Album: Cool For Cats
. . .
One of the more interesting things about the musical partnership of Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook was that while Difford wrote most of the lyrics and Tilbrook wrote most of the music, it was Tilbrook who sang the songs the songs, meaning that the words would be mostly associated with him.
Obviously, rock history is rife with bands where the guy who sang the songs didn’t write the words — The Who & Oasis are two examples from the top of my head — but usually that meant that the singer didn’t write the music, either. But not in this case: which means that Tilbrook had to memorize the veritable short story that was their second big U.K. hit, “Up The Junction.”
I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on a windy common
That night I ain’t forgotten
When she dealt out the rations
With some or other passions
I said, “You are a lady”
“Perhaps,” she said, “I may be”
Difford & Tilbrook have said that they modeled “Up The Junction” on Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street,” and it’s probably the most musically Dylanesque song in their catalog, opening with a grand guitar/keyboard flourish before getting down to tell the story of a doomed relationship, usually ending each verse with a grandish crescendo.
And, as is usually the case with songs about doomed relationships, things got worse as the song went on.
I worked all through the winter
The weather brass and bitter
I put away a tenner
Each week to make her better
And when the time was ready
We had to sell the telly
Late evenings by the fire
With little kicks inside her
Those little kicks, of course, became a daughter, but like a prestige TV show, “Up The Junction” suddenly leaps forward in time, and it’s clear that the guy singing the song wasn’t ready for marriage, much less fatherhood.
And now she’s two years older
Her mother’s with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelly
There is, of course, no chorus in “Up The Junction,” but there is a enough musical sophistication so that each verse is slightly different from the previous one — Difford’s guitars and Jools Holland’s keyboards are continually switching up, even as they play around each other — while Tilbrook continues with his ever-sadder tale, full of regrets, but also kinda hanging on to his pride.
Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there’s something missing
I’d beg for some forgiveness
But begging’s not my business
And she won’t write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it’s my assumption
I’m really up the junction
After that final verse, there’s a nice instrumental outro with some absolutely gorgeous guitar and organ riding the song to its very end.
As I mentioned there at the top, “Up The Junction” was Squeeze’s second big U.K. hit, matching “Cool For Cats” by hitting #2 on the U.K. singles charts. Weirdly enough, despite the two #2 singles, the Cool For Cats album never charted higher than #45 there, beginning to cement Squeeze’s reputation as a singles band. Here in the U.S., of course, nothing happened whatsoever.
“Up The Junction”
“Up The Junction” Music Video
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