The Knife

Songfacts®:

  • This track from Genesis' second album, Trespass, was unusually belligerent for the band's early work, which generally consisted of soft, pastoral acoustic textures and poetic lyrics. Tony Banks recalled to Uncut magazine October 2008: "'The Knife' was an important song for us to write, because quite a lot of what wed done up to the point was quite soft and acoustic. Peter (Gabriel) wrote what you might call the best bit. We started trying all this extra stuff not just guitar solos, but really structured instrumentals. A lot of the songs had quite simple starting points we allowed ourselves to stretch."

    Mike Rutherford added: "Rock theatre was a tag we ended up with. Lyrically, the things that Peter was trying to say in those days, no-one could hear what he was saying because the PA was so bad. So he was trying to act out the songs, so people would know what they were about and that was where the whole thing sort of started. We were painting images, moods, atmospheres so giving it a setting seemed to work well for us." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
  • Peter Gabriel: "The lyrics for 'The Knife' were partly me being a public schoolboy rebelling against my background. I'd been heavily influenced by a book on Gandhi at school, and I think that was a part of the reason I became a vegetarian as well as coming to believe in non-violence, as a form of protest. And I wanted to try and show how all violent revolutions inevitably end up with a dictator in power."
  • In the middle of this song, the band dramatize the 1970 shootings at Kent State University in Ohio, where four students were killed by members of the United States National Guard. In the song, a voice says, "Okay men, fire over their heads," a reference to an order supposedly given to the National Guard troops with disastrous consequences, as the bullets kept going and hit students yards away. Neil Young wrote the song "Ohio" about the shootings.

Comments: 1

  • David Patch from Toledo, OhioPhil Collins was not a writer of this song. He did not join the band until after Trespass was released.
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