"Squeeze Box" is a song by The Who from their album The Who by Numbers. Written by Pete Townshend, the lyrics are couched in sexual double entendres. Unlike many of the other band's hits, the song features country-like elements, seen in Townshend's guitar finger picking.
"Squeeze Box" was a commercial success, peaking at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart and number 16 in the USBillboard Hot 100. The song was also a number 1 hit in Australia and Canada and reached number 2 on the Irish charts.
"Squeeze Box" was originally intended for a Who television special planned in 1974. In the planned performance of the song, the members of the band were planned to have been surrounded by one hundred topless women playing accordions as they played the song.
A demo of the song featured a farfisa organ-based arrangement, as well as bluegrass banjos. Authors Steve Grantley and Alan Parker compared this early version to The Beatles' 1968 song, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." This demo appeared on Pete Townshend's demo collection, Scoop.
"Squeezebox" is a slang term for accordions and related instruments. The song's lyrics consist mostly of sexual innuendo. Although Pete Townshend later said that the song originated as a dirty joke, he said that there was not double entendre, claiming "It's not about a woman's breasts, vaginal walls, or anything else of the ilk." The Who's bassist, John Entwistle also commented on the lyrics, saying "I dunno. Most songs have double meanings or no meaning at all. 'Squeeze Box' isn't that dirty. It doesn't say 'tits.'" Lead singer Roger Daltrey, however, acknowledged the double meaning, saying, "There's nothing wrong with a bit of 'in-and-out,' mate!"
"Squeeze Box" was released as the first single from The Who by Numbers in 1975 in America and 1976 in Britain. It became an international hit, becoming the band's first Top 10 hit in Britain since 1972's "Join Together." Despite this, Pete Townshend did not think highly of the song, and was astonished at its chart success.
"Intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke. I had bought myself an accordion and learned to play it one afternoon. The polka-esque rhythm I managed to produce from it brought forth this song. Amazingly recorded by The Who to my disbelief. Further incredulity was caused when it became a hit for us in the USA."
Roger Daltrey, however, spoke positively of the song, praising its simplicity.
It's so refreshingly simple. An incredibly catchy song. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is and I love it for that.
The song was first performed live at the New Bingley Hall in Stafford on 3 October 1975, and remained in the set for the rest of the 1975–1976 tour, until drummer Keith Moon's final North American concert at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on 21 October 1976. The band later played it again in the last leg of the 1982 Tour. Townshend himself played the banjo on the track, as well as the accordion. The song was performed live again in 2014 during the The Who Hits 50! tour.
Poison did a version of the song and released it as a single on the album Hollyweird in 2002. This was re-released in 2007 on their album Poison'd, where all the tracks are cover songs. Bobby Dall said on the cover of "Squeeze Box":
...Actually, that was Rikki’s idea. When we came into rehearsals...to break the ice for the new record...before we started fightin’ and arguin’ about songs, we went through a list of covers and remakes. ...It was the song that stuck and I think it fits perfectly for our band. It has a great melody and a great vocal, but it's also kinda sparse and undefined...it was kinda like an open palette for us.
An episode of Two and a Half Men which featured a spoof version of CSI, "Stiffs", used "Squeeze Box" as the theme song, parodying the practice of the CSI franchise of using songs by the Who as theme songs.