Stand back!
Stand back!

What are those dogs doing sniffing at my feet
They're on to something, picking up
Picking up this heat, this heat

[Chorus 1:]
Give me steam
And how you feel to make it real
Real as anything you've seen
Get a life with this dreamer's dream

You know your culture from your trash
You know your plastic from your cash
When I lose sight of the track
You know the way back
But I know you

You know your stripper from your paint
You know your sinner from your saint
Whenever heaven's doors are shut
You kick them open but
I know you

[Chorus 2:]
Give me steam
And how you feel to make it real
Real as any place you've been
Get a life with the dreamer's dream

Stand back!
Stand back!
Can't you see I've lost control I'm getting indiscreet
You're moving in so close 'til I'm picking up
Picking up this heat, this heat

[Chorus 1]

You know your green from your red
You know the quick from the dead
So much better than the rest
You think you've been blessed
But I know you

You know your ladder from your snake
You know the throttle from the brake
You know your straight line from a curve
You've got a lot of nerve
But I know you

[Chorus 2]

Everybody nosedive
Hold your breath, count to five
Back-slap, booby-trap,
Cover it up in bubble wrap
Room shake, earthquake
Find a way to stay awake
It's going to blow, it's going to break
This is more than I can take

Oh yeah, I need steam
Feel the steam all around me
Ah you're turning up the heat
When I start to dream aloud
See you move your hands and feet
Won't you step into this cloud of steam
This steam

[Chorus 1]

Help me yeah
Ready to steam out the log jam
Stir crazy from the freezer to the boil
Water's bubbling, it's b-b-b-bubbling
Bubbling [Repeat x 4]
Like it's coming to a boil
Give me steam, lady
Give me steam around me now
Ahh, coming alive [Repeat x 2]
Said give me some steam


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Steam Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Steam song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment

    I discovered this song when I saw him perform it on "Secret World Live". I love how he just commanded the stage with his very presence. His performance really gave me the sense of what the song's about. He's essentially saying to a woman "Oh yes, you know everything in the world now, don't you? Well, I don't know much, but I know one thing. You."

    Cotygeekon October 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    great song...it used to be my favorite... i've always interpreted this as a kind of "hit me with your best shot" kind of song...give me life, you know? someone once posted that the person he is singing about knows everything about everything, but knows nothing about themselves or anyone around them. and he knows nothing about anything, but knows her, and that's whats' important to him...i like that

    TheSyndicate88on January 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    only 2 posts here? i guess nobody apprieciates great music as much as us.....sad

    ThE $aNdMaNon March 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    If you watch the video to this song, it is very much all about sex, more so even than sledgehammer. It's a woman who knows everything, and a guy who knows nothing except he knows everything about this woman (well put, Syndicate).

    Definitely one of PG's best--it was popular for a reason. Of course, I'm a fan of most of his stuff.

    anyagon July 10, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    well I'm not a close personal friend of Peter Gabriel or anything so I have no way of knowing if my interpretation is correct, but this is my impression. For me, the tone of the communication is somewhat aggressive, misogynistic, and uncomfortable to listen to. It has the tone of a thwarted Love Affair, which has separated on difficult terms, residual rancour and resentment. And it's a statement of intimate sexual knowledge of another person who is now sexually distanced themselves from Peter Gabriel.

    Within the context of relationships, unfortunately it is often the case where the consciously or unconsciously that men do feel as though they have proprietary rights over the bodies of women including their intimate parts. So it's not unreasonable to think that his communication might also be infected with this ideology which is far from over.

    I detect an undercurrent of rage, hostility directed anger, and an urge to display sexual dominance over another person in their absence.

    It would be very nice if people who were gifted Musicians also automatically, were self-aware when it came to their destructive tendencies or unconscious, misogynistic ideas, but it's just not that simple. It's possible to be very talented in one area and deeply unconscious in another. Particularly when it comes to difficult resentment filled separations.

    It's clear to me listening to this song but there is still a lot of very bitter feelings going on afterwards. I wonder why. Was it because something went wrong between them or was it because of the financial implications. Who knows could be a combination of both

    but there's something really awkward about listening to this display of his need to be seen to be in full knowledge of her sexual intimacy in such a public way. It's always the case that will people need to assert themselves in this clearly dominant way, often reveals a deeply inadequate part of their psychology that needs to be propped up by this demonstration of dominance.

    I just don't see how somebody who is completely comfortable with themselves and has managed to bury the hatchet would need to sing the song in that way. I found it somewhere cringe to watch. It was as if he was waving his dirty laundry in public and declaring his rather infantile need to show sexual dominance over another woman.

    It's sad but people rarely process these difficult break ups very well. And it was just a bit embarrassing. It was like watching somebody who you think should be saying this in a couples counselling room not on stage in front of all these people.

    There's a lot of rage there. I don't think he would be so stupid so us to act out that rage in ways that would be harassing or aggressive towards his ex-wife, but the sentiment shines through this song and it is difficult to watch.

    sera1234on July 01, 2023   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Excellent. Love the lyric "get a life with the dreamer's dream" ... I never thought this could be, I'm holding on to the seams of a dreamer's dream.

    [inactive account]on May 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I was introduced to this song by Rush Limbaugh. That's right. Rush. He touted the video, praising it for it's innovative visuals and excellent composition. He stated that more music videos should follow this example.

    In any case, I would have pounced all over this song, because of all the Genesis/Ex-Genesis stuff, I like Gabriels' work best of all.

    Major Valoron September 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think artist frequently use sexual references in songs. It all boils down to understanding life through sexual realtionships; doesn't it? I believe PG is speaking to/about cultural/social myths. Dog sniffing at ones feet may be the idea of people seeing something in someone, perhaps anti something. The song then goes on to indict societies about it's grasp of the material, solid, explainable way's we exist, then challenges us to use our imagination and see things outside the ordinary.

    rjwoodon April 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    True Story: Two friends of mine ran a stained glass shop in London and one day Peter Gabriel had come in and picked out a piece of glass. They were discussing how to best pack it for shipping and one of the guys said "Don't worry, we'll just cover it up in bubble-wrap". P.G. seized on this line and was heard muttering it to himself for the rest of his time in the shop. A few months later, watching MTV or VH1, and one of the pair heard the line used in this song. Funny how it works.

    malcolioon August 04, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    I adore this song! It's definitely the best come back song that I've ever heard. After Rosanna A. divorced Peter, this was his way of publicly putting her down while showing that he is still going strong! The steam (for me) represents everything this woman was and what built up their relationship. It's as if he's mocking the much needed steam that dominates his life, if I'm saying that right? As for Rosanna, many artists have written songs about her but this is the only one that I know of which tries to explain who she really is. I have no doubt that Gabriel knew this woman better than anyone else in the world!! Yes, even better than she knows herself as Gabriel clearly points out in this song.

    Rbeals76on August 13, 2017   Link

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