In The Air Tonight

Album: Face Value (1981)
Charted: 2 19
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  • I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
    And I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
    Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord

    Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand
    I've seen your face before my friend, but I don't know if you know who I am
    Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes
    So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you've been
    It's all been a pack of lies

    And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
    Well I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
    I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
    Well I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord

    Well I remember, I remember, don't worry, how could I ever forget
    It's the first time, the last time we ever met
    But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, oh no you don't fool me
    Well the hurt doesn't show, but the pain still grows
    It's no stranger to you and me

    I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
    Well been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
    I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord
    Well I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
    I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
    And I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
    I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord
    Well I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord

    I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord
    Well I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord Writer/s: Phil Collins
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 116

  • Ken/hudson from Hudson,nhdoes anyone know- was he a CHOIRBOY? all the words fit if he had been molested by a priest, cause the pain DOES grow, and even if the priest didn't remember him- he will forever. 'in the air' may be the incense of the church. and....... you certainly wouldn't expect him to criticize the church, would you?he never does Orwell explain the REAL meaning.
  • Katie K from Colorado UsaSo much speculation on what this song is about. I was in college when this song came out, and I remember hearing the story of what it meant. Phil Collins later changed the story -- in fact, if you watch different interviews from different years, he tells different stories, likely to cover the real meaning behind it.

    Note what the above text says:

    "He added that most people have no idea what the song is about, but that's OK. 'I kind of like the mystery,' he said."

    *...most people have no idea what the song is about..." There's your clue.

    The truth is often a lot darker than anyone can imagine. Or want to know.
  • Jane from From UsaPerfection!!! Genius!! Tallent beyond belief!! Drums are the greatest!!Thanks Phil Collins let us be part of your genius journey!!
  • Speechless from United StatesSo he was upset that she had an affair, but she's the victim? What a justification.
  • Cj Dent from Boston In the air tonight... as the man who raised me allowed me to keep one kitten in a litter... and forced me at 6 yrs old, to "cull" the other 6 by drowning... I'm sure you can understand my connection to this song as time continued and life only became more challenging
  • Al from UsaI also have another view. I see a dying man trying to make peace with himself. The conversation is actually with himself. He has been immoral, dishonest and complicit but not asking for forgiveness. He is ready to pay for his deeds. Now the moment one is always curious to learn is upon him. How long will I live? He knows his moment is this night. So he is speaking to the Lord and announcing he is ready to meet his fate.
  • Ken from Hudsonmy take is a little different. and if it were you-perhaps you'd agree. An alter boy/choirboy molested by a priest . psychological damage is done. boy grows up. as a man, confronts the priest- I know what you've done, even if you don't remember me........ see for yourself if the words don't all fit perfectly. for me they do.
  • Left High Kick from Middle Class UsaRemember in Miami Vice 1985 when Don Johnson pulls over and calls the ex-wife and says -

    “Caroline I need to ask you something:

    The way we used to be together, I don’t mean lately. But before. It was real wasn’t it?”

    The first time this song aired on TV .That was bad ass.

    Sometimes I would ask my old girlfriend the same thing and she would immediately say “yes, it was real.”

    I told her, one day I may ask you that for real.

    Well me and her are history now and it looks like it’s the last time. I ended it, and blocked her number for reasons I won’t get into not important. But I have to be a man and let her go. She told me a real man would have let her go 2 years ago. OK fine lady, you’ve got it.

    Sometimes, I wish we still had those conversations, even if it was just in jest. That meant something to me to hear her say
    “ yes it was real.”

    Hopefully she meant it.

