Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Labelled with Love – Squeeze

Like Up the Junction, this is a song with a narrative heart tinged with a downbeat sentiment, but enhanced with a plaintive delivery.

This song is like listening to a story book, but with the bonus of a nice repetitive chorus. The lyrics on the whole are very simple, but every so often there will be a lyrical loop or alliteration that will just sound genius on the ears. It is a real pleasure to listen to songs that have been written with a eye and ear for poetry, it makes such a difference. And it’s sung with a nice swooping tone on certain words – perfect to try and emulate - try it!

She moved home alon-e without friends or rel-a-tions
Lived in a wo-rld full of age reserv-a-tion

Labelled with Love tells us the story of an older lady – the sort of lady people grimace at and quickly walk past in the supermarket before they get a whiff of Eau De Pee. But then we see into where she lives and what an empty struggle it is – there’s nothing left for her in life apart from her memories, unlocked with whisky. Further to that we hear what she was like as a younger lady – adventurous to marry an American pilot during the Second World War, and go off to Texas with him. Yet he was an alcoholic, and the sentence ‘he became drinker and she became mother’ leads me to believe not that she had children, but that she forego motherhood in that sense to look after her husband instead. The next part ‘she knew that one day she’d be one or the other’ was her insightfulness that one day she’d too turn the same way, but with no inclination to prevent it, even though he died from alcoholism. After that she came back to the UK only to find there was nothing left for her here, except for the old age she once predicted – bottles labelled with love.

Oh how depressing and sad, yet strangely this is a beautiful song, although something does jar with me, in both this and with Up the Junction. Both songs have a sentence within them that, to my ears, sounds lazy – as if the songwriter couldn’t find anything else suitable to rhyme so he stuck in a sentence thinking ‘it’ll do’, and the problem is the rest is so nice that it just doesn’t ‘do’ – if you see my meaning. For me with this song it is the lyrics in bold:

She crossed the ocean back home to her family
But they had retired to roads that were sandy

I get what he means – they’ve gone to Bournemouth, or similar, but I can’t help wishing he’d strived for higher there. To me that is the sort of poetry I'd write when I'm stuck. And with Up the Junction it is the lyrics in bold:

No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling

In that song he’d already used the word ‘telly’ to rhyme with ‘smelly’ – and this repeat just feels like it doesn't enhance the song - it's not a chorus, it doesn't tell us anything new about the character's predicament - it's just... well, filler - and I hate thinking there is filler on songs I love, as the rest is just so good!


music obsessive said...

I used to like Squeeze a lot once upon a time - around about 'Argy Bargy' but this one comes from 'East Side Story' and by then I felt they'd already peaked. This is OK but I prefer the likes of 'Another Nail in my Heart' or 'Pulling Mussels'.

Nevertheless, I do like Glen Tilbrook's narrative lyrics. He was always one of the best at this sort of thing but I do know what you mean about those jarring rhymes, they always made me wince a bit, even then.

Good band though. Oh dear, it's nearly the end of the month and I'm enjoying this too much!

Jayne said...

I am glad you agree with the jarring rhymes, 'wince' is about right. And I am having fun with these, shame that I haven't managed one each day! I might carry it on here and there, although there's also children's book month in August, if I do that again! Oh decisions, decisions...

Unknown said...

Are you sure it is roads that are sandy. I always thought he sang rows in the cemy which is short for cemetery meaning that they they had all pre deceased her and which would fit much better with the overall sentiment of the song

Jayne said...

Hi Chris. Sorry for a late reply! I am not sure at all, only that cemy short for cemetery has a different rhyme to family and they seem to be a band all about the rhymes. Although yes, that does fit in better with the song's sentiment, so perhaps it is! I will like it more if so.

Unknown said...

For me, "roads that were sandy" meant that her friends retired and moved to Spain - seaside - or somewhere of that ilk.

Nappy smelling did jar me but I was able to get by it.

Jezza said...

In the live version in the video above, that line sounds more like "roads that were semi" - ie her family had moved out from the inner city (where the lady lived and experienced air-raids during the war) and into the suburbs with their rows of semi-detached houses - possibly as a result of becoming richer, or possibly having been re-housed due to post-war clearance of bomb-damaged inner city areas.....just a thought.