"In The Cage" as written by Anthony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Michael Rutherford and Steve Hackett....
I got sunshine in my stomach
Like I just rocked my baby to sleep.
I got sunshine in my stomach
But I can't keep me from creeping sleep,
Sleep, deep in the deep.

He wakes in a cold sweat with a strong urge to vomit. There's no sign of the cocoon and he can see more of the cave about him. There is much more of the glowing water dripping from the roof and stalactites and stalagmites are forming and decomposing at an alarming rate all around him.

Rockface moves to press my skin
White liquid turn sour within
Turn fast - turn sour
Turn sweat - turn sour.
Must tell myself that I'm not here.
I'm drowning in a liquid fear.
Bottled in a strong compression,
My distortion shows obsession
In the cave.
Get me out of this cave!

As fear and shock register, he assures himself that self-control will provide some security, but this thought is abandoned as the stalactites and stalagmites lock into a fixed position, forming a cage whose bars are moving in towards him.

If I keep my self-control,
I'll be safe in my soul.
And the childhood belief
Brings a moment's relief,
But my cynic soon returns
And the lifeboat burns.
My spirit just never learns.

Stalactites, stalagmites
Shut me in, lock me tight.
Lips are dry, throat is dry.
Feel like burning, stomach churning,
I'm dressed up in a white costume
Padding out leftover room.
Body stretching, feel the wretching
In the cage
Get me out of the cage!

At one moment there is a flash of light and he sees an infinite network of cages all strung together by a ropelike material.

In the glare of a light,
I see a strange kind of sight;
Of cages joined to form a star
Each person can't go very far;
All tied to their things
They're netted by their strings,
Free to flutter in memories of their wasted wings.

As the rocky bars press in on Rael's body, he sees his brother John outside, looking in. John's face is motionless despite screams for help, but in his vacant expression a tear of blood forms and trickles down his cheek. Then he calmly walks away leaving Rael to face the pains which are beginning to sweep through his body.

Outside the cage I see my Brother John,
He turns his head so slowly round.
I cry out Help! before he can be gone,
And he looks at me without a sound.
And I shout out 'John please help me!'
But he does not even want to try to speak.
I'm helpless in my violent rage
And a silent tear of blood dribbles down his cheek,
And I watch him turn away and leave the cage.
My little runaway.

(Raindrops keep failing on my head, they keep falling on my)

In a trap, feel a strap
Holding still. Pinned for kill.
Chances narrow that I'll make it,
In the cushioned straight-jacket.
Just like 22nd Street,
They got me by my neck and feet.
Pressures building, can't take more.
My headaches charge, earaches roar.
In this pain
Get me out of this pain.

If I could change to liquid,
I could fill the cracks up in the rocks.
I know that I am solid
And I am my own bad luck.

However, just as John walks out of sight, the cage dissolves and Rael is left spinning like a top.

Outside John disappears, my cage dissolves,
without any reason my body revolves.

Keep on turning,
Keep on turning,
Turning around,
Spinning around.

(round, round, round, round)


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"In the Cage" as written by Michael Rutherford Phil Collins

Lyrics © IMAGEM U.S. LLC, EMI Music Publishing

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In The Cage song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis is Peter Gabriel and Genesis at it's best. There aren't many songs these days much like this one. It is absolutely the greatest. Thanks
    yariv99on July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBack to the song!!!! When do you get sunshine in your stomach? When you are in love - such a wonderful feeling, such a lovely opening line. The rest of the song means something totally different, but I just love that opening line
    nagromnaion May 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is a really great song. i love genesis. my mum intorduced the band to me and i always listen to it for my 16th birthday i will be getting most of the albums.
    portia the pirateon July 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've only heard this album up to this song, but I'm already thinking that this could be one of my favorite albums. For me, this is amazing. The only other album to have such an impact for me on first listen was Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick, which just happens to be my favorite album of all time. Things bode well for this one...
    inpraiseoffollyon October 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song begins with Rael feeling comfortable and warm in the cuckoo cocoon- "I got sunshine in my stomach." He feels so good that he falls asleep, and when he wakes up he notices something... different about the cave, something that he can't put his finger on yet. The bass and organ in this song do a great job of conveying the mounting fear in the pit of Rael's stomach as he leans back against the rock wall of the cave- "rockface moves to press my skin." I don't understand all the references to liquid that follow, but something in the cave is scaring Rael, so he "must tell [him]self that [he's] not here, [he's] drowning in some liquid fear." He keeps the fear hidden inside- "bottle in a strong compression-" and tells himself that he's blowing the whole thing out of proportion, it's stupid to fear the dark- "my distortion shows obsession." But he *is* scared nonetheless, and calls "Get me out of this cave!" Rael is sure that if he can keep his self-control, he'll be safe "in [his] soul," and finds a "moment's relief" with this idea, even though he calls it merely a "childhood belief." He is older and knows better, is more used to danger now. Indeed, his "cynic soon returns," his natural, current mindset that allows him to look for the worse side of everything, and he is no longer saved by comforting himself- "the lifeboat burns." He admits that his "spirit just never learns-" he can never keep himself comfortable for too long. Now the stalactites and stalagmites are forming a cage around Rael, trapping him in, and he starts to feel sick- "lips are dry, throat is dry, feel like burning, stomach churning." I don't understand the "white costume" reference though. Rael yells again for help- "Get me out of this cage!"

