Monday, February 14, 2011

Squeeze Box by The Who

“Come on! What happened to the angry defiant Who of ‘My Generation,’ ‘Won't Get Fooled Again’ and ‘Mama's Got a Squeeze Box.’?!?”

Homer’s Simpson’s plea to the Who to rebel against the other side of Springfield in the classic Simpson's episode “A Tale Of Two Springfield’s,” is a hilarious statement about one of my favorite Who songs.

Ok, so “Squeeze Box” isn’t the most socially relevant song and it doesn’t contribute to some grand rock opera like Tommy, but man this song is fun. It’s a song about the mother of a family who likes to play the accordion, ALL THE TIME. I mean even the dog can’t sleep. Dog’s can sleep through preety much anything. My puppy Buffy sleeps through my piano playing, guitar practicing and the loudest most violent action films I watch on the television.

This accordion must be really obnoxious

For a band who used a wide variety of innovative sounds in their music you’d think that if they were going to do a song about an instrument they would include it in the instrumentation. That’s just the thing though. “Squeeze Box” isn’t really about an accordion. It’s about the unbridled joy that come from playing an instrument even if everyone around you hates it.

“Squeeze Box” has a light relaxed groove to it as Daltrey paints a picture of a household tormented by music. Then there’s the whole “in and out” part that some have claimed are suggestive lyrics. Yes, I see how repeating that phrase can imply another meaning but if you take that meaning and place it in the context of the song it doesn't sense, which makes this implication ring false.

Now the bridge is a different story. I don’t know where thye are going with this thing. I could argue for the straightforward meaning of the rest of the lyrics but “squeeze me, c’mon on squeeze, c’mon and tease me like you do.”

Maybe this is the narrator looking into another room in the house or even crazier, maybe it’s the accordion's perspective. Ok, I can’t really explain this section, all I know is that musically it’s a great moment of release. The time stops and there is a sense of freedom and longing that comes from being away from something that you love.

“Squeeze Box,” isn’t meaningful in a social sense but Homer is kind of right grouping this song with “My Generation.” This song is about defiance and rebelling.  It just comes from an unexpected source: a mother who simply loves to play music.

Now, Sheryl Crow singing this song with an accordion brings a whole different meaning to this song.

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