Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Labeled with Love" - Squeeze (1981)


The English never get full credit for their interpretation; and writing; of American style country music. From the Rolling Stones to early Fleetwood Mac, English pop music is replete with wonderful country music which never gets played on American country stations.There is no real reason that “Faraway Eyes” isn’t played, right along with “No Expectations” or even the original version of “Honky Tonk Woman”, called “Country Honk”, which was written in Australia.

I was going to write something about pop music and how the words are like the paints used by traditional artists. Then I ran across this country ballad by Squeeze, an English band from the late 1970's and early 80's. They still tour today, and Jools Holland, the founding member, is finally back on keyboards. As for the vocals, well Glenn Tilbrook still sounds exactly the same as in this 1982 live performance of "Labelled With Love." By the time this performance was filmed, Holland had already left the band. I saw them once in Spain, with Jools Holland, it was the first time I'd ever heard of them. This was about 1979 or so. They were fantastic.

What I really like about this song is the full range of imagery that Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford have displayed in their writing. The song is from the 1981 album "East Side Story." You can actually see and feel the cold chill of an English winter as this old woman struggles through each year, pawning her valuables to keep the electric on. I can smell the cat piss. And when she reminisces about having married the soldier and moving to America, I can feel the desert heat and see the trailer they probably lived in, though it is never mentioned.

Chris Difford had this to say about how he arrived at the lyrics, after seeing a photograph of an old woman sitting at a bar in Paris in the 1930's; "'Labeled With Love' was an adult lyric in a way that the older generation could latch on to and understand. My mother absolutely loved it. The story is about the end of a relationship after the war. I'd been reading about American soldiers in Britain during the war who married English girls and whisked them off their feet to the States."

As with all of their collaborations, Tilbrook and Difford are among the more visual of the "pop" writers to emerge from the 60's style of songwriting. Together they bridged the "punk" rock years, and Squeeze became one of the bands that kept "pop" alive through the 1980's. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do. Here are the lyrics;

"Labelled With Love" - Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford

She unscrews the top of her new whisky bottle,
and shuffles around in her candle-lit hovel.
Like some kind of witch with blue fingers in mittens,
She smells like the cat and the neighbours she sickens.
The black and white T.V. has long seen a picture,
The cross on the wall is a permanent fixture.
The postman delivers the final reminders,
She sells off the silver and poodles of china.

Drinks to remember I, me and myself
Winds up the clock, and knocks dust from the shelf.
Home is a love that I miss very much,
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love.

During the wartime an American pilot
made every air-raid a time of excitement.
She moved to his prairie and married the Texan,
She learnt from a distance how love was a lesson.
He became drinker and she became mother,
She knew that one day she’d be one or the other.
He ate himself older, and drank himself dizzy,
Proud of her features she kept herself pretty..

Drinks to remember I, me and myself,
Winds up the clock, and knocks dust from the shelf.
Home is a love that I miss very much,
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love.

He like a cowboy died drunk in a slumber,
out on the porch in the middle of summer.
She crossed the ocean back home to her family,
But they had retired to roads that were sandy.
She moved home alone without friends or relations,
lived in a world full of aged reservations.
On moth-eaten armchairs, she’d say that she’d sod-all
the friends who had left her to drink from the bottle.

Drinks to remember I, me and myself,
Winds up the clock, and knocks dust from the shelf.
Home is a love that I miss very much,
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love.

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