♫ In The Air Tonight ♫

I could have sworn that I had played this one here before, for it is among my favourites by Phil Collins, but a thorough search did not find it, so apparently I dreamed I played it!  It happens … some days I wake up thinking that I’ve already cooked supper, or taken a shower, when in fact all I’ve done is sleep!

Collins wrote this song about the anger he felt after divorcing his first wife, Andrea Bertorelli, in 1980 – he was so devastated that he left Genesis for a short time. All of the original songs on the Face Value album, including the follow-up hit I Missed Again, were at one time intended to be “messages” to his first wife in an attempt to lure her back to him.

The lingering tension caused by the divorce led Collins to the title, as these negative feelings were In The Air, and affecting not just the couple getting divorced, but the entire family.

By the time the album was released, Collins had moved on and was dating Jill Tavelman, who became his second wife. His split with Jill would inspire the songs on Collins’ 1993 album Both Sides.

The meaning of this song became a pervasive urban myth. The story, which is not true, is that Collins watched as a man who raped his wife drowned. Another version has Collins writing this about about a man who watched another drown, and singing it to him at a concert. Yet another variation claims that when Collins was a young boy, he witnessed a man drowning someone but was too far away to help. Later, he hired a private detective to find the man, sent him a free ticket to his concert, and premiered the song that night with the spotlight on the man the whole time. We repeat, these stories are not true.
This was Collins’ first single as a solo artist; he claims that he offered it up as a Genesis song, but that his bandmates rejected it, saying it was “too simple.” Tony Banks of Genesis insists that Collins never played them the song.

There are shorter versions of this song, but I like this one for its dramatic presentation …

In the Air Tonight
Phil Collins

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 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
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 lies

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 coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
Well I’ve been waiting for this moment for 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, the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, oh no you don’t fool me
Well 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
Well been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, 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
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord

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

Songwriters: Phil Collins
In the Air Tonight lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Concord Music Publishing LLC

21 thoughts on “♫ In The Air Tonight ♫

  1. Phil Collins eldest son is Simon, from his first marriage to Andrea. Nicholas, the drummer, and Matthew are the sons from marriage to third wife, Orianne. Altogether there are 5 children, two of them daughters. The eldest Joely is the daughter of Andrea and though not his biologically, Phil adopted her when they married. The other daughter is Lily, an actress, from his second marriage to Jill Travelman.

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    • You make my head spin!!! Some days I do well to remember my own name, and you have all these facts right on the tip of your tongue! Er … fingers. 😉 Thank you for the info! So perhaps talent is genetic after all?

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  2. Shortly after Benjamin left this afternoon, I came to explore my inbox and amidst the numerous emails this one stood out! I have always been a fan of Phil Collins, as I may have mentioned when you posted “One More Night” back in the Fall. I’m fairly sure that I mentioned that another of his songs is my favorite and why. But this is a phenomenal song, so I turned the volume all the way to the top and bellowed along with Phil, then again and then as I was on another encore a memory popped up and I had to call my Son. He has been a Phil Collins fan since he was a young boy, back at the end of Collins Genesis days. My Son loves to tell everyone how he wanted to be a drummer in his “misguided youth”, the drummer part is true but the misguided youth is not. I encouraged playing the guitar, but he insisted on playing the drums and did so from the age of 8 until his early 20’s. Now, but for this conversation with him, I would have nothing to add to this comment beyond your detailed post…unbelievable huh? I called because I remembered that he and a group of his friends went to the “Not Dead Yet Tour” in Boston this past October. He was elated because he had never seen Phil Collins in concert. He had told me that Phil sat in a chair for almost the whole time appearing very old and weak, but that his voice was awesome. What was news to me today though…Collins 17 year old son, Nicholas, is his drummer now and on the tour. He said that they spotlighted the son’s drumming of this song and he was outstanding. Wouldn’t you love to see that? That’s my tidbit for today, although not even really mine. Thank-you!

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    • P.S. or PS, I’ve yet to unravel that conundrum! I might have thought to mention Phil Collins 2016 autobiography “Not Dead Yet” from whence came the tour name too. I’m a huge fan of biographies and autobiographies even more so. Phil’s is very good, a must for any fan. There, I have redeemed myself with my very own tidbit! Thank-you!

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    • Ah yes … You’ll Be In My Heart was your favourite, and I meant to play that one a week or two later (I try not to play the same artist twice too close together), but it slipped my mind. I have duly noted it now! Interestingly, another reader commented that his son, Simon, sings on one of Genesis’ tribute albums and sounds very similar to Phil! Thanks for the info and I promise I’ll try to play your song soon!

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  3. One of those people I’m happy to award the title Superstar.Not just for his music which has spanned decades and been superb but also for his kindness. Despite living in Switzerland he’s still aware of his roots and has givn generously to some in dire need of help where he used to live. Brilliant choice of song.
    Cwtch.

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    • I guess it’s good, then, that I didn’t play Bowie/Jagger Dancing In The Street, eh? But seriously, I am happy that you liked the song! I didn’t know Phil Collins lives in Switzerland, so you have enlightened me today! Thank you!
      Cwtch

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  4. One of the only Phil Collins songs I like (in context I have every (ok most) Genesis, Steve Hackett, Peter Gabriel albums and even have a couple of Tony Banks classical ones). His son, Simon sings on one of Hackett’s Genesis tribute albums and sounds very similar.

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