Suffocated by mirrors, stained by dreams
Her honey belly pulls the seams
Curves are stiff upon the hinge
Pale zeros tinge the tiger skin

Moist as grass, ripe and heavy as the night
The sponge is full, well out of sight
All around the conversations
Icing on the warm flesh cake

Light creeps through her secret tunnels
Sucked into the open spaces
Burning out in sudden flashes
Draining blood from well-fed faces

Desires form in subtle whispers
Flex the muscles in denial
Up and down its pristine cage
So the music, so the trial

Vows of sacrifice, headless chickens
Dance in circles, they the blessed
Man and wife, undressed by all
Their grafted trunks in heat possessed

Even as the soft skins tingle
They mingle with the homeless mother
Who loves the day but lives another
That once was hers

The worried father, long lost lover
Brushes ashes with his broom
Rehearses jokes to fly and hover
Bursting over the bride and groom

And the talk goes on

Memories crash on tireless waves
The lifeguards whom the winter saves

Silence falls the guillotine
All the doors are shut
Nervous hands grip tight the knife
In the darkness, till the cake is cut

Passed around, in little pieces
The body and the flesh
The family and the fishing-net
And another in the mesh

The body and the flesh

Lyrics submitted by llowell, edited by rafbuff

The Family and the Fishing Net Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Family and the Fishing Net song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentYeah, this one is a cynical take on the rituals and superstitions of weddings. You can tell he doesn't like them much!

    The "fishing net" of the title refers, I think, to a family snaring their daughter a husband, and a woman snaring a husband with the promise of sex. It's pretty clear that the husband is just going through it because he wants permission to fuck this woman

    It's actually a very negative song, but I can't help loving it. :)
    DexXon January 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTraditional culture (Mexico?)

    Premarital sex results in pregnancy

    And required wedding

    The creepy vibe - everyone feels trapped

    Thus the title, and the last couplet

    The family and the fishing net / Another in the mesh / The body and the flesh
    Meatbombon June 29, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti have no idea what this song is about but i love it. my mum played it for me the other day. i like the part with the headless chickens. peter gabriel just gets it right all the time
    portia the pirateon July 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is an ironic take on a wedding. In this song it's a mad, pagan ritual with sacrifices.
    Arujeion September 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentArujei is correct, the song is about a wedding, as Peter himself says in the introduction to the song on Peter Gabriel: Plays Live (the 2 disc set, I'm not sure if it appears on the Excerpts version of the album).

    Says Peter: "this next one concerns the ritual of the wedding; the ring and the finger... this is called The Family and the Fishing net"

    No Genesis references here. In fact, aside from Solsbury Hill, I'm hard pressed to find a reference to anything regarding Genesis in PG's solo stuff.
    jbruce1975on December 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsigned in yet?
    loosedloonon June 15, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationMy reaction to this song is that I picture a family around a dinner table; wife/mother, kids. The father has been realized of infidelity and the tension in the music is due to the silent confrontation. Father is ridden with guilt, reflecting on the great pleasure that abandoned vows between bride and groom...trial begins. Headless chickens being irrational emotional explosion dancing on his guilt. He tries to brush it away as nothing happened but his character is dissected and passed around to compare..the other lover being another in the mesh.
    loosedloonon June 15, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song very ubderrated awesome lyrics
    radioheadsteron June 14, 2021   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI have always kind of thought that this was Peter Gabriel's attempt to show us how easy it is for someone to look at another cultures rituals and twist them into a description that is scary. He points to one of our (western culture) very exciting and enjoyable rituals of a wedding, but takes the perspective of someone who doesn't understand and describes it in terms that cause fear for the listener.

    a couple examples that seem pretty clear to me:
    Vows of sacrifice - the actual vows of the bride and groom
    headless chickens - the meal prepared for the celebration afterward
    Dance in circles - the dancing that happens at the reception

    and the biggest one...the cutting of the cake:

    Silence falls the guillotine
    All the doors are shut
    Nervous hands grip tight the knife
    In the darkness, till the cake is cut
    Passed around, in little pieces
    beren14on November 01, 2022   Link
  • -1
    General CommentIt's actually a cryptic fantasy about a' family' who's lost a member, and their efforts to bring them back into the fold.

    As seen by the 'outsider'.

    The 'family' being Genesis, and the lost sacrificial 'lamb' being Peter Gabriel.
    tdoggpainton September 23, 2007   Link

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