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Squeeze Box

by

The Who



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

"Squeeze Box" is a slang term for an accordion, but it is also slang for the vagina. The band just wanted to see if they could get away with singing about the joys of explicit sex. (thanks, David - Lubbock, TX)
In the liner notes to Pete Townshend's compilation album Scoop, he wrote that he recorded the song for fun one day when he had bought himself an accordion. The accordion gave the song a polka-esque rhythm and the lyrics were "intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke." Townshend had no thought of it ever becoming a hit.
Poison covered this in 2002, releasing the song as a single and including it on their album Hollyweird.
Roger Daltrey has always been fond of this song. He told Uncut magazine: "What's great about 'Squeeze Box' is that it's so refreshingly simple, an incredible catchy song. A good jolly. I've never had a problem with that song because it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is and I love it for that. Live audiences love it. Nothing wrong with a bit of 'in-and-out', mate!"
The Who
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More songs featuring an accordion

Comments (63):

Ok those of you who think this is about sex, is only because haven't experience with the accordion.

Mama's got a squeeze box she wears on her chest (you wear an accordion, a musical instrument, colloquial name is a "Squuezebox" it has a strap that goes around your neck to support it, worn on top of the chest)
And when daddy comes home he never gets no rest (it can be played loudly)
Cause she's playing all night and the music is all right, (She's loves this instrument so much, she is playing it constantly, disturbing everyone's sleep. )

