In this song, Collins reminds us to examine both sides of the story in various scenarios - including a homeless man who desperately wants a job, a couple on the brink of a divorce, and a boy from the ghetto threatening a stranger with a gun - rather than make snap judgments. It's a very personal song that Collins wrote after splitting up with his second wife, Jill Tavelman. He told The Mail on Sunday: "Here I am trying to show the need to stand back and see things from the other person's point of view. The lyrics speak for themselves."
This was the lead single from Phil Collins' fifth solo album, Both Sides. The song reached #7 on the UK Singles Chart, but was Collins' first lead single since "Thru These Walls" in 1982 to fail to hit the Top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Collins did just about everything himself in making the Both Sides album: he played all the instruments, wrote all the songs and produced it. He says that the album sealed his departure from Genesis, since he now had little interest in working as a group and making the necessary compromises.
The music video was mostly filmed in New York City and depicts the events described in the song. As Collins sings about homelessness ("find yourself in the gutter in a lonely part of town"), there are images of homeless people in the streets. He witnesses a domestic battle in the home of a couple with children ("young faces hide in the shadows, while they watch their mother and father fight"). The last scenario, including the lyric, was inspired by the opening scene of the 1991 Lawrence Kasdan drama Grand Canyon. He watches a crime unfold as a ghetto kid with a gun corners a stranger ("Would you respect me if I didn't have this gun 'cos without it, I don't get it, and that's why I carry one"). But as the title suggests, there are two sides to the story and the gangbanger isn't entirely at fault.
"It's wrong that he has been driven to have a gun," Collins explained in a Chicago Tribune interview. "One of the reasons we have sympathetic faces in the video is so people will look at them and think to themselves, 'This guy isn't a killer. He's not a malevolent character. He's had to resort to this because he's been crapped on.' It's about not getting respect. This gun is their American Express Gold Card for getting respect."