Phil Collins, on cult hit ‘In the Air Tonight’ — it’s about divorce

By Madeleine Marr

Phil Collins
Phil Collins

Phil Collins isn’t making any new friends lately. Busy promoting his memoir “Not Dead Yet,” the Genesis rocker has managed to insult major icons included in the book. He’s been making the press rounds, talking up his various stories, like the one when Paul McCartney called him “little Phil.”

There’s another one where he writes that Princess Diana passed Collins in a car in London and told him she just had a “colonoscopy.” Hmm, hard to verify. But what’s really got local people’s goat is the interview the Miami Beach resident did with UK’s Sunday Times, when he said, “I don’t like Miami particularly. I live here because the children are here and I go wherever they go.”

Collins has been bitter awhile, he admitted to Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night, telling the host that his cult hit “In the Air Tonight,” was about anger in general, not about any specific event as had long been rumored.

“Well, you go through a divorce,” Phil said. “And sometimes it’s like, ‘I love you. Don’t hang up.’ And sometimes it’s like, ‘Well, f--k you.’ And that’s where a song like [that] comes in. There’s obviously a lot of anger in there.”

It was long believed that with lyrics like, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord / And I’ve been waiting for this moment for 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,” that the 1981 song was about Collins witnessing a person die in front of someone who would not help.

But it is not to be taken so literally, according to the horse’s mouth.

Collins’ first wife was Andrea Bertorelli. A recent Daily Mail story rehashed details of the demise of their marriage. Phil has gone on record saying she left him for another man, and Phil was duly upset.

But she debunked that in the article.

“Phil has claimed in interviews and his lyrics that I ran off with the decorator, but that’s simply not true,” Bertorelli told the publication. “Our marriage broke down [in 1980] for many different reasons, the main one being his short fuse and preference for arguing instead of discussing anything we disagreed on. He would rage a lot and I felt like I was being bullied.”

She also said he ran off on tour with Genesis two days after she gave birth to their son Simon, and that he was unfaithful first.

“I divorced him ..on the grounds of his adultery and he agreed,” she says. “I was hearing about his affairs long before I had one.”