The sixth track on Genesis' Invisible Touch album, this song is divided into two parts, "In the Glow of the Night" and "The Last Domino." They pieced them together because they liked the contrast, as the soft fade of the "In the Glow of the Night" gave way to the relentless open in "The Last Domino."
Keyboardist Tony Banks wrote the lyrics. He set the song in a Beirut hotel room, minutes after bombs start to fall on the city during the 1982 Lebanon War.
Talking about the lyrics in the Way We Walk DVD, Tony Banks said: "The first part is very personal, coming from an individual's point of view of how he might be affected by what one person set in motion without realizing what he was doing. It's a war situation I was thinking of where a guy has lost his woman, and his attitude of "look what you've done" in speaking to the guy who pressed the button that made the whole thing happen.
The second half is a different approach. It's a more surreal approach to the idea with a nightmarish quality to it. The domino itself is the idea that there's nothing you can do if you're next in line. It sounds good when it's sung and it's also a good image."
Vocalist Phil Collins admitted to Prog magazine that he didn't quite understand some of Banks' lyrics such as this song's "sheets of double glazing help to keep outside the night." He said:
"I found it tricky. I used to think, 'How do I sing this thing about double glazing? How do I sing this and convince an audience?' I found it awkward, because I was getting more personal in my songwriting, and here I was singing things I didn't understand - just syllables."
Explaining the genesis of this song, Tony Banks said: "Mike (Rutherford) played a guitar riff, and if Mike's fairly static on a simple little riff, it gives me a chance to play any chord I like, and I just played every chord that would fit over that riff. Put them in a certain kind of order and you get a certain kind of result. The two halves were not the same song originally. The second half developed out of a jam that we called 'Hawkwind' because it reminded us of the English group who used to do a lot of psychedelic jams. It was just keeping a thing going in the bass and making funny noises on the top. It's an excuse to use those horror-film chord sequences that I always like. Not so much dramatic as melodramatic."
This was never released as a single and is far from hit material, but the song found a following among the Genesis faithful, who were rewarded when the band included it in their setlist for the 1992 We Can't Dance tour, one of the first to use enormous video screens that showed visual elements to accompany the song. Much of the visual to go with "Domino" was moving, computer-generated backgrounds, but near the end of the song the imagery shifted to animated dominoes set in scenes similar to those seen in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. According to Banks, he envisioned a forward churning look when he heard the song, which informed the video.
When we asked Tony Banks
in 2018 about some of the most prescient Genesis songs, he listed this one, along with another Invisible Touch
track, "Land of Confusion
." Regarding "Domino," he said it "explored a similar theme but in a slightly deeper manner. It was darker, and that's still valid."