Monday, November 19, 2007

The Jukebox

I love jukeboxes. Always have. The reason is simple. It is one of the few opportunities in life to inflict ones personal musical taste over the general public. Recording mix tapes is one thing, but jukeboxes = a young disc jockey hopeful's first public performances. At least the jukebox was to me. And I would take my selections seriously. After all, you only got three songs for that quarter, and I was going to pick the three BEST songs! Now that I am a geezer, I have become one of those bastards that likes to fill a jukebox with $20 worth of tunes so that it plays only my songs for the next few hours. I love looking over the glowing selections, trying to get a read on a bar based on what's inside the jukebox. Back in high school, I would hang out at the Ram Shack, an after-school hangout at the El Dorado Park Recreation Center. In addition to girls, bumper pool and ping-pong, the Ram Shack had a jukebox that played for free! So I would always try to program the afternoon's tunes. Usually, the memory was so packed that I seldom heard anything I wanted. Here, let me slog through the top singles of 1977, and see what I played for the gang on those rare occasions when the memory on the box would be reset and I was there when it happened. Remember, while punk rock did exist, it did not exist inside the jukebox at the Ram Shack. This sadly, would be a best-case situation:

Heart - "Barracuda"
Ram Jam - "Black Betty"
Ted Nugent - "Cat Scratch Fever"
Electric Light Orchestra - "Do Ya"
David Bowie - "Heroes"
Cheap Trick - "I Want You To Want Me"
The Kinks - Juke Box Music
Boston - "More Than a Feeling"
Bob Seger - "Rock & Roll Never Forgets"
Queen - "Tie Your Mother Down"

Not gawdawful, but remember, a best-case situation.

Thankfully, here in the future, there are still jukeboxes, and at least here in Hollywood, there are plenty of good ones with some extremely cool selections available. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. Back in 1977, if you had told me that when I was 47 I would walk into a bar and hear Suicide on the jukebox, I would only be able to laugh about the idea. Now I laugh when it happens.

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