Squeeze Box (song)

Last updated

"Squeeze Box"
Squeeze Box by The Who UK vinyl.png
Solid centre variant of UK vinyl
Single by The Who
from the album The Who by Numbers
B-side "Success Story"
  • November 1975 (US)
  • 16 January 1976 (UK)
Recorded30 May 1975
Studio Shepperton soundstage, Surrey, England
Songwriter(s) Pete Townshend
Producer(s) Glyn Johns
The Who USsingles chronology
"Squeeze Box"
"Slip Kid"
The Who UKsingles chronology
"The Real Me"
"Squeeze Box"
"Who Are You"

"Squeeze Box" is a song by The Who from their album The Who by Numbers. Written by Pete Townshend, the lyrics are couched in sexual double entendres. Unlike many of the band's other hits, the song features country-like elements, seen in Townshend's guitar finger picking.


"Squeeze Box" was a commercial success, peaking at No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart [1] and No. 16 in the US Billboard Hot 100. The song is also their only international number-one hit, reaching No. 1 in Canada, and No. 2 on the Irish singles chart.


"Squeeze Box" was originally intended for a Who television special planned in 1974. [2] In the planned performance of the song, the members of the band were to be surrounded by 100 topless women playing accordions. [2]

A demo of the song featured a farfisa organ-based arrangement, as well as bluegrass banjos. Authors Steve Grantley and Alan Parker compared this early version to The Beatles' 1968 song, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". [3] This demo appeared on Pete Townshend's demo collection, Scoop . [3]

"Squeezebox" is a slang term for accordions and related instruments. [4] The song's lyrics consist mostly of sexual innuendo. Although Pete Townshend later said that the song originated as a dirty joke, he said that there was no double entendre, claiming "It's not about a woman's breasts, vaginal walls, or anything else of the ilk." [3] The Who's bassist, John Entwistle also commented on the lyrics, saying "I dunno. Most songs have double meanings or no meaning at all. 'Squeeze Box' isn't that dirty. It doesn't say 'tits.'" [3] Lead singer Roger Daltrey, however, acknowledged the double meaning, saying, "There's nothing wrong with a bit of 'in-and-out,' mate!" [3]

"Squeeze Box" was released as the first single from The Who by Numbers in 1975 in America and 1976 in Britain. It became an international hit, becoming the band's first Top 10 hit in Britain since 1972's "Join Together". [3] Despite this, Pete Townshend did not think highly of the song, and was astonished at its chart success.

"Intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke. I had bought myself an accordion and learned to play it one afternoon. The polka-esque rhythm I managed to produce from it brought forth this song. Amazingly recorded by The Who to my disbelief. Further incredulity was caused when it became a hit for us in the USA." [2]

Roger Daltrey, however, spoke positively of the song, praising its simplicity.

It's so refreshingly simple. An incredibly catchy song. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is and I love it for that. [3]

Song composition

The song is written in three stanzas using the same closing refrain of "Mama's got a squeeze box/ Daddy never sleeps at night". [5] The content of each stanza builds on the innuendo of the colloquial phrase of referring to a romantic partner as being some variation of being a "main squeeze" or simply referring to a boyfriend or girlfriend as a "squeeze". The first stanza is relatively ambiguous and introduces the main rhythm and beat of the song followed by the first instance of the refrain. The second stanza becomes more explicit with the romantic couple ignoring their pets and even their children when their nighttime activity commences stating, "'Cause she's playing all night", followed by the refrain. The third stanza becomes relatively undisguised in its use of metaphor referring to the couple's romantic activity as "in and out and in and out", followed by the closing instance of the refrain. The original version of the end of the song included the intonation of the words, "She goes, squeeze me, come on and squeeze me, Come on…", as the music faded out. [3]

Live performances

The song was first performed live at the New Bingley Hall in Stafford on 3 October 1975, and remained in the set for the rest of the 19751976 tour, until drummer Keith Moon's final North American concert at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on 21 October 1976. The band later played it again in the last leg of the 1982 Tour. The song was performed live again in 2014 during The Who Hits 50! tour.

