In Which I Feel Badly for Phil Collins

There was a time in 1985 when I’d do just about anything to keep Phil Collins off the radio. No Jacket Required was this monster album that spawned several hits, giving him seemingly unlimited airplay. And I hated it. It was safe, boring middle-of-the-road music by the same old baby boomers who were hogging the airwaves with their bland mid-life crisis albums.

Today, I read that, due to health problems from years of banging on drums and playing load concerts, not to mention his inability to get airplay on mainstream radio, he’s retiring. If your hearing is gone and it hurts you to play music, I’d say there’s no shame in retirement.

I feel kind of badly for him. It’s true that music has changed, as it always does, and today it’s next to impossible for someone over the age of 40, let alone 60, to get in the top ten. The oldest person on the current Billboard Top Ten has to be Dr. Dre.

There’s little that’s unusual in this. In 1985, artists who were massive in the 1955 weren’t selling like they once were and in 2011, as popular as Collins, or his former Genesis partner Peter Gabriel, may have been, you can’t convince a large mass of people to buy your records. It’s easier to sell Katy Perry than Carole King.

Of course, now that I’m older than Phil Collins was when he was at the peak of his success, I do find it a bit sad that older artists are pushed aside in favour of younger ones. I do try to keep up with the latest music and there’s much to recommend it. I have Dizzee Rascal as well as The Rolling Stones and The Decemberist on my iPod. I do find a lot of today’s popular music to be coarse and shallow and it seems that in an age of iTunes singles, there isn’t much room for thoughtful, serious albums, although Arcade Fire’s surprise Grammy win this year does offer hope. And I haven’t yet gone the way of former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, decrying the music of "Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg" and "the enema man".

So is now a good a time as any to admit that I always really kind of loved In the Air Tonight?


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