Dark and grey, an English film, the Wednesday Play
We always watch the Queen on Christmas Day
Won't you stay?

Though your eyes see shipwrecked sailors you're still dry
The outlook's fine though Wales might have some rain
Saved again

Let's skip the news boy, I'll make some tea
The Arabs and the Jews boy, too much for me
They get me confused boy, puts me off to sleep
And the thing I hate, oh Lord
Is staying up late, to watch some debate on some nation's fate

Hypnotized by Batman, Tarzan, still surprised
You've won the West in time to be our guest
Name your prize

Drop of wine, glass of beer dear what's the time?
The grime on the Tyne is mine, all mine, all mine
Five past nine

Blood on the rooftops, Venice in the Spring
Streets of San Francisco, word from Peking
The trouble was started by a young Errol Flynn
Better in my day, oh Lord
For when we got bored we'd have a World War, happy but poor
So let's skip the news boy, I'll go make that tea
Blood on the rooftops, too much for me
When old Mother Goose stops and they're out for twenty-three
Then the rain at Lords stopped play
Seems Helen of Troy has found a new face again

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

Blood on the Rooftops Lyrics as written by Stephen Richard Hackett Phillip David Charles Collins


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Blood On The Rooftops song meanings
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  • +6
    My InterpretationI believe the lyrics reference the 1972 Munich Olympics when 11 Israeli were sot on the roof of their living quarters by 'Black September' Arab/Palestinian Guerillas. 'Arabs and Jews, boy too much for me'
    In the same year, about the same time, Richard Nixon went to Peking (Bejing) China to broker a deal with eastern nations that included a staged withdrawal from Viet Nam 'Word from Peking'.

    Lindesfarne's Fog on the Tyne was a number 1 ablum in the UK earlier that year.

    I think it is actually the first socially and politically charged song that I can think of in the Genesis canon.
    It references the horrors going on around the world and also the mindless celebrity hedonism 'the trouble was started by a young Errol Flynn' of the entertainments world, on TV and film, to that distracts the populace from bad news; all cast in a pastoral English flavoured piece of music (e.g. Composer, Ralph Vaughen Williams influence perhaps?)
    Irishvoortrekkeron December 13, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song is about the way that the British (or indeed many people) would rather do anything but learn of the news, or simply, reality. The references to Batman, Tarzan etc are an ironic stab at how we would rather watch these fictional and ultimately facile shows rather than get to grips with the reality...e.g. the Blood On The Rooftops, or the 'Arabs and the Jews'. It is a social commentary on our state of self-imposed ignorance.
    acedrumson September 30, 2008   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningTo put this into context, the lyrics refer to a "typical" middle-aged or elderly couple that have very little else to do with their lives than to watch TV, and complain about the content. The various references to TV programmes show how the escapism of fantasy and fiction impacts so deeply that they can no longer distinguish between that and the grim events of the real world.

    Rather than retreating into ignorance, the lyrics show more that if lives are made to become insignificant (through staleness, doing the same thing, taking partners and situations for granted), the only meaningful thing left is to make an issue of "the world" as they see it which, of course, is tainted by their own blinkered perceptions.
    exgenesisroadieon March 07, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThank you, ace drums. That is how I always heard this song. "And the thing I hate, oh lord, is staying up late to watch a debate on some nation's fate." I hate to admit it, but Phil Collins came up with some of their better lyrics, especially Driving The Last Spike.
    Anglagard1on February 02, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning"Blood on the Rooftops" is a declaration of the 'Watchers of the Skies' observing those 'apathetic', reclining in their easy chairs, often mesmerized by the glittering prize, waiting for their 'Supper to be Ready'. No?
    VisionaryPhiloon May 26, 2021   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song might be confusing for non-UK readers.

    There are lots of references to UK TV programmes wrapped up in the lyrics ( hail Steve Hackett by the way! )

    The Wednesday Play - a series of plays on BBC TV
    The Queen broadcasts on all UK TV channels on Xmas Day
    The Outlook's Fine - The TV Weather Forecast
    The Grime on the Tyne is an allusion to Charisma Label mates Lindisfarne, who had a massive hit with The Fog On The Tyne

    etc., etc.
    RedKingon December 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGenesis lyrics are quite easy to work out esp. 70's songs. Generally up until Duke / Abacad time Genesis wrote stuff about greek and other ancient mythologies. Seems a bit ludicrous know looking back. I think they did this for several reasons - It seemed the habit of the day with the 70's prog rock bands. Tony Banks studied mythology (not sure of the exact title) at (I think?) Brighton Uni. Also I think it's quite easy to write songs about weird stuff like mythology, particularly for Genesis in that era as they didn't write anyting lovey dovey till follow you, follow me. However this song's lyrics are by Collins. Think this was his first lyrics he wrote entirely by himself (Hackett wrote the music!). Collins doesn't do the Banks and Gabriel lyrical thing so personally I think the lyrics meaning wise are a load of twaddle, much like Lurker (actually written by Banks!). It's just Collins mussings on life - line's aren't really connected. Lyrics are very much English (quintessentaily English - as i'd put it. Which originated with the Beatles.
    timbo.hon January 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is an attack on the media, as noted in the references to the British TV shows noted above (none of which I knew, not being alive in 77 and not living in Britain - thanks RedKing).

    Sadly, this is the last great Genesis album. Duke and And Then There Were Three both had their moments, but, otherwise, Genesis never really was the same.
    inpraiseoffollyon November 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is about an elderly couple moaning about whats on TV. "Better in my day, for when we got bored we had a world war". Helen of Troy's changing face relates to different actresses playing the part in different films.
    BillyBremnerLiveson July 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentall hail steve hackett... i admire him so much, so much of his work is impossible to play and it shows in this song.
    musiclvr36on June 01, 2009   Link

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