Well the kid's don't eat and the dog can't sleep, there's no escape from the music, in the whole damn street (playing it instead of making dinner)
She goes, squeeze me, come on and squeeze me, come on and tease me like you do (instrument can be slowly pumped, teasing air over the reeds, producing a softer harmonic sound)
It goes in and out and in and out and in and out (this instrument has bellows which forces air through reeds as you compress (in) and decompress (out) it, so you have this constant pumping action to produce beautiful harmonic music. Very similar to the way a harmonica works, except of course you don't inhale or exhale through it with your mouth, and a squeezebox has a more dynamic range than a single harmonica.
- Jade, Amory, MS
I thought it was about a woman and her vibrator...think about it
- fraser, kent, United Kingdom
Squeeze Box is a song with dual meaning. It's a fairly innocent concept: a woman buys an accordian and plays it constantly, even at night, so that her family can't get any sleep. Or it could mean something else. Another song with dual meaning is Big Balls by AC/DC. Can anyone think of another one so that we will be able to name three?
- Paul, Syracuse, NY
in England, there is a long tradition of pub songs with double-meaning lyrics - bawdy tunes. there are quite a few Townshend songs in this tradition.
- john, honolulu, HI
The way I see this song is similar to my kinda situation. A mother is so moved by music, she can't stop playing, ending up not only forgetting to do daily things, but also forgetting people tend to sleep at 2:00 in the morning. And "The Music's Alright" Well, I don't want to be cocky, but people tend to tell me I'm quite good at guitar/singing.
- Ryan, Windsor, NS
it is pretty obvious it's about sex or something but i'm still kind of confused about some things. first of all (and i think that people have mentioned this before), why is her vagina on her chest? unless a squeeze box is also slang for breasts. and second of all, why does SHE go in and out and in and out???
those are the things i am confused about. and it really bothers me when i listen to this song, because it's a good song.
or, i can just pretend that it's about an accordion.
- cindy, austin, TX
Rock in Chicago and Jane in Atlanta...I agree that this song is bluegrass and came out before The Who did it. Do you know names/bands that recorded this song? Also, the song means whatever your little heart desires it to mean as is true with so many songs.
- Cozette, Sonoma, CA
The Who By Proxy
Squeezebox, a song written by Pete Townsend and performed by The Who tells the tale of a "Squeezebox" a metaphor defining the antithesis of a lovable something or other. Clearly undefined with undeniable intrigue, this "box" grips this family to the core with both pleasantries and exasperation. Worn on Momma's chest, with the fruits of life revealed herein as she, "the Squeeze Box" goes in and out and in and out and in. Townsends "Squeezebox" celebrates the family through the miracle of life, as seen through the eye's of a child the husband and his wife.
In truth most people would agree with David from Lubbock, Texas, as quoted in Songfacts. "Squeezebox is a slang term for an accordion, but it is also slang for the vagina. The band just wanted to see if they could get away with singing about the joys of explicit sex." Or you can take another common, although more ambivalent interpretation, like Ian from Tiverton, United Kingdom. He believes, "This song is about what ever the person listening wants it to be. You want it to be clean, okay, it is about a mom who doesn't feed or let her family sleep and doesn't care about noise affecting her neighbors or its about sex. It's up to the listener."
To argue Townsends lyrical intent is pointless without factoring the bands musical accompanyment. The Who's Kieth Moon and John Entwisle provides the songs strong back beat. The upbeat tempo compliments Pete Townsends banjo's bright cord progressions nicely, while Roger Daltry's unique vocal prowess fuses the sound and lyric. The result, a celebratory song without a hint of melancholy or satire which undermines the contradictions found in popular opinion. Such contradictions would be inherent and require derogatory connotations punctuated by the song to support interpretations and claims of ambiguity and metaphor. The Who released the intrinsic form of the abstract art of music through their lyric and musical accompanyment thereby giving the song Premise and overall meaning.
The song unfolds like a riddle from the beginning and continues throughout its entirety. "Mama's got a squeeze box she wears on her chest and when daddy comes home he never gets no rest." In the construct of this song, the squeeze box would certainly appear to be an "albatross" of some sort. Hanging from her neck and placed squarely on her chest, all the while (the albatross) goes "in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out." In and out of sleep because she cant stay awake "She" doesn't say squeeze me "she goes squeeze me, come and squeeze me, come on and tease my like you do, I'm so in love with you." The Who captures aura, lovable unspoken articulate dialoge and atmosphere enshined in moments like these where the loved who love and would be loved make their mark.
The Squeeze box is a cherished newborn that has the rest of its life ahead of it. If such an endearing family felt the love of their precious baby, who went "in and out of sleep" over the course of weeks and months following her newly-found life, one could easily understand why they would brag about being "up all night," and why the "music's all right," Its cause "Mamma's got a squeezebox," (daddy's little girl) "daddy never sleeps at night."
- David, Oakland, NJ
this song is about what ever the person listening wants it to be. you want it to be clean ok it is about a mom who doesnt feed or let her family sleep and doesnt care about noise affecting her neighbours or its about sex. its up to the listener.......lol
- ian, tiverton, United Kingdom
Rock-You are not crazy--My husband used to sing me this song in the late 50's or early 60's--I'm with you Pete didn't write it. We listened to WAOK in atlanta and they played early, early rock and roll by all the greats
- Jane, Atlanta, GA
Long Live Chet Atkins and Earl Scruggs, the Fathers of Bluegrass!
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
The banjo in this song is awesome. Almost have it nailed! One of the greatest bands in rock history.
- Pillow, Milwaukee, WI
This song's metaphors are quite funny I think...and maybe we should just leave it at that unless we're gonna talk more about the music. By the way Tenacious D did a good version of this on VH1's Rock Honors tribute to The Who...maybe that'll start some kind of better conversation.
- Roy, Granbania, MA
but in the song it says she wears the squeeze box on her chest
- mitch hoppman, East Dubuque, IL
WHen I was little i listened to this song all the time! And for like a few years i didnt hear it and of course in that time i learned about things in health and i heard this on the radio and really listened to the lyrics and said outloud,"I had no idea Pete wrote these things!" but since then I have listened to "pictures of lily"
- Janet, Philedelphia, PA
This song was was out before the Who made it popular. I was 14 in 1963 whe I first heard it at a pool hall in Chicago. The kids tell me I'm wrong.
- rock, chicago, IL
started listening to the who in 1969, best group of leads to ever strike a note. their music is timeless every bit as relavent to this generation as it was to mine squeezebox is just another great song by rocks greatest band of all time
- mike, wichita, KS
Uhmmm yea, Wearing a "squeezebox" on her chest...definately daddy squeezing her tits together and putting his diddling fiddle stick into her make-shift "box" going "in and out and in and out" LOL I know Pete wrote it knowing the double meaning of the lyrics cause he addmitted to it in an interview I watched a few years back.
- TJ, Halifax, NS
I can imagine Townshend reading this thread and pissing himself laughing.
- Dave, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Oh your god, this is just like my parents. Everytime I hear this song, I think of Christmas or my moms birthday...
- Gene, San Diego, CA
this song is about sex, it's obvious, the music is probaly mama "moaning and groaning"
- ty, aafaf, AL
The meaning behind "Pictures of Lily" from '67 was pretty straight-forward. Pete wanted to touch on teenage pin-up pictures and masturbation, so why would he hestitate to write about the the woman's gloryparts? The accordion gig seems like a pretty nice coverup to me.
- Mike, Boston, MA
"Get a grip people. Why must you always think songs must have subliminal and secret messages? The song's lyrical content means just what it means, it's about the mom playing an accordian. Hence why lines like "the kids don't eat and the dog don't sleep, there's no escape from the music in the whole damn street" have nothing to do with sexual references. And thinking the repetitive "in and out" lyrics refer to sex is just stupid considering that that is how you play an accordian. While the song does have the right ingredients to make you think it is about sex, you have to consider what it from the other side too. Keith Moon's drums in the song as always great."
- Mark, Cincinnati, OH

Um, Mark--the band itself admitted the song contains many innuendos, in the liner notes to "The Who By Numbers."

