Slap and Tickle

I like Squeeze. If you’re like most of the people I mentioned this to recently, you have no idea what I mean by that. That makes me sad.

When I mentioned seeing Squeeze in concert, people didn’t know who they were. This blew my mind. You don’t know “Tempted?” Did you not watch MTV in the 80s?

Confession: I used to change the lyrics of “Tempted” to reflect how anxious I was for romance in my pitiful adolescence — “alarmed by the seduction, I wish that it would stop start.”

But if all you know is “Tempted,” then you are missing out on Squeeze. As wonderful as Paul Carrack’s voice is, his tenure in Squeeze was short-lived and he wasn’t the lead singer.

I bought Singles 45’s and Under on cassette and played it until the tape almost snapped. Squeeze was never my favorite band. I didn’t love them and obsess over them like I did the Police, or the Beatles, or Genesis. But I liked every song on that tape.

I never would have been able to articulate why back then. So I was grateful for the opportunity to get to see them live for the first time Thursday night and figure it out.

Bands trying to recapture their previous glory can be depressing. One of the shirts for sale said “Squeeze est. 1973.” I was born in 1973…gulp (that makes them old, not me…right?). But I need not have worried about the quality or energy of their performance.

Within seconds of their taking the stage, I felt I’d been reunited with an old friend. And I realized why I like Squeeze. Their music is catchy and fun to sing, but the lyrics are also clever. I’ve realized I’m a lyrics girl. If I can’t make out the words, or the words are tired and trite, I don’t care how great the music or talented the singer. Squeeze spits out lyrics fast and furious that are so witty, combined with music so infectious, I’m putty in their hands. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford might have looked older, but the songs sounded exactly right.

I had hoped there would be more videos of the show on YouTube by now, but no such luck, so here are a couple of classic videos.

My favorite song is “Slap and Tickle,” a song about young love/lust with lyrics that ring so true I feel like they read my diary (“He saw her in the morning, out with his sister Pauline. She felt all shy and soppy, he acted cool and cocky.”). Add the frantic music and I feel like I should check my answering machine to see if the boy I like called. They played it during the encore and it was perfect (starts at ~1:10 below).

“Annie Get Your Gun” encapsulates my rare moments of high-energy euphoria. I used to call it “getting giddy” in high school and college. Glenn Tilbrook is so adorable in this video I want to slap him.

Here is a video from the actual show. This was the last song, “Black Coffee in Bed.” This captures their charm, joking about the extreme heat (~6:00), and pretending to smash their instruments (~10:30).


This post is a response to this week’s writing prompt at The Lightning and the Lightning-Bug to write about something you like starting with the words “I like” (go figure!).

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14 Responses to “Slap and Tickle”

  1. May
    Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Oh, my goodness.
    A. This is not at all where I thought this post was headed based on the title alone!
    B. How could I have forgotten? Oh, this takes me back!

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      May, I thought the title would be fun. I couldn’t believe how great they sounded. I’m glad I became reacquainted with Squeeze.

  2. paralaxvu
    Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    I like them! They sound a lot like some of the bands David Letterman spotlights. And no, young lady, born in ’73? Old? Puhleese! I was born six months before the boomers started appearing–you, you’re an absolute child;-)

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

      Child, yes, I’m a child! Thanks, this soon to be 39-year-old needed to hear that. I’m getting a little nervous about 40. I’ve started calling 39 “my last birthday.” I think it’s because I remember my Mom turning 40 and how old I thought that was. Now I know it’s not really that old, but it still feels that way to the 19-year-old inside me.

  3. Scargosun
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I LOVE SQUEEZE!!! I had bootlegs of their stuff when I was in HS! I downloaded as much as I could find to my iTunes as well. I was actually very disappointed that I was going to miss them when they were in my area. I was on vaca at the time. I think Hourglass is my favorite beginning to a song. It just jumps right in, ya know? Up the Junction was probably my fave though. They remind me of an earlier (not older) version of Barenaked Ladies.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

      Yea, glad it’s not just me! It was so disconcerting to see the blank stares I got when I told the people at work I was going to see Squeeze. The show was great and now I’ve been listening to their stuff on my iPod all week. I always get like this after a good concert, I obsess for awhile.

