Chris Difford Shares Humor and Sadness in Some Fantastic Place
Any speculation about Bob Dylan always turns out to be futile, but it is nevertheless an entertaining undertaking. Fans can spends hours, or even days or weeks, reading the various interpretations of his myriad songs from fellow fans on the Internet.
Although it will be not quite as adventurous as analyzing epics such as “Idiot Wind” or “Fourth Time Around,” Dylanites have started to ruminate about Bob's upcoming new book. The volume comprises Dylan's thoughts on songwriting, as well as his opinion of music artists he admires.
Sources have identified one of those songwriters discussed in the work, the British wordsmith who records as Elvis Costello. The “Accidents Will Happen” writer is a natural choice for Dylan, given the clever use of the idiosyncrasies of the English language.
One of Costello's most devoted colleagues when it comes to wordplay should probably appear in Dylan's book, even though he is not a household name. Still, Chris Difford, the lyricist behind the many great records of Squeeze, certainly deserves mention in any book about songwriters.
Speaking of books, Difford himself has written one, and it is delightful. In the autobiography titled Some Fantastic Place, Difford shows that he is as adept as writing prose as he is at penning songs.
Here are fifteen excerpts from Some Fantastic Place that showcase Difford's writing talents, whether the subject matter be humorous or insightful or mournful.
1. “It was time to smell the roses, but my nose was constantly too blocked up.”
Tempted was being played everywhere, and everyone recognized the band for the first time, but Difford was suffering from alcohol addiction.
2. “There were giddy times and my feet barely touched the ground, but when they did, I was usually in the pub.”
Cool For Cats, the band's second album, was enjoying a lot of success in the United Kingdom.
3. “We literally played to one man and a dog. We were forced to play a second set by the owner. The dog left.”
Playing in America for the first time, at The Lighthouse in Bethlehem, New Jersey, made Difford realize that Squeeze had not quite caught fire across the pond.
4. “It was like a shark that chases you around in shallow water until you're forced to give in.”
This analogy represents how the Difford family reacted to the obviously unhealthy mole on the mother's face.
5. “Mum cried, and as her hair started falling out from the chemotherapy, she cried some more- a lot more as she saw her beauty fade away, melting like ice on a spring morning.”
Difford here is describing the deterioration of his mum's body because of the cancer.
6. “The heat was turned up as we pulled arrangements around like a pack of wolves over a skinny carcass.”
His reunion with Glenn Tilbrook and Squeeze after Difford had spent six months at PROMIS, a drug rehabilitation institution, seemed to fit the simile.
7. “My hand was squashed like a melted Kit Kat in his grip.”
Describing the extra firm handshake of the President of Price Records, Difford makes mention of the sweet tooth that never seems to “dessert” him.
8. “I felt like a little boy who had just climbed into a car for the first time with my legs dangling down.”
Think of this comparison to a spontaneous reunion concert organized by Elton John, placing all three Squeeze keyboardists, Jools Holland, Paul Carrack and Don Snow, together with Difford and Tilbrook.
9. “Oasis were huge, Blur were at the fun end of the stick, but we seemed to be hanging around like confetti left on the church floor after a wedding.”
Squeeze was hoping to capitalize on a revival of Brit Pop in the Nineties, thus the reference to the Gallagher brothers' Oasis and Damon Alburn's Blur.
10. “It was a tough job and each week and each week I bailed water out of the sinking boat with nothing more than a china cup. But a very expensive china cup, as you can imagine.”
Working as a manager for Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry, Difford experienced some highs and lows.
11.”He looked great, I remember his hands were like fallen autumn leaves in texture, lined and faded with life.”
This poignant passage is Difford's reflection on seeing his dad's body in the casket at the funeral home.
12. “Bodies fly around; it's as if a school of salmon has suddenly reached a row of rocks- they leap into the air and land on each other with tails wagging.”
His perception of the mosh pit that always formed when the band The Strypes played is summed up in this simile.
13. “Now I'm the one who makes it all possible- I'm not the Wizard of Oz, pulling levers behind a velvet curtain though: they are.”
He had a behind-the-scenes approach as an offstage leader of The Strypes, a young band that broke through in the mid 2010s.
14. ”Relationships have come and gone, cars and guitars have come and gone, rehabs and tours have come and gone, yet Glenn still sits in the middle of my life like the musical maypole.”
This piece provides Difford's feelings toward his long-time friend and Squeeze co-founder, Glenn Tilbrook.
15. “I may have possibly managed to open a can of worms in my head, but silkworms I hope.”
On the last page of the book, Difford attempts to summarize his experience with a dash of humor.