“Lyrically it doesn’t mean much but we had some fun writing it.”
— Chris Difford on Hourglass
In the 80s, Squeeze was one of the most popular bands in the UK but they often struggled to find the same success in the U.S. Some of that was because, much like Madness, Squeeze wrote songs that were undeniably British. Their relatively few U.S. hits were also the relatively few Squeeze songs not to feature any obviously British references in the lyrics.
Hourglass, for instance, was largely a nonsense song that had a strong hook and an unforgettable melody. What does “Take it to the bridge, throw it overboard, see if it can swim” refer to? No one knows and it doesn’t matter. Along with being insanely catch, Hourglass also had a memorable music video. The video was popular on MTV and, in the 80s, that usually led to success on the U.S. Charts. Hourglass became on the few Squeeze songs to break into the U.S. Top 40.
The video features the band performing amongst a series of optical illusions. The video was directed by Adrian Edmondson while the Salvador Dali-inspired concept for the video was credited to Squeeze’s keyboardist Jools Holland. Holland would later go on to host Later …. with Jools Holland on BBC Two and has become a British cultural icon.