Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wading Pool example and Phil Collins?!

Yesterday I used an example of saving a child from drowning in a pool to illustrate the concept of a "morally obligatory" action.

This example prompted a student in the 12 PM class to ask about this song by Phil Collins. For your viewing and pop culture enjoyment, I post these items!

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 friendBut I don't know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you didI saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off the grin, I know where you've beenIt'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 growsIt's no stranger to you or me
And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord...

Urban legend

An urban legend has arisen around "In the Air Tonight". According to the legend, the lyrics are based on a tragic event Collins witnessed, usually a drowning (as in the song's lyrics), in which a man could have helped the victim, but did not do so (an alternate version of the legend has the onlooker a murderer, intentionally drowning the victim, rather than an a pathetic bystander). A common ending is that Collins invites this man to a show and sings the song to him, often with a spotlight pointed at him. Afterward, the man is arrested or, in some versions, is wracked with guilt and has a heart attack or commits suicide. Other versions of the story involve Collins discovering his wife having sex with (or being raped by) another man, often a close friend; the man subsequently drowns while Collins himself watches.
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.

The urban legend is referenced in the song "
Stan" by Eminem. The reference is contained in the following lyrics:
You know the song by Phil Collins, "In the Air of the Night" [sic]
About that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drowning
But didn't, then Phil saw it all, then at a show he found him?
Collins later stated on
VH1 Classic's "Classic Albums" series that he came up with "99 percent" 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.