I have been asking people for their top five Phil Collins songs for years now. It’s my way of figuring out someone’s taste, someone’s willingness to list the good from what is almost universally regarded as bad.
In junior high, I loved Face Value, Collins’ first solo album, as well as ABACAB, the Genesis LP that immediately preceded it. I still do. My coverage of other periods of Genesis and Phil Collins is spotty, but I have long held there’s enough in his oeuvre for someone, anyone, to write down their top five songs. The lists that I’ve gotten range from smartypants to sincere and all places in between. For me, they are as good a litmus test as any to determine if someone is willing to get past accepted bad-ness and find the good.
I’ve kept the bar napkins and scraps or whole notebooks in a file, not knowing what to do with them.
Every Tuesday, I’ll be posting someone’s Top Five Phil Collins list. So far we have Shappy Seasholtz (on left here), my wife Maisie Weissman, and a fellow named J.D. Smith. If you have one, or especially if you don’t, I’d love to post it. You can either mail it to me (c/o me, English Department, The College of Saint Rose, 432 Western Avenue, Albany, NY 12203) or email a scanned image of your handwritten list to danielnester at gmail dot com.