Was it summer when the river ran dry,
Or was it just another dam.
When the evil of a snowflake in June
Could still be a source of relief.
O how I love you, I once cried long ago,
But I was the one who decided to go.
To search beyond the final crest,
Though I'd heard it said just birds could dwell so high.

So I pretended to have wings for my arms
And took off in the air.
I flew to places which the clouds never see,
Too close to the deserts of sand,
Where a thousand mirages, the shepherds of lies
Forced me to land and take a disguise.
I would welcome a horse's kick to send me back
If I could find a horse not made of sand.

If this desert's all there'll ever be
Then tell me what becomes of me.
A fall of rain?
That must have been another of your dreams,
A dream of mad man moon.

Hey man,
I'm the sand man.
And boy have I news for you;
They're gonna throw you in gaol
And you know they can't fail
''cause sand is thicker than blood.
But a prison in sand
Is a haven in hell,
For a gaol can give you a goal
[and a] goal can find you a role
On a muddy pitch in Newcastle,
Where it rains so much
You can't wait for a touch
Of sun and sand, sun and sand...

Within the valley of shadowless death
They pray for thunderclouds and rain,
But to the multitude who stand in the rain
Heaven is where the sun shines.
The grass will be greener till the stems turn to brown
And thoughts will fly higher till the earth brings them down.
Forever caught in desert lands one has to learn
To disbelieve the sea.

If this desert's all there'll ever be
Then tell me what becomes of me.
A fall of rain?
That must have been another of your dreams,
A dream of mad man moon.

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

Mad Man Moon Lyrics as written by Tony Banks


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Mad Man Moon song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe song Mad Man Moon, I recall reading, is based on Pilgrims Progress, by John Bunyan. The allegorical journey is pictorial in imagery. It is set in Bedfordshire. The goal in a gaol refers to the time that John Bunyan was incarcerated in Bedford jail. He was an itinerant free non-conformist preacher during the time that such activity was suppressed. The places such as the Slough of Despond, the Valley of Shadowless Death, the City of Gold are all physical locations. If you Google John Bunyan country. Also the map at the beginning of Pilgrims Progress shows many familiar aspects of the song, the Shepherds of Lies etc. I'm a little busy to make a more accurate post, but was irritated to see much wildly speculative innaccurate guesses on this thread. I only found out this foundation for the song, which has meant very much to me, late in my life. Happy to share the things i learned and the inspiration from this beautiful work. May many beings be freed from avoidable suffering
    ven1155556on April 09, 2019   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI can't help but see this as a message from Banks to Gabriel.
    Lots of metaphors about people leaving behind their realities for dreams, pretending to fly when you have no wings, falling to earth from heaven and becoming trapped and changed, regrets and disconnection. And not realizing that everyone wants something different from what they have, and how one man's desire can be another's prison.

    Then again I tend to think the song that immediately precedes this one "Squonk" also had portions addressed to Peter.
    grimjackon November 20, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBeautiful Song...

    I think It's basically a tale of "the grass is always greener..." Wherever the character is, he wished he were somewhere else, a place opposite of where he is now, i.e., when he is stuck in the dessert, he wishes to see rain and clouds, but then when he is at a muddy pitch in Newcastle, where it rains constantly, and Heaven is a place where the sun shines, he wishes he were in the sun and sand, and then is thrown back into the desert, where he stays...
    BitterBoshon January 19, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentArguably Collins best vocal performance ever.
    scoonmanon April 19, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGuess why I chose this username &:-D...this song simply means EVERYTHING to me !!!
    Mad Woman Moonon October 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPurely for the sake of translation: gaol is pronounced jail...tis ye olde english!
    K-nuxXxon April 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think most of genesis' early albums had a certain theme running through them but not exactly being a concept album(except the lamb). Just like aqualung from
    Jethro tull and ok computer radiohead. As for this album I can't quite see it. If you know pls comment!
    sgtfloyd101on January 22, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my favourites, and incredibly sad and emotional.
    I liken this to the spiritual journey, or perhaps the precursor to it when you realise you've left your true home. It's a bit like the Prodigal Son, feeling like he is forever caught in the pigsty, forever barred from his original home. He had left his home because the grass seemed to be greener, but soon discovered it was empty and meaningless and void. How to return home? Was there ever a home? It was so long ago, like a dream? Can I ever return home?
    steven1115on July 28, 2021   Link
  • -1
    Song MeaningPeter Gabriel had just left Genesis, and the bands small roll of the talented Phil Collins took the reigns. He was a powerfully strength to lead the band into its future, although pop power. At the time Gabriel was Genesis future though no one knew where that would be leading a group of exceptional talent; maybe rocks best! But they were just followers of Gabriel. Collins did a noble gesture before leading the band. He rawly honored his mentor. Gabriel was a heroin addict and the sand metaphor was omnipresent in Mad Man Moon. The horse that kicks him back, the snowflake in June, the grass is greener as every drug addict the next high would bring. Gabriel was going to let his next fix fly above the clouds, but had no plans for when they let him down. Oh how I loved you but the love was going to crash. So, in this beautiful song he let him go and Genesis survived on candy rock while the lamb lied down on Broadway!
    doc1156734on April 08, 2021   Link

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