While the rest of us were going about our daily lives, Phil Collins was drinking himself to death. And amassing the world’s largest private collection of Alamo memorabilia. Who knew? Certainly, I didn’t!
Let me get this out of the way right now: I’m no Genesis snob. I loved the group when Peter was the front man AND when Phil stepped out from behind the drum kit. Two different bands with two different sounds. Then solo Phil came along, wearing his heart on his sleeve at a time when I was in tremendous emotional pain. I felt what he was feeling. I listened to Face Value and Hello, I Must Be Going! every damn day for a good six months. Phil got me through it. Music heals.
So, I was pretty interested in reading his memoir. It didn’t disappoint. But I suspect it’s because I love Phil the artist. My one-time psychiatrist can do no wrong in my eyes. Pretty sure a lot of folks – Peter fans and people who don’t like pop music – wouldn’t enjoy this book.
Back to the booze: I’d lost track of Mr. Collins in the last decade or so and hadn’t realized it until I got to the end of his autobiography. I knew about the third failed marriage, somehow slept through Tarzan, and had zero clue about the liquor. He’s got it under control now and I’m hoping his recent tour will make its way to me.
In the meantime, I’m still digesting Phil’s words. He isn’t afraid to admit he’s not very good at marriage, but hey, if he was, he wouldn’t have made these great records (well, great to me anyway). So, I’m grateful for his failed relationships.
He’s not a bad writer – what lyricist is? The story starts at the start of his story and takes the reader through childhood (I’d forgotten he was an actor) on up. Whatever details he can remember, Phil shares. He is very aware of his perceived faults and points them out when he feels he should, especially when it comes to relationships with his women and children. I wonder if this is because he is now sober Phil. Making amends and all is a huge part of that process. Be interesting to see if the people in his life view him differently now.
Of course, we get the history of his musical journey as both a member of Genesis and his meteoric rise as a one-man performer in the 1980s. Again, self-critical Phil has plenty to say about this. He knows he took on too much, but I don’t think he regrets it.
As for the Alamo collection, it’s a just a cool little aside. I suppose if I was paying attention, I would have already known about it, especially since I’m an amateur WWII memorabilia collector. But I’m listening now, rediscovering the albums that tied me to Mr. Collins for many years. Phil’s still very much alive and so is my fandom.