TotW 02/11/2019 - 02/17/2019: GENESIS - Happy The Man

  • What do you think about "Happy The Man"? 14

    1. 15 points - outstanding! (2) 14%
    2. 14 points - very good (2) 14%
    3. 13 points - very good - (1) 7%
    4. 12 points - good + (2) 14%
    5. 11 points - good (1) 7%
    6. 10 points - good - (2) 14%
    7. 09 points - satisfactory + (1) 7%
    8. 08 points - satisfactory (1) 7%
    9. 07 points - satisfactory - (0) 0%
    10. 06 points - sufficient + (1) 7%
    11. 05 points - sufficient (1) 7%
    12. 04 points - sufficient - (0) 0%
    13. 03 points - poor + (0) 0%
    14. 02 points - poor (0) 0%
    15. 01 points - poor - (0) 0%
    16. 00 points - abysmal (0) 0%
    GENESIS - Happy the man
    Year: 1972
    Album: non-album track; re-released e.g. on Genesis Archive 1967-1975
    Working title: unknown
    Credits: Genesis
    Lyrics: Yes
    Length: 2:54 (7" UK 1972), 2:48 (7" Italian 1972), 3:10 (Nick Davis Remix 2008)
    Musicians: Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins
    Played Live: 1970 (?) - 1972
    Cover versions: none

    Notes: The Genesis discography has a number of non-album tracks, but there are just two songs that only appeared as the A-side of a 7" single: The second Decca single A Winter's Tale (1968) and the rather hard to find Happy The Man.
    The former has been published again and again as a bonus track of a repackaged debut album, but the latter became a rarity. The single was released only in the UK and Italy and in different mixed to boot. The Italian mix does not have the "aaaah" vocals in the introduction. Nick Davis's 2008 mix (in the bonus CD of the 1970-1975 box set) sounds different again: There is no fade-in, but there is a flute that was found on the multi-track tapes but ignored on the original mix.
    The UK mix first appeared on CD in the Famous Charisma Box and was included in the Archive 1967-1975 set five years later, the Italian single mix has been re-published only once, on an Italian LP compilation to celebrate five years of Charisma label 1974).
    Happy The Man was recorded in 1971 during the Nursery Cryme sessions, as evidenced by the label note "Producer: John Anthony" - for Foxtrot, which came out four months later, was already produced by David Hitchcock. The single was backed with a Nursery Cryme song, Seven Stones.
    It has never been explained why Happy The Man did not end up on the album. It may have been held back especially for the later single release, for it appears frequently on the live set lists from the time. In 1971/2 it is said to have been the opening song, so it may have been a favourite of the band's .


    We invite you to share interesting facts and tidbits about this track. Let's look at the track in the context of the band's / the artist's history, at the music, the songwriting and all other aspects that are relevant for this track. Please do stick to the discussion of the track above. Comparisons to other tracks are okay, but remember that the other track you may be keen to talk about has or will have its own Track Of The Week thread. If you spot a mistake or if you can close a gap in the fact sheet above please feel free to contact martinus or Christian about it; we will gladly add and improve!

    ...cried a voice in the crowd.


  • I like this song a lot, it's a favourite of mine. I tend to like the ones where they sounded less like Genesis and this one's a slightly unusual one for them. I like the odd lyrics as well - "Someone says he's Jesus Christ but I don't care".


    I've got a soft spot for this nice little oddity.

    Abandon all reason

  • Yes, soft spot from my side too :) Unusally straight-forward folky song, and even Tony plays only guitar throughout - yet the middle part is surprisingly tricky with these rhythmic shifts. Plus, really quirky lyrics and a real duet of Peter and Phil. Quite unique song for a Genesis song in its own way.

  • I too have a soft spot for this song; it's, of course, a product of the Nursery Cryme sessions which just happens to be my favourite album of all time.

    It features some nice harmony vocals, Phil's voice is fairly prominent and it certainly would not have sounded out of place on Nursery Cryme.

  • I've always loved this song (I voted 'outstanding') since first hearing it on the first archive box set. It reminded me of Cat Stevens when I first listened to it. Folksy and quirky, I'm not sure where I'd place it on Nursery Cryme but I've not got around to re-mixing that album yet.

