“I Wish It Would Rain Down” was released as the second single from Phil Collins’ 1989 album, … But Seriously. The single was released on January 20, 1990, and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. I remember loving this song from the first moment I heard it. While it may have more a blues sound than I was used to, the arrangement was done in such a way that there was still pop accessibility. Of course, it also helped that I’d been listening to Phil Collins for about 5-6 years before this song came out, so I was basically a fan of his work by that point. The part that’s always moved me is Phil’s vocal performance right near the end; you can just hear the passion he’s putting into his vocal delivery.
The music video is also very memorable. In all, it’s in black and white and runs for about eight-and-a-half minutes. The setting is a theater in either the 1930s or the 1940s, and a hyper-critical theater director has just called the dancing girls on stage the worst thing he’s ever seen. When it’s time to rehearse the production’s big number, he’s informed that the star of the show has appendicitis. Eric Clapton, in a cameo role as a guitar player for the production, says that “Billy” (played by Phil Collins) used to be a drummer in a good band and became the band’s vocalist when he left. While I didn’t get this in-joke at the time, I’m amused by it now that I understand the reference. As Billy sings the number, he daydreams about becoming a big star. At the end of the performance, the director decides they’ll cut the number and that it’s not as good as the dancing girls. Whenever I see this part of the video, I always feel bad for Billy and think that the director is an idiot. It’s a very well done video, and it seems to have withstood the test of time.