A light rock song, it describes a man who is abducted by aliens and taken to a bright, happy world. Once he returns, however, he feels compelled to lie about the incident (i.e., to "keep it dark") and instead claim that he was kidnapped by thieves who wanted to take his money. The lyrics focus on the irony that a morbid lie would be more believable than a happy truth.
In the DVD interview accompanying the 2007 re-release of Abacab, the album from which the song comes, composer Tony Banks said that "the idea was that this character had to pretend that he'd just been robbed by people and that's why he'd disappeared for a few weeks, and in fact what had happened [was] he'd been taken up in a spaceship and gone to this fantastic world where everything was wonderful and beautiful and everything... but he couldn't tell anybody that, because no one would believe him."
The song's structure is unusual: the rhythm is in a 3/2 time signature, with a distinctly syncopated rhythm guitar part. Lead singer Phil Collins sings in falsetto for certain lines of the song.
A music video supported the single release of the song, featuring Collins, Tony Banks, and Rutherford in two different settings. In the first and second verses and the fade out, the band walks along bleak city streets (in Amsterdam) wearing trenchcoats and fedoras. When the chorus comes in, it shifts to the band wearing all-white suits and sunglasses, and walking through a field, with the sun shining. In both settings, Banks mimes with a mini Casio keyboard and Rutherford with the neck from a guitar, while Collins keeps the beat of the song with drumsticks, mostly hitting air, or the walls of the Amsterdam houses.