    Awesome song, awesome drums. Phil Collins at his best!
  • Benn from VillawoodI heard another crazy story about this song on a local radio station. They were playing a list of top songs that were banned, & surprisingly, this song was on that list!
    Not sure how true it is, but during the Gulf War, a few radio stations in the UK banned this song for being,"too moody & depressing". If true, then this has got to be one of the funniest examples of censorship in history.
  • Deborah from MichiganAbsolutely love this song, if I saw my ex husband drowning I would Not Lend a Hand. Absolutely perfect, the Drums he plays at the end when started reminds me of gunfire. This happened to be my Divorce Song and if I could the one thing I've been waiting for all my life is the Bastard to Die. May sound bad to most of you, but you don't have a clue how he treated my children and I.
  • Buster from TorontoAfter reading many comments on the songs meaning, as a songwriter, I can tell you the majority of songwriters are just happy to find a great riff and melody for a song, and finish it. Any claims about lyrics meaning this or that, is usually nonsense. I could write a song that ends up being about pollution because the metaphors work well, and then as an afterthought and marketing idea, say I wrote it for Earth Day. Half of the people who hear this will be more intrigued with the idea, than with the song itself. They may even believe I'm an advocate for world peace and unity, when in actual fact, I just want your money. In almost any situation, people will take every opportunity that propels them to an advantage. Songwriting included.
  • Buster from TorontoContrary to what is printed about this song and it's origins, it was inspired by Mike Oldfield and Collin's time working with him on his QE2 album. This song utilizes a drum machine and vocoder, mellow synth pads and bold drum rolls, all traits of Oldfield's music. Just as his ex-band members and ex-wife have said about his inconsistent claims, the proof lay in the song itself. Oldfields QE2 album was released Oct 1980. Collins released this song three months later, in Jan 1981.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 9th 1981, Phil Collins appeared at the Amnesty International's 'The Secret Policeman's Other Ball' concert* at the Drury Lane Theater in London, England...
    At the time his "In the Air Tonight" was at #74 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; exactly one month earlier on August 9th it was in its first of two weeks at #19, and that was also its peak position on the Top 100...
    Earlier in 1981 on February 1st the song peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart, the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Woman" by John Lennon...
    Between 1981 and 2002 he had, as a solo artist, twenty-six Top 100 records; fourteen made the Top 10 with seven reaching #1, he just missed having a eighth #1 record when "Easy Lover", a duet with Philip Bailey, peaked at #2 in 1985...
    * Other acts that appeared at the concert were Sting, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Donovan, and Bob Geldof.
  • Thomas from CanadaAnd I was always so sure that this song was about passing gas and a guy who was able to silently let'em rip and make everyone around him so sad ...
  • Rick from Freeville, NyI was driving from Ithaca NY to Massena NY at about 3AM and was on the road along the St. Lawrence Seaway, on a foggy night. This song came on and I was instantly captured by the lyrics. When the drum solo started I just about drove off the road. Needless to say, it's one of my favorites.
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjThe first time, as the last times seen thru eyes become the grace of human spirit. And the grace of god.
  • Shawn from Green Bay, WiIt is a decent song with one classic moment, the drum bridge. Otherwise, it has always been a little slow and overly simplistic to me. A little specificity would have helped, though the ambiguity did help spur all the urban myths.
  • Scott from Edmonton , AbI must say this song sums up exactly how it feels to be heartbroken by someone you love(d) then to have whoever that person is suddenly call you back claiming to want you back. I never paid attention to the lyrics to this song until a week after the breakup happened this year; I was writing a review with some music playing and suddenly this song came on. I was going to change it but I decided not to because I was too busy writing (lol) and I immediately noticed the first four lines. Then suddenly I was hooked and listened to the rest of the lyrics. It was like Phil knew exactly how I was feeling. About a week later she called me back and acted bitchy at first then suddenly broke down telling me she "wants her boyfriend back", and she had every single excuse ready in the book, like "my dads gonna die and I want someone to be there with me" or "I had something I'm gonna give to you" or what not. While that is very sad, I responded by putting my foot down and said something along the lines of "sorry, I don't want to. I offered you a chance to help put the pieces back together and to fix our relationship when you broke up with me, and you refused. You can't go back and fix it, and while I'm sure you would, if you didn't want me yesterday, well, I don't want you today." she doesn't deserve to be with ANYONE, as she lied to me for over a year.

