"The Carpet Crawlers" as written by Anthony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Michael Rutherford and Steve Hackett....
There is lambswool under my naked feet
The wool is soft and warm
Gives off some kind of heat
A salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed
Imaginary creatures are trapped in birth on celluloid
The fleas cling to the golden fleece
Hoping they'll find peace
Each thought and gesture are caught in celluloid
There's no hiding in memory
There's no room to avoid

The crawlers cover the floor in the red ochre corridor
For my second sight of people, they've more lifeblood than before
They're moving in time to a heavy wooden door
Where the needle's eye is winking, closing on the poor
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

There's only one direction in the faces that I see
It's upward to the ceiling, where the chamber's said to be
Like the forest fight for sunlight, that takes root in every tree
They are pulled up by the magnet, believing they're free
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

Mild-mannered supermen are held in kryptonite
And the wise and foolish virgins giggle with their bodies glowing bright
Through the door a harvest feast is lit by candlelight
It's the bottom of a staircase that spirals out of sight
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

The porcelain mannequin with shattered skin fears attack
And the eager pack lift up their pitchers, they carry all they lack
The liquid has congealed, which has seeped out through the crack
And the tickler takes his stickleback
The carpet crawlers heed their callers,
"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

The carpet crawlers heed their callers,
"We've got to get in to get out
We've got to get in to get out"

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae, edited by Crawlers, yjloiselle

"The Carpet Crawlers" as written by Phil Collins Tony Banks


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The Carpet Crawlers song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentI once heard an interesting theory that this song was about conception. The carpet crawlers are sperm, the red ochre corridor is the vagina, needle's winking eye is perhaps the opening of the vagina or cervix, only one direction is towards the waiting egg, the spiral staircase is the fallopian tube, the porcelain manquin is maybe the egg itself and, the clincher, 'You've got to get in to get out'!

    Personally I don't believe a word of it but I thought it was worth sharing ;-)
    proggieon October 30, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI was looking forward to some insight into this song and was somewhat disappointed by the lack of entries on this wonderful song. I suppose if this was the late 70s, this song would have tons of entries... in any event, I googled it and found this entry which should be credited to Joseph Dixon: "The view I take on the song is that it's a metaphor for birth, and in the grander scheme of things, survival.

    Let me give you some quick references on why I think that.

    I always like starting with the title of pieces to find some sort of inkling as to what something's about. The Carpet Crawlers could suggest babies, and they grow up and start the birth process all over again (and that's where "we've got to get in to get out" refers to I believe. It's a metaphor about having to get into the womb, through intercourse, to have a baby come out. "We" referring to humankind in a general sense.)

    Parts of the song describes the process in which sperm gets to the egg in the beginning of the birth process.

    "The fleas cling to the golden fleece hoping they'll find peace" This could refer to how each individual sperm tries to cling onto and penetrate into the egg in order to survive and live on.

    "The crawlers cover the floor, in the red ochre corridor" The red ochre corridor could refer to the vaginal canal.

    "Where the needle's eye is winking, closing on the poor" This could be referring to how not every sperm even makes it that far along in the process. The poor not making it. Interesting reference to old Jerusalem there as well.

    "There's only one direction in the faces that I see, and it's upward to the ceiling, where the chamber's said to be" Again, this is where every sperm is on its way to, the egg to complete fertilization.

    And toward the end of the song, "The liquid has congealed, which has seeped out through the crack, and the tickler takes his stickleback" Well, not to be too graphic... But this is basically after the act of intercourse. A stickleback is a scaleless bony fish, which could refer to a penis. The crack could be referring to the vagina and the liquid seeping out could be semen.

    Another possible interpretation of those lines is that at the onset of labor, there is a jelly like discharge from the vagina which happens right before a woman's water breaks."

    I see this song as having a "second" level. The clue is in the words: "Where the needle's eye is winking, closing in on the poor". The reference would be to the biblical saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get enter the kingdom of God. The "carpet crawlers" are humans "crawling" through life while trying to get upward to the stairwell that spirals out of sight - to a heavy wooden door (i.e. the door to heaven). And of course, to go through life to hopefully get to heaven, "you've got to get in to get out". In any event, this is an amazing song...
    Ericdawingnuton July 31, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis might help, quotes from Peter Gabriel regarding the part of the story in this song:

    "Which in turn led up to a spiral staircase into a chamber with 32 doors, none of which would get any of them anywhere."

    Peter Gabriel: "And it all led up to a spiral staircase which in turn led into a chamber with 32 doors, none of which went anywhere but back in the chamber."

