Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins, 1989

She calls out to the man on the street

‘Sir, can you help me?

It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep,

Is there somewhere you can tell me?’

 

I love this song, so much. It makes me happy because it’s such a good song, but then it can also make me so incredibly sad when I stop and listen to what’s being sung. It’s one of those songs that can hit you on a soul deep level and keep you in a melancholy state for hours on end.

When I first heard this song, I didn’t realise there was an ulterior meaning, or that it was anything other than a rock song; and then one day I was on the bus and this song came on, and I’m bobbing my head along with the beat just thinking that it’s a cool song, I didn’t need to skip it, and then I listened.

I listened as Phil Collins sang about this poor woman who’s trying to find just one small piece of compassion, someone who will help her. From each verse, it seems that a few months or years has passed in this woman’s life; from the first verse where she’s probably looking a little less composed as she would have been, but still relatively healthy, then to the next and the next, where her health and appearance are deteriorating. Through all this time not one person helps her, they ignore her, purposely avoid her because she doesn’t fit in, because she doesn’t look like everyone else. It breaks my heart to think that because no one will help her, she’ll carry on deteriorating, which will just cause her to be ostracised even more, cause more pain in her life.

The woman in this song is homeless.

She has no home, other than where she can find room on the street. She obviously has no way to change that situation because she’s desperately asking anyone and everyone for help. She’s lost, in pain, and no one cares.

That is why this song break my heart. Because no one cares. No one cares that her life has turned upside down; no one cares that she doesn’t have a home, probably doesn’t have a job or anyway to look after herself. No one cares.

When this song was released it won many awards, loads of people loved it, and it was the first number one song of the 1990s. Then it started to get criticised. It created a lot of controversy, which, of course, the critics didn’t like. Probably thinking that music is an escape for most people, why should there be such hard hitting messages within, but that is something I love about this song. That music is an escape. People who have the privilege to music probably have a home, I know I do, and a good one too. I like to listen to music to stop thinking about what work I have left to do, or to block out the children screaming on the bus. I want to get away from it all and listen to something that makes me happy. And that’s where Phil Collins slammed his message. He took the escape of music and turned it into a way to bring awareness of the homeless. He wasn’t asking anyone to do anything, give money or anything like that. He was simply telling us about this woman; a short snippet of what she’s endured, and I think that’s why I find this song so hard hitting.

How could I possibly do nothing after hearing that? I admit, I have a heart for homeless people. I can’t stand to think that in a country or society that has as much money as we do, there are people who don’t even have a home. Where there are, empty buildings boarded up, empty homes, and yet there are still people sleeping outside. I can’t stand it. But I love how this song takes that reality, and pushes it into people’s minds.

This song is one of the main inspirations for my project. I want to create a collection that’s like this song, It doesn’t ask for anything, but it tells you the cold hard truth of the lives of the homeless. How so many people turn away, pretend they can’t hear them. The idea I have for my collection is to take this, this awareness of homeless people, and show it. Phil Collins got people to listen, and I want people to see that same message within my collection. I plan to use imagery and wording within my designs, showing what homeless people see around them. I plan to take photos of the streets and surround buildings, maybe collect some lost stuff, or draw. I want to take this imagery into my designs and mix it with some hard-hitting messages to create a collection that draws attention in such away, that while not asking for anyone to do anything, they’re moved to.

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