Song of the Day #4,120: ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’ – Genesis

My familiarity with Genesis is based almost entirely on the band’s output in the 80s, when drummer Phil Collins took over the reins from the departed Peter Gabriel and steered the band away from prog rock and into pop and soft rock.

Selling England by the Pound (1973) is a great example of what Genesis was before that happened, when Gabriel blended folk and prog elements into an ambitious, if slightly goofy, mix.

In the early 70s, the band had been criticized for trying to appeal too much to an American audience, so they responded with this thoroughly British record. The music contains elements of old English folk tunes while the lyrics are packed with references to the Merry Old Isle.

I have little patience for prog rock, so I didn’t find a whole lot to like here. I prefer the poppier version of Genesis, as well as Peter Gabriel’s solo work. A case where the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

“Can you tell me where my country lies?”
Said the unifaun to his true love’s eyes
“It lies with me!” cried the Queen of Maybe
For her merchandise, he traded in his prize

“Paper late!” cried a voice in the crowd
“Old man dies!” The note he left was signed ‘Old Father Thames’
It seems he’s drowned
Selling England by the pound

Citizens of Hope & Glory
Time goes by, it’s the time of your life
Easy now, sit you down
Chewing through your Wimpey dreams
They eat without a sound
Digesting England by the pound

Young man says “you are what you eat,” eat well
Old man says “you are what you wear,” wear well
You know what you are, you don’t give a damn
Bursting your belt that is your homemade sham

The Captain leads his dance right on through the night
Join the dance
Follow on ’til the Grail sun sets in the mould
Follow on ’til the gold is cold
Dancing out with the moonlit knight
Knights of the Green Shield stamp and shout

There’s a fat old lady outside the saloon
Laying out the credit cards she plays Fortune
The deck is uneven right from the start
And all of their hands are playing apart

The Captain leads his dance right on through the night
Join the dance
Follow on, a Round Table-talking down we go
You’re the show, off we go with
You play the hobbyhorse
I’ll play the fool
We’ll tease the bull
Ringing round diddle loud, loud diddle round
Follow on with a twist of the world we go
Follow on ’til the gold is cold
Dancing out with the moonlit knight
Knights of the Green Shield stamp and shout

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,120: ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’ – Genesis

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I didn’t realize Genesis was making albums quite this early, let alone that they had already been previously criticized for catering to an American audience.

    There are parts of this song I kinda like, and I always enjoy hearing Gabriel’s unique vocals, but I generally agree with you that I prefer the output of Genesis and Gabriel in the 80’s.

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