    The carpet crawlers are in a corridor, heading towards a spiral staircase that they think will free them, but it only leads them to the chamber of 32 doors. None of the doors lead the people to "heaven" or whatever they are looking for. The doors only lead back to seperate corridors, and so on.

    One last piece of info: Rael while in the chamber, rather than trying all the doors to escape, instead decides to help a blind woman (the lilly white lilith) this desicion ineffitably leads to his escape from this "dream". Rather than trying to find his way out of the chamber like all the others, he essential gives up, and just helps someone.

    These IMO are all metapohric references to a spiritual journey.
    meddlehead40on July 29, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYeah... the song seems to be around Rael's heroin use in the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The itchiness of his skin (a side of effect) is represented by the image of creatures called 'carpet crawlers', and the line "We gotta get in to get out", refers to draw of addiction. Supporting this are lines like "Where the needles's eye is winking..." refering to some haven/house where Rael and his gang are shooting up.

    "And the wise and foolish virgins giggle with their bodies glowing bright" refers to duality of their heroin use, as the maxim "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom", in that sense the 'heroin-virgins' of the gang are foolish to try something so easily dangerous, but they are ironically wise in the context of the quote. Their bodies are glowing bright from the high of heroin.

    Amazing song.
    Otto.Mon July 29, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentMy version of the song:

    For me the story of “The Lamb” makes very much sense. Because of its complexity I like to add an essay just for one song: The Carpet crawl. Here you can find a short version of the whole story.

    First: “Carpet Crawl” (further: CC) is just a small piece of a bigger context and you can´t get through it by isolating it from the rest of the lyrics. There are a lot of relations to other parts of the album.

    In fact it marks a centre, the focus to the whole narration. Imagine “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”-Story as a double funnel. CC builds the connection between the two single-funnels. It sucks the stuff from one (out)side, the material world, through the “needle´s eye” to the other (in)side, your inner private world, where you have to deal with it and produce reflection and a reaction back to the world. These are principles of orientation and communication.

    To collect and select the matters of importance for your own unique sphere and to let them really in, deep in your mind gives you the opportunity to reflect yourself back to the world in a process of interaction. You are impressed and you will express yourself at the same time in an ongoing circle.

    The opposite of the double-funnel is the corridor. It is narrowed by (various) filters that brings you to handle the input in a prefabricated way.
    The carpet crawlers “just” heed their callers. They just crawling on the surface incapable to reflect or react, just following blind, led by moral, ideology, economy or whatever. They see a door: their goal to achieve in expectation of a gratification: acceptance, fame, richness, blessedness. But they are not able to see the tiny needle´s eye that is just open for ideas and interaction [and “closing on the poor” (in mind or spirit)] which leads you to an independent state of existence.

    “get in to get out” is an expression of universal meaning and can filled up with nearly everything. Between in and out you will find any content. “It´s over to you.” The content between birth (in) and death (out) should be life. But it seems to be that the crawlers bring just their bodies in and out.

    Also CC is a compendium of the whole lyrics. All themes the whole album deals with are compressed here in the center as if you watch a whole cosmos contracted in just one point like a singularity.

    It is the question about reality. What is really real? It is the question about to tell genes from conditioning. To tell truth from fabrication.
    Gabriel begins with a simple impression:
    “The wool is soft and warm.” (The clearest sentence of the whole story!) Something he can sense with his body.
    Then: The salamander scurries into flame to be destroyed. You can proof that with your eyes.
    But: In ancient times (say just 200 y. ago some places) people thought, salamanders are creatures of the fire and can´t destroyed by heat (so they throw them into flames ´cos they thought they were the cause of all kinds of burning).
    So you have to be alert. Who gives you the guarantee everything you see or you were told of is true? And by the way, why should a salamander scurries into flame at all?

    Next step is to mix it up:
    “Imaginary creatures are trapped in birth on celluloid” is a mixture of reality and fabrication or construction, the cultural reality we live in.
    You can divide it in:

    “Imaginary creatures are trapped on celluloid” and

    (real) “creatures are trapped in birth”.

    Trapped on celluloid means: it is burned in your brain by conditioning.

    “Each thought and gesture are caught on celluloid. There´s no hiding in my memory. No room to void” (avoid).
    You will not be able to wipe it off. It became a part of your reality. (If you “burned” as an Englishman you can´t be a German or more strange for example: Chinese; if you were 25 years old in 1600 you are not able to survive in 2008-society). As an adult, your conditioning became as real to you as your genetic code.

