Phil Collins melded his long-running stage group with the Roots to perform his signature solo track “In the Air Tonight” Tuesday on The Tonight Show. Daryl Stuermer and “Captain” Kirk Douglas traded off guitar leads and chords, while Questlove powered through the distinctive drum-fills as the entire band revved up for a heavier instrumental part of the song.
The Roots clearly relished the performance. Douglas grinned, eyes closed in rapture, during the guitar sections of Stuermer, and Quest nodded in approval throughout. In Collins’ interview with Jimmy Fallon, the host declared the Roots drummer had been “stressed out for months” about nailing the drum parts.
Collins – promoting his new triple-CD Singles collection, coming memoir Not Dead Yet and nine 2017 European solo dates. Collins also debunked the long-dismissed theory that “In the Air Tonight” was inspired by seeing a man let someone else drown, then inviting the survivor to his concert and shining a spotlight on him.
Instead, he confessed the song’s true origins: the anger he felt after divorcing his first wife. “I was pissed off. I was angry,” he said. “Well, you know, you go through a divorce. And sometimes it’s like ‘I love you, I love you. Don’t hang up. And sometimes it’s like, ‘Well, fuck you.’ And that’s where a song like ‘In the Air Tonight’ comes in. There’s obviously a lot of anger in there.” You can find Phil Collins tickets here.