When the night shows
The signals grow on radios
All the strange things
They come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
Still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There's no point in direction we cannot
Even choose a side.

I took the old track
The hollow shoulder, across the waters
On the tall cliffs
They were getting older, sons and daughters
The jaded underworld was riding high
Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
And as the nail sunk in the cloud, the rain
Was warm and soaked the crowd.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
In any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

When the flood calls
You have no home, you have no walls
In the thunder crash
You're a thousand minds, within a flash
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actors gone, there's only you and me
And if we break before the dawn, they'll
Use up what we used to be.

Lord, here comes the flood
We'll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
In any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

Lyrics submitted by txsnowbunny, edited by PrivateBlue

Here Comes The Flood Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Here Comes The Flood song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentI have read an interview with PG in which he states that Here Comes the Flood is the story of what happens when the entirety of the world's population becomes telepathic, and we can no longer lie to each other or keep secrets.

    Here is a snippet of that interview:

    When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others' thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it. ('Peter Gabriel' by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)

    So many of the lyrics made sense after reading that!
    DexXon January 09, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis song brings you to tears.
    carrotkinson May 11, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOut of Sight, Out of Mind

    This would be my choice song for topics of Noetics and Transhumanism, a weary post-apocalyptic tune to slow the massive onslaught of merging connected computing with humanity, of skewering private consciousness for immediate interconnection.

    The HCTF scenario is within a generation, and decisions today influence the framework and structures of tomorrow's completely connected crash.
    megadeafon July 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationMr Gabriel himself has said that this song is about people finally being able to read each others' minds, and the resultant flood of knowledge and consequences. But what does he know about it? Here's my interpretation :

    At nightfall, radio signals become clearer and reach further ('signals grow'). Shortwave radio signals, which are analogue and have intercontinental reach, are always liable to 'come and go' in a regular fade-and-return cycle. This waveband carried (still does, for all I know) English service versions of Radio Moscow, Voice of America and some other countries' foreign propaganda stations. And the news these are broadcasting isn't good - it contains harbingers ('early warnings') from distant lands of the coming destruction. These are all the more frightening through being only half-heard through the 'come and go' of the signal. I was a lad when this song was written in the mid-70s, and the Cold War was so pervasive then that many of us doubted we'd make it to adulthood. (Though personally, I'm still waiting for that to happen.)

    The physical setting for the song now becomes apparent as a place where land and a restless ocean meet ('starfish', 'tide,' 'tall cliffs'). The starfish have been 'stranded' by something that sounds like a tsunami or earthquake, but overall the song makes clear has mankind is its cause. The 'swollen Easter tide' the starfish await is not only the high spring tide following the low which has stranded them, but also a tide of the dead (religious imagery, from the Easter crucifixion of Jesus).
    The wordplay of 'There's no point in direction' links in with 'You cannot even choose a side' - the tumult will engulf us all, no matter which way we turn. There is no escaping this.

    The singer decides to take to the sea by boat ('the hollow shoulder'), echoing the way Noah survived the first flood. 'The old track' I think refers to the preference of mesolithic and neolithic people in Britain to travel by sea and river rather than make the relatively difficult journeys by land; or perhaps it refers to Noah's strategy, which worked far back in the past. He sees children massed on the clifftops and just waiting there ('getting older'), having nowhere further to run. What's left for them? To hurl themselves off? Evil is triumphing effortlessly ('jaded underworld') over mankind. 'Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky' sounds like a nuclear submarine (that quintessence of the Cold War) launching a missile ('nail'), and the crowd of children suffering the resultant radioactive fallout.

    Now we reach the chorus, which again uses the religious imagery of 'Lord' and the apocalyptic 'flood'. Only Noah's immediate family, out of all the earth, survived the first flood, and the odds are against us surviving this one ('say goodbye to flesh and blood'). If anyone does, it will be those prepared to let go of what they owned ('their island' - everything that formerly kept them safe and secure, above the danger level) in order to survive. It may even refer to us Britons having to give up our country, island nation that we are, to endure. The chorus ends (using further wet/dry imagery) by warning those of us who are enjoying life that our time is running out.

    The last verse tells how nightmarish this apocalypse will be, how we'll be defenceless ('have no walls') against it. In the 'flash'/'thunder crash' of the nuclear explosions, we'll panic, seeking a thousand ways of escape ('you're a thousand minds'). At such a time we mustn't be afraid to communicate our emotions - being leaderless, we only have each other ('the actor's gone, there's only you and me') and must now be open and honest about how we feel, to see how we can best work together to try to make it through this. If we lose all hope of survival ('break before the dawn'), everything we were will be used to further the conflict.

    Having said that, an alternative interpretation of this verse would be more in line with Mr Gabriel's explanation : all mental barriers ('walls') come down, and other people's minds enter ours like a thundercrash. We're no longer able to fabricate impressions of ourselves in others' perceptions ('the actor's gone'), but are seen for who we truly are, and see others with equal clarity ('there's only you and me'). And those of us who can't stand being known in the full light of this honesty ('if we break before the dawn') will shrivel away to nothing; which will further the common good.

    And the song ends on the chorus, and indeed on the downbeat warning of, 'Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.'

    The song seems to me to be a powerful but bleak vision of a man-made calamity, with the only hope being that those few who survive will be better people, selfless, honest, cooperative and emotionally open.
    TrueThomason November 06, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAh, so many great memories. Peter Gabriel is one of my all/time favourites, and when he finally played in Mexico (back in 1992 with the US tour), he returned for several encores. In the end, it was just him and the piano, and he played this amazing version of Here Comes The Flood. All the lights were on, but nobody had left. It's one of those few magical moments you still get to experience with modern artists nowadays.
    The coolest part is, Peter Gabriel went back to Mexico supporting the release of UP. But he OPENED up with HCTF. There he was, looking much older, different band (no Manu Katche? damn!) and visibly reconnecting with the audience he left mesmerized almost a decade before. And yet it was like time hadn't really passed, like he was just continuing the concert he played all those years ago. The crowd was almost inaudibly miming the words, and you could hear Peter's breathing pauses throughout... Pure magic. I'll tell you, this song brings tears to my eyes for a lot of reasons, but this might be the strongest of them... particularly in the line "Don't be afraid to cry at what you see/the actors gone, there's only you and me"... I'll cherish that moment forever.
    Skunkboyon April 28, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI loved this song when it came out. But I never knew what it meant, and it's only for Peter to know. But for me on the evening of 9/11, only 20 miles from the crash site in Pennsylvania, when radio stations were hard to find (the signals grow on radios), and the only sound of airflight I heard from above were those from militarily approved ventured, that something dawned on me. I put this song on randomly, and I heard the words "The jaded underworld was riding high, Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky." That was indeed a day we said goodbye to flesh and blood. Indeed, obviously Peter did not know of this when he wrote the song. But for me, that is what this song brings to mind. Don't be afraid to cry at what you see.
    janthonyon March 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfirst of all, this song is "here comes the FLOOD," not "here comes the rain."
    agnamaracson July 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPeter has said in a number of interviews that 'Here Comes the Flood,' is about the flood of the subconscious mind that falls over you at night, as you fall asleep.
    usherj1on May 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe best version of this song is on Robert Fripps "Exposure" album. Fripp wrote a piece called "Water Music" that is a product of his guitar tape loop experiments. It really elevates the song over what it was.
    Rfeynmanon September 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDitto Rfeynman
    drds63on March 30, 2005   Link

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