Liz Nicholls squeezes Chris Difford, musician & founding member of Squeeze who turns 66 this month, for his thoughts on music, heroes, and reaching out on Zoom…
Q. You live in West Sussex now but do you ever miss your native London? “I love the countryside; it’s been my home for many years. I have no relationship with London. South London has been squashed and I can’t see my home there any more. I have happy memories for sure.”
Q. What were your favourite aspects of those days of grimy, vibrant London in the 1960s & ’70s? “Live gigs in pubs and clubs were everywhere in those days, less so these. There are so many venues that have closed and that’s so sad. I loved playing the Marquee Club, sweaty and fast, everything you need as a young lad.”
Q. You’ve earned so much love thanks to genius of your lyrics. I know you’ve said you were a fan of Dylan but are there any other formative influences?
“I feel attached to Joni Mitchell’s lyrics; they guide me to places I have never been before. Chris Wood is another master wordsmith, you must look him up.”
Q. What’s your first ever memory of music? “Hearing The Batchelors on the gramophone… now that ages me! My Mum loved them.”
Q. How did you feel about the warm reaction to Cradle To The Grave? And what’s the weirdest & most poignant fan mail you’ve received over the years?
“It’s great people loved that album and the TV show, it did many things for the band and for our songwriting. As for fans, fan letters are so great I love reading them, these days they are mostly about signing things.”
Q. You seem very zen – often the case when people have “lived” & come out the other side. But do you have any pet peeves – anything get your goat?! “No not really, I hate goats.”
Q. I was really moved by your words about Elton John & how he helped you when you were battling your addiction demons. Do you still chat to him now?
“Elton and I are on email from time to time he still reaches out, how wonderful is that?”
Q. Your writing workshops sound fantastic. Has there been a favourite moment?
“Each retreat is a treat, online it’s been a great way to keep a focus and try to mentor people in lockdown, I love my work on Zoom.”
Q. You’re passionate about saving our treasured local music venues, aren’t you? Do you have a favourite?
“There are many, I ask people to reach out to them and see what they need as they have to be there when the lights go back on, I support them all large or small.”
Q. What, in your mind, is the perfect pop song? “A perfect song is found in any Beatles composition.”
Q. Who would be your five dream dinner party guests? “Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Peter Andrea, Peter Owen Jones and Beyonce.”
Q. It’s tough for youngsters these days. What one piece of advice would you give your younger self on the cusp of adulthood? “Don’t look back, don’t look forward, stay in the moment.”
Chris Difford is bringing his new album on tour this month – visit chrisdofford.com for this & his writing retreats.