13 – Wednesday 13 January 2010 : Squonk!

In I never knew that!, Listening on January 13, 2010 by Gabor Tagged: ,

(image from A Trick Of The Tail album artwork)

This evening I was participating in a word association thread on an Internet forum that I belong to. The previous words had been: labour; birth; genesis. I responded with squonk


Squonk is the title of the third track on Genesis’s 1976 album A Trick Of The Tail (Genesis’s first album following the departure of Peter Gabriel; everyone assumed that the band would not last very long thereafter, but that is another story).

My use of the word squonk in the word association thread led to some discussion, and so I explained that it was the title of a song about a creature that lives in the forest and is prone to bouts of tears, sometimes dissolving into a little wet patch on the ground. The song recounts how a huntsman set out to capture the squonk, and ends up luring the animal into his sack. The song continues:

Walking home that night
The sack across my back, the sound of sobbing on my shoulder
When suddenly it stopped
I opened up the sack, all that I had
A pool of bubbles and tears, just a pool of tears

For more than 30 years I had thought that this was simply a jolly little story made up by Phil Collins and Co.  But no: it turns out that the legend of the squonk is rather older. The squonk is a mythical creature found in the hemlock forests of Pennsylvania. Legend has it that a Mr Joseph Wentling set out to capture a squonk with the results described in the song. You can read the Wikipedia entry in full here.

And here is the final verse:

All in all you are a very dying race
Placing trust upon a cruel world.
You never had the things you thought you should have had
And you’ll not get them now,
And all the while in perfect time
Your tears are falling on the ground.


One Response to “13 – Wednesday 13 January 2010 : Squonk!”

  1. Well I never! I’d assumed it was a Phil Collins invention too.

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