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"Get 'em out by Friday!
You don't get paid till the last one's well on his way
Get 'em out by Friday!
It's important that we keep to schedule, there must be no delay"
MARK HALL OF STYX ENTERPRISES (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS "THE WINKLER")
"I represent a firm of gentlemen
Who recently purchased this house and all the others in the road
In the interest of humanity we've found a better place for you to go-go-go"
MRS BARROW (a tenant)
"Oh no, this I can't believe
Oh Mary, they're asking us to leave"
"Get 'em out by Friday!
I've told you before's good many gone if we let them stay
And if it isn't easy
You can squeeze a little grease and our troubles will soon run away"
"After all this time they ask us to leave
And I told them we could pay double the rent
I don't know why it seemed so funny
Seeing as how they'd take more money
The Winkler called again, he came here this morning
With four hundred pounds and a photograph of the place that he has found
A block of flats with central heating
I think we're going to find it hard"
"Now we've got them!
I've always said that cash, cash, cash can do anything well
Work can be rewarding
When a flash of intuition is a gift that helps you excel-sell-sell-sell"
"Here we are in Harlow New Town
Did you recognize your block across the square, over there?
Sadly since last time we spoke, we've found we've had to raise the rent again
Just a bit"
"Oh no, this I can't believe
Oh Mary, and we agreed to leave"
18/9/2012 TV FLASH ON ALL DIAL-A-PROGRAM SERVICES
This is an announcement from Genetic Control:
"It is my sad duty to inform you of a 4ft. restriction on humanoid height"
EXTRACT FROM CONVERSATION OF JOE ORDINARY IN LOCAL PUBORAMA
"I hear the directors of Genetic Control
Have been buying all the properties that have recently been sold
Taking risks oh so bold
It's said now that people will be shorter in height
They can fit twice as many in the same building site
They say it's alright
Beginning with the tenants of the town of Harlow
In the interest of humanity they've been told they must go
Told they must go-go-go-go"
SIR JOHN DE PEBBLE OF UNITED BLACKSPRINGS INTERNATIONAL
"I think I've fixed a new deal
A dozen properties - we'll buy at five and sell at thirty-four
Some are still inhabited
It's time to send the Winkler to see them, he'll have to work some more"
MEMO FROM SATIN PETER OF ROCK DEVELOPMENTS LTD
With land in your hand you'll be happy on earth
Then invest in the Church for your heaven
A little bit of History now. In the Sixties and Seventies Britain Council tenants were moved out of slum housing whether they liked it or not. Their houses were then knocked down and in inner cities new high rise flats were built, Gabriel seeing what British Society took another twenty years to realise was that this destroyed any communal spirit and was a great error which are still paying for today! The point is humorously driven in in an episode of the Young Ones, circa 1984, when the character Mike speaks to the camera in the midst of a huge neighbourhood brawl saying that it's development that is killing off this kind of community spirit.
Get 'em Out by Friday is the third song on the 1972 album Foxtrot.
We are treated once again to the "play" format of Peter's lyric writing used previously on Nursery Cryme's "Harold the Barrel." and slightly differently in "The Fountain of Salmacis". A format which works perfectly when the moniker of "rock theatre" is applied to it by the press.
The song takes the form of a futuristic play set initially in the present but ending in 2012. If we are following continuity, we have been brought from the far future of an empty planet Earth, to an exploration of the distant past bringing us up to the present and - at the end of this song - to the near future. (2012, by the way, is a special year according to the Mayan Calendar...but I digress) The song uses elements of reality and science fiction as a means of social criticism on the corporate greed and oppression of the UK's council housing system in the 1970s. Social commentary was an evident theme throughout Genesis's early work, especially in their following album, Selling England by the Pound.
The play contains three main characters:
John Pebble: A business man of Styx Enterprises. Near the end of the song, he has been knighted and works for United Blacksprings International.
Mark Hall (also known as "The Winkler"): A man who works for Styx Enterprises and has the task of evicting tenants.
Mrs Barrow: a tenant in a house in Harlow, purchased by Pebble. (and either her friend Mary, or an exclamation to the catholc Mary)
The song starts with a fast-paced refrain of Pebble ordering Hall to "Get 'em out by Friday". In the following verse, the Winkler tells a disbelieving Mrs Barrow that a firm of men has purchased her property and that she has been evicted. She refuses to leave, so Pebble raises the rent on the property. In lieu of this, the Winkler offers £400 for Mrs Barrow to move; she does, albeit grudgingly. However, shortly after Mrs Barrow moves in, Pebble again raises the rent.
A slow instrumental indicates a passage of time, taking the story to the year 2012. At this time, Genetic Control has announced that they are restricting the height of all humans to four feet. (Dial-a-Program was literally a service that was set up in Britain when fiber-optics were first coming into use, and invented by Peter Gabriel's father, Ralph Gabriel, who was the head television engineer for Rediffusion televison, who amongst other things made “At Last the 1948 Show” and “Do Not Adjust Your Set”, the Monty Python precursors.) This piece of news is then discussed in a “puborama” by a man named "Joe Everybody," who reveals the reason behind the restriction: so that Genetic Control, who has recently bought some properties, will be able to accommodate twice as many people in the same tower block.
The penultimate verse is that of Pebble, now knighted, repeating the process for another set of properties. The last verse is a
"Memo from Satin Peter
With land in your hand, you'll be happy on earth, then invest in the Church for your heaven.”
Satin, being a wordplay on Satan, would make this line most ironic - implying a conspiracy between business and the church? Also, if Peter is portraying a Satan-like character for this song, (most likely a comment on the attributes of those business figures behind these housing issues) then compare him portraying the Fox with the red dress on from the cover who in the libretto to Supper's Ready “keeps throwing sixes.” On the other hand, there's another interpretation about "Satin": it's either a misprint, or another of Peter's wordplays, but to another person: "Satin" is an anagram of "Saint", making the play even more ironic ("Satin Peter" would then mean "SAINT Peter", Peter Gabriel's namesake).
Michael Rutherford commented that the lyrics were the best that Gabriel had written while Allmusic.com has cited the song as "the truest sign Genesis had grown muscle without abandoning the whimsy.” Peter Gabriel in the recent reissue interviews has gone on to say that with genetic science progressing, that we may just want to “go shorter” in the future if the need is there!