Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “The Musical Box” — Genesis (1971)

blgnurserycrymeAnd the nurse will tell you lies
Of a kingdom beyond the skies.
But I am lost within this half-world,
It hardly seems to matter now…

Well it’s about freakin’ time. Seriously. And not just time for Hokeyblog’s October tradition of presenting you the most buttkickin’ of Halloween songs in a little number we’d like to call Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs… that’s a given. We’re all for tradition here, and given that October is easily the coolest month of the year, we here at HokeyCorp Industries like to celebrate it with abundance.

No I’m talking about bringing out some classic Genesis for your Spooky Spooktacular Musical enjoyment… and by “classic” Genesis I’m referring to the Peter Gabriel/Steve Hackett period (1971 – 1975). The band has had many amazing albums and songs since then, but this period is my absolute favorite, in which they were fusing progressive rock elements with performance art and abstract storytelling to great effect.

Case in point is our first BHS entry for the season, The Musical Box from the most excellent 1971 album Nursery Cryme. Gabriel wrote a twisted Victorian fairy tale about two young children, a boy and girl named Henry and Cynthia. The story begins with a fine bit of decapitation; Cynthia and Henry are out playing croquet when Cynthia, for reasons unknown, casually “raised her mallet high and gracefully removed Henry’s head.”

Weeks later, Cynthia finds Henry’s beloved music box in the nursery. She opens it, it begins to play Old King Cole, and, summoned by his favorite music, flooded with memories of playtime with his friend, the spirit of Henry appears. Trapped between this world and the next, he yearns for more time with Cynthia. But almost instantly his body ages, going from that of a child to a man to an old man within moments, and a lifetime’s worth of sexual desire floods his system. Enraged and confused and desirous all at once, Henry’s spirit — the boy gone, an old man left in his place — moves towards Cynthia… all while the musical box keeps playing.

This is great storytelling, with incredible musicianship from the band and searingly evocative vocals from Gabriel. I especially love the dueling solos between Hackett on guitar and Tony Banks on keyboards, giving almost a musical voice to the conflict between Henry and Cynthia. The entire song plays out like a wonderfully twisted Henry James operetta, culminating into an epic finale that ends their gothic horror tale in dramatic fashion.

So enough of my yappin’. Give this one a listen… and Happy October to all you fine Hokeyfolk!

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