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'I'm not sure I like what I became,' says singer Phil Collins

'I'm not sure I like what I became,' says singer Phil CollinsPhil Collins has paid tribute to the music of Motown before, but "Going Back" is his first album devoted entirely to the work of other artists. He talked with DW about what might be his last record as a solo artist.

Deutsche Welle: Although you had previously announced the end of your solo career, you recently released "Going Back," an album of Motown cover versions. What's the story?

Phil Collins: I'm not sure I like what Phil Collins became, so I've kind of written myself out of the story. Like if I was the writer of a book, I've just written the main character out. He suddenly died mysteriously and now the police are trying to find the murderer! I'm very proud of everything I've done, but I don't think I'm ready to launch myself back into it.

This record is something I’ve always wanted to do. To me it's almost like not part of Phil Collins' career. Phil Collins' career is over. This is something I needed to do and always wanted to do, which is to sing some of my favorite songs that I grew up with in the 60's. So this is a special case.

So did recording it feel like taking a trip down memory lane?

There was one group called The Action who played all these songs on the record. The record is pretty much their set list. I used to go and see them every time they played [in the London club] The Marquee. I'd go out the next day and buy the originals. They did versions of all those songs. That turned me on to the original versions. That's why I paid them a lot of respect in the sleeve notes. In fact, the drummer was my biggest hero, and he's now one of my best friends. So, I picture it very well - standing there and listening to this music being played live and what effect it had on my life.

In terms of being near the end of a career - deliberately - it was a perfect circle. This music is what I started off listening to, and this is where I am now, doing the same thing. It's a beautiful journey.

Are you truly convinced that your solo career is over?

I will always write music. Because of the way I write - in my little studio on my own at home - I will always make the demos, which are like painting the pictures. I love doing that. I'm just not sure that I would necessarily say to a record company, "Here's my new record. Let's put it out." That lights a fuse that means you have to do a lot of other things.

But it's not because I feel old. I mean, I am 59, but it's not anything to do with that or feeling tired. I just feel like I want to be in control of my own life and help bring my kids up. Plus, I have other interests that I'm very excited about.

Such as?

I know it sounds boring or strange to fans, but I've had this lifelong fascination with Texas history, mainly because of Davy Crockett and the Disney films in the early 50's and then John Wayne's film "The Alamo." I started to collect letters and documents, cannonballs, rifles, knives and swords from that whole period. I've also just co-authored a book on the subject. It will be out in a year. So, I can see myself getting more involved in that as a hobby.

You've been suffering from a painful spinal injury in recent years. How are you now?

Mentally, I'm okay. I've just got a few physical problems that I'm trying to win over. I have a problem with my arm. At the moment I can't play the drums and piano, and I'm not convinced that I ever will be able to again. I've had all the operations that I could have. So we wait and see.

© Deutsche Welle, by Reinhold Hoenle

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