night
Climbing thru a window, stepping to the floor
Checking to the left and the right
Picking up the pieces, putting them away" this is a thief DUDE.
It is sugestive at least to me of someone flirting with addictive behavior and then becoming addicted.
- rockman, Atlanta, GA
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