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In The Air Tonight
Song

In The Air Tonight

Phil Collins
Album:
Face Value

Song Meaning of In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins, and what it is about


Following a lengthy tour with Genesis that led to the breakdown of his marriage, Phil Collins came home to an empty house. “I was angry, I was miserable, I was sad,” he said of the period.


He created a makeshift studio in his bedroom and directed his pain into a chilling song.


“In the Air Tonight" is the debut solo single by English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins. It was released as the lead single from Collins's debut solo album, Face Value, in January 1981.


Collins co-produced "In the Air Tonight" with Hugh Padgham, who became a frequent collaborator in the following years.


Collins wrote the song amid the grief he felt after divorcing his first wife Andrea Bertorelli in 1980.


In a 2016 interview, Collins said of the song's lyrics: "I wrote the lyrics spontaneously. I'm not quite sure what the song is about, but there's a lot of anger, a lot of despair and a lot of frustration."


Collins has described obtaining the drum machine specifically to deal with personal issues relating to his divorce through songwriting, telling Mix magazine: "I had to start writing some of this music that was inside me".


He improvised the lyrics during a songwriting session in the studio: "I was just fooling around. I got these chords that I liked, so I turned the mic on and started singing. The lyrics you hear are what I wrote spontaneously. That frightens me a bit, but I'm quite proud of the fact that I sang 99.9% of those lyrics spontaneously"


The song is famous for its use of the gated reverb drum sound. Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne called the drum fill "the best ever – it still sounds awesome".


Music critic Stuart Maconie remarked: “Musically, it's an extraordinarily striking record, because almost nothing happens in it ... It's the drum sound in particular that's amazing. You don't hear it at all for the first two minutes of the song ... then there's that great doo-dom doo-dom doo-dom comes in, and the drums come in half way through the song, setting the template for all the Eighties drum songs after that.”


It reached No. 1 in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, and the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand and several other European territories. It reached No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.


Song lyrics of In The Air Tonight by 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

And 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,

No you don't fool me

The hurt doesn't show

But the pain still grows

It's no stranger to you and me

 

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 in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord

But I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord

But 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

But I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord

Release Date

1981

Songwriter/s

Phil Collins

Producer/s

Phil Collins, High Padgham

Label/s

Virgin, Atlantic

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