Deep Tracks: Phil Collins – The Roof Is Leaking

Hi Everybody! What better way to ring in the New Year than some Deep Tracks, courtesy of Robert?! My introduction to Phil Collins was in 1983, when I first got cable TV, and was glued to MTV. “That’s All” by Genesis was in heavy rotation, and I didn’t mind one bit. I also loved Phil Collins’ solo work. We also got the best of both worlds because Genesis was still releasing music, specifically, the perfect album – Invisible Touch. While Phil Collins had many huge solo hits, he also had some awesome music that didn’t get as much, if any, airplay. So, let’s get this started, and enjoy Robert’s incredible picks of Phil Collins’ deep tracks.

In 1974 Peter Gabriel, lead singer for the progressive rock band Genesis, decided to leave the band and pursue a solo music career. This left the door open for a change that would have a dramatic impact on ‘80s music. After trying out several possible lead singers, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Mike Rutherford convinced drummer Phil Collins to give vocals a shot. The rest, as they say, is history: Phil Collins was now the drummer AND lead vocalist for Genesis. The departure of Peter Gabriel also caused a change in Genesis’ musical style. They maintained some of the prog rock influences, but dropped many of the theatrics and became much more accessible to pop/rock listeners. Chart success in the U.S. would soon follow. The band charted their first AT 40 hit in 1978 with “Follow You Follow Me” – fifteen more would follow. This success would lead to Phil Collins beginning his own solo career in 1981 while continuing to perform with Genesis.

Phil Collins released four solo albums in the ‘80s: Face Value (1981), Hello, I Must Be Going (1982), No Jacket Required (1985), and . . . But Seriously (1989) – all of them top 10 releases. As far as his singles, Phil Collins had a total of eighteen AT 40 hits with fourteen of this being top 10 and seven of those reaching #1. Impressive! Despite all of this chart success, Phil Collins has some excellent songs that many have not heard, so I come back once again to the idea of deep tracks. By following this series you have heard five great deep tracks from a-ha and and ten amazing tunes from Survivor – now here are five deep tracks that are essential Phil Collins listening. Despite Collins having some great music released throughout the ‘90s, I am staying with the four albums released in the ‘80s.

The Roof Is Leaking (1981)

While Face Value is full a memorable songs such as “In the Air Tonight” and “I Missed Again”, this song has always been the one that has stuck with me the most. Yes, those are crickets you here at the start of this song. This is a haunting song with sparse instrumentation that creates a sound that makes this song unforgettable. As an added bonus, Eric Clapton is the guitarist on this song, making his first of several appearances on a Collins solo effort (see “I Wish It Would Rain Down” from . . . But Seriously). The biggest reason that this song has always stuck with me is the lyrics. During my junior high and high school years I was fortunate enough to spend plenty of time with my Dutch grandparents in Valkenburg, a small town in southern Holland. The gorgeous town sits in a valley and I spent many hours walking through the surrounding forest. This was also the time that I was forming my musical tastes and always had my trusty walkman with me. Face Value was one of my regular tapes and I can still picture walking up hills and through the woods with this song playing. Many time I would stop and sit under a tree or on a rock and just focus on these lyrics. The man is the song is poor and has been raised in a family who has always struggled financially. The chorus emphasizes this, “The roof is leaking and the wind is howling / Kids are crying ‘cause the sheets are so cold / I woke this morning found my hands were frozen / I try to fix the fire, but you know the damn thing’s to old.” Despite this constantly bleak situation, he has hope, “And me, I’m getting stronger by the minute . . . This winter looks like it’s gonna be another bad one / But Spring will soon be here / God, I hope it’s not late.” There is no complaining or giving up; he does not have a fatalistic attitude at all – he and his family are going to make it – somehow. I love this song.

4 thoughts on “Deep Tracks: Phil Collins – The Roof Is Leaking”

  1. Definitely exactly my thoughts too.
    I grew up a farm boy and listened to this song a lot.
    To me it’s almost like the man is a farmer talking to God about his day, hoping for the best in the outcome of his future. They are the most optimistic people, and like you said, no complaining, just accepting life the way it comes to him.


  2. Let us not forget that on the vinyl record at the end of this song, if you turn the volume up, you can hear Phil singing a-capella ‘Some where over the rainbow’.


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