    “The fleas cling to the golden fleece, hoping they´ll find peace”:
    1. “The fleas cling to a fleece” of course! That´s the thing you can watch, the real thing. The fleas follow their instincts to survive, a natural mechanism. To add . “hoping they´ll find peace” makes the whole thing absurd (or leads you to take “fleas” as a symbol and create a association). Fleas doesn´t “hope” anything at all, it´s an only human ability. But you will find more sentences in this song that are constructed the same way like: “pulled up by a magnet believing they´re free” or “A mannikin fears attack”. To compare the flea-sentence with the magnet-sentence shows you that humans follow mechanisms as well but here these mechanisms are not always natural, most of them are constructions of society the people not aware of (= believing they´re free). But as a human being there is a chance to break these mechanisms by awareness and then you got the ability to choose personal freedom. (leads to chamber of 32 doors)

    2. Reminds to the struggle of sperms to enter the ovum. Why? Maybe just because “hoping they´ll find peace” describes a human aim of sexual motivation, that leads you here to a powerful imagination. [An example how our instincts are connected to our emotions and how strong they really are and it also shows you how easy it can be to “manipulate” people by using (or abusing) their instincts.]

    3. The “golden fleece” is something like an artefact of an old Greek myth. (Look for it in Wiki) In ancient times people in east Europe used the fleece of sheep to wash gold out of the rivers. So in Greek culture the lamb have had another spiritual meaning as in Jewish or Christian cultures. So believe it: “This lamb has nothing whatsoever to do with Rael, or any other lamb - it just lies down on Broadway.” (find it in LLDOB-Song; liner notes). Means: LLDOB´s got nothing to do with religion in particular. Related to the Greek myth, the lamb is a symbol of wealth, making money. Members of Christian cultur tend to overpower the biblical theme (due to their conditioning!) according the noumerous mhystical symbols Peter Gabriel brings up here.

    The lower verse beginning with: “Mild mannered supermen.” dealing with a special aspect of our condition. The gender role and the relationship between genders.

    Superman is an idealised “person”, an imagination of being a man at all. It contains the double character of manhood: the strong, wild “version” fits to rule the world and the soft one (Clark Kent), the civilized (mild mannered), also fits to gain a woman. The double character is very hard to achieve and a cause for (self-)destruction (held in kryptonite = in the Superman-Saga a dangerous element of the planet Krypton which nullifies the strength of its inhabitants).

    Remember: this was written in 1974, just short time after the sexual revolution of the 60s.

    The virgins are wise and foolish at once. They are wise to accept the rituals and rules of their times to achieve their reachable goals but if you see it in the light of awareness of their situation as a depressed part of society they act foolish at the same time to accept their role.

    “Through a door a harvest feast is lit by candlelight;”. there is another door to achieve. By following the rules of the gender roles it is promised a fulfilled and rich future to come.

    “It’s the bottom of a staircase that spirals out of sight.” .At first the division of gender roles was a necessity to survive in archaic culture. To get rid off strong determined behaviour and instincts gives flexibility to adapt to chancing environments quickly. But it also means the newborns need more protection, care and time for learning (now they have to be conditioned to compensate the lack of genetic determination.) The necessity of teaching the young leads to a division of responsibilities between men and women and the hunter(men) -gatherer(women)-society. The Cause of the division never comes to awareness to humanity for a long time, it was forgotten (spirals out of sight - and out of the genetic code!) and the relationship between the genders get out of balance with the increase of power of men caused by their part of responsibilities.

    “The porcelain manikin with shattered skin” is a “fallen virgin”. With the “shattered skin” she lost most of the influence in her own faith in society. She altered from a “hollowed imagination” (“their bodies glowing bright” another idealistic vision) to a puppet, reduced to an “object” without prevention of society (fears attack). Today that seems ridiculous, but once it was a real matter of society and in 1974 there where still enough traces left in the minds of most of the people.

    Following this thoughts “The eager pack lift up their pitchers, they carry all they lack.” reminds to the fact that the content of the “pitchers” is pure and clean and so there is a chance to alter society rules and rites (or culture) in a very short time compared to alter the genetic code. “The eager pack” lacks of the right conditioning and so every time the “liquid” congeales, (which has seeped out through the crack) in the same old fashioned way as long as everybody arranges himself with the results.

    “The tickler takes his stickleback” could express two things:

    Tickler is male: go on this way and you will be lost in masturbation. Similar meaning as: Erogenous zones I question you- Without you, what would a poor boy do? Without you, mankind handkinds thru’ the blues.

    Tickler is female: Be aware of your power and choose (take) the “stickleback” who is willing to liberate gender relationships to influence and alter society and bring it to a balance between the sexes.
    Over the whole album one of Gabriels aim is to connect the male and (cut off or subconscious) female aspects of his personality to get out as a whole and complete person. To be able to act from an intact inner center instead to be (de)formed by outside influences.

