Fans of Squeeze will recognize the title of one of their albums in Chris Difford’s new memoir “Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze”. It looks to be a bit of an interesting read.
Good rock music is all about good timing, and in this quirky memoir by one of the founding members of new-wave band Squeeze, guitarist and lyricist Chris Difford shows that it’s equally important for anyone who wants to write about it. Take the occasion in January 2016 when Squeeze were invited to play the title track from their latest album, Cradle to the Grave, on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. Noticing that the other guests included David Cameron, who was keen to justify his government’s decision to knock down old council estates, singer Glenn Tilbrook improvised some sharp new lyrics: “I grew up in council housing,” he sang, “Part of what made Britain great / There are some here who are hell bent / On the destruction of the welfare state.” Difford observes drily that Cameron sat on the sofa clapping along, and “came over to us at the end of the show and said, ‘You know I think that song is going to be a hit!’ Wanker.” As a putdown it’s not exactly Dorothy Parker, but the timing is impeccable.
Difford placed an ad calling for a guitarist to join his band. (There was no band.) The only person to reply was Tilbrook
That emphasis on ordinary life is hardly an accident, because few bands have a clearer sense of their working-class roots than Squeeze. This memoir reveals that, as far as Difford is concerned, the most fantastic place of all was the area where he grew up in the 1950s and 60s: a close-knit community of terraced houses and prefabs near Greenwich Park, south-east London, with three pubs, one school, a church and a telephone box that was the communications hub of the whole street, so that “when it rang everyone came out to see who it was for”.
It sounds like it covers a lot of ground so might be worth your time and money. From the Salon review.
“Some Fantastic Place” is distinguished by its admirable candor: Unlike many artists, Difford is reflective about the obstacles he’s had to overcome (e.g., flying anxiety, substance abuse, relationship breakdowns), and he is direct and forthcoming about how these things inform his life and music, even in the present. However, Difford’s dry sense of humor also shines through — for instance, speaking of the band’s first, ill-fated U.S. gig, at The Lighthouse in Bethlehem, New Jersey, he writes, “We literally played to one man and a dog. We were forced to play a second set by the owner. The dog left.” Lovely and enriching, “Some Fantastic Place” is very much worth a read.
You can read more here.