Misunderstanding

Album: Duke (1980)
Charted: 42 14
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Songfacts®:

  • This was one of the first songs Phil Collins wrote on his own. He was going through a very difficult time - his first wife Andrea had left him and taken their two children with her. Phil found himself alone in the house he once shared with them, and began writing songs - sad ones.

    "Misunderstanding" finds Collins getting stood up and failing to understand that the girl wants nothing to do with him. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he keeps blaming her evasiveness on "some misunderstanding."

    In a way, Collins is looking at himself as a witness observer - his story about a man who is delusional in love reflects his hopeless attempts to put his marriage back together (they divorced in 1980). At the time, Collins had much deeper concerns than being left out in the rain, and those concerns are laid bare on the song "Please Don't Ask," which is one of his most personal tales. "Misunderstanding" has a lot more distance, and also a lot more hit potential. Both songs were used on the Genesis album Duke; Collins poured out more of his heart on his first solo album, Face Value, which was released the following year.
  • This was the second Top 40 US hit for Genesis, following "Follow You, Follow Me." The band began divesting themselves of their progressive rock roots in 1978 with the release of their album And Then There Were Three. They continued moving toward more compact pop songs with "Misunderstanding," which runs just 3:08.
  • To write songs for the Duke album, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks moved into Collins' house in Surrey, England for six weeks. Collins hadn't done much writing at that point, but Rutherford and Banks were very impressed when he played them this song. Five of the other songs for the album were group efforts written during these sessions when the band would jam together.

    Banks recalled to Cleveland's 98.5 WNCX: "'Misunderstanding' was the first song we recorded that Phil wrote. Phil didn't used to write all that much of Genesis' material in the early days, up to and including Duke, really. He just didn't rate himself as a writer that much, I don't think, and he'd never really tried it before. But after his problems with his marriage in that year, he started to write songs. And he played us a load of the songs he'd written and we picked out of them two songs. One of them was 'Misunderstanding.'"
  • Genesis recorded this at Abba's studio in Sweden.
  • During a concert at Chicago's United Center on November 15, 2021, Genesis played this song live for the first time in 37 years. The band hadn't performed "Misunderstanding" in full since their 1984 Mama tour (They incorporated part of it into a live medley during their 1988 gigs).

Comments: 11

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1980 {September 12th} Genesis performed "Misunderstanding" on the NBC-TV late-night musical variety program, 'The Midnight Special'...
    At the time the song was at position #55 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, four weeks earlier it had peaked at #14 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for eighteen weeks...
    As noted above, it reached #42 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    And on the same 'MS' show they also performed "Turn It On Again", the week before it entered the Top 100 chart at position #84, four weeks later it would peak at #58 {for 1 week} and it spent eight weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1980 and 1992 the Godalming, Surrey, England group had twenty two records on the Top 100 chart, seven made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Invisible Touch", for 1 week in 1986...
    They never had a record peak at #2, but did they did have two reached #3, "In Too Deep" {1986} and "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" {1987}...
  • Brad from Saint John, NbI agree with Jeffery from Myrtle Beach. That's actually why I came here - to see if anyone else noticed the similarities.
  • Tanya from La Verne, Ca"Hot Fun in the Summertime" had a big influence on the making of this song.
  • Andy from Lake City, Fli doubt this is about marriage. more like phil as a 17 year old obsessed ex-boyfriend. there's something positively fascinating about a girl passively avoiding an odd guy and he just doesn't get it. lennon and sting proved this subject always affects people.
  • Adam from Boyce, VaMy favorite Genesis song! One of the catchiest hooks and chorus's I've ever heard!
  • Tony from Chicago, Ilwonderful song, great chorus and melody
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI heard this song after a Dairy Queen commerial on the radio.when I was going out with my ex-boyfriend Dan Maddox. I love this song!
  • Jeffery from Myrtle Beach, ScGreat song. Does anyone else think that the beat from this song sounds like the Led Zeppelin song Fool In The Rain?
  • Jeff from Atlanta, GaUniversal feelings of gettin played and dumped.. "i rang your house and got no answer.. even hearing this at say age 10-11..i got the feeling and the gist..Collins is brilliant when he isn't being to coy or cute.. his simplest works are his best work..
  • Rusty from Lake Park, Mnreally good song! kinda has an old school sound
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InI was around 11 when this was a hit and just loved it. I still think this is their best tune.
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