In my continuing quest for interesting autobiographies, I've discovered one that is surprisingly engaging. Don't get me wrong ~ I like Phil Collins as much as the next eighties MTV addict, but I wasn't sure his life story would be captivating, and more importantly, well written. I was wrong. I'm a patron of my local library Overdrive ~ sorry, Phil ~ it's not that I'm cheap; I'm just poor. I recently borrowed three autobiographies; one was semi-interesting; one was cringingly self-important, and then there was this one, Not Dead Yet.
Phil's writing style requires the reader to shift her conception of reading convention. The entire book is written in the present tense ~ "I stop in to see him"; "So I decide, what the hell". Honestly, though, it's a comfortable approach, once one adjusts to it. (I would never do it, but that's why I'm not a best-selling author, among other reasons.)
Truth be told, I skimmed through the obligatory childhood reminiscences. Rarely are those absorbing, but I understand one needs to begin somewhere. Quickly, however, the story took an interesting turn ~ Phil's pubescent career as a stage actor and his quest for a regular band gig. I learned about the early years of Genesis, of which I, admittedly knew next to nothing. I was happy to know that there never were any hard feelings between Phil and Peter Gabriel, who left the band of his own accord, which inadvertently allowed Phil to have a humongous career.
I liked reading about Phil noodling around in his home studio, sadly alone after his wife took the kids and moved to Vancouver, pouring out his feelings in scraps of songs; and not understanding that what he was writing would amount to the exact opposite of nothing. How he has no memory of not sharing "In The Air Tonight" with his Genesis band members, but maybe, subconsciously, realizing this was something special. I've written one or two like that ~ songs that are so close to my heart that I am loathe to let anyone else hear them.
And that he considered "Against All Odds" to be a "B" side.
Throughout his memoir, Phil is unceasingly modest; self-deprecating. That's refreshing. I'm used to reading artists' convenient recitations of how awesome they always were. Phil's insecurities are humanly relatable.
Unlike with many artists' memoirs, I came away liking Phil Collins a ton more than I ever did before.
Like Phil says in the book, "Ba-DUM-Ba-Da-DUM!
Sting and Peter Gabriel sang backing vocals on this one:
The "B Side":
As an MTV-watcher, none of Phil Collins' singles takes me back to the eighties as much as this next one. I remember seeing Dwight Yoakam on David Letterman's show being interviewed right after he performed "Fast As You" and Dave asked him about the last line in the song, "Ahhh, Sue-ssie!". Dwight said he'd gotten the idea from this song:
More Phil, with Genesis:
Summing up, Phil Collins is awesome....and a cutie, too.
Buy (or borrow) this memoir. You'll like it.
And, oh, by the way, Peter Gabriel didn't do too badly for himself after leaving Genesis. He did, after all, have the best music video of all time:
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