Monday, August 18, 2008
Phil Collins Gets His Due
At the risk of sounding completely lame and the exact opposite of what it means to be cool, let me just go on record as saying that Phil Collins is a hell of a songwriter.
I have no idea where my obsession with break-up songs comes from, but this piece from Chicago Public Radio's "This American Life" picks up where I have often left off, as Starlee Kine goes to seemingly absurd lengths to help herself get over her recent break-up. She goes to the heart of what makes a great break-up song. More specifically, she goes to the king of the break-up song: Phil Collins
This American Life: Break-Up
I'd never thought of Phil Collins in terms of being a great songwriter, in the same way that I'd never thought of Dusty Springfield as the Queen of the Torch Song. But listening to this piece, and hearing about all of the pain Collins has been through in his life (his third divorce was settled today!), you begin to realize that the man has so much more to offer than soundtrack songs from kids movies. In The Air Tonight, Another Day in Paradise, I Wish It Would Rain Down, Do You Remember... Those are all great songs that will get your eyes sweating in the right circumstances. And as for Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), as is well documented in the "This American Life" piece, you'd be hard pressed to find a better or more painful lyric than:
How can you just walk away from me,
When all I can do is watch you leave...
You're the only one who really knew me at all
This is essential listening for any Phil Collins fan. It's essential listening for anyone who has ever been through a painful break-up (as Laura Waterman puts it: "breaking up with someone is literally the most common thing"). And it's essential listening for anyone who has ever tried to write a song, or listen to a song for the first time all over again.