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Album: ...But SeriouslyReleased: 1989Charted:
This song addresses the consequences of ignoring the needy and homeless. It's a rare Phil Collins hit with a socially conscious message.
Collins told The New York Times how the song came together: "It was begun at the piano. I started playing and put it down on a tape so I wouldn't forget it. Then I decided to see what would happen when I started singing. When I began, the words just came out, 'She calls out to the man on the street.' I didn't set out to write a song about the homeless. Those were just the words I happened to sing. It was only then that I decided that was what the song would be about."
Many of the songs from ...But Seriously
were written in an attempt to offset what Collins called "middle-of-the-road" song choices that made his reputation "a little more trivialized than I wanted to be." He had just played the title thief in the 1988 adventure comedy Buster
, for which he recorded a hit cover of the '60s pop song "A Groovy Kind Of Love
He told Musician
: "'Another Day in Paradise' was chosen because it was a bit different from what had gone on before. It would bring people back to the starting line of remembering what I'm about. I write 'In the Air
.' I'm quite capable of writing a 'Two Hearts
,' but let's not forget I'm also doing this kind of stuff."
This won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. It also won the 1990 Brit Award for Best Single.
Collins told The Mail on Sunday: "I wrote this after being in Washington DC where I was amazed by how many people I saw living in boxes."
He also explained in a Musician interview: "I remember when we played Washington... Washington was almost at a standstill and these people were trying to sleep on the grills where all the hot air was coming up, and you could see that it was in the shadow of Capitol Hill. I thought it was an extraordinary contradiction."
David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, sang on this. Crosby worked with Collins on and off through the late '80s to early '90s; Collins performed background vocals for Crosby's 1993 song, "Hero," from the album Thousand Roads
The black-and-white music video, featuring Collins performing the song interspersed with images of homeless people, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Short Form. It was no match for Paula Abdul and her rapping animated cat: "Opposites Attract
" won the award.
Collins met the problem of homelessness face-to-face in London while cutting this single. He remembers leaving the studio and seeing a homeless woman with two children who were begging for money. While the song shines a light on the issue, it also made him realize that, when confronted with it, he reacted the same as everyone else.
"What (the song) deals with is people's awkwardness with it. When it happened to me, I just walked straight past. I thought, I'm doing the same thing as everybody else... I felt awkward. I didn't ignore her but at the same time I didn't stop and give her some money... That's what the song deals with, people just sort of starting to pretend it's not happening."
Collins was criticized by the English press for singing about the poor despite being wealthy ("This is one I got a lot of flak for because I'm a multimillionaire"). He responded in a New York Times interview: "When I drive down the street, I see the same things everyone else sees. It's a misconception that if you have a lot of money you're somehow out of touch with reality."
R&B singer Brandy recorded this in 2001.