I have always wanted to be Phil Collins, I guess. I played the drums, like Collins. I begrudgingly fronted tiny school bands as a teen, despite resistance, like Collins. I secretly loved the fact that I was being asked to sing, the same as Collins (even though I couldn’t really sing, sadly like Collins).
I was listening to an older record of his the other day when I realized all this. Also, being exposed to his music at a very young age, it appears as though I have modeled much of my behavior, in a very unhealthy way, after the characters in several of his songs. This is something specifically borne out in plots heard on the record “Hello, I Must Be Going.” The following are several of the Phil Collins songs.
“I Cannot Believe It’s True:” While the beat on this song is upbeat enough, the gravitas of the lyric is real enough. “Over and over I keep on telling myself…I hope I’m gonna wake up…” The narrator in the song is being swooned over by this strong beauty. While that may sound pedestrian enough, the subtext is written in as he says numerous times, “I cannot believe it’s true that you’re really doing the things you do.”
“Like China:” Kind of an aggressive song for the chorus, “I’ll be so careful, I’ll hold you like china,” this song is where an inexperienced voice comes to the fold. Despite the sweet sentiment, “Like China” is a belligerent song. “…I promise not to hurt you,” the chorus continues, “I’ll hold you like china; you won’t feel nothing, I’ll hold you like china, cause I know it’s your first time.” Hmmm…The rowdy delivery and bawdy lyrical content of sweet lines really pecks away at their power.
“Do You Know, Do You Care?” This song is quite creepy. I probably should have heard the reality of this song a long time ago but because “Hello I Must Be Going” came out when I was three years old, I literally grew up with this gargoyle like character and his wicked laugh on my hi-fi. “Do You Know, Do You Care” is a venomously self-centered song with the narrator offering nothing and expecting everything in return. Not a healthy way to enter a relationship or live your life generally.
“It’ Don’t Matter to Me:” A song like “It Don’t Matter to Me” very well could have been the inspiration for a character like Eric Cartman whose signature line, “I don’t care, I’ll do what I want,” fits perfectly in with this songs ethos.
“Thru These Walls:” This is the song that really takes the cake for how not to get involved in healthy relationships. “Thru These Walls” is another multiple personality track which follows the narrator around as he goes from sounding almost innocent and scared to sardonic and tawdry. The second voice has his ear pressed to the walls of his apartment. He doesn’t “…get higher, just being me. I like pretending wanting to touch them wanting to see.” (shudder)
“Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away” is domineering, “Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning” is dismissive, and on and on it goes. Phil Collins is a worthwhile entertainer to listen to and enjoy. However his brash lyrics and overpowering characters are no way for anyone to live their lives. It may have taken me years to see things from a different perspective, but at least I’m not an old man and still behaving that way.