Two days after Phil Collins performed “In the Air Tonight” at Madison Square Garden, indie singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus unveiled her own cover of the 1981 classic. The song will be featured on 2019, Dacus’ upcoming holiday-themed EP out November 8 via Matador Records. The chilling Collins cover comes just in time for Halloween.
Dacus puts a goth-noir spin on the track, her hollow vocals backed by gated reverb and haunted synths as she sings, “Well the hurt doesn’t show, but the pain still grows/It’s no stranger to you and me,” before the intense drum break. “Perhaps the best eerie bop of all time, and certainly the best drum fill,” she said in a statement.
Dacus also addressed the urban legend that has surrounded the song for decades in that same statement. The story changes a bit with each telling, but it usually involves Collins watching a man refuse to help another man who was drowning. “The image in the first verse is so unsettling, watching someone watch someone drown without moving to save them,” she said. “People have wondered if this is something Phil Collins really witnessed, but the song is actually just a manifestation of his anger and frustration about his divorce. It’s tense, dark, and so much fun, as a good Halloween should be.”
Collins himself has been baffled by the song’s misinterpretation for nearly 40 years and has debunked the theory in several interviews, claiming that it was truly about his bitter divorce after his wife “had a go with the decorator.” “Nobody knew what it was about, and I kind of liked the mystery,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “I’m happy to be defined by that. If ‘Groovy Kind of Love’ defined me, that would be terrible.”
Dacus’ cover of “In the Air Tonight” follows her sparkling take on “Dancing in the Dark” in honor of Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday. She previously released a cover of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” in honor of Valentine’s Day, “My Mother & I” for Mother’s Day and “Forever Half Mast” for Fourth of July.
Last month, Dacus opened for Mitski’s farewell shows in New York’s Central Park. She’s scheduled to tour throughout the rest of the year, making stops in major cities that include Seattle’s Neuomo’s on October 22nd and New York’s Webster Hall on December 5th. She’ll perform at 30A Songwriters Festival in South Walton, Florida from January 17th to the 19th.
2019 is currently available for pre-order.
1. Fool’s Gold
2. La Vie En Rose
3. My Mother & I
4. Forever Half Mast
5. Dancing In The Dark
6. In The Air Tonight
7. Last Christmas