(Taken from a news story concerning two rival gangs fighting
Over East-End Protection rights)

Along the Forest Road, there's hundreds of cars - luxury cars.
Each has got its load of convertible bars, cutlery cars - superscars!
For today is the day when they sort it out, sort it out,
'cause they disagree on a gangland boundary.
Yes, they disagree on a gangland boundary.

There's Willy Wright and his boys -
One helluva noise, that's Billy's boys!
With fully-fashioned mugs, that's Little John's thugs,
The Barking Slugs - supersmugs!
For today is the day when they sort it out, sort it out,
These Christian soldiers fight to protect the poor.
East end heroes got to score in...

The Battle of Epping Forest,
It's the Battle of Epping Forest,
Right outside your door.
You ain't seen nothing like it.
No, you ain't seen nothing like it,
Not since the Civil War.

Coming over the hill are the boys of Bill,
And Johnny's lads stand very still.
With the thumpire's shout, they all start to clout
- there's no guns in this gentleman's bout.
Georgie moves in on the outside left
With a chain flying round his head;
And Harold Demure, from Art Literature,
Nips up the nearest tree.
(Here come the cavalry!)

Admidst the battle roar,
Accountants keep the score: 10-4.
They've never been alone, after getting a radiophone.
The bluebells are ringing for Sweetmeal Sam, real ham,
Handing out bread and jam just like any picnic.

It's 5-4 on William Wright; he made his pile on Derby night.
When Billy was a kid, walking the streets,
The other kids hid - so they did!
Now, after working hard in security trade, he's got it made.
The shops that need aid are those that haven't paid.

"I do my double-show quick!" said Mick the Prick, fresh out the nick.
"I sell cheap holiday. The minute they leave,
Then a visit I pay - and does it pay!"
And his friend, Liquid Len by name,
Of Wine, Women and Wandsworth fame,
Said "I'm breaking the legs of the bastard that got me framded!"

They called me the Reverend when I entered the Church unstained;
My employers have changed but the name has remained.
It all began when I went on a tour,
Hoping to find some furniture.
I followed a sign - it said "Beautiful Chest".
It led to a lady who showed me her best.
She was taken by surprise when I quickly closed my eyes.
So she rang the bell, and quick as hell
Bob the Nob came out on his job
To see what the trouble was.
"Louise, is the Reverend hard to please?"
"You're telling me!"
"Perhaps, sir, if it's not too late.
We could interest you in our Staffordshire plate?"
"Oh no, not me, I'm a man of repute."
But the Devil caught hold of my soul and a voice called out "Shoot!"

To save my steeple, I visited people;
For this I'd gone when I met Little John.
His name came, I understood,
When the judge said "You're a robbing hood."
He told me of his strange foundation,
Conceived on sight of the Woodstock nation;
He'd had to hide his reputation.
When poor, 'twas salvation from door to door.
But now, with a pin-up guru every week,
It's Love, Peace & Truth Incorporated for all who seek.

He employed me as a karmacanic, with overall charms.
His hands were then fit to receive, receive alms.
That's why we're in

The Battle of Epping Forest,
It's the Battle of Epping Forest,
Right outside your door.
We guard your souls for peanuts,
And we guard your shops and houses
For just a little more.

In with a left hook is the Bethnal Green Butcher,
But he's countered on the right by Mick's chain-gang fight,
And Liquid Len, with his smashed bottle men,
Is lobbing Bob the Nob across the gob.
With his kissar in a mess, Bob seems under stress,
But Jones the Jug hits Len right in the mug;
And Harold Demure, who's still not quite sure,
Fires acorns from out of his sling.
(Here come the cavalry!)

Up, up above the crowd,
Inside their Silver Cloud, done proud,
The bold and brazen brass, seen darkly through the glass.
The butler's got jam on his Rolls; Roy doles out the lot,
With tea from a silver pot just like any picnic.

Along the Forest Road, it's the end of the day
And the Clouds roll away.
Each has got its load - they'll come out for the count
At the break-in of day.
When the limos return for their final review, it's all through'
- all they can see is the morning goo.
"There's no-one left alive - it must be a draw."
So the Blackcap Barons toss a coin to settle the score.

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by DerekLaw

The Battle Of Epping Forest song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment

    The final verse of this song is one of the greatest satirical commentaries about war I've ever heard. All the fighters on both sides of the battle have been killed; the leaders realize that the war was all in vain and they still haven't settled their disagreement.

    So what do they do? They FLIP A COIN!!!


    jhillston February 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    May seem a non-sense song Particularly as GAbriel struggled with some of the lyrics. Gabriel apparently heard the story and advertised in a paper to get an eye witness account. No-one replied so he made it up! So is in a way a non-sense song. If it was a film would say it was based on actual events!

    timbo.hon January 05, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This tells a fab story - nothing non-sensical about it!! Very true statements about Gabriels version, but it definately tells a fab story. The Reverend bit in the middle is pure invention, but the rest is based on the newspaper report. So British - how do the Americans take this track?? So many colloquasims - excuse the spelling

    nagromnaion July 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    funniest lyrics ever.

    Juniper Prismon January 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    By the way, naqromnai, we Yankees don't need to fully understand the "Britishness" of a song. We just need to appreciate what it means to us.

    And we know a thing or two about gang warfare as well...

    Juniper Prismon February 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Great song. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO LOVE PROG ROCK you gotta listen to it more than once. This is one of these oments that to appreciate and understand it, you have to hear it many times more. It defininately is a worth-while experiece i assure you.

    The language - well you get used to it and you grow to love it. I hated "Colony of Slipperman" at first, but now it's one of my favourite songs. This is one of the same situations.

    Gang warfare - obvious theme. No more to say there. PG is a genius - nothing more, nothing less. What more can you say about such a catchy song?

    Arialon March 17, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Why do so many Genesis fans rip on this song? So wonderfully inventive and brilliant, both epic and amusing, and the Reverend bit is pure genius.

    StansCoffinson April 26, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    The comic voice describing Harald Demure is the narrator´s , not Harald himself . Harald is simply an arty-type, demure ( ie quiet and unassuming) and the only non-violent character in the song. This is interesting if you think about it - the narrator is putting on the camp voice rather like a child making fun of someone. When gabriel is the character (eg the reverend) he sings with the funny voice in the first person. I think this song is lyrically brilliant and, like a lot of PG in this period, not quite what it seems at first. Ponder this notion - the guys in this battle are all real UK characters from history or otherwise . Georgie is footballer george best, billy wright was also a footballer and funnily enough also a historical pirate ! The bethnal green butcher is jack the ripper, sweetmeal sam just might be diarist samuel pepys ( who frequented the bluebell tavern in london ) and liquid len was a lighting guy at rock concerts in the 70´s. That´s as far as I have got to date . Seems to me PG threw a whole lot of real people into this battle !

    jonarceeon February 25, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Lol Juniper - no critcism intented - it's just that we do not produce much music like this any more.

    nagromnaion August 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Obviously a tale of two London East End gangs battling it out for bragging rights in Epping Forest. The character that interests me is Harold Demure. Harold is obviously gay and Gabriel camps him up mercilessly. Back in 1973 this was considered OK. I very much doubt the extremely PC Gabriel would have done that just a few years later lest it be considered just a tad homophobic. I wonder if he regrets it?

    Whatever, it is still a great song on my favourite Gabriel era Genesis album.

    proggieon October 30, 2012   Link

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