Up the Junction
Writer(s): Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook (see lyrics here)
Released: May 18, 1979
First Charted: June 2, 1979
Peak: 4 CL, 4 CO, 2 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.7 video, 28.5 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Squeeze emerged in the mid-‘70s as one of the UK’s most important new wave acts. They released their self-titled debut in 1978 and reached #19 on the UK charts with “Take Me I’m Yours.” The next album, Cool for Cats, was even more successful with two songs making it all the way to the runner-up position – the title cut and “Up the Junction.” The phrase is London slang for being screwed or in deep trouble, similar to the American phrase “up the creek without a paddle.” WK
Chris Difford, one of the songwriters and founders of the band, said the phrase came a collection of short stories by Neil Dunn which were published in 1963. A 1965 TV play version was done of the work and then a movie in 1968. The Squeeze song was not about Dunn’s stories, but alluded to some of its themes and locations, including life in Battersea, the use of the word “Junction” as a reference to Clapham Junction,” and the subject of pregnancy. The song is “a 1960s kitchen sink drama set to music by London’s finest purveyors of inner city grit.” DT Difford said “It was written in one sitting, sometimes you just put the pen to paper and it’s done.” SF
Difford wrote the lyrics while the band was on tour in New Orleans and then Glenn Tilbrook, the only other band member through all of Squeeze’s incarnations over a 40+ year career, wrote the music. In an uncharacteristic move for a mainstream hit, the song has no chorus or lyrical repetition. In addition, the title is only sung at the end, an idea Difford says he got from Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain.” WK Tilbrook said the music was partly inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” and that “there’s no chorus because I thought a repeated section would spoil the flow of Chris’s story.” GU
The song tells the story of a couple meeting, moving in together, and then having a child. However, he becomes an alcoholic and she leaves him for another man. At the end, he concludes that he’s “really up the junction,” both in the sense that he is living in Clapham Junction and he has wrecked his life. WK
First posted 7/14/2021; last updated 9/17/2023.