    Leonad Cohen describes a similar dilemma in his song “Suzanne”. But while Suzanne is still an “outside” person (The reason of the melancholy in the song is the knowledge to miss something of yourself in her absence.) and you have to met her to get the feeling of wholeness, Gabriel finds his Suzanne inside himself in the figure of “Lilith”. The name Suzanne (Hebrew: Shoshana) means lily. The first time Lilith shows Rael/ Gabriel the meaning of wholeness [two golden globes (= closed spheres), (just) together producing a blinding white light (a symbol of their combined power)] he was shocked of its intensity and refused it on the first try. Later he overcomes his fear by jumping in the wild waters to rescue his own personality, his former very masculin periphery to the world named John. He rejoins with John but now something has changed. His connection to the world had altered marked by the yellow outline of their bodys (in expressionism yellow is the colour of female as blue is the colour of male - the lamia!). The former cut connection to this part of his inner self is restored, his soul repaired.

    You will find the theme in many later Gabriel-Songs again like “Blood Of Eden” or “Rythm Of The Heat” (you find that right after “It” as a demonstration of the new found power), Darkness and many more.
    lilliwhitelillithon August 22, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationWell late to the party but what the hell, I'll throw my two cents in.

    Personally I think the song is about how we all do what we think is wanted of us like sycophants instead of following our hearts and common sense.

    First off the red color of the carpet/corridor is important because like it's still commonly used. It's often used for VIPs or people of importance. In many feudal societies and religious orders/faiths the carpet leading to a ruler's/pontiff's throne would be a long red one.
    This leads into the second important concept that all of the "crawlers" are prostrated on the carpet and crawling slowly to the farther end. This is again is another historical act that some feudal subjects would undergo (more often in far eastern kingdoms) where it was an act of extreme respect and humility to do this. As well many religions have this as an act of faith that the faithful undergo to prove their humility and worthiness.

    Next if you examine the chorus with the previous in mind the "Got to get in to get out" it almost becomes a repeated chant that by going in by the proper prescribed method a person would get out and find their desires, enlightenment, or whatever they felt they were missing in their lives.

    But of course they can't and won't because by following everything to the letter in an unthinking manner it blinds them to everything but the action at hand, and they don't see that they can't escape from this treadmill till they throw off the shackles of expected conformity and follow their heart in their actions such as Rale does by helping Lily.

    So in a nutshell I think it's saying start thinking for yourself instead of being lead around like a docile lamb by persons that don't have your best interest at heart.
    Gezzer53on May 10, 2014   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThe entire album is about the dreams and visions of a young hit and run victim in NYC before he dies and merges with God. Our hero is a Puerto Rican gang-member spray painting things on walls. As he walks down Broadway, he sees a strange vision of a lamb lying down. He wonders what it means, but it's God warning him that he's about to die. He is struck by a truck which sends him flying. His life flashes in front of his eyes as he lapses into a coma. From now on, what he sees in his deepest mind is his only world. The Carpet Crawlers are his thoughts swimming up toward the light, he's trying to wake up. Instead he enters another stranger dream about his deepest fears. He keeps seeing his brother, who possibly died earlier. In the end he passes away from a world he no longer can see, and becomes one with God, or It. The album is about how we take life for granted until it is lost. And even a gang-member is vulnerable and child-like at the end. The Lamb came to conduct him to a spirit world that he recked little of before his life was snuffed out by random fate. It is you, it is me.
    54marklon August 10, 2017   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThis is the message of this song and this album. Life is about nothing except Being Alive, nothing more. Don't wait until your life is over and done to cherish your life. Because you may suddenly be gone tomorrow. And don't think that the routines of your daily life are humdrum and meaningless. Your existence is the only part of the vast universe that has been given to you to have and understand. Life is a precious miracle. Who really knows if YOU will ever have another life again after this one is over. The old men speculate and hope, but that is completely Unknown. Rael was young, he never thought about Death before Death suddenly found him. That could be you, or any of us. Life is fleeting, so beware.
    54marklon August 10, 2017   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhat's with the sex thing. i mean come on. is that what you wrote something that gabriel said in some interview or something or just your random thoughts?.. becus songmeaning's people seem to be only thinking about songs being about sex, drugs, addiction and alike stuff.. like come on.
    carrotkinson April 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have no idea what this song means. However I came here to find out what others think as I was born in 1979 and this was my favorite song as a baby. I was hoping to gain some insight into myself.
    aahon June 05, 2007   Link

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