"Harold The Barrel" as written by Peter Gabriel, Anthony Banks, Steven Hackett and Michael Rutherford....
A well-known bognor restaurant-owner disappeared
Early this morning.
Last seen in a mouse-brown overcoat,
Suitably camouflaged,
They saw him catch a train.

"Father of three its disgusting"
"Such a horrible thing to do"
Harold the barrel cut off his toes and he served them all
For tea
"Can't go far", "he can't go far".
"Hasn't got a leg to stand on"
"He can't go far".

I'm standing in a doorway on the main square
Tension is mounting
There's a restless crowd of angry people

"More than we've ever seen.
Had to tighten up security"

Over to the scene at the town hall
The lord mayor's ready to speak

"Man of suspicion, you can't last long, the british public
Is on our side"

"Can't last long", "you can't last long".
"Said you couldn't trust him, his brother was just the same"
"You can't last long".

If I was many miles from here,
I'd be sailing in an open boat on the sea
Instead I'm on this window ledge,
With the whole world below
Up at the window
Look at the window

"We can help you"

"We can help you"

"We're all your friends, if you come on down
And talk to us son"

You must be joking
Take a running jump

The crowd was getting stronger and our harold
Getting weaker
Forwards, backwards, swaying side to side
Fearing the very worst
They called his mother to the sight
Upon the ledge beside him
His mother made a last request.

"Come off the ledge if your father were alive he'd be very,
Very, very upset.
"Just can't jump, you just can't jump"
"Your shirt's all dirty, there's a man here from
The b. B.c."
"You just can't jump"

"We can help you"

"We can help you"

"We're all your friends, if you come on down
And talk to us harry"

You must be joking
Take a running jump


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by Norman25

"Harold the Barrel" as written by Stephen Richard Hackett Phillip David Charles Collins

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., CARLIN AMERICA INC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Harold The Barrel song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI'm impressed by how the music leaves us in no doubt at all that Harold does jump in the end. At 2:38+ it is just excellent in how the sound can create an equivalent movie scene in your mind. It's like the camera panning and focusing on Harold and then showing him jump in slooooooooow motion. Great how the music conveys that tragic last moment of the sad story.

    Good point by carrotkins about mom's cynical attitude, worrying only about her son's appearance while disregarding him as a person! Makes me think of:
    "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life."
    mcwryteron March 29, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA song about our almost ghoulish, voyeuristic obsession with the man or woman who may be about to commit suicide by jumping from a high building - and how the media takes full advantage of that. Harold The Barrel story is Monty Pythonesque in nature - full of absurdities and black humour. His mum is more concerned that his shirt is dirty, given that he'll be on TV and less concerned that he is about to jump to his death. Genesis' ( Gabriel's in particular ) sense of humour set them apart from other prog rock groups.
    Kelticon February 12, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Commenttheres nothing you can say about this other than what it tells you itself by bein a story/play. not the humour in the lines 'he cant last long, he hasnt got a leg to stand on'... -well no, hes cut off his toes! anyway yeah, it is what it is and its likely that its based on something that someone read in the newspaper. incidentally, 'bognor' is an english seaside town...
    parberooon April 15, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWait. scratch that. It's about a man who threatens to jump out of a building and kill himself.
    Anilandon January 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthaha, you looked up on a meaning right?
    i personally think that yes, it's about a sad guy that would like to kill himself and, i've read somewhere that it's also to reflect the manners of the community of people in those years.. they're sort of ignorant, like they seem to bother about harry, but not about the things he'd like to "have been cared", example: his mom won't ignore her son trying to jump out a building, but she goes "you're shirt is dirty and there's a man from bbc" like "you're a shame, what will they neighbours think about us" and stuff like that.
    carrotkinson April 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt sounds like it's about some guy who goes insane, pisses off the town, and an angry mob forms to get him.
    Anilandon January 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPretty much what it says in the song.

    A guy may or may have not cut off his toes and served them with tea.

    Then he went to a ledge, and threatened to jump.

    Crowds show and try to talk him down.

    His mother is more worried about his appearance than his state of mind.

    He jumps - end of song.
    taverneron June 12, 2012   Link

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