In the Air Tonight

“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…”

It’s been the stuff of urban legend, it helped launch one of our decade’s best TV shows, and it secured Phil Collins’ place as a solo singer.

And it’s got perhaps the most famous drum fill in musical history.

In 1980, he was riding high on the success of Genesis, but he was also still feelin’ pretty darn low in the wake of his divorce a year earlier.

After deciding to take a break from Genesis, he went into the recording studio (as the story goes) and just started signing. The result (Collins says 99.9% of the lyrics were made up on the spot) was his first top 20 solo hit… “In the Air Tonight”.

Featuring dark, macabre lyrics, a completely unique percussion track, and a video that’s among the creepiest ever made, the song was an instant classic.

Urban legends abounded about its origin (Collins wrote it after witnessing a man drowning, he wrote it after coming home to find his wife being attacked…) but it was just a simple song made in the simplest of ways.

And it was so perfectly 80s and evoked such a mood that Michael Mann tapped it for use in the pilot episode of his new cop show in 1984… Miami Vice. Of course it’s also shown up in dozens of other places, too, from Risky Business to The Hangover to NBA arenas.

“In the Air Tonight” was released in May 1981 and peaked at #19 in August…not a huge hit, but it was an acquired taste, and it’s now one of our favorite decade’s most famous songs.

“…the hurt doesn’t show, but the pain still grows. Some stranger to you and me…”

(We will now pause while you air drum your heart out.)

We ♥ In the Air Tonight.


~ by weheart80s on June 13, 2012.

One Response to “In the Air Tonight”

  1. This is one of my favourite songs: atmospheric, moody and edgy. I also loved the version Maria did on the TV show, Roswell.

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