Phil Collins, best known for being the drummer and singer of English rock-band Genesis appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show to interview with Jimmy Fallon and perform on Tuesday night to mark his comeback. Collins merged his long-standing solo stage band with members of the infamous Tonight Show house band, The Roots for a performance of Collins’ iconic, ‘In the Air Tonight’.
With his passionate vocals and eyes closed in ecstasy, the diminutive figure of 65-year old, popped-collared Collins seamlessly transported us back to the 80’s, along with the power-chord showdown between Daryl Stuermer (Collins’ band) and “Captain” Kirk Douglas (The Roots) and of course the notorious drum parts by Questlove.
Now officially out of retirement, Collins was on the show promoting his upcoming singles collection as well as his 2017 European solo tour. He revealed he won’t be playing drums on the tour however, due to sustaining extensive injuries.
In his interview with Fallon, Collins confirmed the long-dismissed theory behind the origins of ‘In the Air Tonight’. Supposedly Collins wrote the song, inspired by watching a man allow another man to drown, and then inviting the survivor to one of his concerts to expose him during the performance by shining a light on him. Collins dismisses it with the calm prowess as if he’s heard it a million times before, “Unfortunately, none of it’s true,” said Collins with a wry smile.
Instead, he confirmed the true origins being the anger he felt after going through his divorce: “I was pissed off. I was angry. Well, you know, you go through a divorce and sometimes it’s like ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, don’t hang up. And then it’s like, ‘well, fuck you’. And then of course that’s where a song like ‘In the Air Tonight’ comes out. There’s obviously a lot of anger in there.”
Perhaps Collins is telling the truth about the song’s origins, however, there’s no smoke without fire and perhaps his well rehearsed ‘true origins’ of the song are simply a cover-up for the witnessed crime? Of course the lyrics could lend themselves to both theories and could be taken literally or metaphorically:
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.