Up the Junction :: Squeeze
from the album, Cool For Cats

Up the Junction was the third single released from Squeeze’s second album, Cool for Cats. It is one of the band’s most popular and well-remembered songs, and reached # 2 on the UK Singles Chart.

Up the Junction is a novel by Nell Dunn, first published in 1963. Lyricist Chris Difford said that the title phrase was lifted from the 1965 TV play version of the novel, directed by Ken Loach, and its subsequent 1968 movie remake. (see Up the Junction). The film had a soundtrack by Manfred Mann, and a song by them, titled Up the Junction, although the song is not derived, it includes several parallels to the drama, including the day-in-the-life look of the Clapham area, the subject of pregnancy, and the “working-class” language used lyrically in both songs.

Chris Difford wrote the lyrics in New Orleans while Squeeze were on tour. Difford passed the lyrics to Glen Tilbrook who then wrote the music. The song is well known for its use of half-rhymes, such as “ready” and “telly” or “kitchen” and “missing”.

Up the Junction is unusual in that it has no chorus, and the title appears only in the last line. Squeeze guitarist Chris Difford has stated that he got the idea to write in this style from the 1972 Roxy Music song Virginia Plain, as well as some of the more obscure Bob Dylan songs like Who Killed Davey Moore? When Difford wrote it originally, the song had about 16 verses.

Difford also stated,  “I imagined it would never be a hit and we’d have to take it off the album. And the record company said that they disagreed, and it was that second # 2 record, after Cool For Cats, so they said if the manager was wrong he’d have to eat his heart. Not a very tasty thing to be doing.”

The music video (see above) was shot at John Lennon’s old house. They had shot the Cool For Cats video there and realized they had the place booked for 2 more hours, so they did 2 takes of this song sitting on a kitchen wall and knocked out both videos in the same day.

The band made a tongue-in-cheek performance of Up the Junction on British chart show Top of the Pops in which band members play the ‘wrong instrument‘, with singer Glenn Tilbrook drumming and Jools Holland (normally pianist) making minimal attempts to look at all proficient at the guitar. See below:

live on Top of the Pops

Editor’s Note: I love songs that tell a story, perhaps not giving us every detail, but instead throwing us into the pages, tossing us around as we take in the details sung-shared. For me, the style of this song reminds me of Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat, and Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up In Blue. This is my favorite Squeeze song. The story sung reminds me of being in my very early twenties, getting pregnant unexpectedly whilst living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with a man I had not known long enough to really love. I was the one to leave for some of the same reasons the “girl from Clapham” did, though it was not to run off with a soldier. 

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