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Separate Lives

by

Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song deals with a breakup that is crushing for the singer - one of those relationships that ends with one person devastated and the other moving on in good order. The line, "You have no right to speak to me so kind" implies that the person who broke up with him still wants to be friends, but the heartache is too much to bear, and he needs her out of his life so he can move on.
Phil Collins was in a period where he was writing extraordinarily gut-wrenching songs like "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)," but he didn't write this one. "Separate Lives" was composed by Stephen Bishop, who had hits with "On and On" and "Save It For A Rainy Day." Bishop had a small part in the movie Animal House, where John Belushi smashes his guitar. On the set, he met Karen Allen, who is known for her roles in the first and fourth Indiana Jones movies. Bishop told us that he wrote the song after their breakup, adding, "I actually called her from the room in my hotel... poetic license don'tcha know." Regarding his songwriting process, Bishop says: "In Nashville they make songwriting a real job, they get to it. I tend to get a bit lazy on my songwriting, especially if I'm happy and content. I write much better when I'm heartbroken and sad or melancholy." (Thanks to Stephen for the info. Check out his website at stephenbishop.com.)
This was featured in the 1985 movie White Nights, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines. Stephen Bishop sent the song to Phil Collins, who loved it and recorded it for the film. Bishop changed some of the lyrics for the movie version.
This received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, but lost to Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me," which was also from White Nights. The film was directed by Taylor Hackford, who had a knack for turning out #1 hits from his movies. He also had chart-toppers with his movies An Officer And A Gentleman, Against All Odds and La Bamba.
Marilyn Martin was a prominent session singer, and had a minor hit in 1986 with "Night Moves." She moved on to a career in real estate in the '00s.
Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin
More Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin songs
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Comments (2):

I believe Stephen Bishop himself recorded the song first. I may be wrong, however.
- Christopher, Charlotte, NC
Can't believe I'm the first one to comment on this song. A club that I used to go to in the '80's had it on their jukebox. But whenever it started to play, one of the bartenders would hit the REJECT button which was concealed behind the bar somewhere, and stop it. Chatting with the owner one evening, he told me that the song reminded the guys on his staff about their respective exes too painfully. It's my favorite Phil Collins song.
- Paul, Washington DC, DC
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