Hourglass

Album: Babylon and On (1987)
Charted: 16 15
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Songfacts®:

  • Squeeze is a wildly popular band in the UK, but much like the English Pop bands Oasis and Blur, they had far less success in the United States. This was Squeeze's biggest American hit, and along with "853-5937," one of only 2 to crack the Top-40. Unlike Squeeze UK hits like "Cool For Cats" and "Up The Junction," there is nothing distinctly British about the lyrics, which may explain the song's US appeal.
  • The songwriters in Squeeze are their guitarists Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook. Says Difford: "We were touring quite a lot in those days. You know, it wasn't anything other than, Okay, I've got to write a bunch of songs, and I don't know seriously where they came from. But they just arrived.
    This was the first time we wrote together in the same room, which was Glenn's idea. I'd always thought of writing as a bit like masturbation: something you do on your own, not in the same room as another bloke. However, I went to Glenn's house and within an hour we'd written 'Hourglass.' Lyrically it doesn't mean much but we had some fun writing it."
  • The song is known for the distinctive rapid delivery in the chorus ("Take it to the bridge, throw it overboard, see if it can swim..."). According to Tilbrook, he created some intentional chaos on this song: "On 'Hourglass,' I got a thumping drum machine. So I thought it would be fun to feed a lot of chords into the drum machine and play it without the knowledge of what they were. The freedom of the knowledge of what they may do is actually very liberating. I think writing is always about tricking yourself into doing something different, and that's just one way you can trick yourself."
  • An elaborate video was made for this song using various optical illusions and unexpected images. The video was directed by Adrian Edmondson, with contributions from Squeeze keyboard player Jools Holland. It was inspired by surreal art like the paintings of Salvador Dali. It got significant airplay on MTV and won a Video Music Award for Best Special Effects. (Read more in our 2008 interview with Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze, where you'll learn why being relatively unknown in America isn't always a bad thing. The Squeeze site is squeezeofficial.com.)

Comments: 2

  • Lynne from Raleigh, Nc, UsaThe song never made sense to me. Reading this now, tells me it's not supposed to. Ugh!
  • Karen from Manchester, NhThis is my favorite "Squeeze" song, although I also like "Tempted". It's fun to attempt to sing along, and has a great harmony to it.
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