The Birth of The Lamb by King Lerch
The Meaning Behind The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway finally revealed?
The following may not be for the easily offended. Or if you don’t want to spoil the lamb story for yourself, stop reading now. I promise you won’t listen to the lyrics the same way again.
I was thinking recently about the meaning of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway story, the story behind the 2-LP Genesis concept album from 1974. My interests were sparked in part by a great diatribe by Mel Huang. I haven’t discovered each and every reference on the LP by far, but that isn’t necessary to get the general idea. This is a brand new explanation, as far as I know.
At the heart of my explanation is that the lamb story is not as complex as it would seem at first. Many people point out that Rael travels to this place, then is caught here, then meets this guy, etc. Those details may be true, but misses the overall plot. The plot makes more sense due to the recent birth (at the time) of Peter’s first child, one of the reasons he decided to leave the band.
The following is a mixture of lyrics and the story on the LP cover and my explanations. Hopefully it is obvious which is which. I didn’t comment on every quote to avoid being too explicit or too gross, I think you can get the ideas from the quotes themselves.
Note also, I never thought that the concert slides provide any evidence. They are just literal song translations (lamb/broadway, heart/razor, fly/windshield, etc) probably made by someone with a set of lyrics but no real understanding of underlying meaning. Enjoy…
“I’m putting one (Rael) down to watch him break up, decompose and feed another sort of life” Rael will give (at least part of) his life to feed another life
“The one in question is all fully biodegradable material and categorised as 'Rael'” Rael is biodegradable (as we all are to some extent) but if I am right, Rael is more biodegradable than normal. “if his story doesn't stand, I might lend a hand” cuddling his prickly porcupine
“The Lamb…Lies Down on Broadway” repeating over and over
"The Lamb” (wool) is having sex with (lying down on) “broadway” one of the streets in Rael’s world. Of course he thinks “I’m Real!” but he is not
“and out of the subway” also called the tube or tubes
Lots of things are happening to Rael until “Cabman's velvet glove sounds the horn” let’s get going – it’s begun
“broadway” song by the drifters…well, drifts away as if he is leaving the “NYC” off to somewhere else
Sort of a dream sequence historical events while Rael transitions to what is coming next. The references to history may be taking us back in time, to the point of Rael’s conception.
We are also assuming that Rael is a person, that his NYC is ours. What if he was not (yet) a person. What if the “wall of death” is grabbing Rael and propeling him down “broadway” (the porcupine pathway) to…
Are you ready? Rael is a sperm, in some sort of cocoon, “some powdered (lambs) wool” remember this is the 70s
At this point he may not be fully arrived in her “cave” yet. He is still a “Jonah, shut up inside the whale” yet to be blown out the blow hole (in his world “broadway” – could also be read as “broad way” as in the slang term for a woman: “broad” due to the broad hips). He’s “come to, too soon” or awakened too early. This could also be read as “come too, too soon” as in Counting Out Time.
“He guesses he must be in some sort of cave…or eggshell waiting to drop from the bone of the womb”
In The Cage
“There’s sunshine in my stomach”
“White liquids turn sour within…white costume” – well, um. White liquid. Lots of references to the color white.
While in the “cage” he sees his brother, which would be obvious in this context. Millions of brothers and sisters, potentially anyway. His brother goes away, later to be found among…
The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
All the other life materials that didn’t or won’t make it to birth “We find here that everyone’s looks become them….each is provided with a guarantee for a successful birth…not too far from the mean differential” translation: each looks generally like their siblings.
“Lifeless (for now) packaging – all ready to use” the ingredients for life.
Back in NYC
This song is a flashback…This (in time) is before The Lamb, a prequel. He was a bad guy, a criminal, into gangs
“Let me out of Pontiac when I was just seventeen” Pontiac was his jail, before he lost his virginity “I had to get it out of me, if you know what I mean, what I mean.”
His allusions to his “porcupine” is his member, which becomes more obvious in Peter’s Counting Out Time story. Shaving his heart is his attempt to be more romantic. Less toughened. As he cuddles his porcupine (his member) he is alone and his porcupine says “I had none to blame but me”. So he buys a book on sex.
Counting Out Time
Here is an obvious sexual encounter with someone, the backstory of sex with the “lamb” from before. “Which brings him to the memory chambers of his first romantic adventures” “And one of the faces I see wandering down the streets is…the face of my first romantic adventure”
What is not clear at this point is who’s having sex with who. And how could Rael have sex and then become the sperm? Again, I think the answer is simple. Rael could be both, one is a human form that we rarely hear from, and the other is the one on the adventure. The voice from down below. The one with the libido. When it finally happens, one talks to the other: “This is it Rael!”
