Phil Collins, one of the most successful male solo artists of all
time. Before he became a solo singer-songwriter, he was also the
lead singer with the band Genesis. He had been the drummer in the
band since 1970 but he took over as lead singer when Peter Gabriel
left the band in 1975.
his first wife left him, he wrote several songs about how he felt.
When he started his solo career, these songs were recorded as part
of his first album Face Value. One of the most famous of them was
The Air Tonight. Find out from Phil Collins himself how
the song was written and learn about the lyrics.
Phil, how do you write your lyrics?
One of the tabloids just spent a whole page with lyrics of mine -
and gave them to a psychiatrist!
I gotta explain really the way I write lyrics. Because 70-80% of the
lyrics I write, I sing. I don't write them. And after I've got a verse
and a chorus or after I've got
something that I like, I will then sing into a microphone anything
that I think. What exactly is 'In The Air Tonight' about?
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. Where does the line 'Wipe off that grin' come from?
Well, it's that smug look that
someone who thinks they've got one over on you, you know. They think
that they've convinced you that what they're doing is telling you
the truth. And in fact, you know it's a lie. 'A pack of lies' - I
mean it's just a you know, it's just one lie after the other. 'The first time, the last time we ever met'... Contradiction?
I didn't go back to look at the thing and say - 'Now, does this make
sense because someone's gonna ask me years later?' I just said, 'does
that sound good?' - 'It's the first time, the last time we ever met'
You know, I said, 'yeah, that sounds great'. Because I'm not very
good with words. I mean, although I'm writing lyrics, I'm not very
good with words talking. So, I thought, when she hears this she'll
know how I feel.
you get all that? Well, here's a chance for you to check if you know
exactly what some of the expressions Phil used mean.
is someone who...
that can't be explained scientifically
and conditions of the mind
to people who are under stress or shock
A chorus is...
a catchy part
of the song that's repeated several times
group of people who sing together
two or more
musical notes played at the same time
you want to
describe a Chinese person talking quietly into another
you want to
describe any person talking quietly into a Chinese person's
a story gets
distorted and embellished the more often it's told
You have a smug look if you...
about to take things illegally from one country to another