Squeeze Box (song)

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"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"
The Who - Squeeze Box.jpg
Yugoslavian single sleeve
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
StudioShepperton soundstage, Surrey, England
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Glyn Johns
The Who US singles chronology
"Squeeze Box"
"Slip Kid"
The Who UK singles chronology
"The Real Me"
"Squeeze Box"
"Who Are You"
Alternative cover
US single sleeve
US single sleeve

"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. 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]

Live performancesEdit

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 performanceEdit


Freddy Fender versionEdit

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 versionEdit

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

Poison versionEdit

"Squeeze Box"
Single by Poison
from the album Hollyweird
ReleasedMarch 4, 2002[9]
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Thom Panunzio
Poison singles chronology
"Squeeze Box"
"Shooting Star"

Poison did a version of the song and released it as the second single 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.[10]


  1. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 24 January 1976. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "The Hypertext Who : Liner Notes : The Who By Numbers". Thewho.net. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Grantley, Steve; Parker, Alan. The Who by Numbers: The Story of the Who Through Their Music. Helter Skelter.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 24 January 1976. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 2/28/76". 28 February 1976. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  8. ^ Billboard 25 December 1976: TIA-6
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 13 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit