NO JACKET REQUIRED
A Retrospective on Columbia House
I should have known as far back as Grade 6 when my best friend gave me the nickname ‘Philip’ that I would be associated with Phil Collins for most of my life. I guess it’s not such a bad thing. There are certainly worse things to be called.
It started around 1986, and over the years, when introducing myself to someone new, more times than I can count, they would respond: “Like Phil Collins, right?” I would nod my head and agree. What else could I do?
Eventually, I decided to have fun with it and would respond, “Actually, Phil is my uncle.”
“Yeah. He has more money, but I have more hair,” I would say.
This is becoming less true. I’m only slightly ahead in the hair department these days. I like to add that I also sing and play drums - just like Phil Collins - which is actually true. Most people don’t seem to care when I tell them that part.
In case you haven’t heard of him, Phil Collins was the drummer of a band called Genesis. He became the singer after Peter Gabriel left the band in 1975. Collins started a solo career in the early ’80s (in addition to Genesis) and sold a shedload of albums. For example, Face Value and … But Seriously.
I didn’t learn who Phil Collins was until 1986. I was 12 years old, just starting to discover the world of music. Collins had just released “No Jacket Required,” and it was a massive hit.
This was also when I discovered Columbia House, the mail-order music club. Eight CDs, or 12 cassettes for a penny. Great deal, but you’d have to sign up to buy more albums at regular price (plus shipping and handling) over the span of a year. It turns out Columbia House was a bit shady, but that’s beside the point. They shut down in 2009.
You would get a big box of tapes in the mail, all at once, and immerse into all this great music. Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and other top albums of the day. I started with this lighter stuff but quickly gravitated toward Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth and Pearl Jam.
Early on, I would pick out random titles because I had heard their name somewhere, or I vaguely knew of them from the radio. Or even just because their album cover looked cool.
One of the first albums I ordered was No Jacket Required by Phil Collins. He ‘was’ my uncle. How could I not order his album? It had songs like “Sussudio,” “Don’t Lose My Number,” and “One More Night.” They were huge hits. They still are.
If anyone knows me, I’m not very formal. I’m sort of a say-it-like-it-is kind of a guy, so I thought No Jacket Required would make a good title for this column.
Think of this as your Columbia House subscription, and with each issue of Your McMurray Magazine, you’ll get a new story to enjoy. Perhaps with a tasty beverage, as Samuel L. Jackson would say in Pulp Fiction. (Eventually, you could also order DVDs and Blu-Rays from Columbia House, but I had quit by then.)
Think of this as a casual affair. No jacket required. Perhaps just some good tunes as you read and hopefully entertained – or at least informed. Much like a Columbia House catalogue, I’ll check off some of the greatest hits on my list of ideas: everything from masks to marijuana, mindfulness to music, and especially margaritas in Mexico. I’ll try not to be shady.
If you’d like to send me a penny, I’m cool with that. But since we no longer use pennies in Canada, I’ll settle for $50.
Will Collins is the Communications Coordinator for Arts Council Wood Buffalo and a new contributor for Your McMurray Magazine with his opinion column No Jacket Required.
Photo: Your McMurray Magazine’s new columnist Will Collins shares a retrospective into his music collection and why he tells others that Phil Collins is his uncle. Photo by Steve Bonisteel