Saturday, January 3, 2015

Phil And His Danish Dealer's Little "Misunderstanding" AKA Put Up Your Duke

Even by the dawn of the '80s, Genesis still couldn't quite shake that pesky prog rock thing. Duke has a total running time of 55 minutes, and half of the songs are at least five minutes long. Come on guys, what did you think you were making here? Art? The people had spoken, and you knew what they wanted to hear: Phil Collins singing about his marital problems! Nobody needed a closing mini-suite titled "Duke's Travels/Duke's End." This was the '80s - get with the times. And don't take my word for it. Just listen to a man who surely must speak for all '80s music aficionados: Patrick Bateman:
I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that I didn't really understand any of their work ... all the albums before Duke seemed too artsy, too intellectual. It was Duke (Atlantic; 1980), where Phil Collins' presence became more apparent, and the music got more modern, the drum machine became more prevalent and the lyrics started getting less mystical and more specific (maybe because of Peter Gabriel's departure), and complex, ambiguous studies of loss became, instead, smashing first-rate pop songs that I gratefully embraced.
Yeah, OK, Bret Easton Ellis is trying to be a dick, but you know what? I sort of agree with the psychopath here! First of all, I love how, in Bateman's world, qualities like "artsy," "intellectual," "complex," and "ambiguous" are somehow undesirable in music. My problem isn't with "complex, ambiguous studies of loss." My problem with Peter Gabriel-era Genesis is that I never realized those songs were actually supposed to be "complex, ambiguous studies of loss." So is that what "The Battle of Epping Forest" was about? Now, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here - I mean, that was a genuinely complex, ambiguous study of loss. I should mention that plenty of Phil Collins' songs were ostensibly studies of loss; they just weren't very, you know, complex, or ambiguous.

At any rate, although the band was still partially perching itself on the prog rock fence, fortunately Phil brought in a couple of simpler, more concise tracks left over from a potential solo album (yeah, like that was gonna fly), and donated them to the cause. For some reason Phil really wanted to turn one of them, a tender chronicle of a man trying his hardest to avoid admitting he's on the wrong end of an affair, into a slowed down cover of Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain," while throwing in some Beach Boy harmonies in the back. And of course, let's not forget that impeccable, impeccable drumming:
There must be some misunderstanding
There must be some kind of mistake
I waited in the rain for hours
You were late

Now it's not like me to say the right thing
But you could've called to let me know
I checked your number twice, don't understand it
So I went home

Well I'd been waiting for this weekend
I thought that maybe we could see a show
Never dreamed I'd have this feeling
But seeing you is believing
That's why I don't know why
You didn't show up that night

Since then I've been running around trying to find you
I went to the places you always go
I rang your house but got no answer
Jumped in my car, I went round there
I still don't believe it
He was just leaving

No Phil, there's no misunderstanding at all. Your woman is doing you wrong, and you're gonna have to deal with it!

Or at least, that was the angle at the time. But courtesy of In The Air Tonight: The Secret Life And Twisted Psyche Of Philip D. Collins, we finally know the real story:
We were remixing some tracks in Denmark. I found out the hard way, as the saying goes, that five Frederikssund prostitutes is about four too many. At any rate, I had a connection at the Copenhagen zoo, a guy named Hans, he was supposed to hook me up with some heavy equestrian juice, if you know what I mean. We were talking some primo, primo shit. It would've turned Mr. Ed into a fucking unicorn. So Hans promises me that it'll be waiting for me in my hotel room the minute I get back from the studio. I can already taste the tranquilizer in my veins. I get back around 10:00PM, and sure enough, there's a box on the dresser. I was gonna need the needle for this one. I pulled out my custom-made horseshoe - you can do it with a normal spoon, but they say you really should cook it in a horseshoe to get that perfect "flavor." I opened up the box and grabbed the bag, but, God damn it, it was the wrong color. Forgive me for getting a bit technical here, but pure horse tranquilizer, in liquid form, is sort of a golden brown, whereas this was like a light grey. Hans had screwed me over - big time. I checked the print on the bag, and in the midst of several "oxides" and "amyls" were the words "giraffe anesthesia." I grabbed the phone.

"You sent me the wrong shit!"

"Who is this?"

"It's Phil! So what the fuck is this, Hans? I got a bag of ... giraffe anesthesia!"

"You did? No, I told them what you like, they were going to get you the good stuff."

"Well there must've been some kind of misunderstanding!"

"Look, Phil, I'll sort it out."

"Damn straight you will. I'm just supposed to sit around all night without my fix?"

"No, I don't know what to tell you, there was some kind of mistake, that's all."

"Yeah, like me trusting a fucking zookeeper, that was the mistake. Now get your puny little Danish ass over here and make sure you bring the right shit."

Copenhagen was about 45 minutes from the studio. I figured I could hold out that long. Rot Rot popped out from underneath a sweater in my duffle bag.

"What's the matter, Philip?"

"Oh nothing, they just sent me the wrong stuff, that's all. Now I've got to kill some time until they get here."

"How about another round of Riddle-Diddle?"

"No Rot Rot, I'm sick of Riddle-Diddle. You always win anyway. I was just watching the telly, but I turned it off."

"Well ... turn it on again."

So I caught a couple of episodes of Are You Being Served?, dubbed in Danish. Where the fuck was Hans? My back started itching. I almost thought about trying the giraffe anesthesia, but Rot Rot talked me out of it. I got impatient and walked down to the lobby. It was raining fairly steadily, but I decided to stand outside by the taxis. I didn't care. Finally a cab pulled up. Hans ran out with a box in his hand.

"Construction! Can you believe it? They're doing construction in Lillerod! Anyway, sorry Phil, here it is."

I raced up to my room, poured a solid dose into my horseshoe, let that lighter do its magic, and sank back on the bed.

"Philip, aren't you a bit concerned that your little 'hobby' is getting out of hand?"

"Listen Rot Rot, I've got it under control. I know what I'm doing."

"I saw the panic in your eyes tonight."

"You know what? How about I give you a dose of hedgehog anesthesia? How does that sound?"

Just then a car drove by, blasting "Fool In The Rain." That's when it hit me. I got up from the bed, stumbled my way to the piano, changed the whole scenario around to make it sound like a kind of adultery thing, and there you go.

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