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The Story of... 'Against All Odds' by Phil Collins

It's one of the most romantic power ballads of the 1980s...

Here's a history lesson on Phil Collins' classic 1984 worldwide hit 'Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)', from its inspiration, the movie it came from and its many cover versions.

1. Who wrote Against All Odds?

Phil Collins was approached to write the title song to the film Against All Odds while it was still in a "rough cut form". At the time the soundtrack was being completed, Phil was still on tour with his band Genesis.

Director Taylor Hackford flew to Chicago to see one of the band's concerts. Later, Phil watched the movie on a videocassette recorder in his hotel room, and agreed to appear on the soundtrack.

2. What was the film 'Against All Odds'?

Against All Odds is a 1984 romantic neo-noir thriller film, and a remake of 1947's Out of the Past (1947).

It was directed by Taylor Hackford and starred Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges and James Woods alongside Jane Greer (who had also starred in Out of the Past). The film revolves around an aging American football star, who is hired by a mobster to find his girlfriend.

The film's soundtrack also featured songs from Phil's Genesis bandmates Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford.

'Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)' appears in the movie during the closing credits.

3. What was the song inspired by?

Originally titled 'How Can You Just Sit There?', the song was initially from Phil's sessions for his debut solo album Face Value in 1981.

On episode 339 of the podcast This American Life, Phil said that the song was inspired and written shortly after the split between him and his first wife. He said that the divorce transformed him from being a musician into also being a lyricist.

"That song was written during my first divorce. My first wife and the kids had gone and I was left there. The song was written out of experience as opposed to a 'what if' song.

4. How big a hit was it at the time?

The song peaked at number two in the UK in 1984. In the US, it peaked at number one, and stayed there for three weeks. It was also the fifth best-selling single of 1984 in the States.

5. How many awards has it won?

'Against All Odds' won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1985.

It was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the Best Original Song categories. At the Oscars, Phil was not invited to sing his song on stage, and instead sat in the audience as dancer Ann Reinking gave a lip-synced performance alongside a dance routine. Phil wasn't best pleased.

Phil lost to the Stevie Wonder classic 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' at the 1985 Oscars.

6. Who has covered it?

Many artists have covered it, most notably Mariah Carey on her Rainbow album in 2000. She later released a second version as a duet with boyband Westlife in the same year, reaching number one in the UK.

In 2004, the very first winner of The X Factor, Steve Brookstein scored a number one with a cover version as his winner's single.

Other covers include:
- The Shadows
- The Postal Service
- Bonnie Tyler
- Barry Manilow
- Michael Ball

7. What are the lyrics?

How can I just let you walk away
Just let you leave without a trace?
When I stand here taking every breath with you, ooh ooh
You're the only one who really knew me at all

How can you just walk away from me
When all I can do is watch you leave?
'Cause we've shared the laughter and the pain
And even shared the tears
You're the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now
Well there's just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face
Ooh, take a look at me now
Well there's just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against the odds
And that's what I've got to face

I wish I could just make you turn around
Turn around and see me cry
There's so much I need to say to you
So many reasons why
You're the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now
Well there's just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face

Now Take a look at me now
'Cause that's just an empty space
But to wait for you is all I can do
And that's what I've got to face

Take a good look at me now
'Cause I'll still be standing here
And you coming back to me is against all odds
It's the chance I've got to take
Take a look at me now

© Smooth Radio, by Tom Eames

Last modified on Thursday, 28 June 2018 14:33

1 comment

  • Brian Behr
    Brian Behr Friday, 29 June 2018 16:38 Comment Link Report

    He is the best ever singer and song writer there has been. That's all . No pun intended. A great fan. Brian Behr.

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