Friday, January 29, 2010

Music: Phil Collins / In the Air Tonight

I like Phil Collins, I like In The Air Tonight, but I love the video clip used in the Cadbury advertisement that utilises the song. The video clip I am referring to is the one with the gorilla, which has spawned numerous remixes, spoofs and the like.
The clip can be viewed at:
Sometime ago I heard that the Phil Collins’ song was about his brother drowning, that there was a man on the shore who watched and did not help, and that Collins learned who he was. He sent tickets to his show to the guy, front row seats, and then sang that song to the guy with the spotlight on him. True?
The lyrics of the song are:

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord


Well 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
And 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 lies

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

Well I remember, I remember, don't worry, how could I ever forget
It's the first time and the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, no you don't fool me
Because the hurt doesn't show, but the pain still grows
It's no stranger to you and me

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

Collins’ performance of the song can be seen at:

Some facts and fictions about the song and lyrics, the video clip with the gorilla, and generally…

The Cadbury gorilla was part of a large scale 2007-2008 advertising campaign that tied in with TV ads, billboards, internet, movie theatres and ads in magazines and newspapers. The internet posting had 500,000 hits in the first week. The advertising was successful in overcoming negativity toward the company caused by product recalls after it was discovered that a leaking pipe had caused some product lines to contain salmonella bacteria, other blunders and the relocation of jobs to Poland.

The drowning and payback story is an urban myth. It is looked at in detail and debunked by Snopes at:
http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/intheair.asp
and by Wikipedia at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Air_Tonight

The myth has appeared in various versions: Collins was present when someone drowned and he was too far away to help but saw someone nearby who didn’t assist; or that Collins saw someone who raped his wife; or that Collins saw his wife with another guy etc etc.

The truth is that Collins wrote the song when his marriage was going downhill. In it he let out his anger and frustrations, hence the black, moody lyrics.

Collins has himself commented on the lyrics and the myth about the payback of the chap who didn’t help:

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, 'cos 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.
He has also said in an interview:

I remember the first principle I had for making my record was that I would get a voice down very quickly so everything else would fit to the voice. The lyrics you hear for 'In the Air Tonight,' I just sang. I opened my mouth and they came out. I never wrote anything down and then afterward, I listened to it and wrote them down.
Collins wife ended up running off with a painter and decorator, When he performed this number on the UK Pop music show Top of the Pops, he did so with a pot of paint and brush on top of the piano.

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