    Sorry for rambling but this song means a lot to me and I just thought I'd tell you how I can connect to this song. Basically, the line "So wipe off your grin, I know where you've been, it's all been a pack of lies" sticks out a lot. Basically, when she sees my face, I hope it tortures her more than it tortures me, because for being so unfaithful, its what she deserves.
  • Evan from Windsor, OnTwo other examples would be Trent Reznor's "Hurt" and Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven", two emotional songs that can generate a physical response from people simply by listening to it. I love how these songs can never be explained by the artist because they can't truly understand what they were feeling when they wrote it. I also laugh at how people try to explain the meaning of these songs, as this song and the other three I have mentioned can be interpreted as the artist simply killed someone then wrote a song about it.
  • Evan from Windsor, OnSongwriters rarely write songs about them being defeated, but they tend to become powerful compositions because of the passion the artist has behind the meaning. A classic example of this style is Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" about a suicidal homosexual.
  • Evan from Windsor, OnI doubt he just made up random lyrics. Sometimes in songwriting, the artist can use the perspective of a person they know, and I think in this song he is writing about the man who his wife cheated with. Basically the man has been waiting for Phil's wife to leave him, and if he saw Phil drowning he wouldn't lend a hand. Phil has been grinning in belief that he is happily married, but its all lies, as the man witnessed the marriage fall apart. He will always remember the first/last time they met, assuming it was when Phil found out about the affair, then the man then states that he isn't fooled by Phil's celebrity status, that the painful memory of this will remain forever.
  • Kat from Adelaide, AustraliaReally weird, all this speculation about Phil seeing a man drowning, or drowning someone, or wanting his ex-wife to drown, or some other nonsense. The lyric is obviously metaphoric. The "drowning" is figurative, not literal. I think it's more about anger, than revenge, myself, but each to his own.
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjFriends continue as does wheels turn and the lessons are learned.
    really forever.

    Words are not values they are statements.
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjHe lost his friend, coming around again. As does life.
  • Malcolm from Adelaide, AustraliaDear Mister Phil Collins, Vocalist; What was coming in the air Phil?
    Suggestion: Spirit, of redemption.

    You were waiting for that moment All your Life? Did you_ See/feel/ Predict it's coming/
    Knew it was possible?
    Malcolm Armstrong
    South Australia
    Listener,/ Occassional singer_
  • Wendell from Milton, PeThis song was only an average hit in the 80's it went to 19. I think that Miami Vice helped make it timeless. I liked the song
    when it was first out. It is funny to see it used so much.
  • William from Jersey City, NjThe fact about "In the Air Tonight" being the last mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is incorrect. The REAL last mission in the game is called "Last Stand", and it involves Victor (the protagonist of the game) officially finishing with his crime life and killing Diego Mendez (a man who along with his brother Armando, betrayed Victor) and Sgt. Jerry Martinez (the main antagonist of the game).
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlI love this song! It's touching and amazing. I love Phil Collins!
  • Joe from Frederick, MdPersonally I dont think the song is about nothing. Phil himself says the whole alblum was about hsi first wife and to make her feel guilty. I think the song is to her lover and is about seeing him and his wife together in bed and rather than confront them he left. This song would be about his feelings down the road
  • Bryce from Winlock, WaI heard that he actually wrote this song..about a guy who hit a pedestrian and fled the scene without stopping to report the incident..."If you were drowning i would not lend a hand" being symbolic as if you were dieing i wouldn't lend a hand "I saw your face before my friend, but i don't think you know who i am" he saw him in the car. " a stranger to you and me" the guy was a stranger that got hit "I can see it cumming in the air tonight" "it" being vengeance and justice for the victim...he even says he was there and saw what the man did...and says for the man to wipe the grin off his face because he's been caught, phil remembered what he did...I heard this song was first played at a concert that phil had given the driver of that hit and run to. He sang the song to the driver, then the driver was arrested afterwards
  • Scott from Tigard, OrRegardless of what the song was actually about, for me it was always about a concentration camp victim running into a former camp guard many years later. His grin will be wiped off as the pack of lies the guy's been telling people over the years (and maybe to himself) are going to be revealed.
  • Erika from West Band, WiI love the song too, but people? Don't beleive the myth, because that's exactly what it is. It's a made-up explanation for a deep, heartfelt song. It could mean something different to everyone. Also, you can't believe everything you hear. A lot of bad stuff goes on out there, but there are good things, too. :)
  • Angel from Newport Beach, Cathis song is about an out of body the music video on youtube...the man in the reflection is himself...all the doors are the nexus, him turning multiple colors is him experiencing himself on another plane of existence. the lyrics, I've seen your face before my friend but I don't know if you know who I am....the reflections is his opposite in another dimension.
  • Diann from Evansville, InI had no idea Phil wrote this song after going through a divorce. Crazy, but it was my divorce song as well. (of course I could not not have put it into such perfect words as the awesome Mr Collins). I felt like the lyrics fit how I truly felt. I would, however lend a hand if he was drowning in water, but not in sorrow or regret. That was 20 years ago and even though we are now friends, this still remains one of my all time favorie songs. I still put the top down on my car, blare this song and remember my independance day.
  • Steve from Totnes, United KingdomI don't understand why the lyrics puzzle people - it's an obvious song of pure jealousy. The singer is the deceived husband and the person addressed in the verses is the other man. They know each other, but the other man hasn't admitted he's having an affair with the singer's wife. The singer has just found out.

