Clash of the Titans: Van Morrison VS Phil Collins

Van Morrison, Phil Collins

Welcome to THE CLASH OF THE CLASSIC ROCK TITANS! Our classic contestants include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Grateful Dead, Phil Collins and more. Each week, we will unveil four artists, each with a link to one of their signature tunes.

You will be able to make your voice heard by picking one artist out of every bracket of two to move forward as the ultimate Classic Rock Titan. This week, we have Van Morrison up against Phil Collins as well as the Ramones against the Grateful Dead. Who will rock who?!? Check out our bracket schedule below and check back weekly to see the results of your votes! Tag a friend or foe to play along.

Classic Rock Titan: Van Morrison

Signature Song: "Brown Eyed Girl"

The radio-friendly hit maker and young rocker Van Morrison was just 22-years-old when recorded and released “Brown Eyed Girl” 53 years ago, scoring his first American Top 10 single. 

Freshly departed from the Belfast blues and rock band Them at the time, “Brown Eyed Girl” helped launch Morrison’s solo career as the song transcended hit status, becoming largely inescapable as the standard hit the airwaves. 

The catchy, feel-good tune, evoking cheery images of “slipping and sliding, all along the waterfall,” and “making love in the green grass,” helped cement Morrison as an artist gone stag within the American mainstream, and resurfaced in compilation albums spanning across his multi-decade career, including the 1990 album Best of Van Morrison. "Brown Eyed Girl" received induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in January 2007. 

Classic Rock Titan: Phil Collins

Signature Song: "In The Air Tonight"

Released in February 1981, Face Value - which peaked higher than any other Genesis album at the time at No. 7 - was Phil Collins' close-up confessions of emotional turbulence as he faced his first divorce. When the former Genesis singer released "In the Air Tonight" as his debut solo single from the album, he would cement his place amongst rock heroes with the song's incredible drum break that still remains as one of music's signature drumming moments.

Following Genesis' breakthrough to the American market with their 1978 ...And Then There Were Three... album and the extensive touring that followed, Collins was slapped with a personal ultimatum during a period in his life that might have been celebratory otherwise. 

“[My wife] said to me, ‘You do that [tour] and we won’t be together in a year,'” Collins shared with Rolling Stone. Forced to choose between his marriage and career, Collins went forward with his career, assuming that his marriage would last until the tour ended. 

“I said to my wife, ‘Don’t be stupid. We’ll work it out. Just try to hold on for a year," said Collins. He joined Genesis on three American tours, two in Europe, one in Japan. As the 1978 album achieved gold status, Phil Collins arrived home to find that his wife had taken the kids and left. "I realize now that you can’t switch people off like that," he added. 

Collins channeled his loneliness and bitter feelings into his solo album, an album he contends he would never have written if he hadn't gotten divorced. We, of course, can't forget the album's stand-out track, "In The Air Tonight," a chilling cascade of drums and moody keyboard in a ballad both calm and aching at the same time. Collins' vocals sound hollow and empty, perhaps a showcase of his broken heart at the time.

The irreversible heartbreak would forever leave Collins' mark on the rock world as a one-man band as "In The Air Tonight" ascended to No.2 on the UK charts and Top 20 on the US charts, becoming one of MTV's mainstays and an enduring Phil Collins tune across generations.

"Nobody knows what the song is about, and I kind of like the mystery," Collins laughed to Rolling Stone. "And now NFL players use it to work out. I saw a video recently of Steph Curry singing it in his car, and it was just in an ad for milk chocolate. Where will it end? But I’m not complaining. It paid for this house we’re in right now!"

CLASH OF THE CLASSIC ROCK TITANS Bracket Schedule

WEEK 1: [Led Zeppelin vs. The Beatles] & [Joan Jett & The Blackhearts vs. Black Sabbath]
WEEK 2: [Van Morrison vs. Phil Collins] & [Ramones vs. Grateful Dead]
WEEK 3: [Rod Stewart vs. Whitesnake] & [Queen vs. John Lennon]
WEEK 4: [Rolling Stones vs. Fleetwood Mac] & [Lynyrd Skynyrd vs. The Doors]

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