My Sunday Song – “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

My Sunday Song #62 is the song “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins.  The song is off the album, Face Value, and was released as a single on January 8th, 1981.  The song is one of Phil’s most recognizable and most popular songs and it reached #2 in the UK and #19 in the US on Billboards Hot 100.

What makes it so recognizable is the drum work throughout.  The slow build up to that drum beat that comes screaming in and there throughout the rest of the song.  Who hasn’t been in their car and when that part comes up, you air drum and everyone around you looks at you like you are a nut…and also wondering why you aren’t holding on to your steering wheel.

The song’s popularity even increased when it was used in the pilot episode of Miami Vice in 1984.  That helped it remain a part of pop culture forever.  The creepiness of the song and the dark overtones worked nicely in the episode and showed how well music and TV could work together.

For me, the cool thing about the song is the urban legend around it.  I remember hearing the song was about a man that Phil had witnessed do something incredibly terrible and then years later that same man was drowning and when Phil saw who it was, he just stood there and watched him drown.  Hell, it says it in the lyrics.  I know there are several variations of the legend, but that is the one I remember hearing.

Now the truth is very different.  According to Phil from a BBC World Service Interview,

I don’t know what this song is about. When I was writing this I was going through a divorce. And the only thing I can say about it is that it’s obviously in anger. It’s the angry side, or the bitter side of a separation. So what makes it even more comical is when I hear these stories which started many years ago, particularly in America, of someone come up to me and say, “Did you really see someone drowning?” I said, “No, wrong”. And then every time I go back to America the story gets Chinese whispers, it gets more and more elaborate. It’s so frustrating, ’cause this is one song out of all the songs probably that I’ve ever written that I really don’t know what it’s about, you know?[14]

The urban legend is still believed by a lot of people today and was referenced in Eminem’s song “Stan” back in 2000. Whatever you believe, it definitely adds to the mystery of the song and makes it that much more special.

Give the song a listen and Enjoy!  Happy Sunday!  And if you see someone drowning…please help them.

 

“In The Air Tonight”

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh LordWell, if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
I’ve seen your face before my friend
But I don’t know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin,
I know where you’ve been
It’s all been a pack of liesAnd I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
Well, I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh LordWell I remember, I remember don’t worry
How could I ever forget,
It’s the first time, the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up,
No you don’t fool me
The hurt doesn’t show
But the pain still grows
It’s no stranger to you and me

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
Well, I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord
But I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
But I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord
But I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord

Written by Phil Collins

26 thoughts on “My Sunday Song – “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

  1. I’ve never been a fan of Phil, but I do like this track. Purely cause of the drums. Now, though,I think of the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk ad when I hear this. Which isn’t a bad thing… unless it gets you craving some Dairy Milk. Which I am now. Drats.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve been lucky to avoid most commercials these days, but they’ve killed a few songs for me over the years. Good in some respects (reminder of a track you may have forgotten), but the downside is hearing the same bit of a track way too often!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Came here for the drum part (classic), but stayed to see what you’d say about the urban legend of it all. Personally, even as a kid when this came out, I doubted Phil would ever watch someone drown. With years and knowledge we see it’s emotional upheaval in a turbulent time. He sees the divorce coming (n the air tonight), and he wonders if they even know who each other is, as people, anymore or if it’s all just a a wall of pain between them and neither is saying it first. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. There’s a scene later in the film where Cruise’s character and the hooker played by Rebecca DeMornay have driven to a lake or some other body of water at night in Cruise’s parents’ expensive sports car. He’s fallen for her, even though he’s too young for her, not to mention the fact she’s a hooker and from a different societal class than his affluent upbringing, Collins’ intensely powerful song is perfect for that moment of sexual tension. I honestly remember what scene every time I hear the song.

        Liked by 1 person

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