Diversions :: Roadside Graves on Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down

(Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.)

Upon first meeting Roadside Graves keys/synths/piano-man Johnny Piatkowski, two things came to mind: 1) damn, this guy can really play, and 2) damn, this guy has a most impressive array of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis t-shirts. Having known Johnny a few years now, both traits have only grown in my estimation. Roadside Graves have a new full-length out later this month entitled We Can Take Care Of Ourselves. As such it seemed like a grand opportunity to let Johnny wax on his favorite band's 1974 concept album---The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Johnny, in his own words, below.

I can't decide whether to go the Dune route or the Star Wars route with this one. Both involve deserts and aliens; common subjects in Genesis songs. Genesis is like old Ben Kenobi, living in exile out in the Judland Wastes of Tatooine. Most residents believed that he was just an old loon; someone not to be approached. Some might have remembered his past as a great Jedi warrior. Some will cringe at the very thought of the movie Buster (I do). All points are completely valid. However, one fateful day, someone finally gave the old hermit a chance, and as a result, an entire galaxy-spanning Empire crumbled. Plus he owned a laser sword, or something...

I feel like all musicians have a 'big bang' moment, like when Paul Atreides drank the Water of Life (a consolation prize for you Duners). Not to say a mind can be blown only once, just that other revelations that follow tend to be 'supernova' by comparison. For me, it is definitely when I delved deeply into the music of Genesis for the first time, mainly, if not only, their 1970-1977 period (unlike Patrick Bateman, I stray from  most of their 80's-90's material). The thoughtfully created textures and dynamics between the instruments---whether it is a quiet acoustic twelve string piece, or an earth shattering Mellotronic fanfare---lends a certain dramatic and otherworldly aspect to their music which gives me goosebumps every time I listen. Admittedly, I can understand those who find the often times fantastical lyrical subjects of their songs hard to stomach. Songs about vengeful plant life, genetically shrunken tenement dwellers, croquet mallet decapitators, horny snake women,  and confused aliens might turn one away. What makes it work for me is the emotion evident in Peter Gabriel's delivery. It feels genuine, and makes each piece less of a song, and more like a mini opera. I love it. I feel bad for that confused alien,  and I hope the avenging plants find peace.  Well, I am obviously a science fiction nerd. That helps.

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