In 1972, progressive rock trailblazers Genesis released their groundbreaking album Foxtrot, which showcased their musical prowess and storytelling abilities. Among the standout tracks on the album was the epic masterpiece ‘Supper’s Ready,’ a sprawling composition divided into seven distinct parts, with supernatural and biblical themes woven throughout. What many may not know is that the inspiration behind this ambitious piece stemmed from an intense personal experience involving Peter Gabriel’s wife. In this article, we delve into the intriguing story behind ‘Supper’s Ready’ and its lasting impact on the prog-rock genre.
The Making of ‘Supper’s Ready’
Genesis embarked on an adventurous journey with ‘Supper’s Ready,’ creating a musical odyssey that captivated listeners. According to Tony Banks, the band’s keyboard player, the writing process began with the creation of the fifth section, ‘Willow Farm,’ which he described as a “pretty-pretty song.” However, seeking to challenge expectations, they seamlessly transitioned into an “ugly, descending-chords sequence” to create a stark contrast. Banks remarked that the unexpected turn led them to explore newfound musical freedom, ultimately resulting in a composition that pleasantly surprised the band.
Peter Gabriel’s Personal Inspiration
While all members contributed to the lyrics on Foxtrot, Peter Gabriel insisted on penning the entirety of ‘Supper’s Ready’ himself. The inspiration for the song came from a harrowing experience Gabriel had with his wife, Jill Moore, during which they believed she was possessed. Reflecting on the events, Steve Hackett, the band’s guitarist, shared insights suggesting that drug use may have influenced Moore’s state rather than actual possession. Hackett suggested that Gabriel and a friend were able to help her through the ordeal, adding a redemptive undertone to the song’s themes.
The Legacy of ‘Supper’s Ready’
‘Supper’s Ready’ stands as a testament to Genesis’ collaborative songwriting and their willingness to venture into uncharted territory. Co-founder Mike Rutherford fondly recalled the track as a significant moment of collective creativity for the band. Tony Banks, acknowledging the song’s enduring appeal, admitted that it requires patience from listeners in today’s fast-paced musical landscape but remains immensely rewarding. Despite the cynicism surrounding modern audiences’ attention span, ‘Supper’s Ready’ is celebrated as a pioneering masterpiece within the prog-rock genre.
The genesis of ‘Supper’s Ready’ reveals a deeply personal experience that shaped one of Genesis’ most iconic compositions. Inspired by Peter Gabriel’s encounter with his wife’s perceived possession, the song took listeners on a transcendent journey through its intricate musical arrangements and profound lyrical themes. Decades later, ‘Supper’s Ready’ continues to be recognized as a testament to Genesis’ innovative spirit and their ability to push the boundaries of progressive rock. Its enduring legacy serves as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling through music.
In the words of Tony Banks, “If you’ve got the patience, it’s still rewarding now.” Indeed, ‘Supper’s Ready’ remains a timeless masterpiece that stands the test of time for those willing to embark on its musical voyage.