Monday, January 25, 2010

Squeeze “Black Coffee in Bed”

From time to time, I'm inviting other voices to contribute to Every Day I Write The Blog, to speak on their area of expertise. So without further ado, here's the All Time Top 5 Songs Mentioning Coffee, written by Guest Blogger Alex Scofield of Coffee Hero . . .

Let’s begin with the obvious. This is the Alpha and the Omega of coffee songs, probably the first one that comes to mind for rock fans who think of “coffee tunes.” The title alone seems to speak volumes. Someone is clearly a serious coffee drinker – no cream, no sugar, and hard-up enough to drink it in bed.

Oddly enough, I’ve never been a huge fan of this song. Running down the checklist, this is the type of tune I should like; everything is there:

* ‘80s new-wave/Brit-pop song? Check
* Beloved by several friends with rock-solid musical taste? Check.
* Revered, but not overplayed? Check.
* Top-notch cameos? Check – Elvis Costello and Paul Young sing backup vocals on the studio version.
* Unquestionable coffee bona fides? Check.

Instrumentally, though, “Black Coffee in Bed” doesn’t sound like the work of a coffee fiend. The song is leisurely-paced, and just a bit too perky and bright – the kind of stuff that’s tough for me to stomach until after having downed a morning coffee cup or seven.

After scrutinizing the lyrics, I figured something out: This isn’t a song about somebody who drinks coffee in bed; it’s a song about somebody who used to drink coffee in bed – or, merely someone whose ex used to drink black coffee in bed.

There’s nothing of your love
That I’ll ever miss
The stain on my notebook
Remains all that’s left
Of the memory of late nights
And coffee in bed

So that’s why this song wields neither pre-caffeine grumpiness, nor post-caffeine wired-ness. Black coffee is drunk only in a memory, not in the present. The song essentially tells an ex, “I’m over you, and I’ve moved on,” although the truth of this is debatable. If coffee stains on a notebook dredge up such strong memories, is he really over this relationship?

Alex Scofield
is a freelance writer who lives in Bourne, Mass. He is a contributor to

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