My Pop Singer Is Superior To Your Pop Singer
Glenn Tilbrook makes me happy and breaks my heart.
He wrote 154 pop songs better than anything that came out of the radio for the last thirty years. He plays better than anyone that just plays, sings better than anyone that just sings, and then does both at the same time. And he’s amusing; an entertainer. It’s a rare thing, and getting scarcer all the time.
I never go to pop music shows. It had to do with performing music for money. You just don’t know how to behave in an audience anymore after you do it for work; you forget how to enjoy yourself. My good friend Steve dragged me to the last show I saw, quite a while ago, maybe a decade, which was the first one I’d seen in ten years, too. It said Squeeze on the tickets, but it was just Tilbrook and the little croaking fellow, Chris Difford, playing like buskers in a tent. It was amazing, and a little wistful. Tilbrook was, as near as I can remember, the most entertaining person I’ve ever seen perform, and that’s saying something.
I’m not privy to any inside information, but they appear to have lost all their money late in their lives, as so many in the music business do, and now they have to sing for their supper like anyone else does. They re-recorded all their hits, note for note, a while back, which points to ownership by others, and an attempt to gain a little money by selling stuff they own the rights to again. I know how the music business works, and they were probably trying to hide their money from the taxman, and their accountant hid it so well that only he could find it. Something like that.
Now Tilbrook is out and about, here and there, on his own, or with a little combo he calls, amusingly, The Fluffers.
He can still write a pop song, can’t he? I used to play the bass and sing the Squeeze song Pulling Mussels From A Shell, and it was the most difficult thing I ever had to play and sing at the same time, and that includes Motown songs. Pop songs are more sophisticated than they appear sometimes, and rock anthems a whole lot shallower.
After I poked around YouTube awhile, and saw videos of Tilbrook wasting away in glorified General Business gigs. (I’m not sure if that term is still in use. It meant “Wedding Band” hired for non-wedding gigs back when I worked) I said to my wife: I feel sorry for Tilbrook a little. He has all this talent, and it looks like he’s lost everything, and he has to work harder than he did when he was young; why doesn’t anyone help him? How can the world waste all that ability?
“And you feel sorry for him?”