Do You Want the Guy Singing This Song?

Since we’ve been home under shelter-in-place orders, my husband and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary at home. Our botched celebration involved a plan for takeout and an at-home Paint-And-Pour event cobbled together from existing art supplies and our wine rack after the kids went to bed. Unfortunately, my husband had an allergic reaction to something in his dinner, so he ended up going to bed early after lounging on the couch watching a concert uploaded to YouTube.

We found and watched a few classic concerts over the following days and then received a recommendation for some similar music videos. As big fans of 80s music, we landed on REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” which inspired a spirited discussion.

For the record, I really like this song, and I’m pretty sure at one point I owned REO’s greatest hits album.

The Guy

From K’s perspective, the song’s male narrator sounds like a total flake. “Who would want to be in a relationship with a guy like that?” he asked me.

A guy who’s friends with a girl and doesn’t want to confess his feelings…

(“What started out as friendship has grown stronger and I only wish I had the strength to let it show”)

A guy claiming to have no sense of life purpose…

(“‘Cause I feel so secure when we’re together,” “Even as I wander,” and “My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you”)

A guy following the lead of this girl he seems to trust and believes he loves…

(“And it always seems that I’m following you, girl, ‘cause you take me to the places that alone I’d never find”)

A guy who apparently plans to crash on her couch until she reciprocates his feelings…

(“If I have to crawl upon the floor, come crashing through your door”)

Seriously, he’s acting like my kid throwing a tantrum and not respecting my boundaries…

The Girl

This analysis brought us to the girl. What kind of person is this woman? Based on the lyrics, she sounds like a really stable, capable person who goes after her goals and inspires longing in this guy she’s been friends with for a long time.

(“I feel so secure when we’re together,” “You give my life direction, you make everything so clear”, and “You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night”)

Who actually leaves candles in windows on winter nights anymore? The song is from the 1980s, when we had electricity. The last time I heard about someone doing this was during the Great Depression to offer extra food to the hungry, or that scene in the “Little House” books when Ma left the candle for Pa after a shopping trip to town went late.

K felt that the girl could do much better.

The Relationship 

While I don’t disagree, I then flipped the script and considered the fact that many of the romance novels I read, especially the historical ones, have a flaky, helpless heroine who thinks she has it all figured out but actually needs the big strong hero to come and fix her life for her. Oh, and he also has to love her because what is the point of stability in the Middle Ages without his telling her that he loves her?

Yes, now I’m questioning what I like about these alpha male heroes and the damsel-in-distress heroines who think they’re so brave…

Of course, since K has not read (any) romance novels to be able to appreciate the tropes, I also approached the song from a practical standpoint. Of course a spontaneous person would appreciate stability in their significant other, and surely a staid homebody could use a little less structure in their life and they relationships.

Just the same, we both questioned the long-term happiness of such a couple, where one is so dependent on the other to provide their purpose and direction.

The Conclusion

In the end, we did agree on one thing. The girl was a catch, and pretty soon this guy was going to be “wishing that I had Jessie’s girl.”

Seeing “Still Not Dead Yet”

We had the good fortune recently to get free tickets to see Phil Collins in Atlanta for the macabrely titled “Still Not Dead Yet” tour. While K and I brought the average age of the audience down a bit, we are big fans of his music.

Phil Collins Still Not Dead Yet Live!

K and I have managed to get to a number of concerts in the last year or so, which is unusual for us. We went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (RIP Tom!) when I was pregnant with T, then took a long hiatus. In the last year, we have seen a number of shows:

  1. Def Leppard, Journey, and The Pretenders
  2. 2Cellos
  3. Florence + the Machine
  4. and obviously, Phil Collins

Based on the title of the show, perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised at the singer walking out on stage with a cane and spending the whole show seated. His voice sounded more nasal than the songs we hear on the albums do—I’m reminded of watching Enrique Iglesias at the Houston Rodeo in the early 2000s and finding that his Spanish sounded like the radio, but his English was super-nasal. American accents are typically more nasal than British ones, but I wonder if age just did Phil Collins’s voice in.

The show had an impressive band, including four backup/duet singers, a full horn ensemble, and not one but TWO drummers. Phil Collins was especially proud to present the last of these, his 18-year-old son, who has been playing with the tour for the last two years.

An accomplished drummer and pianist, Nicholas was amazing to watch. My favorite part was watching the interaction between father and son. They performed alone together while Nicholas played piano, and the three drummers performed a percussion piece together with their hands.

Since Phil Collins is known for playing the drums, it must be an especial honor and challenge for his son to be on tour with his father. Obviously, Nicholas is incredibly talented—could you imagine Phil Collins permitting subpar drummers in his show?

Then you puzzle over how this young man became so good so young… Is musical talent genetic? (Maybe…) Is he driven? (Definitely.) Is he sacrificing some other desired skill set to focus entirely on this? (I’ll never know.) And maybe the opportunity to perform with his ailing father is enough to make up for any other sacrifices.

At the same time, I’m reminded of what I have read in Malcom Gladwell’s “Outliers,” that opportunity to gain exposure and practice takes natural talent to another level. Of course a musician’s son would certainly be exposed to music and different instruments in a greater way than someone without such a background, so he’d get his fabled 10,000 hours of practice in long before someone with a different exposure rate.

Given that, perhaps Nicholas Collins’s impressive musical skillset is not so surprising. I will say that it was an absolute joy to watch the show, and I look forward to following Nicholas Collins’s musical career.