When Robbie Williams signed his record-breaking £80 million contract with EMI, the cheeky-chappie of pop appeared to have the world at his feet. Seemingly an extrovert with a supposed ego to rival any of his musical rivals, deep down Robbie Williams was insecure, having reportedly battled depression, self-esteem issues and substance abuse since his Take That days in the early 1990s. On "Feel" he sings about trying to understand his place in the world as a singer with a rare gift but a flawed personality.
I just wanna feel real love
Feel the home that I live in
Cause I got too much life
Running through my veins
Going to waste
Robbie craved a real relationship, a loving family at home. However, because of his insecurities, he is unable to experience real love.
In 2002, Robbie Williams signed a record-breaking £80 million contract with EMI. Written by Robbie and his then songwriting partner Guy Chambers, "Feel" kicked off the promotion for his first album, Escapology, following the signing of the new deal. Released on September 30, 2002, the song became Williams' biggest international hit, topping the charts in Argentina, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania. However, it only reached #4 in the singer's native United Kingdom.
The song failed to reach the US Hot 100 but the Western-themed video gained some attention thanks to the leading actress Daryl Hannah playing Williams' love interest.
Hannah's other link to pop music was her long-term relationship with singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, who appears in the video for "You're A Friend Of Mine
" and also sings on the track. In the early 1990s, she left him for John Kennedy Jr. and many of Browne's songs on his 1993 I'm Alive
album are thought to have been written about the actress.
The version of "Feel" you hear on Escapology is actually a demo. When Williams and Chambers started working on the album and were trying to re-record the vocals, the singer was unhappy with his efforts, so he decided to release the demo version. He said:
"It's a beautiful song. Most of the vocal we used on the finished thing is from original demo. I tried to sing it again and I just couldn't sing it as well as I did on that day. I pour my heart out."
Guy Chambers admitted that initially he was nervous about the frankness of Williams' lyrics. "Because it is honest," he said. "It's a deep lyric. I think it's one of his best lyrics."
Robbie Williams performed this song at the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony held in Moscow, Russia.