Harold the Barrel - Genesis really impacted me the first time I heard it...
Mmm. With Peter Gabriel, Genesis did many
songs that tell strange or creepy stories - strange tales about madness, weird accidents and stuff, and Peter indulged in some of those outside of the actual songs too (the story of a woman in the subway on the rear cover of Genesis Live
). On the same album as "Harold, the Barrel", The Musical Box
is a riveting song, but the story half-buried underneath it is a dark tale of deceit, premature aging and rabid desire between two siblings. The dramatic impact of the music and Gabriel's vocal just pulls you in as a listener though, even before you'd realize what the guy in the lyrics has actually been through (though the story was "spoilered" in a note above the lyrics on the original album).
There are so many details I cherish about the song - the violent, crunching guitar solo (proto-speed metal?), the gentle trio of drums, twelve-string guitar and flute where Collins is playing with mallets and brushes instead of sticks and avoids striking at the points where most drummers would
hit the beat, instead creating a dreamlike, flowing spell in the music...the nuances of Peter Gabriel's voice, from wistful pleading to an angry roar...