I saw the man at J.F.K.
He took your ticket yesterday
In the humdrum

I ride tandem with a random
Things don't run the way I planned them
In the humdrum

Hey Valentina, do you want me to beg?
You got me cooking I'm a hard boiled egg
In the humdrum

Empty my mind, I find it hard to cope
Listen to my heart, don't need no stethoscope

Seem to me that television
She come to cut me a deep incision
In the humdrum

Empty my mind, I find it hard to cope
Listen to my heart - don't need no stethoscope

Out of woman come the man
Spend the rest of his life gettin' back where he can
As a bow, so a dove
As below, so above
From the black hole
Come the tadpole
With the dark soul
In coal she burn, she burn

As I drove into the sun
Didn't dare look where I had begun
Lost among echoes of things not there
Watching the sound forming shapes in the air
From the white star
Came the bright scar
Our amoeba
My little liebe schoen

Lyrics submitted by ButNeverOutgunned

Humdrum Lyrics as written by PETER GABRIEL

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Humdrum song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment

    This song is a beautiful mish-mash of lyrics and ideas. I can't find a single coherent story among it, but it's so beautiful.

    I don't believe it has any real meaning, but certain parts stick out to me... The "humdrum" I imagine being the crowd of people, the real world, all this noise and talking and people doing their jobs and those staying silent being overlooked. The bridge section has a few lines that sound like the birth process, to me... Obviously there's "out of the woman come the man, spend rest of his life getting back when he can." The woman gives birth to a male, and men have to come back to women for the women to give birth. So here, sex is ironically a means of getting back to childhood, being in the woman. "Our amoeba" makes me think of when a child is first created... a single-celled organism, or an amoeba. It "our" was replaced by "my," though, I doubt I would think of this connotation. The last line means in German "My little beautiful love." This might be referring to a father's love for his child.

    Undeniably, my favorite lyrics are: "Lost in the echoes of things not there, watching the sound forming shapes in the air." Peter Gabriel's lyrics are always excellent at painting pictures in my mind like this.

    EnduringChillon January 15, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    This song to me is about a man having to say goodbye to a woman he is in love with and how this departure makes him both saddened and overrun with thoughts. ..And I’ll go as far as to argue that the woman is German (last line Liebe schoen).

    She departs from JFK airport, and he is so in love he is nearly willing to beg for her to stay. (“Hey Valentina, you want me to beg?”). His mind is wrapped in thought on how this event of her leaving (“you got me cooking, I’m a hardboiled egg”).

    “Listen to my heart, don’t need no stethoscope” reinforces the message of how much in love he is. His heart is beating loudly for her. His thoughts filled with the fact she is leaving, his only recourse is to empty his mind.

    The bridge is more word play revolving around a theme of man and woman, their equality, the fact that each feeds the other, and an additional theme of from darkness to light. He draws on reversals of popular mythos (woman came from man’s rib in the Bible, Peter reverses it, “out of woman come the man”). There is another reversal within more Thelemic thoughts of As Above, So Below, (a reference to a layered structure of the universe) with his lyric “as below, so above” (which, if you think about it, is just as true btw). These plays on common mythos and usages of themes aside, I interpret this section as a gift of words to the woman who left. It is a poem for one wrapped in a wonderful orchestral treatment.

    dctrpundaon November 24, 2022   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    The woman he loves (his Valentine) departed on an international flight yesterday.

    They might have met at random while going about their daily lives, or perhaps now that he lost her as a companion, he must return to the places where he may again meet new people randomly. In returning to business, he doesn't want to fall prey to the intrusive flood of distracting images and noise of television or the other daily distractions of modern life. He wants to dump them, stop thinking too much, and listen to his heart, which still hurts.

    There is a duality and yet an attraction between women and men, war and peace, poor and rich, evil and good. We are born with dark souls, a sinful nature, and are destined to return to dust, yet we aspire toward the divine and sublime. This ambition may be foolish, but we must move forward, forget the echoes of our past (or his previous band, Genesis) and create something new, which may be painful, but something beautiful that we love starts from the smallest beginning.

    bb1974on September 08, 2023   Link

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