    The chorus is a bit incongruous because it sounds like he's relishing the confrontation which is about to come. Perhaps he feels it will relieve the suffering. With this interpretation, there is a nasty vengeful edge to the lyrics which also comes through in Phil's song "Mama", although this time addressed to the unfaithful wife.

    Personally I find it a bit much to make a dramatic pop statement out of being a cuckold. It doesn't express the true degradation and dejection of such a situation and pretends to turn it into an egotistical triumph. Both "In The Air Tonight" and "Mama" chillingly remind me of the justifications given by men who murder either or both of the guilty parties in such situations, a cold enthusiasm for revenge having taken over their feelings rather than admit to being beaten.
  • Angelina from Colorado Springs, CoPhil Collins orginally wrote this song because he watched a man drown another man. Not because hisw ife , so that's a lie.
    nut i ABSOLUTELY love this song, it's become my favorite one.
  • Scott from Lakewood, CaHave you heard Naturally7's rendition of this? Check out this video if you haven't yet - you won't regret it.
  • Mac from Toronto, OnAllow me to disagree. Stupid lyrics, almost no melody, cheap "moody" atmosphere, dumbass drum kick. Lyrics seem, just as Collins says, made up on the spot, and you're all inventing this insane crap about it. Just seems to be the work of a guy in a bad mood, which he should be often, wracked with guilt for being a talentless billionaire hack. "Oy, I've an idea, let's do 'Can't Hurry Love' exactly like the Supremes, put out a single, and get rich". The only thing I like is that my fellow Canadian, his ex, seems to have broken his cheap plastic heart. Good on you, girl.
  • John from Concord, NhIt makes sense that Phil wrote this because of his wife. It's a marvelous song, and if you ask anybody what the best part of this song is and they don't answer with the drum fill halfway through, they're ridiculous.
  • Denisea from Houston, TxI LOVE THIS SONG. THE MEANING IS SIMPLY ABOUT ANGER AND REVENGE... its in the first line "if you told me you were drowning...I would not lend a hand" So he wouldnt save the person who was drowning as a way of seeking vengeance.." I been waiting for this moment all of my life" the perfect moment to turn away, kill, laugh, or even say I told you so. The moment to actually get that person back......I LOVE THIS SONG
  • Rahul from Chennai, Indiaamazing song....... its irresistible when the drums start.... but i have one question...why does it sound like he's singing from inside a well? lol
  • Missy from West Monroe, LaIt's funny to me that someone thinks of this song as relaxing. Our high school football team walks onto the field to this song! It's become so much of a tradition that younger kids call it the Rebel song. For me it has become bitter-sweet. The former kicker/punter was in the freshman English class I taught, and he died of an overdose 2 years ago. I happened to see him that day and knew that he was really messed up. The line "I was there and I saw what you did..." reminds me of seeing him for the last time.
  • Jonathan from Paoli, InI dont care what anybody says, this song is the greatest song made. It makes the driving trip on Vice City Stories free.
  • Landon from Winchester, OhThis song really doesn't have a set meaning. The one clue we have is that he wrote the lyrics shortly after divorcing his first wife, not really knowing the meaning of the lyrics for himself either. It's got a really soothing and watery beat, while the lyrics turn anger and depression into an almost emotionless state of being. I've never listened to much of Phil Collins songs, but this is a corner stone to any playlist I come up with on my computer. People overlook the 80s and focus mainly on today's music, especially young people. But if you ever take the time to check it out, you'll find some really good hits that will pass the test of age and you'll find yourself holding onto them forever.
  • John from Ny, NyI always thought the song is about a guy who is dying. And he talks to God. "I can feel it coming in the air tonite. And I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord." And he is SO angry that God has turned his back on people that he wouldnt even save him IF God was drowning.
  • Nico from Amstelveen, NetherlandsMuch more rumour about this song can be read at .
  • Lucy from Rhinebeck, NyThis song makes me think of me wandering in the forest... late at night. And it's a full moon. The song is beautiful, it always calms me down. I try to make this the last song I listen to on my iPod before I fall asleep.
  • Stunner from Australia, AustraliaIn a WBBC radio interview (March 3, 1992) host Ian Soferty asked Phil about the lyrics. His response was that the drowning thing was meant to be metaphorical, not literal. He said a lot of people have taken the lyrics out of context. And he, himself is tired of the urban legend.
  • Ociee117 from Rochester, MnHow can he be in the boy scouts of america if hes british
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaThis song is on that Cadburys ad with the gorilla playing the drums ahahahaha
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaI used to wake up to this song in my house all the time...i've always been scared of this song for some reason. mum is phil collins maaaad
  • Jeffery from Los Angeles, CaYou guys are wrong. When Phill was a child in Boy Scouts of America (boy scouts)he witnessed a drowning of one of his co-scouts. And the guy who didn't save him. You did not looks at all of the variables,maybe he couldn't swim. Can't you hear the symbolicism of this song! Can't you see the water at the beginning and the doors to the employees rooms and maybe a pool!
  • Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiExactly, Clarissa! I was always confused by the drowning story; what was stopping Phil from doing something? It doesn't add up. He said in interviews that it's about his anger towards Andrea's infidelity.
  • Clarissa from Martinsburg, WvSo if it's about Phil Collins watching a man watch a man drown, then Phil watched him drown too! He let him die!!!!! Lol, jk this is an awesome song, almost chilling.
  • Tony from London, United KingdomThis became my top song because I suddenly understood the simple lyrics that Phil was putting across - He knew something was going on between his wife and their decorator but he didn't know how to face it (in truth, he probably shied away from it).

