Thursday, April 9, 2015

See Phil Fake His Music - Literally! AKA When Poodlephobia Consumes A Man

Here's my simple rule for most Phil Collins songs: no horns = good; horns = not as good. But clearly, Phil thought otherwise. From Wikipedia:
According to Classic Albums, in what was then considered a controversial move at the time, Collins, who grew up listening to American R&B as a child in Chiswick, decided to incorporate an R&B horn section, hiring the Phenix Horns, who played backup for Earth, Wind & Fire. Collins refused to listen to friends who had advised him not to use the horns and they would play a major role for most of his solo career.
He refused to listen! You know, Phil, I don't mean to discourage genre experimentation, but maybe those friends of yours were on to something. I, too, grew up listening to American R&B as a child, but you don't see me hiring Earth, Wind & Fire's horn section, now, do you? Strangely enough, Atlantic Records CEO Ahmet Ertegun, a man who nurtured actual R&B talents such as Ray Charles, The Drifters, Aretha Franklin, and The Coasters, didn't seem to have a problem with it, stating in the Classic Albums documentary, "Face Value is a record which has a lot of black influence. And that's also one of the things that made it an international hit. His feelings and his soul are expressed in terms very much influenced by black American music." Well ... sure. Phil Collins' feelings and soul might be expressed in terms influenced by black American music, but does the end result of that expression equal black American music? The record buying public obviously said "Yes!" - and theirs is the only vote that counts.

And so we come to the second single from Face Value, "I Missed Again," which may have been overshadowed by its notorious predecessor, but at the time was a fairly substantial hit (#19 in the US and #14 in the UK). I heard it some years ago and thought it was kind of crappy, but now I'm more or less down with it, in that shrugging "whatever, it's Phil Collins" sort of way. Still not sure about those horns though; they make the song sound like it's from 1985, not 1981. According to Wikipedia, "The original demo was entitled, 'I Miss You, Babe' and the lyrics were made much sadder. He re-wrote the lyric, gave the song a different tempo, and re-titled it 'I Missed Again' in an effort to make it funny as opposed to sad..." Of course, a song can be both funny and sad, as many of my favorite songs are. But the video is unmistakably one and not the other, unless you find the idea of a man pretending to play several different instruments sad. Naturally, he proves himself to be a highly skilled air drummer, a decent air keyboardist, and a passable air vocalist, but, as one YouTube commentator put it, "Dudes air bass was just a little off." Actually, I'm having a hard time differentiating between his air guitar and his air bass guitar, but they're both a touch sloppy, although the licking of the finger seems like an impressively accurate move.

Other YouTube comment highlights:
The 3 dislikes are probably his ex-wives(!)

Listen to that sax solo played with a phaser effect. THAT is some hardcore New Wave studio trickery, and indeed, some serious 1981 action.

He was a walking CONVERSE billboard....

This is almost as awkward to watch as the final 30 seconds of the Michael McDonald - sweet freedom video
But that's not all! Witness the following exchange. Comment #1: "Dang he was so friggin hot...OMG." Comment #2: "??? OK....if you think so. Not quite what I expected to read in the comments." Then again, when you're reading the comments in a Phil Collins video, you can expect the unexpected. One fearless viewer tries to speculate as to the deeper origin of the lyrics: "This is the song he wrote about peeing in the middle of the night with the light off =P." Good guess, but I'm afraid this anonymous YouTube commentator has missed again, for the song's true inspiration was the result of a traumatic childhood incident involving a breed of dog that most of us find adorable. Most of us. From In The Air Tonight:
For some people, it's clowns. For other people, it's spiders. For me, it's poodles. They are the most shiver-inducing creatures on God's green earth. If I could, I would wipe every fucking poodle out of existence. Their putrid odor, their offensive curls, their sickly little legs, their arrogant manner of walking ... I can't sleep at night thinking about it. I've never spoken a word about this to anyone. Yes. I suffer from ... acute poodlephobia.

Once when I was about four years old, I was walking through the park, preparing to enjoy a freshly-purchased ice cream cone my auntie Gladys had procured for me. Pecan fudge, I believe. It was everything a boy could have wanted. Out of the bushes, an old, wrinkly lady appeared, stinking of moth balls and gin, dressed in a white coat with fur trimming. Following behind her was ... yes, that's right. It was her poodle. Their appearances were disturbingly identical. "Say hello to the nice young boy!" the lady shouted, suggesting she was hard of hearing. Only, instead of hello, that loathsome creature extended her palm, reached up to my cone, and swatted it out of my hands and onto the ground. "Bad girl! Very bad girl!" The woman turned and squinted right into my heartbroken eyes. "I'm terribly sorry, boy. She's never like this, I don't know what's gotten into her." She picked up her little beast and began rubbing its head. "Isn't that right? Isn't that right? Yes it is! Yes it is little schnookums!"

I knew, from that moment on, that all poodles needed to die.

We were on break from the Duke tour, but all I could think about was how to exterminate as many poodles as possible. I tossed and turned in my silk pajamas, with visions of severed poodle limbs and red-stained fur filling my dreams. One morning I borrowed a rifle from my neighbor. I knew there was a dog show out in the countryside near Cambridge. This was my chance! And yet, all along the leisurely drive there, I wondered to myself, "How can I shoot those poodles ... without getting caught?" The question never properly resolved itself, but I was too full of hatred to turn back.

I parked up on a hillside, and knelt behind the bushes. There were scads of people around. Obviously I didn't want to harm any people; I love people, as everyone knows. It was those offensive poodles I was after. I knew there would be a moment or two when the humans would wander inside, eat the hors d'oeuvres, and leave the poodles out in the open, ripe for the picking. Finally, around 1:00 PM, their morally and spiritually bankrupt owners stepped into the showroom sans pets. I loaded my M-16 and began to fire. There was one crucial detail that I didn't count on, however: I'm a rather sloppy marksman. I aimed right for a slender little pink one, but ... damn it! I missed! I tried for a corded Standard black, but I simply wasn't on target. "I missed again!," I muttered to myself. I knew my window was closing. I went for a Toy poodle (with a Scandinavian clip - I know my breeds), but the bullet merely pierced a nearby car windshield. "Bollocks!" I cursed to no one in particular. "Did I miss again? I think I missed again!" By this time some of the attendees began running outside, screaming and hollering, and I believe I heard someone shout, "Call the police!" so I packed up my weapon and drove on home. A tune started to come to me. I kept repeating those words, and it sounded like a dynamite chorus I had there.

Got home, made a demo, and almost forgot about the poodles for a little while. Feels good to let the music flow. I started picturing the video, where I would mime all the instruments. What a cute idea! So, that's the story of "I Missed Again."

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