Phil Collins: My Life in 15 Songs

The singer on the critics who hate him, the rappers who love him and why he's also a little sick of "Sussudio"

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"In the Air Tonight" (1981)

This song has become a stone around my neck, though I do love it. I wrote it after my wife left me. Genesis had done a tour that was far too long. She said to me, "We won't be together if you do the next tour." I said, "I'm a musician. I have to go away and play. Just hold your breath when I'm over there." Then Genesis toured Japan. When I got back, she said she was leaving and taking the kids.

At the time, Genesis had decided to change things up a bit, maybe rattle our cages. The idea was to record separately with these new Roland drum machines we'd been given. I set up a studio in the master bedroom of my house with a Fender Rhodes piano and a drum kit.

One day I was working on a piece in D-minor, the saddest [key] of all. I just wrote a sequence, and it sounded nice. I wrote the lyrics spontaneously. I'm not quite sure what the song is about, but there's a lot of anger, a lot of despair and a lot of frustration.

Tony Banks claims I never played him the song, but I don't see why that would be true. But I'm glad he didn't take it, because Genesis would have put their mark on it, and it wouldn't be the piece of music we're talking about now.

Nobody knows what the song is about, and I kind of like the mystery. And now NFL players use it to work out. I saw a video recently of Steph Curry singing it in his car, and it was just in an ad for milk chocolate. Where will it end? But I'm not complaining. It paid for this house we're in right now!

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