First Hit #1: December 23, 1989
Phil Collins puts on his serious pants for this one, tackling homelessness and putting together what has to be the most sarcastic chorus of 1989. In the process, he makes an issue song that I actually like, something which I had previously believed was completely impossible. The way he does it is simple, he doesn’t tell you what to think, he just tells you to think – by not so subtly saying just “Think about it.” He’s illustrating why homelessness is a bad thing, using the show-don’t-tell principle to great effect. He gives a story of a homeless girl trying to get the attention of a man on the street, and while what he’s trying to say is self evident, he never goes so far as to outright tell people what they should take away from the song. He just suggests, the suggestions are overt and sometimes really obvious – and there is that incredibly sarcastic chorus – but it’s never quite preaching. We know what he wants to say, we know what he wants to get across, but he does it through storytelling, and it’s effective.
That is how an issue song should work.