Chart performance


Freddy Fender version

Freddy Fender did the first cover of "Squeeze Box," in 1979. It was included on his 14th studio album, The Texas Balladeer . The song became a hit on the U.S. Country chart, reaching #61.

Laura Branigan version

Laura Branigan recorded a version of this song for her second studio album, Branigan 2 , in 1983.

Poison version

Poison recorded a version of the song and released it as a promo single [10] from the album Hollyweird in March 2002. The song was re-released in 2007 on their album Poison'd , where all the tracks are cover songs. Bobby Dall said on the cover of "Squeeze Box":

. . . Actually, that was Rikki's idea. When we came into rehearsals . . . to break the ice for the new record . . . before we started fightin' and arguin' about songs, we went through a list of covers and remakes. . . . It was the song that stuck and I think it fits perfectly for our band. It has a great melody and a great vocal, but it's also kinda sparse and undefined . . . it was kinda like an open palette for us. [11]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Who by Numbers</i> 1975 studio album by the Who

The Who by Numbers is the seventh studio album by English rock band the Who, released on 3 October 1975 in the United Kingdom through Polydor Records, and on 25 October 1975 in the United States by MCA Records. It was named the tenth-best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.

<i>Who Are You</i> 1978 album

Who Are You is the eighth studio album by English rock band the Who, released on 18 August 1978 by Polydor Records in the United Kingdom and MCA Records in the United States. Although the album received mixed reviews from critics, it was a commercial success, peaking at number 2 on the US charts and number 6 on the UK charts.

My Generation Song by the Who

"My Generation" is a song by the English rock band the Who, which became a hit and one of their most recognizable songs. The song was named the 11th greatest song by Rolling Stone on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It became part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value.

Wont Get Fooled Again Song by the Who

"Won't Get Fooled Again" is a song by the English rock band the Who, written by Pete Townshend. It was released as a single in June 1971, reaching the top 10 in the UK, while the full eight-and-a-half-minute version appears as the final track on the band's 1971 album Who's Next, released that August.

<i>The Ultimate Collection</i> (The Who album) 2002 greatest hits album by the Who

The Ultimate Collection is a 2002 two-disc greatest hits set by the Who with both singles and top hits from albums, all of which have been remastered. The compilation was released by Polydor Records internationally and on MCA Records in the U.S. The first 150,000 copies added a third disk with rare tracks and music videos. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart on 29 June 2002, at No. 31 and hit No. 17 on the British charts. It was certified gold by the RIAA on 15 July 2002 and platinum on 13 March 2008.

<i>Then and Now</i> (The Who album) Album by The Who

Then and Now is a 2004 greatest hits compilation album by The Who released internationally by Polydor Records and by Geffen Records in the United States. It features 18 Who classics and two new tracks—"Real Good Looking Boy" and "Old Red Wine"—which were the first Who originals since "Dig" from Pete Townshend's 1989 album The Iron Man. "Real Good Looking Boy" is a tribute to Elvis Presley, and "Old Red Wine" is a tribute to former band member John Entwistle, who died in 2002. The album was re-released in 2007 and replaced "Old Red Wine" with "It's Not Enough" from the 2006 album Endless Wire and "Summertime Blues" was replaced by "Baba O'Riley".

5:15 Song by The Who

"5:15" is a song written by Pete Townshend of British rock band The Who. Part of the band's second rock opera, Quadrophenia (1973), the song was also released as a single and reached No. 20 on the UK Singles Chart, while the 1979 re-release reached No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Athena (song) song by The Who

"Athena" is a song written by Pete Townshend and recorded by The Who. It appears as the first track on the group's tenth album It's Hard, released in 1982. Written for actress Theresa Russell, the song was the first single from It's Hard. The single was a moderate success reaching the top 40 in both Britain and America.

You Better You Bet song by The Who

"You Better You Bet" is a song by British rock band the Who, appearing as the first track on their 1981 album Face Dances. It is sung by frontman Roger Daltrey with backing vocals from Pete Townshend and bassist John Entwistle. Townshend's guitar part is performed on a Rickenbacker 360/12.

