Up the Junction

Album: Cool For Cats (1979)
Charted: 2

Songfacts®:

  • This is an unusual song in that it has no chorus, and the title appears only in the last line. Squeeze guitarist Chris Difford writes their lyrics, and he got the idea to write in this style from the 1972 Roxy Music song "Virginia Plain," as well as some of the more obscure Bob Dylan songs like "Who Killed Davey Moore?" When Difford wrote it, the song had about 16 verses.
  • Glenn Tilbrook, who is Squeeze's other guitarist, puts music to Difford's lyrics, and usually picks from about 20-30 sets of words. Says Tilbrook: "The lyric was a story that had no obvious repeats, and I thought it read perfectly well as it was. I was thinking of something like Dylan's 'Positively 4th Street' as a template when I wrote the music."
  • Chris Difford explained: "I imagined it would never be a hit and we'd have to take it off the album. And the record company said that they disagreed, and it was that second #2 record (after "Cool For Cats"), so they said if the manager was wrong he'd have to eat his heart. Not a very tasty thing to be doing."
  • "Up The Junction" is a British phrase meaning you're screwed. In this song, a guy gets his girl pregnant, becomes a drunk, and is left on his own when the girl leaves him and takes the child.
  • The video was shot at John Lennon's old house. They shot the "Cool For Cats" video and realized they had the place booked for two more hours, so they did two takes of this song sitting on a kitchen wall and knocked out two videos in one day. (Read more in our interview with Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze.)
  • Difford explained to Q magazine where the song title came from: "From a book and film of the same name, but it was inspired by the BBC series The Wednesday Play that I watched as a kid. It was written by people such as Mike Leigh and Tom Stoppard, so it was all kitchen-sink drama, EastEnders in black and white. I think we were among the first to apply that to music and write about women having periods and all that stuff."
  • The song begins with the couplet - "I never thought it would happen/ With me and the girl from Clapham." Difford recalled to Q magazine: "I still can't believe we rhymed that but the language in the song reflects the way we used to talk to each other. Glenn's is an extraordinary collection of chords and the riff is unforgettable. The first time we played it I remember thinking, God, this is great. It was everything I loved in music - Bob Dylan in a sweet wrapper."
  • Chris Difford recalled the story of the song to Uncut: "We were in New Orleams on our second US tour and we didn't have much money so we had to stay 15 miles outside town," he said. "We were young, we were young, we wanted to go to the French Quarter, but we had to sit there and do our laundry, feeling homesick."

    "The lyrics just popped into my head, influenced by watching TV Plays, kitchen sink dramas by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Alan Ayckbourn," Difford continued. "It was written in one sitting, sometimes you just put the pen to paper and it's done. I never question that, it was a spiritual thing attached to a feeling."

Comments: 7

  • Carnby Yarst from Furness PeninsulaThe line 'no more nights nappies smelling' tells us that she took the baby.
  • Pete from Nottingham, EnglandThe girl takes the baby with her when she leaves, hence no more nappies, and the narrator sitting alone in his kitchen in the end.
  • David from Maplewood, NjThe amazing and infinitely catchy rhyme that opens the song is a reference to where the novel and play it is based on takes place. Clapham Junction is a railroad station and surrounding area in Battersea, a working class district southwest of Central London. The junction is actually the busiest in Europe, seeing 2000 trains daily.

    Gina, the video you refer to is actually the band's appearance on Top of the Pops. They thought it would be a humorous swipe at lip-synching to play the wrong instruments. In the video for the song, everyone's playing the right instruments.
  • Gina from Escondido, CaDidn't anyone notice in this video no one is playing the right instruments? Jools on guitar, Glenn on drums,etc,
  • Darren from Charlott, NcI think you'll find the daughter has gone with her mother, thus the line "no more nappies smelly"
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandThis was released on purple vinyl in the UK.
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandUp The Junction followed the band's then-tradition of naming their singles after films, following Goodbye Girl and Cool For Cats.
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