    If you love someone so much that you are prepared to let them do whatever they want, in the belief that it would keep them happy - and they take advantage of that aspect, you have to first ask yourself if they love you as much as you love them..?

    In retrospect, then, Phil saw it all falling apart but chose to ignore the signs. But then, he knew he couldn't let it go on. So, eventually it does all unravel - his wife probably confessed and he knew the end had come - he'd seen it coming but blames himself for not doing anything sooner (again, in reality, he probably didn't know what to do).

    So, what did he do? He took his failing love, his anguish, his guilt and his anger and poured it all out in a song, like so many artists before him... And he did it to show her that he *did* know, after all but he was helpless to stop her.

    Believe me, if you ever have the sort of break up he had, you'd understand... I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy (not that I have one!)

    A beautifully balanced, poignant, introspective ballad which then explodes with emotions. Now *that* is what any other song in this genre aspires to be- but, I can say hand on heart, none will ever match. Ever.
  • Egypt from Columbus, OhI love this song,the first time i heard it I fell in love with it... Phill Collins sings with so much passion and he has a "BEAUTIFUL" voice!!
  • Lee from Blacksburg , VaIt's Hugh Padgham that developed the reverse gated reverb drum sound for this song. They have it misspelled above. A huge disservice to such a legendary producer/engineer, on such a reputable music website. Shame!
  • Jon from Amherst, MaThe rumors are funny, but after reading a little history on wikipedia, the story seems obvious. According to wikipedia: "Collins was married Canadian Andrea Bertorelli in 1975... They divorced in 1980, after she started an affair with their painter and decorator".

    "In the Air Tonight", in my opinion, is about the painter/decorator, that Phil supposedly met once. He knew his wife was cheating, and he's been "waiting for the moment, all [his] life" to expose this. Notice the first verse said "IF you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand". 'If' means that it never happened, it only shows his sentiments towards this character that is "keeping [his] silence up" "with a grin on [his] face".
  • Mjn Seifer from Not Listed For Personal Reason, EnglandHere's yet another take on the drowning line...

    Well, despite what many lyric sites (including this one) say, whenever I listen to this song I hear this:

    "Well IF you told me you where drowning, I would not lend a hand"

    In other words, Phil is saying he hates this person so much that if he was ever at risk (e.g. from drowning) he wouldn't even try to help - just let him die.

