Sussudio - Phil Collins - 80sneverend - The names of love

The names of love

Phil Collins – Sussudio

Ah, if she called me I'd be there
I'd come running anywhere, she's all I need, all my life
I feel so good if I just say the word,
#PhilCollins #Sussudio

In the 80s, we had plenty of songs about love, be it sensual, desperate or very happy. And of course there was a lot of songs titled after women’s names. Some were all in all normal names, like Toto’s Rosanna, or perhaps normal in Anglo-Saxon languages, like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean or Europe’s Carrie, or even in other languages like Elton John’s Nikita, but others had names at least bizarre, or clearly non-existent and invented.

And in the top three of these women with unlikely names I would put in third place the Angelia met by Richard Marx on a plane, perhaps sharing the place with Marillion’s Kayleigh, and then at the second place I would put that Rio who danced on the sand with Duran Duran, but in first place among the bizarre invented names there must be her, the woman who made Phil Collins lose his mind, even if he already felt good just saying the word: the legendary Sussudio.

We are at the beginning of 1985: Phil Collins is about to launch his third solo album on the market, after Face Value and Hello I Must Be Going. The album will remain one of the most loved and best-selling in Phil’s career; the cover will be a close-up of his face (like the previous ones, but this one with orange tones), it will be released in February, and will be titled No Jacket Required.

The title of the album comes from a colossal anger that Phil Collins got in Chicago, when he was about to enter a restaurant with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, but was not allowed inside because he was not considered elegant enough. Phil pointed out that he had the jacket required by the dress code, but the guy at the entrance told him that it was not a proper jacket. Some time later Phil recounted the episode on television, mentioning the restaurant, which sent him a sports jacket as an apology, and told him that he could come to the restaurant whenever he wanted, with no jacket required.

Before the release of an album, however, we know that in the 80s a single was released to promote sales and arise anticipation and curiosity about the entire album, and in this case the single was precisely Sussudio, which was released on the 14th January 1985.

The story of Sussudio was born a bit by chance: Phil Collins was playing and programming an electronic drum kit looking for fast rhythms for the songs on the album, but he had no idea about the lyrics or the stories of the songs. When he found the rhythm and sounds that satisfied him, he quickly found the right chords and composed the musical part of the song.

While he was playing, he had the inspiration to talk about a man in love with a woman; he knows her name, and he knows that she loves him too, even though she knows absolutely nothing about him, not even his name (we could argue that the name was Phil…). For this type of story, he was inspired by children’s first infatuations, when you fall in love with someone you don’t even know who he is. Phil Collins revealed that he probably may have been inspired by his daughter’s stories, when she was a primary school child, probably struggling with her first feelings.

Phil Collins begins to improvise the words, and when it comes to the name he says “Su-ssu-ssu-dio”, to say something that sounds good and in time with the rhythm, a bit like saying la-la-la. Phil didn’t worry much about the name, he would later look for a better name to replace this sort of placeholder.

Only, when he started looking for a better name, he couldn’t find it, and in the end he was convinced to leave the original name Sussudio. By the way, in the song Phil says just once the name Sussudio, because he generally repeats the first syllable and saying “Sussussudio”.

In short, finally the girl’s name remained Sussudio for everyone. And someone else had the same name: years later Phil’s eldest daughter bought a horse (or maybe a mare) named Sussudio, and Phil himself once apologized to everyone in advance, because probably someone in the world could have named a daughter Sussudio.

The song had great success throughout Europe, perhaps even more than in England, and even reached first place in the United States (immediately after One More Night, taken from the same album, which in the United States was the first single released from No Jacket Required), but we must remember that it was also criticized by the music press, especially in the United Kingdom. We need to say that Phil Collins in general has never been fully loved by the British press, who generally accuse him of having rejected the sounds of Genesis to veer towards excessively commercial pop; in particular, Sussudio was accused of being a song with non-existent lyrics and a somewhat banal melody, but clearly people liked it a lot.

Phil probably also had a somewhat rough personality and didn’t worry about making himself too nice to journalists.

Furthermore, the press noted that Sussudio was excessively similar to a song by Prince, 1999. Phil Collins never seriously entered into the subject, but simply said that he liked Prince a lot and that his tastes had certainly been influenced in general by Prince’s music, and in fact Sussudio‘s original version was even more similar to Prince’s song.

The video, directed by director James Yukich, begins with a gentleman walking his dog, who passes by a club where some music is coming out.
Then the scene moves inside the venue, where Phil Collins and his musicians are cheerfully closing the evening with this song, finally managing to involve a somewhat distracted and bored audience. The venue in the video was The Princess Victoria, and it’s a London pub located on Uxbridge Road, in the western part of the city. At the time of the video the pub was owned by Richard Branson, later founder of the Virgin group, and Phil had also shot the video for One More Night in the same pub.

There is a complete version of the video, which begins in the living room, where the gentleman warns the family that he will go out walking the dog. The family doesn’t pay much attention to him, as they are busy on watching television and minding their own business, but the interesting thing is that the television is broadcasting the video for In the Air Tonight! A remarkable self-quotation, but in the 80s this also happened every now and then.

One last curiosity: the song Sussudio had another moment of fame in the 2000 film American Psycho, set in 1987. In a very famous scene Christian Bale gives a very long monologue to the two girls he invited to his house, and begins with “Do you like Phil Collins?” After a series of reflections on Genesis, Invisible Touch, In the Air Tonight, and a series of sexy pictures taken on a bed, Bale starts this song by saying “This is Sussudio… great, great song, a personal favourite”!

I mean, I probably wouldn’t name my daughter Sussudio, but considering that Phil invented this name from scratch, I’d say that he found the right name for a song that needed to go down in history!

Phil Collins on Wikipedia

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