Firth of Fifth

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"Firth of Fifth"
Song by Genesis from the album Selling England by the Pound
Released 3 August 1973
Genre Progressive rock, symphonic rock
Length 9:35
Label Charisma
Writer Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford
Producer John Burns & Genesis
Selling England by the Pound track listing
"I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"
"Firth of Fifth"
"More Fool Me"

Firth of Fifth is the third track on the album Selling England by the Pound by British progressive rock band Genesis.

The title is a pun on the estuary of the River Forth in Scotland, commonly known as the Firth of Forth.

The song starts out with a classical-style grand piano introduction played by Tony Banks. This section is rhythmically complex, with certain bars in the rare time signatures of 13/16 and 15/16, alternating with bars of 2/4.[1] This section changes tempo and segues into the first section of lyrics, accompanied by Phil Collins on drums and a chord progression between the Hammond organ (Banks) and guitar (Steve Hackett). The song then features a flute melody played by Peter Gabriel, followed by a synth-driven instrumental section which restates the opening piano theme. Hackett then plays the flute melody using violin-like guitar tones. Peter Gabriel then sings a brief section of lyrics before Banks concludes the song on piano.

"Firth of Fifth" is featured on their second compilation album, Platinum Collection (2004). Although it is credited to the entire band, Banks would later claim that much of the music was developed from his own ideas. Banks' authorship has been confirmed by Mike Rutherford[2] and Steve Hackett, who called it "one of Tony's finest."[3] Banks and Rutherford wrote the lyrics. Banks would later state in Hugh Fielder's The Book of Genesis that it was one of the worst sets of lyrics he has been involved with.

From autumn 1973 onwards, the song's piano intro was omitted during live performances. Banks felt he could not do the intro justice on the RMI electric piano he used on stage instead of a proper piano, as the RMI was not touch-sensitive.

The song appeared in instrumental form (the middle keyboard and guitar solos) as part of the 1992 We Can't Dance tour and 1998 Calling All Stations tour, as well as in 2007's Turn It On Again: The Tour. The instrumental segues directly into "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" in 1992 and 2007 versions. It also appears on Steve Hackett's solo album of re-worked Genesis songs, Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (1996), with lead vocal by John Wetton, as well as on Hackett's live album "The Tokyo Tapes". The song was also included as an encore on his Genesis Revisited tour (2013-2014), featured on the live album Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith.

In 2009 the DJ Absolut sampled parts from the guitar solo for the song "Flashback Memories" for the mixtape "Blood On Chef's Apron" with MC's The Game and Raekwon.


  1. ^ Sheet music of piano introduction
  2. ^ Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford (2007) Genesis Chapter and Verse, p. 168.
  3. ^ Hackett, Steve (1996) Genesis Revisited liner notes