"Firth Of Fifth" as written by Anthony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett....
The path is clear
Though no eyes can see
The course laid down long before.
And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Though many times they've seen the way to leave.

He rides majestic
Past homes of men
Who care not or gaze with joy,
To see reflected there
The trees, the sky, the lily fair,
The scene of death is lying just below.

The mountain cuts off the town from view,
Like a cancer growth is removed by skill.
Let it be revealed.
A waterfall, his madrigal.
An inland sea, his symphony.

Undinal songs
Urge the sailors on
Till lured by sirens' cry.

Now as the river dissolves in sea,
So Neptune has claimed another soul.
And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Until the shepherd leads his flock away.

The sands of time were eroded by
The river of constant change.


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"Firth of Fifth" as written by Phil Collins Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © IMAGEM MUSIC INC

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Firth Of Fifth song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentThis is one of the great Genesis songs, but the title is obviously a (weak) pun on the Firth of Forth.

    The music is largely Tony Banks' work, and the lyrics were him and Mike Rutherford, although apparently he later said they were some of the worst lyrics he had ever been involved with!

    The imagery is all watery. "He" in the second verse is a river, who flows past men's homes, but they don't even notice his beauty or power. A waterfall is the river's "madrigal" - a short song for 2-3 vocals - while an inland sea is "his" greatest achievement - a symphony.

    Undines were water nymphs, while the Sirens were bird-women who lured sailors to their death. They seem to be inserted somewhat randomly to keep up the watery feel.

    When the river enters the sea, Neptune (the God of the Sea) has claimed his "soul".

    The stuff about gods, men and sheep? No idea. Perhaps the suggestion is that, unlike the river which carves its own majestic path to its destiny, men are like sheep - standing uselessly by until someone shows them the way to go? Oh dear, I've gone all pretentious. Sorry...

    Anyway, Steve Hackett's solo is absolutely brilliant - his best work ever?

    darlomundayon May 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAccording to the Wikipedia a 'firth' is a Scots word used to denote various coastal waters in Scotland. It is usually a large sea bay, which may be part of an estuary, or just an inlet, or even a strait. One of the firths mentioned there is the Firth of Forth.

    Without ever having been there, I reckon that this songs describes a (perphaps fictitious) similar landscape. There may also be religious thoughts embodied in the text, but I haven't worked that angle out yet.
    WilliamLon December 29, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor some reason ive always assumed that the fifth mentioned in the title refers to a musical interval, the mmost essential musical interval 5 steps in a scale, or seven semitones.

    i geuss combining this with the firth thing, the ditty is about a place where music meats the sea.

    also on the musical note, the first and the fifth are two notes that put together make the basics for most chords. firth sounds alot like first; when i first read it i assumed it was a misprint
    the painkilleron March 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is just astonishing!!!! one of the best songs I have heard...
    I think the "The mountain cuts off the town from view..." part is about how human kind destroys nature carelessly for unnecessery things (such as good view...)
    HighwayStaron May 24, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMoving along on the flow of the astonishing crescendos of music crashing on the shoreline of lyrics. Seagulls flying overhead, then you dive into the sea to meet the cacophony of life swimming there. Dolphins playing majestically in the chorus of the waves.
    nagromnaion August 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have no idea of the original intention, but I do not want to know - the vast open sea matches the music in my mind - something to get lost in & forget normality
    nagromnaion August 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWithout a doubt the best parts of this song are Gabriel's flute solo and the guitar solo towards the end; so much emotion.
    rustlerthehustleron August 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBtw, check out this song on some good headphones, it's really quite incredible. Ooooh.. goosebumps.
    rustlerthehustleron August 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI consider this song to one of the best, if no the best, Genesis song. Or better: composition. The recently released Genesis-collection contains a technically improved remix that greatly enhances the musical experience.
    WilliamLon December 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFurther to WilliamL = the Firth Of Forth is a well known Firth in Scotland. There is a well known bidge that spans the Forth - The Forth Bridge - which culminates in a well known British saying about a never ending job being like painting the Forth bridge, once finished, you start again immediately, so never really complete it
    nagromnaion March 04, 2006   Link

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