Squeeze - Cool for Cats

Squeeze - Cool for Cats

‘Cool for Cats’ is a song by English rock band Squeeze, released as the second single from their album of the same name. The song features a rare lead vocal performance from cockney-accented Squeeze lyricist Chris Difford, one of the only two occasions he sang lead on a Squeeze single. The song, peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1979, making ‘Cool for Cats’ one of the band's biggest hits.

‘Cool for Cats’ was written about the social scene the band experienced in their youth. Tilbrook recalled: "Originally it was written about the social circle we were moving in at the time, being young and being... we were almost entirely centered in our own little world. I remember hearing Chris sing those lyrics for the first time and thinking he's just nailed what our lives are about now. It's lovely to be able to look back on that and see how we were as youngsters." The title phrase, which Difford felt "was a great song title", is a reference to the television series Cool for Cats. Difford commented in a 1979 interview: "I don't know if you're familiar with the phrase 'Cool For Cats,' but it was the first rock 'n' roll television show in England during 1959. That's where the album and single title originated - I just worked it into some personal experiences within the lyrical content."

Originally, the song was performed much slower and featured a different set of lyrics. However, at the request of co-producer John Wood, Difford wrote a new lyric to the backing track the band had recorded. According to Difford, he wrote a new lyric after watching The Benny Hill Show, which featured character-based musical numbers performed to a flat metre. Tilbrook felt Difford's new lyrics and vocals "sounded unbelievably cool" and recruited his girlfriend and her friends to contribute the female backing vocals on the chorus.

‘Cool For Cats’ was released as a single on 9 March 1979. The band performed the song on Top of the Pops to promote the single, though the band was forced to alter the lyric "I'm invited in for a coffee / and I give the dog a bone". The band also released a music video for the song featuring the band and female backing singers performing the song. Tilbrook later said the video "makes me cringe", particularly for a moment where Tilbrook "burst through a group of girls" in an attempt to look "panther-like and super-sexy", only to "just look pissed". Difford notes that the band originally filmed a different video where the band constantly changed hats, but it did not appear on TV because it featured a clip of drummer Gilson Lavis downing a pint of beer in two seconds.

‘Cool For Cats’ would prove to be the band's biggest UK hit to that point, reaching number two on the charts there. ‘Cool For Cats’ remains numerically tied with the band's subsequent single, ‘Up The Junction’, for the band's highest UK charting single. The band became ambivalent about these songs, however: Difford noted that the band "deliberately binned" their two best-charting singles when he and Tilbrook started attracting critical acclaim as "the new Lennon–McCartney". Difford concluded, though, "Now I look back on those songs with great affection because without them I wouldn't be where I am today."

Label – A&M
Songwriters – Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook
Producers – John Wood, Squeeze


[Verse 1]
The Indians send signals from the rocks above the pass
The cowboys take position in the bushes and the grass
The squaw is with the corporal, she is tied against the tree
She doesn't mind the language, it's the beating she don't need
She lets loose all the horses when the corporal is asleep
And he wakes to find the fire's dead and arrows in his hats
And Davy Crockett rides around and says it's cool for cats
It's cool for cats
Cool for cats
[Verse 2]
The Sweeney's doing ninety 'cause they've got the word to go
They get a gang of villains in a shed up at Heathrow
They're counting out the fivers when the handcuffs lock again
In and out of Wandsworth with the numbers on their names
It's funny how their missus' always look the bleeding same
And meanwhile at the station there's a couple of likely lads
Who swear like, "How's your father?" and they're very cool for cats
They're cool for cats
Cool for cats
[Verse 3]
To change the mood a little I've been posing down the pub
On seeing my reflection, I'm looking slightly rough
I fancy this, I fancy that, I wanna be so flash
I give a little muscle and I spend a little cash
But all I get is bitter and a nasty little rash
And by the time I'm sober, I've forgotten what I've had
And everybody tells me that it's cool to be a cat
Cool for cats
Cool for cats
[Instrumental Break]
[Verse 4]
Shape up at the disco and I think I've got a pull
I ask her lots of questions as she hangs on to the wall
I kiss her for the first time and then I take her home
I'm invited in for coffee and I'll give the dog a bone
She likes to go to discos, but she's never on her own
I said, "I'll see you later", and give her some old chat
But it's not like that on the TV when it's cool for cats
It's cool for ca-a-a-ats
Cool for cats
[Instrumental Outro]
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