In the air tonight – song meaning

This is a song meaning review.

Phil Collins said, “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.” – the emotional content is obvious to most people.

The issue and value is not just what Phil Collins thinks but what it means to individuals or certain groups of people.

The words:
>>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.<<
– are pretty powerful.. what do they mean and to whom? Why would somebody not lend a hand to someone who was drowning. Well, if you interpret the words literally, you miss the point. In none of the following am I suggesting that Phil Collins is/was an addict. Stop the preoccupation with the man himself.

It’s often the case that ‘friends’ of addicts (of various kinds) lend ‘endless’ hands and become part of the perpetuation of ‘the problem’. So – not lending a hand could mean a finality – letting the affected individual decide their own fate.

The ‘grin’ – very interesting word. Those who have tried to help addicts will know of ‘the grin’ – it is a mask. I’ve told some of those to ‘wipe it off’; it’s a total facade designed to fool self and others. Yes – I know where they’ve been.. and I know their ‘pack of lies’ i.e. the self -deception that perpetuates their problems.

>>It’s the first time, the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, 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<<

Again pretty powerful. ‘No stranger to you and me‘ will suggest to some addicts that they can’t fool another addict (who as recovered). ‘The hurt doesn’t show’ because of the ‘mask – but for sure the ‘pain still grows‘. Those who have seen crowd reaction to the words, will realise that it hits at something very fundamental.

The repetitious >>I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord
Well, I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord<< at the end of the song and crowd reaction says something. What is it – that is ‘in the air tonight’? My feeling – and I’m not relying on thoughts here – is that it refers to an expectation of change. Ahh.. but there is no assumption of change for the better. It could be the finality of a path to death, or a final ascendance into something of a more meaningful existence. Setting free the person enslaved, is often a path to recovery but runs the risk of ‘exit’.

‘Addiction’ is just one that appears relevant based on my own experience of significant others. I also use the word ‘addiction’ in a very broad sense to encompass anything that is ensnaring in terms of a pattern of self-defeating or self-destructive behaviour. I’m not prescribing a meaning to the song based on ‘addiction’. I’m saying that people are free to find their own meanings relative to their life-experiences.

Disclaimer & Guidance

The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they  are being referred to – any such perceived identification does not mean ‘identified to the world’. ‘Stupid‘ is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual, individuals or groups. The treatment of  ‘Stupid‘ is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance.  

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