December 24, 2017
Written by Tony Banks & Genesis
Produced by John Burns & Genesis
Recorded at Island Studios, London, August 1973
Released on the LP Selling England By the Pound in October 1973
“Firth of Fifth” derived its title from an estuary in Scotland, which turns out to be a totally inadequate title for its philosophical and sonic journey, While it length is over nine minutes in running time, there are only two verses sub-divided by vast expanses of instrumental sections.
While the title is odd and the lyrics are sparse, “Firth of Fifth” is a musical masterpiece. It moves from a classical-style piano intro by Tony Banks to a soaring pedal-mastered guitar lead by Steve Hackett with a flute section by Peter Gabriel and plenty of differing timed rhythmic rudiments by Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins in between.
Listen to “Firth of Fifth”:
The course laid down long before
And so with gods and men, the sheep remain inside their pen,
Though many times they’ve seen the way to leave
He rides majestic past homes of men
Who care not or gaze with joy
To see reflected there, the trees, the sky, the lily fair,
The scene of death is lying just below
The mountain cuts off the town from view
Like a cancer growth is removed by skill, let it be revealed.
A waterfall, his madrigal, an inland sea, his symphony
Undinal songs urge the sailors on
Till lured by sirens’ cry
Now as the river dissolves in sea,
So Neptune has claimed another soul.
And so with gods and men, the sheep remain inside their pen
Until the shepherd leads his flock away
The sands of time were eroded by
The river of constant change.