<i>My Generation: The Very Best of The Who</i> 1996 greatest hits album by The Who

My Generation: The Very Best of The Who is one of The Who's many greatest hits collections, released by Polydor Records internationally and MCA Records in the United States in 1996. Its release coincided with the release of the remastered original albums and thus contained the newly remastered versions of the songs, and some also remixed.

Im Free (The Who song) 1969 single by the Who

"I'm Free" is a song written by Pete Townshend and performed by the Who on the album Tommy. The song has since been released as a single, becoming one of the best known tracks from Tommy.

Slip Kid Song by The Who

"Slip Kid" is a song from The Who's seventh album, The Who by Numbers. Written originally for Pete Townshend's shelved Lifehouse rock opera, "Slip Kid" was revived in 1975. The song was originally written as a warning about the music business, though Townshend has pointed out the song's relevance in different contexts. The song was released as a single in the US, backed by "Dreaming from the Waist", but failed to chart.

"Bargain" is a song written by Pete Townshend that was first released by the Who on their 1971 album Who's Next. It is a love song, although the intended subject of the song is God rather than a woman. The song has been included on several compilation and live albums. It was also included on several of Townshend's solo projects. Critics have praised the song's lyricism and power, as well as the performance of the band on the song. Townshend acknowledged during the Who's concert at the Prudential Center in Newark on 19 March 2016 that this is his favorite song on the album.

Join Together (The Who song) 1972 single by The Who

"Join Together" is a song by British rock band The Who, first released as a non-album single in May 1972. The song has since been performed live multiple times and has appeared on numerous compilation albums.

Dreaming from the Waist 1975 single by The Who

"Dreaming from the Waist" is a song by The Who, written by Pete Townshend and released on the group's 1975 album The Who by Numbers ; it also served as the B-side of the "Slip Kid" single, released in 1976 in the United States. The track's lyrics deal with sexual frustration and the restlessness associated with getting older, while the music features a bass solo from John Entwistle.

Trick of the Light (The Who song) 1978 single by The Who

"Trick of the Light" is a song written by bassist John Entwistle for The Who's eighth studio album, Who Are You. It was released as the second single from the album, atypically with another Entwistle song, "905" on the B-side, but did not chart.

Its Hard (song) 1982 single by The Who

"It's Hard" is a song written by Pete Townshend that featured on British rock band The Who's tenth album, It's Hard, of which it was the title track. It was released as the third and final vinyl single from the album in 1983, backed with the John Entwistle written song "Dangerous", but failed to chart, although it reached number 39 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. This would become the last Who single of new material until "Real Good Looking Boy" in 2004, and the last album single by them until "Black Widow's Eyes", two years later.

Lets See Action 1971 single by The Who

"Let's See Action" is a song written and composed by Pete Townshend and recorded by the Who. It was released as a single in the UK in 1971 and reached #16 in the charts.

"However Much I Booze" is a song by The Who, written by Pete Townshend that is the second track on their 1975 album The Who by Numbers.

"Blue, Red and Grey" is the eighth song on the Who's 1975 album The Who by Numbers. An acoustic ballad featuring the song's writer, Pete Townshend, on lead vocals, the song is generally considered one of the lighter songs on the album.


  1. 1 2 "Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. 24 January 1976. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 "The Hypertext Who : Liner Notes : The Who By Numbers". Thewho.net. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Grantley, Steve; Parker, Alan. The Who by Numbers: The Story of the Who Through Their Music. Helter Skelter.
  4. "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. 15 November 1975. p. 72. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  5. Lyrics of "Squeeze Boxx". The Who. Lyric Find
  6. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  7. "Cash Box Top 100 2/28/76". cashboxmagazine.com. 28 February 1976. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  8. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  9. Billboard 25 December 1976: TIA-6
  10. Graham Needham (4 March 2002). "Discography | Poison | Mama's Got A Squeezebox | American CD single (5") [Sweet Cyanide Music Inc - n/a]". Poisond Info. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  11. Archived 13 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine