2021 Song Draft- Round 3 Pick 12- Music City Mike selects- ‘Up The Junction’- Squeeze.
August 13, 2021
“Up the Junction” – Squeeze
How can a Pop song of seven unique verses, without a chorus, and lyrics that don’t reveal the song’s title until the final words, be so infectiously brilliant? Well, like other great works from the songwriting partnership of Squeeze’s Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, 1979’s “Up the Junction” has an instantly recognizable riff, a fab melody, and words that you just can’t resist singing along to.
The Difford and Tilbrook work routine has always baffled me. It just boggles my mind how Tilbrook can so perfectly write music to Difford’s words without the two working together at the same time. “Up the Junction” is just one of many fine examples of their skills and was Chris’s first of several narrative tales he has penned. According to Glenn, “There’s no chorus because I thought a repeated section would spoil the flow of Chris’s story.”
“Up the Junction” was the third single from the band’s second LP, Cool for Cats, and made it all the way to #2 on the UK charts. Although it is much adored by fans in the US, it was perhaps too British to make a dent sales wise as a single in America and was not released as such.
Love for the song did get a big boost in the States in 1982 with the release of the Singles – 45’s and Under compilation LP. This platinum-selling collection of the Squeeze’s singles was a smash over here and helped the band expand it’s following by re-introducing some of the earlier songs that American fans may have missed. After getting more notice after their release of “Tempted,” earlier in 1982, the band even headlined a gig at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. And, in an odd turn of events, the band would call it quits for a few years after finishing this major tour.
“Junction” is such a lovely song to learn every word and sing along to. Its tale tells the love story of a young couple that turns sad rather quickly. I’m sure many other fellow Americans like me found much of the song’s charm in all the new British slang we learned from the song’s lyrics.
Starting with the title, the phrase, “up the junction” means to be in deep trouble. It also refers to Clapham Junction where the “girl from” in the song hails. What other words did we discover from this song? Windy Common? Telly? Tenner? Nifty? Nappies?
I am writing this only a week after having seen Squeeze play live and “Up the Junction” was, as always, a highlight in the set for all. Hearing “Junction” in concert is a joyous three-minute sing-along. In the current live version, band member Melvin Duffy adds a new twist to the song’s music playing the familiar lead riff on pedal steel. In the past, I’ve also loved Tilbrook’s solo acoustic version of the song, especially the percussive intro that he bangs out on the wood of his acoustic guitar, mimicking the song’s opening drum rap.
Now here’s something that you might not know, some 20 years later, Difford wrote a sequel song called “A Moving Story” for 1998’s somewhat forgotten LP, Domino. While this song may not match the original’s charm and success, Chris got to update the sad saga of “Up the Junction” saying, “I thought they deserved a happy ending.”