Song of the Day #3,790: ‘You Know What I Mean’ – Phil Collins

Welcome to the latest edition of my Decades series, wherein I feature celebrated albums from a single year across several decades. So far I’ve covered 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002, and (most recently) 1971. That brings me to the year I’ll focus on over the new few weeks: 1981.

The first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The year of the first test tube baby. The year Raiders of the Lost Ark came out. The year I turned nine. Of the five albums I’ll count down first — my personal favorites from 1981 — I listened to only one at the time. The rest I’ve discovered since.

I have only four sure things on my list of favorite 1981 albums, so this #5 choice is a bit of a stretch. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Phil Collins’ Face Value, but I just haven’t listened to it much.

The album is best known for its stellar opening track and first single, ‘In the Air Tonight.’ Nothing else on the album reached the heights of that classic track, but ‘This Must Be Love’ and ‘I Missed Again’ are certainly worthy. My favorite of the more obscure tracks is today’s SOTD, the beautiful broken heart ballad ‘You Know What I Mean.’

Face Value also includes a couple of art-pop instrumentals, unusual for an album that charted well and sold more than five million copies.

For a while it wasn’t very cool to appreciate Phil Collins, but that has changed in a big way over the past decade. A generation of kids who grew up with his Tarzan soundtrack and a slew of rappers who sample his exotic sounds have made him cool again. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

[Verse 1]
Just as I thought I’d make it
You walk back into my life
Just like you never left
Just as I’d learned to be lonely
You call up to tell me
You’re not sure if you’re ready
But ready or not, you’ll take what you’ve got and leave

Leave me alone with my heart
I’m putting the pieces back together again
Just leave, leave me alone with my dreams
I can do without you, know what I mean

[Verse 2]
I wish I could write a love song
To show you the way I feel
Seems you don’t like to listen
Oh but like it or not, take what you’ve got and leave

[Chorus 2]
Leave me alone with my heart
It’s broken in two and I’m not thinking too straight
Just leave, leave me alone with my dreams
You’ve taken everything else, you know what I mean

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,790: ‘You Know What I Mean’ – Phil Collins

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Always enjoy these decade reviews.

    I turned 14 in 1981 and was in junior high. I certainly was familiar with the hits from this album, but became more familiar with the rest of the album in high school and college. I was a fan of this and Hello, I Must Be Going, but he lost me with No Jacket Required and the fairly insipid “Susssudio,” although even that album had some decent songs on it.

  2. Peg Clifton says:

    I’m a fan of Phil Collins and it was a treat to see and hear him a few years ago singing In The Air Tonight on the high school stage at Miami Country Day with Daniel behind him on guitar 😊

  3. Amy says:

    I don’t know if I was playing this album faithfully in 1981, but, like Dana, I certainly found it within the next few years, though it was “Hello, I Must Be Going” that I must have worn out. Always loved his voice and how easily he switched from pop to rock to moody ballads.

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