"Signal To Noise" as written by and Peter Gabriel....
You know the way that things go
When what you fight for starts to fall
And in that fuzzy picture
The writing stands out on the wall
So clearly on the wall

Send out the signals deep and loud

And in this place, can you reassure me
With a touch, a smile - while the cradle's burning
All the while the world is turning to noise
Oh the more that it's surrounding us
The more that it destroys
Turn up the signal
Wipe out the noise

Send out the signal deep and loud

Man I'm losing sound and sight
Of all those who can tell me wrong from right
When all things beautiful and bright
Sink in the night
Yet there's still something in my heart
That can find a way
To make a start
To turn up the signal
Wipe out the noise

Wipe out the noise
Wipe out the noise
You know that's it
You know that's it
You know that's it
Receive and transmit
Receive and transmit
Receive and transmit
You know that's it
You know that's it
Receive and transmit
You know that's it
You know that's it
Receive and transmit

Lyrics submitted by Golgotha

"Signal to Noise" as written by Mark Myrie Donovan Germain

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Signal To Noise song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe song is titled Signal to Noise!

    "Send out the signals deep and loud"

    "Turn up the signal
    Wipe out the noise"

    SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO is a measure used in science and engineering to quantify how much a signal has been corrupted by noise. It compares the level of a desired signal (such as music) to the level of background noise. The higher the ratio, the less obtrusive the background noise is.

    "Signal-to-noise ratio" is sometimes used informally to refer to the ratio of useful information to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or exchange. For example, in online discussion forums and other online communities, off-topic posts and spam are regarded as "noise" that interferes with the "signal" of appropriate discussion.

    Wouldn't you say this has a lot to do with the song?

    I LOVE this song.

    What do you think?
    BigMamaon October 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song was amazing live.........
    RedRavenon October 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell...First things first when I first heard about this song I came under the misperception that this was called 'signal to THE noise', which as I understand it means the great new sound, the first track of an artist who is going to make notes that will change things. There might be a more coherent meaning to the phrase, if so feel free to leave a comment after this :-)

    A lot of this song's lyrics are self-evident but as no one else has got their finger out, I will explain the obvious structures.

    In the first verse lyrically we hear a sense of despair, barely holding on to hope; the possibility that the things that we hold dear - have been a waste of our time and that as result of this, we - I: might be wrong. Some might also enjoy the imagery of Pink Floyds 'The Wall' (not a necessity but good for the more smug among us (of which I must admit to)).
    Musically this is complemented with a sparse soundscape, apart from the lush violins there is very little going on, a contrast for most of the album.

    Then after Nusrat (more on which later) the second verse (a personnel favourite) pleads the listener/audience if they/we can offer the words that can soothe against this world that we all share. This world that we made.

    'And all the while the world is turning to noise'

    This line has been running around my head for the past five years, since I downloaded the VH-1 mp3. Its tempting to look at the lyric literally, though somewhat jarring compared to Peter's recent output. I do enjoy the notion that this line could mean that t(his) ‘noise’ is turning into music. That all the things that he sees on the telly or in his backyard that horrify him seem to be becoming fodder for his next torch song.
    However my more serious perception of the line is sadly more fiddly and more about me than anything else. That sooner or later you become desensitised to these things, that it becomes too overwhelming and that we become jaded and bitter.

    (NB I also have a wanky Kant heavy interpretation of this line but I will never speak it in public lest I learn to completely loathe my psyche)

    This noise takes over everything in the narrator's perception except for the little mantra that we have already heard (again more on this later).

    Sonically this contains what I think is the most dynamic moment of the record, the moment when the drum machine cuts back to allow the loop of the ticking tape crackle for a few seconds; perhaps something stripped away, perhaps a purity; I guess it depends if the glass is half full or half empty. And then it gets personnel...

    The narrator strips away everyone, he takes you and me and everything away that has contributed to forcing his perception along a certain line.

    (On a strictly personnel level 'when all things beautiful and bright’ has a distinct resonance. As a chubby chaser and to hear the words in that context, causes me a smile. I am SICK AND FUCKING TIRED of being told what I should think of as beautiful but this is seriously off the beaten track).

    That one thing in his heart? Send out the signals deep and loud. To communicate, a theme explored in Mr Gabriel's previous work most notably in come talk to me when blocked communication channels causes unprortinate problems. When Nusfrat sings, apart from acting as appropriate noise (to the uninformed (i.e. me))) he is communicating, something. So if my uninformed perception takes in Nusfrat’s sounds as being noise - could it not be argued that if I understood what he was saying (in a strictly linguistic sense) then instead the sound would no longer be noise and rather a signal? To explain: if noise, the stupid random acts of objects making vibrations in the air could be seen as the stupid random acts of life; then surely a signal, a direct communication; might be thought of as being something other than life‘s natural order of things. A sense of things exceeding their specifications. That a lump of flesh wriggling around two other lumps of flesh can teach and inform, harm and destroy. That a tongue and lips can offer more than assisting digestion. The “like words together we can make some sense” concept.

    I remember reading somewhere Peter talking about how he came to conceive ‘Here Comes the Flood’; the last track on the first Peter Gabriel Album (window I think) and as a side note he was talking about one of his theories that when night time creeps up on us, like a radio the signals become clearer. The collective conscience is a tempting metaphor for this reference, that receive and transmit can be accomplished by psychic means is the obvious outcome of this reference. However my understanding on these things are extremely limited if not coloured by a deep resounding scepticism towards this more overt understanding of the collective conscience.
    No, that one thing in his heart? That thing for me is hope, hope that we take our tools, our language, our pictures, our feelings and instead of vibrating the air stupidly into the TV set, screaming our tears and our frustrations at the greatest problems that affect our species; that instead we mould and create. We refine and strip away the all the things that Peter describes in the last verse (and more) to talk, to express and perhaps finally to correct.

    thanks for bearing with me
    the_toolshedon July 02, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor me, the song is simply about our world drowning in meaninglessness - in "background-noise". From pluralism to political correctness, few dare to "tell wrong from right". Maybe Peter Gabriel is trying to wipe out the noise by transmitting clear messages.
    Germon June 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI kind of apply this song to the concept of Death that circles this album. I view it as people around him growing more cynical and the older he gets, thinking that either life wasn't worth it, that what's in front of us, all the bad, is all there is. And this kind of seems like the state where he's really starting to buy into that, into his fear of death, but he's trying to pull out of it.

    "And in that fuzzy picture, the writing stands out so clearly on the wall" resonates well with the lyrics in More Than This "with my head so full of fractured pictures, I'm more than right next to you." That clear picture is being covered up by the everything cynical around him.

    "Yet there's still something in my heart that can find a way to make a start" He has hope, and he's calling on everyone around him to help him. What makes this song so powerful is how much distress he's in. The orchestral end of the song represents his fear, death creeping in and getting louder and more clear, with few and little snippets hope that quickly vanish, until it all circles him, and then there's nothing.

    At least, that's how I see it.
    AnonymousJacksonon October 15, 2009   Link

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