, , ,

Holidays help us appreciate the passage of time, which on good days is what I think may be the point of holidays. (On bad days, I consider them a version of the Situationist society of the spectacle, designed to send us back to our everyday routines with the illusion those routines have meaning.) (Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.)

Here is a song about the passage of time, by a band whose existence/persistence reminds me of the very subject. It begins with sawing strings, which provide a sense of speed, urgency. The singer speaks of hanging out with friends playing music on “days that seemed to last forever,” discovering the passion that would drive him through the rest of his life. “Life’s sunny,” he sings. In the second verse he admits growing up isn’t easy, as ambition bumps up against reality and aspects of his personality not elevated by the magic of music emerge. “The future took ages,” he says, but it arrives in some form and again it’s “sunny.”

But the future that arrived may not be what we, the listeners, exactly expected. The third verse of the song finds our narrator not a pop star but instead working a warehouse job in the same town where he grew up. He’s still practicing, still ambitious, but he’s also clear-eyed about his current station in life:

Today I’m walking by the river
Watching my children cycle by
We came up through the paths of Heath with our friends
Now it’s coffee and birds while out on the Thames
It’s sunny

A future he once envisioned completely in terms of musical ambition has by necessity become more permeable and now encompasses family, friends, leisure, rueful self-knowledge. The Situationists (along with my own teenage self) would have considered these consolation prizes (“Boring!” my son barks, whenever I describe how my wife and I spent our evening while he was out on his own teenage adventures) but you know I’m not 100% what the real prize was anymore. Maybe you forget that by the same necessity.

(Not sure about that “coffee and birds” line, by the way, perhaps some English person can please let me know if the reference is actually to a kind of British pastry?)

I read that Squeeze (Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook) wrote this and most of the other songs on their new album for a British TV show. At least one of the songs is getting some airplay over in the UK, which pleases them immensely given their recent (like, decades-long recent) lack of of commercial success. The t-shirts they’ve been selling on their current tour include the tagline, “I’d forgotten how much I like Squeeze.”