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'80s Pop Stars Don't Fade Away...They Just Keep Getting Sexier
Squeeze’s Chris Difford And Glenn Tilbrook
By Lauree Guyer (Open Post)
(more articles from this author)
2006-02-02
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The men behind "Black Coffee in Bed" and other great songs like "Tempted" and "Some Fantastic Place," are still around and pushing the boundaries of some laggard musical conventions. Though Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook now have careers independent of the other, each is carrying on the maverick tradition, begun in Squeeze, of writing songs with a colorful variety of sexual themes.

Chris Difford's recent solo release, I Didn't Get Where I Am, features the ballad "Cowboys Are My Weakness," in which his smooth, rich voice celebrates the mystique of cowboys, Cadillacs, chaps, and bull horn beds. The song is sung in earnest and he somehow manages to make the lyrics "I still crack the whip" and "no safe place to be" sound like a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. This single song contains elements of homo-eroticism, fetishism, and bdsm--not to mention fantasy role-playing. A remarkable accomplishment in light of the fact that he is heterosexual.

Glenn Tilbrook's most recent CD, Transatlantic Ping Pong, contains several sexually-charged songs titled "Reinventing the Wheel," "Hot Shaved Asian Teens," and "The Genitalia of a Fool." Though he didn't pen the latter, he saw fit to include the amusing country song in which a sympathetic loser laments getting caught with not only his pants down but his genitals in his hand. By contrast, "Hot Shaved Asian Teens" paints the dark portrait of a man who is trapped in a Daliesque nightmare during the day while his nights are consumed by dreams of hot shaved Asian teens.

In the new book, "Squeeze--Song by Song,” by Jim Drury, Glenn Tilbrook says he'd "like to apply to the Guinness Book of Records for being the person involved in writing the most songs about masturbation....” (Since Difford wrote all of the lyrics for Squeeze, he could well make the claim himself.) Facetious or not, Tilbrook's character in "Reinventing the Wheel" leaves no doubt in the listener's mind as to the identity of his "little friend." The lyrics are about a man who conspires to spend time alone with his penis, even to the exclusion of other people.

From the very beginning, Squeeze wrote songs about sexual diversity. "Sex Master," on their self-titled first album (1978), is about an inexperienced man placing a personals ad for a man-of-the-world to instruct him in the ways of domination. "Hard to Find," on their next album Cool for Cats (1979), explores the practices of bondage and cross-dressing. The narrator of this song ties his lover to the bed and dances around the room in ballerina tights, all while trying to arouse the restrained one with the sensual delights of grapes and lavender. The chorus repeats "It gets harder and harder, so hard."

Both songs were encouraged by John Cale of Velvet Underground fame who was their producer at the time says Difford in "Squeeze--Song by Song.” One of the aforementioned masturbation songs appears on Cool for Cats as well, and is appropriately titled "Touching Me Touching You.”

If you are intrigued by the sexual aspect of many of Chris Difford's and Glenn Tilbrook's lyrics, treat yourself to their music. But the sexual content is only just the icing on a rich, multi-layered cake. Difford's "Playing With Electric Trains" and Tilbrook's "Interviewing Randy Newman" are the best narrative songs you're likely to hear in today's music realm. They are both rife with humor and have that rare quality of authenticity that tugs at the listener's empathy. Other subjects they deal with are phobias, AIDS and family. They craft songs about parents, children, former spouses, childhood friends, and each other. Together, they were compared to the best song writing teams of a generation. Apart, they continue to delight, amuse, intrigue, and transport us to that lovely place called pop.

Chris Difford is planning a U.S. tour (his first in eight years) in April and May of 2006. He has a live album/DVD, South East Side Story, due out this April, in addition to a jazz-influenced album to be released later this year. For more information visit www.chrisdifford.com .

A DVD documenting the touring life of Glenn Tilbrook titled "One For the Road" has just been released and is available through Amazon.com. Glenn is touring solo in March in the U.K., with some show dates being firmed up in the U.S. for March and April of 2006. He tends to hop the pond frequently so check www.glenntilbrook.com for up-to-date tour information.

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.


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