Genesis’ “The Carpet Crawlers” Lyrics Meaning

First off it should be noted that Genesis’ “The Carpet Crawlers” uses heavy metaphors, as in very-cryptic language, with the narrative contained therein being relayed in relation to a fictional character within the context of the entire concept album it is featured on (“The Lamb Lives Down on Broadway”). But there is still an overall theme which can be derived from the song, which is that the titular “carpet crawlers” are representative of a large segment of society who desires to “get in to get out”. In other words, they are seeking conformity in the name of liberation. And the entities they are apparently looking up to in order to help them achieve this goal, as in the ones whom they follow, are referred to as “their callers”. These “callers” basically symbolize the elite masters of the society this story is set in.

And that is “The Carpet Crawlers” in a nutshell. The colorful and artistic language used throughout relays a story which is but a segment of a much-larger narrative. And the themes this particular part centers on are ones of conformity, false hope and drudgery. So all things considered, this track reads like a criticism of those who blindly follow societal ideologies.

Carpet Crawlers lyrics

Facts about “Carpet Crawlers”

On the original version of this song, as featured on Genesis’ 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Peter Gabriel served as the lead vocalist. But since he departed from the group in August 1975, Phil Collins held this position.

When Phil Collins performed this song live (after the departure of Peter Gabriel), he used a different opening line than the one found on the original. This particular version is referred to as “The Carpet Crawl” (not “The Carpet Crawlers”) and is featured on Genesis’ 1977 albums, “Seconds Out” and “Genesis: In Concert”.

Peter Gabriel did briefly reunite with Genesis, which resulted in an updated version of “The Carpet Crawlers”. That version was released in 1999. This rendition has Gabriel and Collins sharing the responsibility of lead vocals.

Another distinct difference between the 1974 and 1999 versions is that the latter omits the last verse of the original.                     

The 1999 rendition of “The Carpet Crawlers” was the very-last song the band ever recorded as a collective, which they had actually done in 1995. This version was featured on the following albums of theirs:

  • Turn It on Again: The Hits (1999)
  • Live Over Europe 2007 (2008)
  • When in Rome 2007 (2008)

“The Carpet Crawlers” served as the closing number during Genesis’ 2007 Turn It on Again: The Tour.  This event did not feature Peter Gabriel.

The official release date of the 1974 version was 18 November 1974. Meanwhile the 1999 rendition came out on 26 October 1999.

Who wrote “Carpet Crawlers”?

“The Carpet Crawlers” was written by the members of Genesis. Hence the following receive writing credits on the track:

  • Phil Collins
  • Steve Hackett
  • Tony Banks
  • Mike Rutherford
  • Peter Gabriel

FYI, the 1974 edition was produced by the entire band in conjunction with John Burns, while the 1999 edition was produced by Trevor Horn.

What is the actual title of this song? Is it “Carpet Crawlers” or “The Carpet Crawlers”?

It is both of the above. Additionally, it can also be called “The Carpet Crawl” or just “Carpet Crawl”.

9 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Fitting song for the times now!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I thought just the same.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes, fitting indeed. I do not know why I woke with this song in my head? Its probably been decades since Ive listened to it.

  4. Kjelll says:

    Always will be one of my favorites from Genesis. Fits well to tis time indeed, have not felt the sadness in it before now.

  5. Bryan Evans says:

    I love the play on words in this song. “Takes his stickle..back” and “Fleas cling to the Golden Fleece” . Just like many of their other songs such as Aisle Of Plenty – “I don’t belong here”, said old Tessa out loud.
    “Easy, love, there’s the Safe Way Home.”
    – thankful for her Fine Fair discount, Tess Co-operates” – (Only an Englishman could understand!)
    Apart from the clever use of words I find this song to be one of the most beautifully composed ever!

  6. EP Sly says:

    And the eager pack lift up their pitchers to carry all they lack.


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