  • Ryan from Auckland, New ZealandJust thought i would help you all out. Seems like everyone has this mostly so wrong. What happened was when he was young and at school he seen the care taker rapping his best friend, as he points out in the song : i've seen your face before my friend
    but i don't know if you know who i am
    well, i was there and i saw what you did
    i saw it with my own two eyes. And the man at the show he put the spot light on was the care taker. Now with this thought in your head go and listen to the song.
  • Matt from Davenport, IaNo.
    You're all wrong.

    When Collins was a child him and his friends were out playing and they saw this mentally challenged man. They started making fun of this man and eventually the man snapped and murdered on of Collins' friends. After that, the man was nowhere to be found.

    Well, like 25 years later, when Collins was about to put on a show in some city, he saw the man. He went to the local police, told them the story, and devised a plan. They sent the man a free ticket to Collins' concert.

    He went and enjoyed himself, but when Collins started to sing "In The Air Tonight" (which he had written especially for this occasion) he didn't look anywhere BUT at the man the WHOLE time.

    After the song was over, the police arrested the man.
  • Federico from Unknown, ArgentinaWell, there is a Youtube video which despcription says:
    "I don't know what this song is about. When I was writing this I was going through a divorce. And the only thing I can say about it is that it's obviously in anger. It's the angry side, or the bitter side of a separation. So what makes it even more comical is when I hear these stories which started many years ago, particularly in America, of someone come up to me and say, 'Did you really see someone drowning?' I said, 'No, wrong'. And then every time I go back to America the story gets Chinese whispers, it gets more and more elaborate. It's so frustrating, 'cos this is one song out of all the songs probably that I've ever written that I really don't know what it's about, you know."
    - Phil Collins

    Looks like he was angry with her when he said:
    "If I would see you drowning, I would not lend a hand", represents the angry part of Phil when he was going throught the divorce. Some may say that Phil saw someone drowning, but I think it was his anger which made he wish of death for his ex-wife.
  • Amy from Southampton, United KingdomTHIS IS WHY HE WROTE THE SONG

  • Fulu Thompho from Limpopo, South AfricaI think Phil Collins imagined of a certain man witnessing the infedility of his wife and ultimately decided to drown himself. fulu, south africa
  • Dylan from Louisville, KyI heard that Phil improved the lyrics and just wrote them down after he had recorded them.
  • Eddie from Ba, ArgentinaThe only thing I would complain about this otherwise fantastic tune is that it has a VERY long fadeout. Soon after the drums come in, the fadeout starts, which in a way decreases the intensity of the moment of the track. Whenever I hear this song I find myself struggling against the volume control to keep the level up for as long as possible! The remixed version included on the B side of the UK 12" Single (not the Liebrand version), from 1988, does a good job about this, and the drums sound even more powerful! :)
    One more thing to note, In Phil's 2nd album, "Hello, I Must Be Going!" from 1982, the track 'Thru These Walls' features a similar drum riff, but repeated x 6. Another great tune!
  • Kristen from Scottsdale, AzI agree with Rusty, the best part of the song is when the drums come in. I listen to the song over and over just to hear the drums :)
  • Shelby from Idiotville , Kyalways makes me cry
  • Chris from Claremont, CaEminem was wrong about the song i guess, listen to "Stan". aside from what i just said, I like Phil Collins' music
  • Rusty from Lake Park, Mnthis song is so powerful. Especially when he gets into playing the drums. Gives me chills evreytime but in a good way
  • Jo from Birmingham, EnglandSeriously guys these Urban Myths just get more and more stupid. I can dispute the one about camp counsellor very easily. Phil is English and we don't have summer camps over here and we most certainly never did when Phil was a child. Really get over yourselves, the 80s saw a lot of songs with random lyrics live with it!
  • Chiyo from Lincoln, EnglandThe recent Cadbury advert featuring a gorilla beat the heck out of a drum kit along to this song has taken the UK by storm, and as such, many people have begun to look into it. This will be one of those 'most well known' adverts for many decades to come.
  • Ryan from Largo, FlI don't know how this still hasn't been mentioned, but Phil Collins also made video gaming history. He played this song in a concert in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, becoming the first celebrity to appear as themselves in a Grand Theft Auto game.
  • Karlee from Gilbert, AzI think the legend of the man drowning has gone on for so long because people want to believe it. It makes the song so much more powerful when you picture him singing it to a man who did nothing to save the drowning victim. Just my thoughts!
  • Przemek from Warsaw, Poland"Songs are all things to all people but sometimes the wrong path is taken and the misinterpretation stays with you forever" - Phil Collins, sleeve notes of "Both Sides" (1993), clear reference to the "drowning" myth.
  • Lisa Wolf from Doniphan, MoI don't believe the whole "It's about a person drowning" things. But I do believe he was inspired by the bitterness of his wife leaving him. Though I don't know about the bucket of paint nor the Volvo thing. I haven't seen him in concert. It's just a good song and I like it.

