Black Coffee in Bed (YGtCTO Music #16)

Song written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook
Performed by Squeeze

So the pitch is this- we’re going to take the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park and put them in a virtual world like The Truman Show, except they’re intelligent like the gorillas in Planet of the Apes. We’ll get big stars to do the voices and then have the dinosaurs escape and discover they live in a world of people. I guarantee a busload of sequels. It’s going to be the next Matrix Trilogy, only better. And we can film it anywhere because of blue screen technology and CGI.

Or how about this? We have two great songwriters in a fantastic band that do creative arrangements topped by real singing with harmonies and stuff. They’re going to be the next Beatles.

This is how praise becomes a curse. We oversell because the people controlling the purse strings are so used to hyperbole that anything less feels like a disservice. More than that, strong words are always a challenge. Sure, Lou Christie is fantastic. Frankie Valli is, too. They both can be, but you only have the money for one or the other. Does “fantastic” mean anything anymore as a word? What if I said one of them was “really fantastic”? Obviously, that would be where you bet your money.

Difford and Tillbrook were the songwriters behind Squeeze though the rest of the group were no slouches. They were going to be the next Beatles. (They were not the first nor the last.) Nowadays, people might be looking for the next Beatles, but I doubt it. The Beatles had too much control and too many personalities to fit into modern corporate needs.

I could have gone with the one absolute standard that Squeeze created (Tempted) or that song that never leaves once you hear it (Pulling Muscles From the Shell), but I went with the epic mood swings. Like the Beatles and REM, Squeeze mined that deep vein of sweet music telling tragic stories. You always had to pay closer attention than most of the audience wanted- sort of like that shocking discovery that the biggest hit for the Police might not be the best wedding song ever.

Squeeze did not last and they never reached stratospheric heights. They have been relegated to the pop music attic where they are occasionally taken out and dusted off for a quick pass on display on the mantel before they are packed up again. To their benefit, they existed when music was recorded and we have the technology to preserve them, better off than those old traveling troubadours who wandered into the king’s palace and heard “why can’t you play like that guy we had in here last week?” (“Perhaps if you hum a few bars, I can try.”)

All things we do are in the shadow of our forerunners. We are doomed to comparisons. I think that, as consumers, we do ourselves a disservice if we allow the comparison to make our decisions for us. Everything must be viewed afresh (perhaps with lessons learned from past experience) but neither praised nor condemned for existing a little later.

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 254 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out are released regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry are posted irregularly. Notifications are posted on Facebook which you can receive by friending or following Craig.

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