Original Lyrics by Phil Collins, IN THE AIR TONIGHT
I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord I've been waiting for this moment, 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 the 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 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 And I've been waiting for this moment 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, no you don't fool me The hurt doesn't show; but the pain still grows It's no stranger to you or me
And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord...
"In the Air Tonight" is a song by Phil Collins which first appeared on his 1981 album, Face Value. It was also the first single of Collins' solo career, and remains one of his best known hits.
The recording is notable for its atmospheric production, while the song features a macabre theme and is the subject of a persistent urban legend. Released in January 1981 in the UK, the single was an instant hit, with an impressive chart climb of 36-4-3-2. It stalled behind John Lennon's posthumous number one "Woman", while its parent album, Face Value, ranked as the UK's third best-selling LP of 1981. It was also an international hit, reaching the top 20 on the Billboard magazine pop singles chart in the summer of 1981 and remains, alone among Collins's solo oeuvre, a popular selection on many classic rock radio stations. It is the song most often associated with Collins' solo career, and he has performed versions of it at many events, notably at Live Aid, where he played the song on the same calendar day in both Philadelphia and London. He also performed the song at The Secret Policeman's Other Ball. The lyrics of the song take the form of a dark monologue directed towards an unnamed, possibly prominent person; the singer describes having witnessed an unspecified act perpetrated: I was there and I saw what you did saw it with my own two eyes and anticipating an equally unspecified consequence: I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord I've been waiting for this moment for all my life Musically the song consists of a series of ominous chords played over a simple drum machine pattern (the Enka pattern on a Roland CR-78); processed electric guitar sounds and vocoded vocals on key words add additional atmosphere. The mood is one of restrained anger until the final chorus when an explosive burst of drums releases the musical tension, and the instrumentation builds to a thundering final chorus. Collins wrote the song in the wake of a failing relationship with his then-wife. Collins has described obtaining the drum machine specifically to deal with these personal issues through songwriting, telling Mix magazine: "I had to start writing some of this music that was inside me."  The song's popularity in the 1980s increased after a nearly complete recording of it was featured in the pilot episode of the American television show Miami Vice ("Brother's Keeper"), thus becoming one of the first pop/rock songs to be featured as part of a TV program in this manner. On the heels of this successful merging of media, Collins became associated with the show; other Collins tracks including "Take Me Home" were later featured and Collins himself also acted in an episode, "Phil The Shill".
Years later, Collins commented on the legends about the song in a BBC World Service interview:
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.
Putting the rumors to rest once and for all, Collins stated on VH1 Classic's "Classic Albums" series that he came up with "99%" of the lyrics on the spot, based on what he felt the vibe was of the dark chords he had improvised over the ominous drum beat. He was "just messing around for fun," completely unaware that what he was creating would ultimately be the staple song from his next album.