9 Great Uses Of Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’

You know the song by Phil Collins, “In the Air of the Night”
about that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drowning
but didn’t, then Phil saw it all, then at a show he found him?
– Eminem, “Stan”

One of the great joys of attending a baseball game in person is hearing a player’s walk up music. I thought that might make for a good list. You learn more about Cliff Floyd from the fact that he used the theme from Sanford & Son as his walk up music than you would from a thousand cliched interviews. Happily, that information is available online for our World Series contestants (Cardinals, Rangers, and the Rangers’ is even on YouTube).

The one that caught Triangle editor Sarah Larimer’s eye was Nick Punto’s use of Phil Collins’ 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight.” On the face of things, it doesn’t make much sense that a song about a painful divorce (not, regrettably, watching a guy watch a guy drown) should inspire professional athletes. Armed with nothing other than a vague recollection that Ray Lewis loved the song, I decided to launch an investigation. And as it turns out, “In the Air Tonight” might be the most important, unlikeliest sports anthem ever. See for yourself.

1. Ray Lewis’ pregame routine in his own words: “Ten or 15 minutes before I go onto the field, I put on Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight,’ and I become a different person. You have to remember the words: ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.’ As a child, I dreamed of this, I’ve been waiting for it, this moment was mine all the time, and when that breakdown comes — ba-doom ba-doom ba-doom ba-doom-doom-doom — that’s my transition! I am a warrior!”

2. En route to winning Super Bowl XLIII, Mike Tomlin turned out the lights, cranked the Collins, “and the Steelers were encouraged to visualize their actions, their purpose and their eventual success.”

3. University of Arizona’s football team blasted it loud to simulate crowd noise, annoying neighbors.

4. It made the Tuck Rule thing happen.

5. Riddick Bowe found it inspirational enough to take the heavyweight title away from Evander Holyfield

6. Jermain Taylor used it to hand Bernard Hopkins his first loss in 12 years.

(To be fair, Taylor and Bowe’s upset wins probably also had something to do with their boxing abilities because even Phil Collins couldn’t help Audley Harrison against David Haye.)

7. It’s unclear if the song in question was “In the Air Tonight,” but Liverpool soccer player Steven Gerrard flipped out when a DJ wouldn’t play a Phil Collins song.

8. Look for Nick Punto to use it in the World Series. And he has a song named after him, so it’s not like he doesn’t have any other options.

9. Obviously the Welcome Party remains the chief example of videographic Miami Heat-based hubris, but these player intros featuring a be-scarftacled LeBron have to be second, right? The only way it could’ve been worse is if they changed the lyrics to “I can feel it coming in the air tonight / Magloire.”

Special Bonus Poker Usage:

This guy didn’t really have a choice.

Jordan Carr runs the blog Better than Voodoo while trying to make it as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @btvoodoo.

Follow Grantland on Twitter or check out Grantland’s Facebook page.

Read more of The Triangle, Grantland’s sports blog.

Contact us at triangle@grantland.com

Filed Under: Baltimore Ravens, LeBron James, Liverpool, Miami Heat, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ray Lewis