In the song In The Air Tonight, Phil Collins asks the listener to imagine what it would be like if they were in the air. He wants them to feel the same way he does when he is flying and that is why he sings this song. The song In the Air Tonight is one of Phil Collins’ most famous hits. It was written by the British rock star and it was originally released in 1978 as a single. The song has been covered by many artists and it is still a favorite among fans.
Legends of the song In the Air Tonight
Let’s start dealing with the history of creation and the meaning of In the Air Tonight not in chronological order, but with a story about the aforementioned rumors that arose after the song had thundered all over the world. They exist in several versions, but all of them are connected with a couplet in which the author, addressing someone, says that he would not shake hands with him if he were drowning.
According to the most common urban legend about the song, Collins saw his close friend go to the bottom. He himself could not save him, because he was too far away. But near the place of the tragedy there was a certain person who did not want to help the drowning man. Allegedly, Phil subsequently invited the man to the concert and asked the lighting staff to keep him in the spotlight during the performance of In the Air Tonight. The further fate of the guy is described in various variations: dismissal from work, arrest, prison and even suicide.
A fiction is also known, according to which the singer himself did not want to come to the aid of a drowning man, since he either raped his wife, or committed some other vile act.
Even rapper Eminem joined the spread of rumors about In the Air Tonight, who in the text of the popular track Stan mentions them as real events.
The real meaning of the song In the Air Tonight
In fact, nothing of the sort happened. Collins has repeatedly denied these stories, although many prefer to believe in their reality. Here’s what he told the BBC correspondent:
I don’t know what this song is about. When I wrote it, I was in the process of a divorce. All I can say about her is that she clearly showed up in anger. This is the angry or bitter side of a breakup. And this makes it even more comical to hear stories that began many years ago, especially in America, when they came up to me and asked: “Did you really see someone drowning?” And I answered: “No, it’s not true.” And every time I return to America, the story is transmitted over a broken phone and acquires more and more details. It’s so disappointing because it’s probably the only song I’ve written that I really can’t tell what it’s about…
As for the phrase about the reluctance to lend a hand to a drowning man, then, according to Phil, it is symbolic and has nothing to do with any events.
History of the creation of the song “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
Now that we’ve found out that the rumors about In the Air Tonight are just speculation, let’s see how it was actually written.
In 1979, Phil Collins, returning from a tour on which he was with the Genesis group, learned that his wife had left him. This was a heavy blow for the musician, and it took a long time before he was able to cope with the shock. He expressed his overwhelmed negative emotions in In the Air Tonight.
The song began with a drum part that he programmed on a drum machine. A little later, he added a bass guitar and chords to it. The lyrics of In the Air Tonight came about as a result of improvisation in the studio:
I was just fooling around. I had the chords that I liked, and I turned on the microphone and began to sing. The words you hear are those that I spontaneously wrote. It scares me a little, but I’m quite proud of the fact that I sang 99.9% of the lyrics spontaneously.
Turn It On Again: Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, and Genesis, 2004
I won’t bore you with the details of the song recording process. If you speak English, look in Mix magazine (mixonline.com) for an article in which Collins explains in great detail how he worked on the composition in the studio, who helped him, and what difficulties they encountered.
Meaning of the song “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
In the air tonight is a song by English rock band Phil Collins. It was released in 1987 as the third single from his album “In The Air Tonight”. The song reached number one in the UK, Ireland and Australia. A song by Phil Collins is one of the most popular songs in the world. It was released in 1977, and it has been played on radio stations for more than 30 years.
It was also recorded by other artists, but Phil Collins’ version is considered as one of the best versions. If you have ever had the experience of having an idea for a song and then not being able to find the right words for it, then this section will be perfect for you. You can use this section as a way of brainstorming ideas for your song lyrics and also as an opportunity to share your own songs with other people through social media or by creating remixes with others’ songs.
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- It is said that the first recorded version of the text was scribbled on a piece of wallpaper.
- In the Air Tonight’s popularity was boosted by its inclusion in the pilot episode of Miami Vice.
- The composition has also been featured in many other serials and feature films, commercials and television shows.
- In the computer game GTA: Vice City Stories, there is a task – to save Phil from bandits who want to kill him right at the concert when he sings this particular song. Upon completion of the mission, you can return and watch the show.
- After using In the Air Tonight in a 2007 Dairy Milk commercial featuring a gorilla playing drums, the song resurfaced on the UK charts.
- Collins’ ex-wife left him for a graphic artist. Phil played up this fact during an appearance on Top of the Pops. To perform the song, he took the stage with a can of paint and a brush.
- In this song, the drums have an unusual (for the 1981 year when this song was recorded) sound: it was found by accident when Collins was working on the song Intruder for his friend and former colleague Peter Gabriel. In recording studios, rooms for musicians and sound engineers are separated by a soundproof partition. Musicians and engineers communicate using a communication system, through special microphones and speakers. The sound is then processed by a “compressor” — a device that reduces the difference between loud and soft sounds by “squeezing” the volume range. At some point, Collins started playing drums when the microphone in the studio was turned on. Sound engineer Hugh Pedham heard the drums through a compressor and was delighted with the effect. That same evening, they figured out how to record that sound, and late-model Solid State Logic mixing consoles added the ability to record what was heard over the communications system with the push of a button.
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight: Do you know why Phil Collins sang the song with a can of paint nearby?
The first time Phil Collins performed the song “In The Air Tonight” on TV was already on January 15, 1981, when, against the backdrop of high sales and popularity of the song, he was called to the British program Top Of The Pops. He came with a bucket of paint that had a brush in it, put it next to the synthesizer, sat down and “played” the part of the song up to the “magic break” plus some more.
On December 28, 1989, Phil Collins “performed” the song “In The Air Tonight” again on the Top Of The Pops program “Review Of The 80s”, from the subtitle of which you can see that it was dedicated to the end of the decade of the 80s. And again he came with a bucket of paint and a brush, but the arrangement was different, “magic break” was not so accented, so I’ll put you this video.
And for the first time he brought a can of paint with him to say hello to his wife, who left him for a graphic designer! Like, compare me, this cool pepper who performs in Top Of The Pops with some kind of paint can. No, Phil Collins was already on the Top Of The Pops program once, in March 1980, with the Genesis group, but there was no time for paint. The second time he brought in paint, mostly to recreate the 1981 performance. Well, a little to remind my ex-wife about myself, because. just in 1989, a daughter was born in his second marriage.
The song “In The Air Tonight” proved to be very successful in the media, which contributed to bursts of its popularity and sales of the single.
In 1983, it hits the hearts of teenagers after the film “Risky Business” with Tom Cruise, in 1984 it sounds in the pilot of the series “Miami Vice”, which leads to 102 in the US chart.
In 2004, Nonpoint recorded a cover of “In The Air Tonight”, which would later be featured on the soundtrack of the 2006 Miami Vice film adaptation of the original song.
But the song “In The Air Tonight” experienced a real explosion of popularity in 2007. Moreover, if in 1981 the song spent 10 weeks in the British chart, then in 2007-2008 – 21 weeks and reached 14th place! It was all thanks to a TV commercial for Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars that featured the song in front of a gorilla’s face, and during the “magic break” the gorilla played drums. The Cadbury Dairy Milk ad was one of the first commercial viral videos that people actively forwarded to each other.
Phil Collins In the Air Tonight Lyrics
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 (х2)
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 (х4)
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