Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Misunderstood

This past summer has really had me listening to a lot of Genesis, for which I only had previously known them for songs like 'Land of Confusion,' and 'I Can't Dance.'

I spent one day listening to their entire Abacab album on YouTube, and liked a few songs; the title track is unusual but catchy and endearing, and I completely understood 'No Reply at All,' an upbeat song about the lack of interest or communication in a relationship.

The song that outshines them all (at the moment) for me is 'Misunderstanding,' which is a short, simple song written by Phil Collins, likely on the subject of his wife's adultery on him. (I read that he'd written it during the sessions for his first solo album but decided to give it to Genesis and drum/sing it for their Duke album instead).

Synesthetically, the music is largely yellow to me, and it follows a simple riff - moving up note by note, and then skipping over the fourth note to the fifth, and coming back to the forth. There are only two verses that follow a separate pattern, and there's no bridge. It's a simple rock song with a piano and keyboard in it, with heavy, crashing drums at the end.

The element that sucked me in was Collins' falsetto oohing during the choruses. It just sound very pleasing to my ear. The song has other attractions to it but that was the main one at first. I also enjoy the guitar in the second, final verse, which sounds bright and simultaneously annoyed and stern to me. The big aspect that makes me extremely happy has to do with the piano starting an F chord in the verses at the same time the bright keyboard counterpart also starts the sound with a hit. The chord, played low on the piano, plus the bright keyboard, gives me an image of the face of a girl I've always liked (I will say she hypothetically looks exactly like, or is, the 'In the City' organ girl) and that face has a lot of concern and worry for me when I hear those sounds.
I've likened it to a scene from The Office: Dwight, as acting manager, has decided to fill his gun holster (which he'd received as a gift for obtaining his position) with an actual gun, and accidentally fires it, right next to Andy. The noise damages Andy's hearing, and Erin, the receptionist who had recently asked Andy out, reacts to his reaction and pain by running to his aid, extremely worried and concerned about him, likely because she likes him. That would be an example for the kind of concern or worry I see from that face, towards me (not necessarily because I got my ears affected by a gun) but generally, and it makes me very happy.

Collins does a great job during the choruses in singing the lyrics with what sounds like pain and dedication to believing that it's just a misunderstanding. At the same time he sounds like he knows it obviously isn't, but is desperate to believe that it is. The music kind of sounds like hardship to me, difficult times, especially when you incorporate the open hi-hat when the song begins the chorus. Like it's an extra thing to throw into the mix of difficult feelings.

I don't think it's often to hear songs sung by men directed at woman or their partners for their adultery or ungratefulness, but I could be wrong. Either way, this one's great. As for the music video, it very simply acts out the story of the lyrics, with Phil Collins driving around Los Angeles in a convertable (with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford riding behind him in the back of a pickup truck with their instruments) and eventually coming to a stop outside his girlfriend's, only to find her talking to another man on the front walk. He has an unusual beard and Hawaiian shirt, but it works.

Music: A-
Lyrics: B+

It's a great Genesis song that's simple (unusual of most of their songs) and has a great lyric. Both the music and lyrics illustrate the song's tale and feelings well, which is what makes a song good.

Justin C.

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