It's one o'clock and time for lunch (hum de dum, de dum)
When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench
I can always hear them talk

There's always been Ethel
"Jacob, wake up, you've got to tidy your room now"
And then Mister Lewis
"Isn't it time that he was out on his own?"
Over the garden wall, two little lovebirds
Cuckoo to you
Keep them mowing, blades sharp

I know what I like
And I like what I know
Getting better in your wardrobe
Stepping one beyond your show (your show)
Your show

Sunday night, Mr. Farmer called, said
"Listen son, you're wasting time"
"There's a future for you in the fire escape trade"
"Come up to town"

But I remembered a voice from the past
"Gambling only pays when you're winning"
Had to thank old Miss Mort for schooling a failure
Keep them mowing blades sharp

I know what I like
And I like what I know
Getting better in your wardrobe
Stepping one beyond your show

I know what I like
And I like what I know
Getting better in your wardrobe
Stepping one beyond your show

When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench
I can always hear them talk
Me, I'm just a lawnmower
You can tell me by the way I walk

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by Lguidici

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) Lyrics as written by Phillip David Charles Collins Anthony George Banks


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I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) song meanings
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  • +4
    General Comment(with some comments from here)

    Armando Gallo reveals 'the inspiration for Peter's lyrics in "I Know What I Like" came from a painting by Betty Swanwick, which he saw at an exhibition. Peter immediately noted down the characters of the song on the exhibition catalogue, and later on Betty Swanwick agreed to make some additions and enlarge her painting for the cover of Selling England by the Pound.' One addition was the lawn mower, which was not present in the original painting. It fits in nicely with the English themed covers of the last 3 albums.

    This allegedly was written for Genesis' roadie from 1971-1973. His name was Jacob Finster, and he could never hold jobs - he was a lawn mower, a pawn store clerk and a cashier. By the time he died, he worked in a doughnut shop where he overdosed on heroin.

    Much to the disapproval of everyone else, the protagonist in the song is rebuking modern society and all its vices (consumerism, careerism, etc.) in favor of a simpler life. He may be regarded as an underachiever but he is content in the knowledge that he is creating beauty.

    Art is perhaps the only medium where one need know nothing, yet still be a critic: we all know the chestnut, "I may not know art, but I know what i like." This can also be viewed in a negative sense, where, after all, art is something worthy of knowing about - to ignore it is to set your sights low. This has led one reviewer to say that in this song - "the uselessness of the upper class youth is pointed out in I Know What I Like (in your wardrobe).

    The origin of the phrase "I may not know Art, but I know what I Like" is uncertain. My favourite instance of it is during the Last Supper sketch of Monty Python during their "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" film. In it, the Pope tells the painter (Michelangelo?) that he doesn't want his painting of the Penultimate Supper with three Christs and a Kangaroo - he wanted what he ordered, and ends the sketch with the phrase.

    The Garden Wall was the name of one of the Charterhouse groups that contained future members of Genesis.
    The Farmer, who's trade is apparently escaping from the fire, comes straight out of Supper's Ready.

    "getting better in your wardrobe" - some relation to the Chronicles of Narnia, or another reference to the British obsession with cross dressing like Pink Floyd's Arnold Layne?
    Madpropheton December 12, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWhen I was a kid aged 10 in 1974, I used to hear this song on the radio whilst on the beach (I lived on the coast). This was the first song that Genesis had in the UK charts.

    I loved the song at that young age and it was my favourite song. A few years later, I heard another song that I really liked and it joined this song as my top 2 favourites; the new song was called "Follow You, Follow Me". It was a year or so later that I discovered that my 2 favourite songs were by the same band! That's when I started listening to more Genesis!
    geoffos42on April 19, 2006   Link
  • +3
    My OpinionI always thought the line "it's getting better in your wardrobe" referred to way the lawnmower views his position in life. The wardrobe contains the clothes we wear and how we look at ourselves. Content that he is beyond their "show",and that he need not take such risks in life, he must keep reaffirming his solitary beliefs by keeping his "mowing blades sharp." No matter what we do, we must always be on top of our game. dum de dum, de dum-dum, I think says it all
    Lguidicion July 06, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI always thought the "fire escape trade" was cat-burglary: you sneak up onto the second storey via the fire escape, pry open an unlocked door or window, and slip back down to get away

    But "gambling only pays when you're winning"--he's content with his lazy life, why would he risk imprisonment and a criminal record for something as trivial as money? So, he "ha[s] to thank old Miss Mort for schooling a failure"--if he had been raised to pursue status and money, he might be willing to sell out like that.

    So, going with the album theme of England sacrificing its culture and history to try to compete with America, the lawnmower is pointing out how the lust for money that drives people to earn more and more also drives them to theft and crime, and what's wrong with being happy as a lawnmower? He's content to eavesdrop on the lords and ladies and listen to the neighbors sneaking around on a liaison (the "two little lovebirds"), dozing off on the garden bench. Why should he earn more money to try to impress others (e.g., spending all his money on getting a new outfit, "getting better in your wardrobe")?
    ProfessorKnowItAllon February 26, 2016   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love the whole SEBTP album - best Genesis album IMHO
    NJJon May 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the song is based on that time where you don't know whether your comming or going, but at the same time the world counter acts arround you, completing you world, it's only when you grow up, and those who once played your tune are singing different song where it becomes hard.
    johnanthonycoxon February 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song was inspired by the cover art of the album. It's about the guy sleeping on the bench, a hired hand, and what he hears of the people who hired him (probably upper class British aristocrats, fitting with the album's concept), which reminds him of the good old days of Britain, when failures (him) were schooled.

    An excellent concept album, and Genesis' #2 or 3 album overall. By the way, I just figured out the connection of this song to the album while analyzing it just now, and it has skyrocketed my appreciation of the album. Still not quite a masterpiece album, though.
    inpraiseoffollyon November 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentflore, what are you smoking? Cross-dressing? And pardon my ignorance, inpraiseoffolly, but what exactly is SEBTP's "concept"?
    Juniper Prismon January 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe lawnmower man song as i like to call it!
    timbo.hon January 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like to think of this as a lawnmower man the cross-dresser song.
    floreon October 04, 2006   Link

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