      They had a video screen behind them and there was an adorable animated video playing during Up the Junction that showed the story of the song. So charming…well except for him becoming an alcoholic, gambling addict and driving his wife away I guess!

  4. Jester Queen
    Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    I love Squeeze. And I LOVE going to concerts. I knew every one of those songs, and I would have been right there singing with you. People do NOT know their music these days. It’s tragic, really.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:31 am #

      I’m glad I wrote this and found some other Squeeze fans, I was starting to think I was losing it. I really thought they were famous! I did some Googling and learned that they didn’t have much U.S. chart success, so that’s probably why they aren’t a household name. Or the people I know at work aren’t very culturally aware (one of them admitted that!).

      The show was actually a co-headline thing — Squeeze and the B-52s. People seemed more into the B-52s. Except for me, who was there for Squeeze.

  5. Bill
    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    You have exquisite taste in music, Tracy! I saw Squeeze in concert in the ’80s — they had “broken up” a couple years before, and I had thought I had missed the opportunity forever, so I was totally psyched when they reunited. They are so fun.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks, Bill! I was so grateful for the opportunity to see them, I too never thought I would get the chance.

  6. Philip Nel
    Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Squeeze are one of THE great pop bands of all time, and Difford & Tilbrook one of the best songwriting teams ever — up there with John Lennon & Paul McCartney, George & Ira Gershwin, John Flansburgh & John Linnell (TMBG). I recently taught myself to play (& sing, poorly) “Tempted” on the guitar. Unlike most pop songs of the rock era, this one has well over a dozen chord changes. I enjoyed the challenge, … and I aspire to teach myself other Squeeze. Allegedly, Difford & Tilbrook are composing songs for a new Squeeze album. Really hope this rumor proves true!

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      Thanks for the return visit! Totally agree about Squeeze–although I have been forced to accept they are a niche band. Their own country didn’t even include any of their music in the Olympic ceremonies. Bummer.

      It would be great if they came out with more music. They seemed to really enjoy themselves at the show we saw.

      I’m impressed with your guitar practice. I like to sing and am decent at it, but I can’t play any instruments. Tempted is one of my favorite songs ever. Paul Carrack’s voice is like velvet.

  7. Philip Nel
    Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Oh, it’s a great song to sing. I can sing it best on days that I’ve run because that “clears out” the sinuses, and enables me to hit the high notes (sounding more like Tilbrook, who sings the song these days). On other days, I need to sing it an octave lower (sounding more like Difford).

    Also, the lyrics are fantastic. “Past the church and the steeple, the laundry on the hill, the billboards and the buildings” brings the neighborhood into focus, reminding the speaker of the affair (significantly, his eyes linger on “the church and the steeple”), and then “Memories of it still keep calling and calling, though forget it all, I know I will.” I like “forget it all, I know I will” because it suggests that he’s trying to reassure himself, and is failing. In the next verse, he plunges back into the memories he claims he will forget. That verse uses synecdoche (part stands for whole) brilliantly: “At my bedside, empty pocket, a foot without a sock,” recall his lover. That’s her (I assume it’s her because of the perfume in the final verse) pocket & her sock, which make vivid both her body and his own guilt. These memories in turn send him — upon waking — to “fumble for the clock, alarmed by the seduction,” with the wonderful enjambment and double meaning on “alarmed.” That “clock, alarmed,” has a playful wit that makes me think of Cole Porter. The whole thing is genius.

    I read somewhere that Tilbrook (or maybe it was Difford) said something to the effect that, when they’d written that song, they almost couldn’t believe it. They knew it was great, and were partially in awe of what they’d managed. In the studio recording, you can tell everyone is digging it. Carrack sings most of the lead vocal, but Tilbrook and even Elvis Costello (who produced the record) manage to sing a few words. It’s like they can’t help themselves — it’s too good a song not to join in on.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      We’re in complete agreement on this song. I always loved the clock/alarmed line. Their lyrics are clever. I like singing it too–I like to pretend I’m as good as Paul Carrack. Uh, yeah.

      I remember an interview with Tilbrook where he basically admitted to being jealous he let Carrack sing lead on it. I think he gets a huge kick out of getting to sing it now.

      Reminds me of Paul Simon offering Bridge Over Troubled Water for Art to sing and then being kind of taken aback by how much “his” masterpiece came to be associated with Art. Oh the joys of creative partnerships.

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