Perhaps a bit of research, or maybe just a little thought, would be in order before you go around labeling others as stupid.
- Cole, NYC, NY
The banjo in this song makes the tune. It really does. Without the banjo I would not turn this song up. Because I turn it up when I hear the banjo. Long Live Bluegrass.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
it is obviosly about intercourse. they added t=that she wears it on her chest so they could get away with writing it. "the kids don't eat and the dog don't sleep, there's no escape from the music in the whole damn street" is from all the noise mama makes (for obvios reasons
- ty, phillipston, MA
Pete: "Intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke. I had bought myself an accordion and learned to play it one afternoon. The polka-esque rhythm I managed to produce from it brought forth this song. Amazingly recorded by The Who to my disbelief. Further incredulity was caused when it became a hit for us in the USA."






"Squeeze Box" was originally intended for a Who television special planned for 1974 where the song was to be performed by The Who accompanied by 100 topless lady accordianists! Backed with "Success Story", it was released first in the U.S. November 22nd, 1975 in the middle of the 1975 North American tour. It reached #16 in the Billboard charts and #11 in the Cash Box charts. It also spent 16 weeks in the Billboard Top 100 singles chart, the longest for any Who single. When I saw them play this live in 1975, Pete and Roger rocked their hips back and forth during the "in and out" part leaving no doubt as to the meaning!"

http://www.thewho.net/linernotes/ByNumbers.htm
- Burton, Canora, Canada
I find myself laughing reading these posts ... trying to figure out who's serious and who's being facetious. While I never stopped (until now) to probe the meaning of the metaphor, it was always pretty obvious to me that this tune is about either sex or masturbation. And I always got a kick out of how overt it is without coming right out and saying it. Who says rockers can't be literary?
- mark, boston, MA
Pete has succeded in making us wonder what the song is about! I dont care,it sounds great. It is typical Who.
Joseph, Van Nuys CA
- Joseph, Van Nuys, CA
People. She wears a squeeze box on her chest. Might even be wearing it sideways, on end on hers, one end getting compressed by his, if you have to be technical. But as they're "doing it," it's making a racquet.

Why is she wearing a squeezebox on her chest? Um... dunno. Most women just moan and sigh. Maybe she's mute without it?
- Joe, Seday, KS
Listen to the song Jim. It's not that simple.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Well, I just heard this song for the first time yesterday in my car. I couldn't believe what I was hearing at first! It's so obvious that it's talking about breasts, especially the tone of the in and out part. It made me blush! I cranked it up. Maybe I'll become a Who fan now!
- Traci, Wichita, KS
Yeah its about bonking and shagging. Gotta love The Who, full of dirty references. Songs about wanking (Pictures of Lily) and now a song about real sex. Great stuff. BTW, ever see the episode of "Freaks and Geeks" where the Weirs listen to "The Who By Numbers"? Funny!
- Malicious Matt, Squatney
see they are using the squeezebox thing on her chest as the accordian... then talking about her playing it well... when they are really just layering this hardcore metaphor about momma and poppa getting down and dirty haha. i love the who
- renee, south lyon, MI
Get your minds out of the gutter. Momma loves playing the accordian, and daddy obviously likes listening.
- Jim, Philadelphia, PA
Man, I love the guitar (or is it banjo?) in this one!
- Paul, Marysville, WA
She goes, squeeze me, come on and squeeze me
Come on and tease me like you do
I'm so in love with you
Mama's got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night


that verse should give it away
- Stephen, Bellport, NY
this guy wrapped it up in a few words.
oh love those breasts!
here comes a pearl necklace. :)

IMO: This song isn't about vaginal intercourse; it's about the sexual act of the woman squeezing her breasts together while the guy "makes love" to them... that's why momma's got a sqeezebox she wears on her chest. The motion she uses is akin to that of playing an accordian.
- Vez, State College, PA
- greg, Huntington Beach, CA
I agree. Kim seems to have it right. I didn't think about that as much, but it makes total sense.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
I didn't know this was about sex or anything...but now it makes sense. Maybe Townshend is just foolin with us. Kim seems to have it right.......
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
This song reminds me of a child's interpretation of adult humor. I can picture his dad making a joke about mamma's "squeezebox" that the child overhears and takes literally. Since he thinks dad was talking about the accordion he goes around telling people that "Mama's got a squeeze box, daddy never sleeps at night." Then he exaggerates the rest (as children often do) saying that no one on the street sleeps and he doesn't eat because of it. Too bad he just doesn't get it.
- Kim, Calgary, Canada
"Mama's got a Squeeze box she wears on her chest,
and when Daddy comes home, he never gets no rest"

accordians are played at chest level...