The Carpet Crawlers
With the help of Mel, the carpet crawlers are the…um, “result” of the previous song. Writhing around. Looking for the way.
“There is lambswool under my naked feet” the lamb again, “wool” again. This is the lamb from broadway. “He returns from his mixed-up memories to the passage he was previously stuck in”
“Red Ochre (a red/claylike color) corridor” another name for a (her) passage
“We’ve got to get in (the egg) to get out (birth)”
“The liquid has congealed, which has seeped out through the crack”
Chamber of 32 Doors
Everyone is trying to find the way to the egg, or at least “the way”. Where exactly they want to go or will go is just a guess. But there’s an obvious story of Rael trying to find the way through, listening to everyone’s advice.
She leads them through the passages to two golden globes, ovaries or maybe eggs. I’m not so sure of the anatomy of the whole journey, I’m an engineer.
The bright white light could be conception, a soul, or whatever Peter thinks is happening at that moment of meeting the egg.
“back to ash…how you’ve had your flash” Back to human form, now you’ve found the egg. “enrich the soil” feed the egg “not everybody’s goal” some here will not be able to do this
“It won’t be long…she’s very very late” pregnant
A veiled reference to sperm that consumes the egg as it grows. Even the live concert lamia (left) look like a cocoon.
“He enters the room” womb “as if it were his own”
Cells divide “a mixture of ugly lumps” and look surprisingly like…
“Leaving by the same door from which he had come in” he’s on his way out. “he had come in” is an interesting choice of words.
“The entire colony have one-by-one been through the same glorious romantic tragedy” All that have been conceived before have undergone the same transformations. “We like you, have tasted love.”
But so has his brother. “Rael recognizes what is left of his brother. They hug each other.” They are in the same space. The same egg. “your sentence has only just begun…join your brother john”
Visit to the Doktor / Raven
This appendage cutting doesn’t ring true for me. It’s part of the birthing process, but I’m not an expert (don’t even have kids) so I don’t get the reference. Maybe a characterization of the difference between male and female birth? Sometimes you get your tube back, other times not. The opposite of the stork. Maybe if Rael can't get his appendage back, he will be born a girl like Gabriel's first child.
“It’s enough to drive a poor boy raving mad” “erogenous zones…without you what would a poor boy do” Raving mad…raven…ravine…
The birth canal (see, I do know some things)
The Light Dies Down on Broadway
He is leaving the conception area, the place with all the light, away from the light he was approaching earlier in the story. Rael remembers NYC. Is birth “a way out from this endless scene? Or just an entrance to another dream?” John is also being born.
Rael seems to see a gate, a way back to his previous existence, but passes it by to follow his brother – on to this new journey. If you’re wondering why in this birth process would there be a gateway to another world, this is the only song that Peter didn’t write the lyrics to.
No turning back now
“that’s not your face, it’s mine!” translation: twins
Birth, finally. Puffs of smoke on stage.
“like a supper, it is cooking” one in the oven
“it is chicken, it is eggs, it is in between your legs”
It is life, everything
“it is walking on the moon” totally foreign “leaving your cocoon” womb
“inside spirit with enough grit to survive” Darwin, survival of the fittest, etc
Some may ask, how does Rael have sex and is then conceived? This is actually not that strange a concept, in the reference to the cycle of life, and how in The Grand Parade everyone is a derivative of everyone else. Somehow they are “free to flutter in memories of their wasted wings” and retain a residual memory, at least until birth. But more than that I don't think the Rael we are following has to be exactly the same Rael having sex in the first place. The Rael we are mostly following is the sexual part, the brain from down below if you will.
“Look across the mirror, before you choose decide” IT will look like you.
When trying to decipher Peter's lamb story, people often point to religious references, Rael walks here, he is transported there, etc. All of these can be true (the trees) but misses the story as a whole (the forest). Peter would have no interest to create a 2 hour biology lesson. There are characterizations, plays on words, and metaphors for a reason. If each song is taken individually, you can get something totally different out of Peter’s lyrics. There are references to anything and everything. But taken as a whole, the lamb has only one meaning to me now: Sex-Conception-Birth.
(c) 2008 King Lerch