Trust the Gene Genie

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Phil Collins is pretty cool

It's funny. The item that inspires me to get a post up on the blog after almost a month is not something cute the girls have done or some bold insight I've gained into the mysterious machinations of our life cycle. It's something that goofy little rock band I've been really into lately has done.

Wilco, which every-so-often streams lives shows on their Web site, has put up the audio for the Berkeley show Becky and I attended in August. You'll remember. It was really good. Well, now you all can hear for yourselves.

And since I'm here, talking about music, I'll mention something I wanted to get up last month. Phil Collins. I loved Genesis in junior high and even listened to them a bit in high school. But over the last decade, I thought Phil was just kind of an embarrassment to his previous self, starting with that soundtrack he wrote for Disney's Tarzan.

And then, a few weeks ago I was listening to "This American Life" -- which, really, everyone should do -- and, as often happens on the show, I heard something that really changed my opinion. Turns out Phil Collins is a really cool guy.

The segment specific to him is first on the show and lasts about 20 minutes. Do yourself a favor and just listen to it -- I promise you won't regret it. In fact you'll come back here and thank me you did. But in a nutshell, here's the story.

One of TAL's regular contributers goes through a break-up. She and her boyfriend during their relationship really got into Phil Collins, first ironically, then sincerely. They both loved the song "Against All Odds."

Then they break up and the girl immerses herself in torch songs, like "Against All Odds." Torch songs, the unrequited love songs of those who sing about taking back their significant other at any cost or wishing it wasn't all over or wishing they could go back to the way things were. She gets to the point where she wants to be one of these songs and comes to the realization that she needs to write her own torch song.

But she doesn't know how to go about doing it, she needs advice. Who to ask, she wonders. The answer is obvious. She pulls a few strings and gets Phil Collins on the phone. The conversation itself is surprising. Collins is really amusing, disarming, even touching and so with the advice she sets off to write her song.

She writes a bunch of lyrics, gets in touch with a friend who works for this little indie band in NYC and they decide which song to put to music. After some collaboration, they make their decision and the band records her song.

The surprise is two-fold. First, the song is pretty good. Then she calls Phil back and plays the song for him. The second surprise is his reaction. He's genuinely impressed. It was a great little radio piece, classic "This American Life." Trust me, just go give it a listen.

In other news, you all need to wish Becky a happy birthday. She turned 31 yesterday. I stayed home from work and me and the girls had a really good time making her feel special. It's fun to do stuff like that.


ThomG said...

Happy (belated) birthday, Urpy!

urpy said...

Thank you, Thom. I'm glad we're good enough friends for you to now refer to me by my "real"

I almost need to start my own blog so I can brag about how wonderful Rob made my birthday yesterday. It was a perfect day--complete with him even writing and performing a song for me. What could a gal want more?

urpy said...

I don't know what happened, but there is suppose to be the word "name" at the end of that second sentence.

Just didn't want anyone thinking I was an idiot...

Shannon and Carey said...

Im getting a Phil Collin's CD for my mom for Christmas. I came over to her house one night and she said "Im listening to Phil Collins"......I said "No you're not".....she said "yeah I am" I got the CD. It's a compilation! some obscure people. Not even known. So thats what shes getting.

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