"Cause she's playin' all night,
and the music's alright.
Mama's got a squeeze box,
Daddy never sleeps at night.

Well the kids don't eat
and the dog can't sleep.
There's no escape from the music
in the whole damn street.

'Cause she's Playin' all night,
and the music's all right.
Mama's got a squeeze box,
Daddy never sleeps at night"

obviously lyrics about playing and listening to music

She goes in and out and in and out
and in and out and in and out.

the action of playing an accordion

She goes, squeeze me, come on and squeeze me
Come on and tease me like you do
I'm so in love with you
Mama's got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

ok, these lyrics are slighttly about sex
- Nick, New Haven, CT
I always thought that this song was about breasts, I believe you are right Joe D. Mainly because, of the line "Mama's got a squeezebox she wears on her chest" how can that be about a vagina?
- Robb, Wantagh, NY
I always had the impression that Pete Townshend just wanted to write a funny little pop tune, as a break from the rock operas and "statement" songs (like "Won't Get Fooled Again") the group had been doing. It's fun to listen to and well made, but it doesn't really mean anything, IMO.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
Pete gotcha! You all are doing exactly as he wanted you to. That's the pure genius Pete Townshend is. "'Squeeze Box' can be interpreted in any way you please. But knowing human nature they will see this as a song about sex in one form or another. Hell, even the Partridge Family songs can be interpreted wrong. It's all in how you look at it."
- John, Tampa, FL
Often, when people write lyrics, they're allegorical. Granted, sometimes the words chosen for lyrics are literal in meaning, but to think that "squeezebox" is just an accordian, in the context of this song, is naive. I don't say this to be mean or harsh. I doubt the Who decided to make a song about somone playing an accordian. Think context, think band history, and then apply it to the song in question. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
- Vez, State College, PA
Get a grip people. Why must you always think songs must have subliminal and secret messages? The song's lyrical content means just what it means, it's about the mom playing an accordian. Hence why lines like "the kids don't eat and the dog don't sleep, there's no escape from the music in the whole damn street" have nothing to do with sexual references. And thinking the repetitive "in and out" lyrics refer to sex is just stupid considering that that is how you play an accordian. While the song does have the right ingredients to make you think it is about sex, you have to consider what it from the other side too. Keith Moon's drums in the song as always great.
- Mark, Cincinnati, OH
IMO: This song isn't about vaginal intercourse; it's about the sexual act of the woman squeezing her breasts together while the guy "makes love" to them... that's why momma's got a sqeezebox she wears on her chest. The motion she uses is akin to that of playing an accordian.
- Vez, State College, PA
Well if Momma has large breasts then yeah she could have a squeeze box (vagina) on her chest...
- Clayton, Blount County, AL
What an odd song!
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I know what you mean vincent.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Iam still a Virgin, (Iam only 16!), so I dont know how this song relates to the real thing. But this song, has given me a good impression!
- Vincent, St. Davids, England
this song is not mediocre by Who standards (very high standards admittedly). listening to it "The Who Ultimate Collection" (a collection of 37 Who songs in chronological order) you can see it as a return to the earlier off-the-wall-Happy-Jack-Boris-the-Spider Who of the 60s. it may not be their greatest, but, to me, it shows that their the same band.
i.e. that didn't sell themselves
- Greg, asheville, NC
I know you don't wear a vagina on your chest, but think about it guys. It has a double meaning. the in-and-out refers to thw squeevebox, or it could refer to sex. The line "Mama's got a squeezebox she wears on her chest' refers to the accordian. Those are just a few examples.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
lol i heard this song when i was young and never really understood it unitl i got into the who and ive been tryin to figure it out since then, it is a good song tho
- Shana, Pembroke, Canada
I believe the squeeze box is more a metaphor for her playing with her breasts, not anything else. She squeezes them, in and out! Makes more sense to me
- Dereck, Cardiff, Wales
well joe, maybe the momma is just very flexible
- Jonathan, Ann Arbor, MI
I always thought this was about a vibrator, not a vagina. I think it makes more sense that way.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
One of my favorite Who songs.
- Paulo, New York, NY
You don't wear a vagina on your chest....think about it.....
- Penny, Orlando, FL
in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out...

...dirty pete.
- Nick, San Francisco, CA
This song also has some things that make you wonder if it is about sex. "Momma's got a squeezebox she wears on HER CHEST" how do you wear a vagina on your chest.

thats all I think of because I just like taking a stand on something against other people :)
- joe d, Hamden, CT
i know, this song is so hilarious!
- Mason, San Antonio, TX
i always laugh out loud when i hear this song, it's an impulse, i guess lol. c'mon it's so obvious!
- nicoletta, bronx, NY
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