  • Add me to the list of those who like it! Everyone did such a good job above describing what is interesting about it that I don't need to add anything further. ^^

    Stepping out the back way, hoping nobody sees...

  • Definitely of interest as a Genesis rarity/oddity, but never a favorite song of mine. Some of the lyrics (and, at times, the tone in which they're sung) seem at odds with the cheery, folky music. The guitar melody in the background of the verses doesn't seem to quite fit either.

    Musicians: Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, Anthony Phillips, John Mayhew

    Um... no.

    In 1971/2 it is said to have been the opening song

    Well, it was the opening song in the 1971 concert heard on the well-known bootleg that's the earliest known live recording by the band. I believe that version of HTM has slightly different lyrics than the studio version.

    "I don't belong here," said old Tessa out loud...

  • ...

    Well, it was the opening song in the 1971 concert heard on the well-known bootleg that's the earliest known live recording by the band. I believe that version of HTM has slightly different lyrics than the studio version.

    Based on the recordings available from this period, it seems to have been the opening number for all the non-UK shows they did from mid 71 to mid 72.

  • Some of the lyrics (and, at times, the tone in which they're sung) seem at odds with the cheery, folky music. The guitar melody in the background of the verses doesn't seem to quite fit either.

    It's interesting, those are among the very things that I like so much about it. Things in songs being at cross-purposes is appealing to me.


    They could be quite a conservative band and I wouldnt be surprised if the aspects you mention led to their omitting it from the album.


    Re that live version yes it definitely has different lyrics.

    Abandon all reason

  • I've always loved this song (I voted 'outstanding') since first hearing it on the first archive box set. It reminded me of Cat Stevens when I first listened to it. Folksy and quirky, I'm not sure where I'd place it on Nursery Cryme but I've not got around to re-mixing that album yet.

    Very similar to early Cat indeed. Interesting song. They were very folksy in those days. 10.

  • DOES IT??!


    Apart from the pool reference and "certain to win" I can't see how it fits.

    I can’t recall where I read the song was about Phil, but it fits pretty well.


    He was easy-going, smiling, friendly & laid back compared to the uptight Charterhouse boys. He was amused when he watched them have screaming rows & storm off over some minor musical point. He passed the audition by listening to other drummers from the swimming pool. And given his hair & beard in his early Genesis days, no one can deny that “Someone says he’s Jesus Christ” was a good description! ^^


    The “nun with a gun” line is a mystery but perhaps it referred to some contemporary event/film/song?

  • I can’t recall where I read the song was about Phil, but it fits pretty well.


    He was easy-going, smiling, friendly & laid back compared to the uptight Charterhouse boys. He was amused when he watched them have screaming rows & storm off over some minor musical point. He passed the audition by listening to other drummers from the swimming pool. And given his hair & beard in his early Genesis days, no one can deny that “Someone says he’s Jesus Christ” was a good description! ^^


    The “nun with a gun” line is a mystery but perhaps it referred to some contemporary event/film/song?

    But you actually read somewhere it's about him?! Dahhh.... that's kind of put me off it a bit now! I don't like songs being so nailed-down like that. I preferred thinking of it as a generalised thing about someone who doesn't care about anything, and the 'nun' and 'fool' lines were just a throw-away oddity. Grrrr.


    In fact I'm going to carry on thinking that, and pretend this whole exchange never took place.


    This is like when I read that Who Dunnit was meant to be a dig at punk, embarrassingly 4 years too late, and that Cul de Sac was about the sodding dinosaurs, for crying out loud. Sometimes I think I should just stop reading things. :/

    Abandon all reason

  • Sometimes knowing more about a song can just about ruin it for me; sometimes it can really make the song for me. There's one case (not Genesis-related) where learning a song's backstory immediately changed it from one I hated to one that I loved.


    In some cases I just ignore the "official" story behind a song and go with the interpretation that makes sense to me. Cul-De-Sac and Domino are prime examples of where I feel my interpretation fits the lyrics better than the "official" story does. (Hmm, those are both Tony lyrics.)


    As for Happy The Man being about Phil... hmm, I think I might actually like it a little better now.

    "I don't belong here," said old Tessa out loud...

  • Got top marks from me for: "Like a nun with a gun - I'm wonderful fun"


    Superb - almost a Lennonism.

    "She looks at me and gently smiles, as if she knew I'd ask her all the time..."