Hourglass

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

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: 1

  • 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.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Bible Lyrics

Bible LyricsMusic Quiz

Rockers, rappers and pop stars have been known to quote the Bible in their songs. See if you match the artist to the biblical lyric.

Charlie Daniels

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Jon Anderson of Yes

Jon Anderson of YesSongwriter Interviews

From the lake in "Roundabout" to Sister Bluebird in "Starship Trooper," Jon Anderson talks about how nature and spirituality play into his lyrics for Yes.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song Spoofs

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"They're Playing My Song

As a songwriter and producer, Narada had hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Starship. But what song does he feel had the greatest impact on his career?