Listen to this track by Deptford, London quintet and three-minute pop song master architects Squeeze. It’s “Another Nail In My Heart” as taken from their 1980 record Argybargy. The song would score them considerable success internationally, in particular amping up the reputations of head writers Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.
The scene set in the song is one of a broken relationship and a bereft man left with nothing, found in the bar – or at least what’s left of him. This would be subject matter pretty common to the Squeeze canon up until this point. But, this was their biggest hit to date outside of Britain, soon to grace set lists for the decades to follow, both as a band and in Tilbrook solo sets too.
The reasons for success of this song may be because it contains elements that are both expected, as well as unexpected.
By 1980, Difford and Tilbrook were becoming known as songwriters of Beatlesque proportions because of this kind of appeal. A good part of the reason is that they dealt in catchy melodies with enough odd angles to them to make them singular statements.
This is very well framed in this song, with a melody that’s easy to hum, with a guitar solo that happens after the first verse rather than its traditional slot after second verse, and with Difford and Tilbrook’s completely opposite and yet decidedly well-matched singing voices making for a unique texture in the chorus. Lyrically, this is a typical Difford-penned storyline with an unreliable narrator at its center, excuses and little-boy lies and all. It adds that all important contrast to the song; a breezy, colorful melody against a decidely gray thematic backdrop. This is Difford and Tilbrook’s stock-in-trade.
But, despite their seeming ease at being able to create shimmering gems of pop song greatness, which they’d done with this song, with the follow-up in “Pulling Mussells From A Shell” (which was a hit in the States, finally), and with their arguably best known record East Side Story in 1981 (produced by Elvis Costello, no less), they were somewhat of an unstable unit, personnel-wise. They broke up for the first time in 1984, after which Difford and Tilbrook created the great “lost” Squeeze record entitled Difford & Tilbrook. It would be the first of many times they’d come together, and disband again. Squeeze would come back to score their biggest Stateside hit in 1987’s “Hourglass”, and its successful follow up “853-5937” off of their Babylon & On album.
But, as many line-up changes as there would be under the Squeeze name, the constants in the group would be Difford and Tilbrook, and the high-quality songs they could write. Even if the burden of “the next Lennon and McCartney” was a bit too much to expect any songwriter to bear, it wasn’t bestowed upon them without reason.
If you want to learn the full (East Side) story of Squeeze head straight to squeezeofficial.com.