    Hi Adam from Poplar Bluff, MO!
  • Zack from Trenton, NjThis song was wrote about how when phil collins was at camp as a kid his best friend was drowning and the camp counsellor was not paying attention and the kid died. Phil Collins remembered the counsellors name and when he first played this song he gave the man tickets to the first concert this song was played. And during this song he shined a spotlight on the man throughout the whole song. That night the counsellor went home and commited suicide after realizing what he had done.
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaWhen he performed this at Madison Square gardens he placed a Volvo emblem on his piano because his wife had run off with the car salesman.
  • Brad from Rochester, EnglandWhen phil collins performed this on top of the pops(uk tv music show)he placed a tin of paint on the piano because the song is about he's wife running off with the decorator that was painting their house!
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaDon't listen to the song forwards if you want the REAL message...
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaCan you say "Urban Legend"?
  • Chris from Kingston, Canadathe story went like this... (so i;ve heard)..
    Phil collins witnessed someone murdering his friend and he could do nothing about it. So when he came to sing this song.. he made sure the murderer had tickets to the front row of the concert to hear this song. Phil collins got doown on his knees and sang this song infront of the killers face, the the murderer was arrested.. SO I'VE HEARD
  • Chris from Kingston, CanadaI've heard before that he sang the song because he witnessed his friend being murdered, not because of the divorcement.
  • Rudolf from Delft, NetherlandsAs Phil expained in a TV-talkshow the other night(on Dutch TV,a show called Jensen), this song is basicly about nothing. It has got absolutely nothing to do with people drowning or whatever, neither with him getting divorced.
    He just sat down one night and wrote the lyrics.
    The just came, he claims...
    After that it was put to music.
    So there goes another Urban Legend down the drain....
  • Sam from Louisville, KyAlong with Miami Vice, the show Fastlane put this song in its pilot episode. You could easily say that Fastlane was the Miami Vice of the new Millenium.
  • Dan from Woodinville, WaAnswer me this: Is there a better song to listen to while driving, alone, on a big city freeway at 1 AM?
  • Glen from Charlotte, NcIn Rolling Stone, hip-hop artist Akon listed this song as one of his top five favorites.
  • Adam from Poplar Bluff, MoNonpoint released a cover of this song for their last album and was also featured on the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Miami Vice. DMX and 2Pac also use interpolations of the song in their songs I Can Feel It, and Starin' At My Rear View, respectively.
  • Eddie from Sydney, Australiaphil collins wrote this song about him seeing another dude watching someone die and not helping its simple all those lies and storys are fake?? this song rules btw =)
  • Duane from Wheatfield, InOne of the best songs ever. We often discuss/debate guitar gods like Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc. etc. Is there any true rival to Phil at his peak in the early 80s on drums. Tommy Lee? please.
  • Brett from Moore, OkI'll tell ya'll the story that heard. Phil Collins watched his parents be murdered. He hired a detective and found out who the guy was. Sent the killer front row tickets and played it for the first time at that concert. When the song was over, he had the killer arrested.
    I wish that was the true story.
  • Peter from Detroit, MiOne of the best pickups on drums for the 2nd chorus in any song. This song was also featured in the Tom Cruise film Risky Business where cruise and the female lead have sex on a subway. The build up on the song comes through in the drums to the sexual climax.
  • Henrik from Copenhagen, DenmarkI guess this is a song to/about the man, that cheated with Phils wife. And Phil seen him leave his house or something that makes him figure it out, but that man never seen Phil. Thats why he won't lend him a hand if he was drowning.
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaPer Origins: In The Air Tonight (as well as most of Collins' 1981 Face Value album) deals with his bitterness and frustration over the end of his marriage to his first wife, Andrea. As Collins has repeatedly explained, the lyrics are not based on any specific real-life event.