    The next verse of the song I have my own theory about that I don't want to get into here, but I'll say that I believe the people in cages above Rael have some relation to the "butterflies" that the narrator from the beginning of the Lamb's liner notes has. The point is that Rael notices there are more people trapped just like him. He then notices his brother John, a new character introduced in the story, standing outside of the cave. This is probably my favorite part of the story, because I can see so clearly Rael yelling for his brother to help him- "I shout out 'Help!' before he can be gone, and he looks at me without a sound. And I shout out 'John, please help me!,' but he does not even want to try to speak." Obviously John is not a very loving brother, as he selfishly abandons Rael to face his doom without even speaking to Rael. I imagine his face completely emotionless in contrast to Rael's- Rael is probably screaming in anguish and desperation, pounding on the bars of the cage ("helpless in my violent rage"), and John is expressionless and blank, even as a tear of blood runs down his cheek (which suggests that he showing false sympathy for Rael). Then he betrays Rael and leaves him by himself, and although Rael should be angry at him or at least keep yelling for help he only lets this occurrence slide by with the affectionate remark of "My little runaway." To me, this suggests that John has done this sort of thing before, abandoning Rael in his time of need, and that Rael is used to it now, though it exasperates him more than anything. The next frenetic chant of "Raindrops keep falling on my head..." creeps me out, as if Rael is trying not to go crazy by chanting this. That line reminds me of Chinese water torture, actually (I do know what song it's referencing though).

    Rael resigns himself to his fate. He notes that the feeling is "just like 22nd Street, when they got me by my neck and feet," which I think is referring to when he was caught and hauled into the Pontiac Reformatory in his backstory. The fear is the same now. The pain grows worse, and he wishes that he could change to liquid and escape, but still can't comfort himself with lies. He also blames himself for getting caught- "I am my own bad luck-" which is heartbreaking to hear because he couldn't avoid it in any way. Then the cage dissolves and Rael is taken to his next destination, the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging. This song is significant because Rael develops a fear of the dark/caves, which comes back to bite him in The Waiting Room/Anyway. It is also the first time that John betrays Rael.
    EnduringChillon February 10, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this and the preceding song (Cuckoo Cocoon) together could be interpreted as Rael / Peter describing a (possibly really experienced by Gabriel?) drug trip.
    He takes drugs and the initial feeling is quite good (Cuckoo Cocoon & the first 3 lines of this song) but then the bad trip kicks in: unpleasant body aches, which are described quite consistently and are typical of taking drugs, mix themselves with a horrific rush of drug-induced imagery of fear and anxiety.
    If you have experienced something similar in your life, you can't but recognize that this is a vivident, magnificent description of a bad drug trip. This is sheer bloody poetry, chapeau to Mr. Gabriel for that.
    Enrico81on June 17, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is about Rael's fear and insecurities, manifested by a panic attack. The Cage is the intense psychological fear he is experiencing. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, as Gabriel explained, is an allegory - a pilgrim's progress. It is the tale, on the surface anyway, of a young disenfranchised Puerto Rican, who likes arson and violence - but in essence, is trying to find out who he really is. John, his brother in the story, is really Rael's alter ego. Rael is on journey of self discovery. Gabriel's finest lyrics and for me, Genesis's finest album. Peter Gabriel himself said it is the only album which still stands the test of time and also considers it their best work,
    Kelticon February 13, 2014   Link
  • -1
    My Interpretationi wonder who "john" might be in this passage:

    Outside the cage I see my Brother John,
    He turns his head so slowly round.
    I cry out Help! before he can be gone,
    And he looks at me without a sound.
    And I shout out 'John please help me!'
    But he does not even want to try to speak.
    I'm helpless in my violent rage
    And a silent tear of blood dribbles down his cheek,
    And I watch him turn away and leave the cage.
    My little runaway.

    could it be john lennon? does anyone know of any siblings of any members that were named john? in this version b in brother is capitalized, signifying to me a religious connection.

    i think it could be john lennon because i just read the other day that the previous album, 'selling england by the pound', was praised by lennon. they found out about that praised and were very proud that a hero of theirs like what they produced.

    also, the references to the song/album/movie 'help!' (with the exclamation point) are giving it away.
    luckymustardon May 22, 2011   Link
  • -2
    General CommentThis surely was a highlight in the Genesis career Phil should have stuck to the drums and left Pete to do what he did best. Mind you I hear it was Pete who left good on him
    craiguson March 29, 2003   Link
  • -2
    General Commentall references to the rael story throught the lamb, easiest explained (altho not in any logical way) through the story on the album sleeve. just to add something tho... while this is definately brilliant in every way, its unfair to claim peter gabriels era in anyway better to phils or even ray wilsons. a band is a band, people move about. -if u like peter u follow him etc. if i werent for the conversion over time to a more public friendly kind of music then 1987s wembley gig and the ultimate worldwide fame genesis found wouldnt've happened. anyway, by 1974 gabriel had started to dominate the band when it was always banks and rutherfords baby. if he hadnt have left then the next album would have been terrible as the members started to hate the man. u have to learn to enjoy all the songs based on what they are, not what u think they coulda been if other people were involved. there is no sense in that.
    parberooon April 15, 2005   Link

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