My Body Is A Cage ~ Peter Gabriel

Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer, musician and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career. More recently he has focused on producing and promoting world music and pioneering digital distribution methods for music. He has also been involved in various humanitarian efforts.

Gabriel founded Genesis in 1967 with fellow Charterhouse School pupils Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart. The name of the band was suggested by fellow Charterhouse alumnus, the pop music impresario Jonathan King, who produced their first album, From Genesis to Revelation.

A lover of soul music, Gabriel was influenced by many different sources in his way of singing — mainly Otis Redding and other soul singers, as well as Family lead singer Roger Chapman. In 1970, he played the flute on Cat Stevens’ album, Mona Bone Jakon.

Genesis drew some attention in England and eventually also in Italy, Belgium, Germany and other European countries, largely due to Gabriel’s flamboyant stage presence, which involved numerous bizarre costume changes and comical, dreamlike stories told as the introduction to each song (originally Gabriel developed these stories solely to cover the time between songs that the rest of the band would take tuning their instruments and fixing technical glitches). The concerts made extensive use of black light with the normal stage lighting subdued or off. A backdrop of fluorescent white sheets and a comparatively sparse stage made the band into a set of silhouettes, with Gabriel’s fluorescent costume and make-up providing the only other sources of light.

Gabriel’s departure from Genesis-which stunned fans of the group and left many commentators wondering if the band could survive-was the result of a number of factors. His stature as the lead singer of the band, and the added attention garnered by his flamboyant stage persona, led to tensions within the band. Genesis had always operated more or less as a collective, and Gabriel’s burgeoning public profile led to fears within the group that he was being unfairly singled out as the creative hub; in addition, the band had begun to feel confined by the reputation (and fans’ expectations) attached to their famously elaborate theatrical performances.

Tensions were heightened by the ambitious album and tour of the concept work The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, a Gabriel-created concept piece which saw him taking on the lion’s share of the lyric writing. During the writing and recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Gabriel was approached by director William Friedkin, allegedly because Friedkin had found Gabriel’s short story in the liner notes to Genesis Live interesting. Gabriel’s interest in a film project with Friedkin was another contributing factor in his decision to leave Genesis. The decision to quit the band was made before the tour supporting The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but Gabriel stayed with the band until the conclusion of that tour. Although tensions were high, both Gabriel and the remaining members of Genesis have stated publicly that Gabriel left the band on good terms, supported by the fact that he officially left eight months after telling the band it was time for him to move on.

The breaking point came with the difficult pregnancy of Gabriel’s wife, Jill, and the subsequent birth of their first child, Anna. When he opted to stay with his sick daughter and wife, rather than record and tour, the resentment from the rest of the band led Gabriel to conclude that he had to leave the group. “Solsbury Hill”, Gabriel’s début single as a solo artist, was written specifically about his departure from Genesis. The song also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, reaching the Top 70, though it was recorded in 1976, and appeared on the ‘Car’ album in 1977. In 1982, Gabriel reunited with his former Genesis colleagues for the one-off concert, Six of the Best.

My Body Is A Cage

Originally written and performed by Angel Fire, Peter Gabriel records this song with the assistance of The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, in Oxford.

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My body is a cage
that keeps me from dancing
with the one I love
my mind holds the key

My body is a cage
that keeps me from dancing
with the one I love
but my mind holds the key

I’m standing on a stage
of fear and self-doubt
it’s a hollow play
but they’ll clap anyway

My body is a cage
that keeps me from dancing
with the one I love
but my mind holds the key
my mind holds the key

My mind holds the key
I’m living in an age
that calls darkness light
though my language is dead
still the shapes fill my head

I’m living in an age
whose name I don’t know
though the fear keeps me moving
still my heart beats so slow

My body is a
is a
is a
is a
is a
is a
is a
is a

My body is a cage

My mind holds the key

My body is a cage
we take what we are given
just because you’ve forgotten
doesn’t mean you’re forgiven

I’m living in an age
that screams my name at night
but when I get to the doorway
there’s no one in sight

I’m living in an age
realize I am dancing
with the one I love
but my mind holds the key
you’re standing next to me
my mind holds the key

Set my spirit free
set my spirit free
set my body free
set my body free
set my body free

  • Audio from the 2010 album, Scratch My Back:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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