  • Kat from Norristown, PaThis song actually is about a guy he saw being drowned, a local radio station did an interveiw with him and he told the whole story behind it...But i guess the artist is even wrong about his own song
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaCan you say "Urban Legend"? Get over the drowning thing, it's not true.
  • Bobodobo from Los Angeles, CaI'm surprised no one has mentioned that this song was playing when Tom Cruise makes love to his temporary girlfriend (her regular job is being a hooker) on a commuter train in the movie Risky Business. Quite a memorable scene.
  • Dan from Milwaukee, WiThe story about Collins watching one dude watch another guy drown is true because Phil put so much passion into this song and it was pretty much the 'stairway to heaven' of the eighties, there is a true story behind each song, and that retard who said there are satanic messages in it is a dumb ass.
  • Indha Bhutt from Honolulu, HiPhil Collins wrote this song cuz he was drowning and no one helped him through his sorrow. He can dance, in fact he can break dance. Bam Bam Boogie and don't stop the boogie! All you need an enima and enimem sux. He is a wannabe who will never be black. So he should stop acting like it. Elvis is leaving now. So kiss it!
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaThere are satanic messages in this song! Where he starts singing "well if you told me you were drowning / I would not lend a hand. I've seen your face before my friend But I don't know if you know who I am". Play this in reverse and you can hear "now, who wants to make me the wooden ladder? Never thought you'd see it for yourself. Never, now you know all the wrong. Never do it, o Satan!".
  • Dollie from St.albeans, Wvi thank the story about the man who watched the other man drowned and wouldnt save him is true because who would write a song with so mugh passion and hate plus he sings that song with all his heart.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhHe can't dance? What does that mean? So he is bald and short, I don't think those are neccessary components to make great music. Why don't you put down the Guiness, and stop embarrasing yourself.
  • Thomas from Burlington, Vtabsolutely rocks, i got it on itunes and it is very quiet but i turn it WAY up and it gets my heart beeting, pump it up.
  • Liz from S Windsor, CtMatt- you are so right...I drum along every single time-I can't help it, its sooo good
  • Deathdealer from Chicago, IlThere is a DVD available (Phil Collins - Face Value)on which Collins states (as Mark from London says) that he was playing with the drum machine and just made up the lyrics. He WAS going through the divorce at the time, and other songs on the album do refer to that, but not this one.
  • Damar from Pittsburgh, PaThat video scared the hell out of me when I was little.I know it sounds crazy but when that, "Burning Down The House" and "Eyes Without A Face" comes on MTV,I would be scared of the faces.I couldn't go to sleep at night.But I'm not scared of them now.
  • Susan from London, EnglandThe song has a dark ominence, can't understand all the words, but the drums are wonderful. Why is it so popular now if it comes from 1981? Reborn with Live8?
  • Tp from Council Bluffs, IaI also listen to this before every game to get pumped...its insane
  • Matt from Charleston, ScI defy anyone to not play "air drums" when the initial drum fill kicks in on this song.
  • Mark from London, EnglandQuote from Phil himself on VH1 storytellers: "Everything you've ever heard about this song is wrong - it's not about anything at all. I just played some chords on the Prophet V and made up some lyrics."
  • Kittie from Boston, MaThe song is about Phil Collins 1st marriage. His wife cheated on him and then they got divorced.
  • Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, CaIt's a good song, although it's easy to assume this was a Genesis song, since much of their work during the eighties became heavily influenced by Collin's solo work.
  • Reed from Hagerstown, Inray lewis of the baltimore ravens listens to this song before every game to get himself pumped up.
  • Samantha from Perth, Wai get goose bumps when i hear this song, i did actually believe the boy drowning and then playing the song to a guy he'd invited to his concert. now i no different, so much for urban myth's.
  • Reed from Hagerstown, Inthis song sends chills down my spine every time i hear it.
  • Jeff from Windsor, Canadathis song sure does rule
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