Album: Abacab (1981)
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  • The lyrics to "Lurker" are actually a riddle. The B-side continuation of "Dodo/Lurker" is a song called "Submarine," which is also the answer to the riddle in "Lurker."
  • Some lyric interpretation:

    "Clothes of Brass" - reference to the exterior of Submarines, Brass fittings used for its resistance to corrosion.

    "Hair of Brown" - the seaweed caught around the upper half of the submarine as it appears.

    "Seldom need to breathe" - subs supply their own air and very infrequently need to resurface.

    "Don't need no wings to fly" - wings not needed to fly through the ocean.

    "and a heart of stone" - Uranium, the stone that powers the nuclear reactor which powers the vessel.

    "and a fear of fire and water" - the 2 most deadliest things that can happen to a submarine, fire burns up the oxygen and everyone dies, water in reference to a hull breach, which leads to pressure loss, and everyone dies.

    "Who am I?" - a Submarine. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kevin - Tampa, FL, for above 2
  • More similar to the progressive rock sound of the Peter Gabriel era Genesis, this was the longest track on Abacab, running 7:30. The "Dodo" segment refers to the killing of animals for human aggrandizement and the inevitable extinction of species. A dodo is a species of flightless bird that has been extinct for hundreds of years. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    S.D. - Denver, CO

Comments: 12

  • John from CaI think in the Dodo segment there is an underlying theme of relationship issues and being "back in the sea." This would mirror Phil's martial problems at the time and possibly feeling like an animal that's been cast aside, despite it's worth. "Mink he pretty, so Mink he must die." Also the struggles of single life and other relationships. "Fish he got a hook in his throat, fish he got problems." I may be projecting...
  • Rich from CtI believe the answer to this riddle is wide open to individual interpretation. Not that I am on the mark, but I choose Admiral Hyman Rickover and his legacy. An Annapolis graduate (Class of '22), and the "Father of the Nuclear Navy," he is a match for the anthropormorhic part of this verse: Clothes of Brass, Hair of Brown...And a heart of stone...A fear of fire and water See and ...And his Nuclear Navy, specifically the submarine force, addresses the remaining lines: Seldom need to breathe...Don't need no wings to fly: Works for me, but please, someone argue my likely myopic assertion.
  • Jacques from UsaSorry, submarines and bullets miss the mark ;-)
    Who am I? The Lurker is a Man.
    Clothes of Brass - He's in old fashioned diving suit with a brass helmet.
    Hair of brown - Pretty straight forward!
    Seldom need to breath - He can stay under water for some time in the suit.
    Don't need no wings to fly - He can fly in machines.
    And a heart of stone - This metaphor fits with the theme of the song.
    A fear of fire and water - Both can be deadly to a man.
    Now, doesn't that seem a more likely answer!
  • Westal from Dallas, TxDeath is central point of song - especially man-made death

    I think Jim and Dale sum it up pretty well. It's a bullet, not a submarine. The heart of stone is gunpowder (flintstone scrapings). Man-made death.
    Seldom need to breathe - just needs that one initial breath of ignition
    It's also referenced in "big noise, black smoke" - "see the joke" (riddle).

    Reference to a fly on the wall - fly often used to gauge a humanitarian who wouldn't find humor in man-made death (wouldn't hurt a fly).
    Even the sun's life giving rays die - at the bottom of the sea. Even they bring death - to snowman.
    "Vacuum coming for the bright and the brute" - death will find beauty or beast, indiscriminately.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaI always thought this ENTIRE song was about anthropocentric arrogance toward non-human life.

    Most of the lyrics are about animals being cast aside or dying for human entertainment & profit. They keep coming back to the theme of "'s only living, it don't matter at all..."

    The section with "caretaker, horror movie" and "vacuum coming for the bright and the brute" seems to depart from the main theme, but it could be symbolic or an inside joke.

    The interpretation of a submarine in the final lyrics seems a bit contrived, but better than most other guesses. Whatever it means, it should be taken in context with all the preceding lyrics. It could represent Man's callous mechanization and mass killings vs. nature's former equilibrium.

    "Heart of stone" has always summed up this song for me. Think about what that term usually means. It's a stretch to see it as uranium powering a submarine reactor. Besides, uranium is a metal, not a stone.
  • Dale from Los Angeles, Ca"Lurker" is not about a submarine. It describes a bullet as the shell is the "clothes of brass" and the bullet is brown. Also, submarines are not made of brass and they don't fly, bullets do ("don't need no wings to fly"). A bullet would more likely have a "heart of stone" and would be used to kill a "Dodo" dodo.
  • Jim Ellis from Lemon Grove, Caa great example of how incredible this band's music can be. and how completely meaningless their lyrics. they lost so much of the lyrical majesty when Peter left. dodo!
  • Jude from Toronto, Qcthis song is one of the best i think
  • Sam from Lincoln, NeCompared to such crap as "Invisible Touch", "Paperlate", and "Misunderstanding" this isn't such a bad song. The live version of this song on "Three Sides Live" is one of the best Genesis tracks I've ever heard...and I've listened to all their stuff.
  • S.d. from Denver, CoApparently, the "Lurker" segment is about a submarine. Thanks, Kevin, for the exhaustive deconstruction of the lyrics.

    For anyone who may be interested, the "Dodo" segment is about killing animals for human aggrandizement and the resulting extinction of species.
  • Joshua from La Crosse, Wi"Submarine" appears on the Archive Vol. 2 boxed set. It is actually a slow and eerie instrumental piece.
  • Ian from Kansas City (british Ex-pat), MoSurely the most abbysmal rubbish ever recorded by this once great art-rock band.
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