Phil Collins - "In the air tonight"
There has been a rumor about the Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight” that Collins had a childhood friend drown and that there was a guy that could have saved his friend but didn’t (Eminem talks about this urban myth in his song "Stan"). The story and all variations thereof are completely false : Collins actually wrote this about the anger he felt after divorcing his first wife, Andrea, in 1979. This was Collins' first single as a solo artist and all the original songs on his first solo album were intended to be "messages" to his former wife in an attempt to lure her back to him.
As for the song's writing, Collins began working on the drums, found a rhythm he liked, then added some chords on the keyboard that sounded good, and the words just came to him.
The main feature in the song is the drums' sound. They come in half way through the song, setting the template for all the 80's drum songs after that. They sound quite artificial, but they were not produced by a drum machine, but by Phil on his drum kit. Hugh Padgham (producer) used a technique called gated-reverb to produce Collins's trademark drum sound. Usually, drums continue to reverberate after they've been hit. In this case, this reverberation is cut short – it extends beyond the end of that first drum sound (stick hitting skin) but then it abruptly stops.
The song appeared on Phil Collins' first solo album and, as it sold more than any prior Genesis release, prompted the group to change musical direction.
Available on the album "Face Value"