Genesis – “Ripples” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Genesis’ “Ripples” explores the ephemeral nature of beauty, relationships, and life itself. Through metaphorical language, it dives into the cycle of change and the impermanence of things we often cling to. The ‘bluegirls’ symbolize transient beauty and fleeting moments that can’t be held onto. The message here is twofold: embrace the beautiful moments while they last but be prepared for their inevitable departure.

The song also offers a cautionary note against obsession, as seen in the lyric “The face that launched a thousand ships.” It’s a reminder that holding onto the past too tightly can sink us.

Ever felt the pang of seeing a moment of beauty slip through your fingers, like water? “Ripples” by Genesis may just be the hauntingly beautiful anthem for that feeling you can’t quite put into words.

“Ripples” Lyrics Meaning

Genesis starts off with “Bluegirls come in every size, some are wise and some otherwise.” The ‘bluegirls’ here serve as a universal symbol for moments or people that captivate us, in all their various forms. Their blue eyes are mesmerizing but their allure lasts “for an hour”—a poetic way to say that beauty or attraction can be fleeting.

“Marching to the promised land, where the honey flows and takes you by the hand, pulls you down on your knees, while you’re down a pool appears.” This lyric brilliantly captures the illusion of forever that beauty or attraction can create. You’re pulled into a sort of ‘promised land,’ a utopia, only to find that even here, change is inevitable.

“The face in the water looks up, and she shakes her head as if to say, that it’s the last time you’ll look like today.” This line is powerful. Your reflection in the water represents your current state, and as the water ripples, that image—much like the moment—changes and never returns.

“Sail away, away, ripples never come back.” The crux of the song lies here, emphasizing that moments, once gone, never return in the same form. You can dive to the bottom of the pool and go to the top, but those specific ripples are gone. They’ve “gone to the other side,” another realm of sorts where past moments reside.

The final lines, “Angels never know it’s time to close the book and gracefully decline,” deliver a poignant message about acceptance. Even heavenly entities don’t have the perfect timing; why should we expect to?

The Story Behind “Ripples”

Written by Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks of Genesis for the 1976 album “A Trick of the Tail,” “Ripples” came during a time of significant transition for the band. It was their first album following the departure of frontman Peter Gabriel. This state of flux and transformation within the band may have influenced the song’s themes of change and impermanence.

Rutherford and Banks were wrestling with the band’s uncertain future. Would Genesis maintain its allure and relevance without Gabriel? Could they continue producing the music that had elevated them to rock royalty status? The questions were as unsteady as the ripples in a pond, and perhaps, this gave birth to a song that dwells on the nature of change itself.

The 70s also saw a generational shift in societal norms and expectations. It was an era marked by fleeting styles, shifting political landscapes, and changes in the way people perceived relationships. In such a world, a song like “Ripples” serves as a timeless reminder that nothing is permanent. Even the most beautiful things and moments will change, evolve, or fade away.

This lesson of accepting impermanence can be tough to swallow, but it’s vital for our emotional and psychological well-being. “Ripples” is a musical embodiment of this universal truth, telling us that change is the only constant thing. So, sail away from the notion of forever, and learn to live in the now.