In “Squeeze and Me” Squeeze fans get to tell their story. Here’s Kevin M. Strawser’s story of Stacy:
Way back in the year 1987, on the evening of April 28th, through a series of fortunate events, I met Squeeze. I mean, I literally, met all the band members of, what was Squeeze at the time; Glenn Tilbrook, Chris Difford, Jools Holland, Gilson Lavis and Keith Wilkinson.
To make a short story long… here’s how it happened.
In the summer of 1986, I was cast in a local dinner theater’s production of “Joseph” (theatre folk will know that “Joseph” is a shorthand way of saying “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”) and one of the other cast members had Squeeze’s “Singles- 45’s and Under” and played it quite a lot during pre-show, post-show, intermission etc… and I was smitten. I fell in love with Squeeze. Prior to that, my only experience with Squeeze was the “[[Black Coffee in Bed]]” video on MTV. So I went down to my local music vendor and purchased a cassette copy of “Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti’ (which was the only Squeeze album they had at the time) and proceeded to play the hell out of it. I, then, searched for and eventually found all the other albums, on cassette, and played the hell out of those as well. I had officially become a Squeeze fan!
That fall, I was a freshman theatre major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and at one of the only fraternity parties I ever attended, when I met the greatest Squeeze fan ever, Stacy Yobp. Stacy had all the Squeeze albums and then some. She knew all the words to all the songs, and she and I hit it off quickly. We were not romantically involved at all, but became good friends nonetheless. Little did we know that Squeeze was, that very fall, gearing up for a world tour to promote their new album, which was to be titled “Life in the Bus Lane” (when we met Gilson, he said he didn’t really like the title, did we have any ideas!). That album, of course, became “Babylon and On”.
Fast forward to April of 1987. It was the night before the concert and Stacy and I stayed up half the night listening to all the albums, and the next day headed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My cousin Scott and another friend went along. It was at F&M College, in the Mayser Center (it was a gymnasium, actually). The concert was excellent and Stacy wrote down each song as they played it (this was for all intents and purposes, pre-internet, so you wouldn’t be able to find the set list in less than 15 seconds the next day). Stacy and I were jubilant!
As the concert was ending, Stacy noticed that, on the bleachers, stage right, there was a group of people sitting together, separated from the rest of the crowd. And, when the announcer was asking everyone to exit the building, they were all staying put. She said, “Let’s go sit with them!” So we did. Stacy and I went and sat with the large group of fans NOT leaving the auditorium. Turns out, they had all won backstage passes to meet Squeeze after the show.
After a few minutes, the gymnasium cleared and someone came up to the group and asked if we were ready to meet Squeeze…we, of course, said we were. He then proceeded to lead us backstage and downstairs to the locker room. Now, here’s the crucial, pivotal part of the story; He didn’t ask to see any passes or identification or anything to prove that we were all supposed to be there. So, Stacy and I were just flowing along in the current of students heading to meet our favourite band. We were excited, and nervous that at any moment we’d be found out.
You know how in some locker rooms there are horseshoe shaped alcoves of lockers with a bench running down the middle? That’s how this locker room was. One member of the band was sitting in each of the alcoves, and we were directed to walk past each one and get autographs and shake hands and have a “moment” with each band member. I had a concert program and got everyone’s autograph. Glenn Tilbrook drew eyelashes on his picture, because he said you couldn’t see them and it made it seem like he didn’t have any. I got to tell Glenn, at the time, “[[Vanity Fair]]” was my favourite Squeeze song. He said in a heavy English accent, something to effect of, “right, that’s a good one, but tough to do live”. Which is totally understandable since the song is, like, all strings. Then we had the exchange with Gilson about the name of the new album and then we were off. I’m really glad to have had this experience, especially with Stacy. She was ecstatic to have met them and she and I would go on to see Squeeze in concert together 2 more times. Once in Pittsburgh and once when they opened for David Bowie in Philadelphia.
In 1991 my friend Stacy died from a brain tumour. I still sometimes think of her when I listen to Squeeze. The band has released several albums since Stacy died and I always wished she could’ve heard them. I saw Squeeze 2 more times in concert without Stacy, once in Los Angeles and once, with my brother Bryan in Philadelphia. The Philly show was at the Theatre of the Living Arts and was just Difford and Tilbrook with acoustic guitars. Stacy would’ve loved that.
Squeeze remains my favourite band of all time. They’re still my “go to” band. My iTunes Squeeze playlist has nearly 500 songs in it, and I love them all.
Of course everyone knows, the band broke up, for a second time, in 1998. This time it felt like it was really over. Glenn and Chris each released 4 solo albums. All 8 good, solid albums…but it wasn’t the same as when they were recording together. Many years later, the news came that they were performing together again, and there were rumours of a new album. I was cautiously optimistic. I thought, if it doesn’t happen, it’ll be OK. After all, I had 12 Squeeze albums, a Difford & Tilbrook album, several live albums, a gaggle of compilations (with B-sides) and 8 solo albums (& counting) to listen to forever and ever, amen.
I have grown up with their music, and their music has grown up with me as well. When I started listening to them, songs like “Slightly Drunk” and “[[When the Hangover Strikes]]” were the norm. The 1998 Squeeze album “[[Domino]]” had a song titled, “[[To Be a Dad]]”.
My wife and kids have become Squeeze fans, due in large part to my fanaticism. In fact, my wife, Amy and I have our own Squeeze memories. “[[Rose I Said]]” was on the jukebox in the pub where we met, and the albums that were released (and that I played the hell out of) during the early years of our relationship are special to me too, especially “Play” and “Some Fantastic Place”.
I have no doubt my friend Stacy would still be a huge Squeeze fan. And that she and I would’ve kept in touch, even if it had only been every time Squeeze put out a new album. And, in fact, I would’ve called her recently to talk about how amazing the new Squeeze album, “Cradle to the Grave”, is. We would have, no doubt, geeked out over how great it is. Because it is…really, really great.
The first song released from the album, “Happy Days”, became the theme song for our family’s beach trip this past August. I was so happy to be able to share that song with Amy and the kids on the way to the beach…and every day while we were at the beach…and on the way home from the beach.
We played the hell out of it.
“Happy days in the hazy summer, happy days being with each other, we’re gonna take a break by the rolling sea, the perfect summer, just you and me.”
Below is a picture of Stacy and Me circa 1987. She is wearing a “Life in the Bus Lane” t-shirt!