Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Sucks…The Urban Myth Surrounding Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”


Let me get this straight…

So Phil Collins is walking around one night and happens to see some guy drowning- and another guy watching him drown, and does nothing. Then, some time later- we don’t know how long- arranges to have the guy who watched the other guy drown, come to one of his concerts and sit in the front row, only to sing this song for him, hit him with a spotlight, and have the police take him away.

No way. I’m having trouble even picturing it. Here’s what it must have looked like.

EXT. SAN FRANCISCO HARBOR. NIGHT.

ERIC, A MAN IS STANDING ON THE DOCKS, IS SMOKING A CIGARETTE, LOOKING OUT INTO THE BAY. HE IS WATCHING A MAN IN THE WATER, STRUGGLING TO STAY AFLOAT.

MAN IN WATER:
…Seriously, dude. I’m getting very tired here. The water is cold…

ERIC DOES NOT RESPOND.

MAN IN WATER:
…Dude! You’re looking right at me! Come on now!

FROM THE DISTANCE WE SEE A MAN WALKING UP THE BLOCK. WE CUT TO HIM TO REVEAL IT IS A YOUNG PHIL COLLINS.

PHIL:
(TO HIMSELF)
What’s going on up there? That guy okay?

WE SEE FROM PHIL’S POINT OF VIEW THAT HE IS ABOUT 100 YARDS FROM THE DOCK. HE SEES ERIC AND THE MAN IN THE WATER.

PHIL COLLINS:
What is that man on the dock waiting for?

CUT BACK TO ERIC.

MAN IN WATER:
Okay, in the interest of being very clear here, I need help sir. My arms are getting very tired.

ERIC DOES NOTHING.

MAN IN WATER:
I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation…

CUT BACK TO PHIL

PHIL:
Damn it, what is happening?

MAN IN WATER:
Are you mistaking me for someone who may have done you wrong in the past? Please, sir, what is it? Why won’t you help me?

CUT BACK TO PHIL

PHIL:
That guy in the water definitely needs help. What is going on?

CUT BACK TO THE DOCK

MAN IN WATER:
Well, I certainly hope you can live with yourself.

THE MAN IN THE WATER BREATHES FOR THE LAST TIME AND GOES UNDER. HIS HAND SLOWLY SINKING INTO THE WATER AS ERIC WATCHES.

CUT BACK TO PHIL COMING UP THE BLOCK

PHIL:
Holy shit! What the fuck?!! (YELLING TO THE GUY) Hey! What the hell man? Why didn’t you do anything?

ERIC TURNS AND RECOGNIZES PHIL COLLINS.

ERIC:
Phil Collins? You are the best! I love like everything you do. Genesis is awesome- fuck Peter Gabriel and that weird make-up, you’re the man. I can’t wait to see Buster.

PHIL:
Really? (SCRATCHING CHIN) Hey, how’d you like a front row seat to my next show.

ERIC:
You’re kidding me? No way!

PHIL:
Here you go buddy.

PHIL HANDS ERIC TICKETS.

CUT TO: INT. THE FILMORE. NIGHT.

WE SEE THE SECOND ROW, ERIC IS THERE- HE IS DANCING TO PHIL COLLINS’ VERSION OF “YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE”

ERIC:
Whoo! Yeah! Play Easy Lover! Yeah!

PHIL FINISHES “YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE” WITH A FLOURISH. HE THEN ADDRESSES THE CROWD.

PHIL:
Here’s something I’ve been saving for a special occasion…

CUT TO ERIC IN THE 2ND ROW.

ERIC:
Billy Don’t Lose That Number! Yeah!

PHIL:
This one goes out to a very special friend I have out in the audience tonight!

ERIC:
A groovy kind of love! Yes!

THE LIGHTS DIM. PHIL WALKS TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE. WE HEAR THE BEGINNING OF “IN THE AIR TONIGHT”.

ERIC:
What the hell is this?

CUT TO PHIL ON STAGE.

PHIL:
(SINGING)
I can see it…coming in the air tonight…hold on…

CUT TO ERIC.

MAN ON DOCK:
(TO HIMSELF)
Little bit of a downer. (TO THE WOMAN NEXT TO HIM) I hate it when they do new stuff.

ERIC GETS HIT WITH A SPOTLIGHT. HE IS BLINDED.

ERIC (CONT.):
Whoa! (SHIELDING HIS EYES) What the hell is going on?

PHIL:
Well, if you told me you were drowning
…I would not lend a hand. 
I've seen your face before my friend
…But I don't know if you know who I am
…

ERIC:
Oh shit. Phil, no- wait, we’re friends!

PHIL:
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
…I saw it with my own two eyes…
So you can wipe off the grin, I know where you've been
…It's all been a pack of lies
!

ERIC:
Phil! No! Wait, the tickets- they were just a…who are these cops?

20 POLICEMEN ENTER. THEY GRAB THE MAN ON DOCK BY THE ARMS. HE STRUGGLES. THE CROWD LOOKS DOWN ON HIM, DISAPPROVINGLY. THE WOMAN NEXT TO HIM, IN FULL 80’S GARB, SHOUTS.

WOMAN:
You should have helped that guy who was drowning.

ERIC:
Phil’s the guy who needs help- this is pretty passive aggressive.

CUT TO PHIL ON STAGE AS THEY TAKE ERIC AWAY.

PHIL:
…
I've been waiting for this moment for all my life! Oh Lord! 
I can feel it in the air tonight, Oh Lord! 
And I've been waiting for this moment ALL MY LIFE! OH LORD!

ERIC:
All your life? This just happened! What are you talking about! Did I even commit a crime?

THE POLICE PULL THE MAN ON THE DOCK OUT OF THE ARENA. WE CUT TO HIM AT THE CAR.

ERIC:
Play One More Night!

COP:
Like you gave that guy who was drowning “one more night”?

THE COP THEN PUSHES ERIC INTO THE POLICE CAR AND THEY DRIVE AWAY.

SCENE.

I don’t know, maybe it did go down like that. In the movie Jeffery Tambor plays Phil and Tim Robbins is Eric, even though Eric is a much younger man than Tim is now.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where does the Ronald Reagan puppet fit in?

Anonymous said...

nice Land of Confusion reference.

chris said...

I have heard some versions which suggest that Phil himself slapped the cuffs on the guy.

Jaded said...

Umm... Wouldn't Phil Collins be arrested for not doing anything about the guy not doing anything about the guy drowning? lol.


It seems if this were true, which I highly doubt, that he would be just as much to blame for watching a guy watching a guy drowning.

Some people have too much time on their hands. Nice story though, you could be my hero for today.