On a 1997 episode of VH1 Storytellers, Collins said: "This is one of those examples of improvising lyrics. You know, sometimes you can use the lyric, other times you're in big trouble, because what you write doesn't mean anything. So I set up this drum-machine pad, and I got some chords, and I started to sing into the microphone, and this word came out, which was "sus-sussudio." It just literally came out, at the time... that was back when I could dance, so I kind of knew I had to find something else for that word, then I went back and tried to find another word that scanned as well as "sussudio," and I couldn't find one, so I went back to "sussudio."
Then I thought OK, let's give it a meaning, what is it? The lyrics are based on this schoolboy crush on this girl at school. It's happening with my daughter now, she's eight years old and she loves this boy, but she won't tell him, like in the lyrics this boy loves her but they don't talk about it... how do they know? 'I know she likes me, I know she likes me, doesn't know my name, doesn't know I exist, but I know she likes me'... So that's what the song is about, so "sussudio" became a name for this person, and since it's become a name for a horse. My older daughter's got a horse called Sussudio, and I'm sure there are children all over the world with the name Sussudio, so I apologize for that."