Sunday, March 13, 2016

Foxtrot

Foxtrot was the first album I discovered on my own. I was after Leon Russell's Carny at Moby Disk, but they were out of it. Intrigued by the cover, I bought Foxtrot on a whim. I played it over and over. I couldn't wait to get home from school so that I could play it again. Granted it was 1972 and I could have closed my eyes and picked up a dozen AM10s (Transformer, Close to the Edge, Ziggy, Thick as a Brick), but it was Foxtrot that took me by the hand on a journey that's yet to end.



The inspiration for songs that made up the band's fourth release (and the second from the classic line-up) came from everywhere. The opening track, "Watcher Of The Skies," was written during the Nursery Cryme tour by Banks and Rutherford. According to Banks, the lyrics to the song were written "in Naples at the back of a hotel, staring out over this landscape. It was totally deserted. It was incredible. We had the idea of an alien coming down to the planet and seeing this world where obviously there once had been life yet there was not one human being to be seen." "Can-Utility And The Coastliners," written primarily by Hackett, is based on the legend of King Canute, who supposedly ordered the seas to retreat to mock the servile flattery of his followers. 

The album's signature track, the 23 minute "Supper's Ready," came from an experience that Gabriel had with his wife. "There was one particular incident that gave me the inspiration for 'Supper's Ready,'" Gabriel said. "There was this room at the top of Jill's parents' house. The room was the coldest part of the house. I always used to get the shivers when I went in there. It was covered in strong purple and turquoise wallpaper. Everything was bright purple and turquoise. Anyway, we had this strange evening up there which ended with Jill feeling like she'd been possessed. It was extremely frightening. I don't know how to explain it - it was as if she had a fit, or something. I experienced a sense of evil at that point - I saw another face in her face. I don't know how much of this was going on inside my head and how much was actually happening, but it was an experience I could not forget and was the starting point for a song about the struggle between good and evil." 

This is far from accessible and a hard fit, but once you get it, you've got it; it's yours now. It's like seeing both the candlestick and the faces, the old hag or the young girl: once you see both you cannot go back to just one again. Foxtrot is beautiful, intense and difficult.