Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rules for the jukebox (and a lament on their collective demise)...

I was going to write something titillating about a recent session I had, but fuck you assholes and your dicks. This is what I feel like writing:

Of course I know this is silly and completely subjective, but I think that my rules for the jukebox are pretty universal and should be abided by no matter what situation with a jukebox you might find yourself in. I'm not a music nerd, I just value my ears.

The biggest mistake people make when selecting from the jukebox (I love that word!) is to make decisions on what is familiar, rather than on what others who are listening to the jukebox might like. Look around the bar. Is it a dive? Are there a bunch of crotchety old men sitting around in their legionaire's uniforms? Or are there a bunch of NYU students? (if yes to the latter, I suggest you forget the music and leave) I have a tendency to enjoy an atmosphere of infirmity and drowned sorrows- and inevitably these places will have the better jukebox. A bunch of crotchety old men are not going to want to listen to the Dead Milkmen (although they rule). Obviously. Find stuff that was made before 1967. Who knows, you might even get a free drink out of it.

Secondly, do not play anything that you could hear as soon as you turn on a classic rock station. This is a huge, unforgivable blunder that most people make when choosing songs. Don't choose Zeppelin if it's not a B-side off of CO/DA, do not, under any circumstances, choose Journey or Air Supply or Chicago EVER, do not play the Stones, the Beatles, Black Sabbath, or any other popular yet ground-breaking band unless it's obscure (Gimme Shelter and Beast of Burden are the only exceptions- I told you these rules were subjective). Do not play Janis Joplin, The Doors, or Jimi Hendrix- unless you have no other option.

Thirdly, do not choose hip hop or rap unless the bar is completely packed full of yuppies. Hip hop can be a huge crowd-pleaser. Unfortunately, in most instances, it is the most insipidly common mainstream bullshit that gets the best reaction. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether it is more important to make people happy, or for your ears to bleed.

Fourthly, do not play goth music. Just don't. Yes, The Cure falls under this category. That said, do not play Tori Amos (ugh!).

Fifthly (is that a word?), scratch the Jimi Hendrix rule. I'm listening to him now, and I change my mind.

Sixthly (hee), if you're over forty-five, don't try to choose something contemporary that you think "the kids" will like. Jukeboxes are never kept up to date, and you're not impressing anyone. Contemporary popular music by it's very nature is faddish and banal. Just don't go there. I implore you.

Seventhly, do not play show tunes or Billy Joel. Hopefully this goes with out saying. This is a bigger problem with karaoke than jukeboxes, granted. Also, no Metallica or heavy metal or punk made after 1983. This falls under the same category as show tunes, because I said so. And because you shouldn't play anything that makes people feel like they might go mad listening to it. Whether it's completely atonal or completely insipidly treacly and trite.

Sometimes you may come in contact with one of those internet "choose your own adventure" (nightmare), look-and-you-will-find-it sort of jobs. Originally only to be found in places that one should actively avoid anyway, they seem to be making themselves into halfway decent bars. This is unfortunate, because inevitably people will always pick something right out of their own CD collection. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but face it, most people own like 12 CD's (thanks for that observation, Billy). I hate these jukeboxes, because while seeming to foster the idea that you can go crazy and use your imagination, they in fact encourage people to do just the opposite. I can, however, appreciate them for things like Desmond Dekker (why can't I find that shit anywhere?) or the Melodians, or bad British ska music.

Essentially, when faced with a jukebox that is old-fashioned and has a static list of choices, one is forced to spend some money on songs/artists/albums that perhaps they aren't familiar with. This is trial by error, but that's part of the fun! Sometimes you win, sometimes not. Can one really put a price on something they played randomly and ended up really enjoying?

ADDENDUM: This also should go without saying, but country music made within the last 30 years is bad, unless you're in like, a saloon, or there's line-dancing happening in front of you. This rule does not apply to Dolly Parton or Willie Nelson.



advochasty said...

Random enjoyment is a truly wonderful way to approach a jukebox. I haven't played a jukebox in years. You made me want to do it again.

I used to love it as a kid in a diner.

I think I've probably broken all your rules!

Is there crime appropriate punishment for jukebox abuse?

That said, do not play Tori Amos (ugh!).

Oooo, smack down with yer friend Crimson!! I'm tellin' when I pick her up at the airport tomorrow!!

Mistress Veronica NYC said...

Oh, I didn't know she was coming here! Tell her hello.

But yes, the Tori Amos rule still stands... I don't care who it offends. She will just have to face facts that she hasn't had a good album in 14 years.

And no one wants to hear even her good shit in a bar, I mean, come on.

I went to a diner recently that had a jukebox at every table. I almost died. And all the upholstery was turquoise. Heaven.

mark said...

If I may:

Eigthly- Do not play (from a jukebox, CD player, car stereo, 8 track, etc..I mean ever!!) play any of the pop country dogsh*t that has been inflicted upon the nation for the past couple of decades. This is doubly true if it a "Best of Country" CD.

Glad you reconsidered on the Hendrix, you had almost lost me there.

Mistress Veronica NYC said...


Yes, I thought of that rule, but then decided not to clarify, because technically it should fall under the first rule. Thanks for the suggestion.

Definitely no country music created before 1980, unless it's Willie Nelson or Dolly Parton. Because they're awesome.

roch said...

Such a great post! Fun
So what do you pick to play?
Tori Amos put out some greta music a long time ago. Still, I've heard her concerts are powerful.
You must hate the Grateful Dead, right?


hoodman said...

What do You like on Your jukebox? You left a lot out lol. Then again i don't even deal with jukeboxes except for 50s music.

NYU students, us college kids aren't all bad

Mistress Veronica NYC said...


All jam band music must be destroyed!!

Tori Amos also must be destroyed, but in a very sensitive and artfully realized way.


I actually like a lot of different things. I don't think there is a genre that does not have it's fair share of icky-ness though.

Some of my favorites (although arguably, not all should be played on a jukebox):

Al Green, The Four Tops, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, anyone produced by Phil Spector, The English Beat, Desmond Dekker, The Melodians, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, Earth Wind and Fire, anything with a synthesizer sung by a gay man, much hip hop where people are not talking about "bling" or "bitches", Led Zeppelin (although I would never subject other people to them unwittingly), lots and lots of blue-eyed soul, as I've stated in a previous post.

Mistress Veronica NYC said...

Oh, and Curtis Mayfield. Can't forget him.

marvingaye said...

Excuse me, if I'm at a bar that is playing god awful music, and for whatever reason I don't feel like leaving, I could care less what the rest of the bar thinks, I'm gonna put on whatever I want! About a month ago I was at this one bar that used to always play old school metal and hard rock on the jukebox...but for whatever reason some douche put on a whole bunch of NEW county. It was just flat out painful. I couldn't take it, and I guess I could have left but we didn't.

So I put on "I Am Love" from the Jackon 5...which is super long, a song from Miles Davis Bitches Brew album and a whole bunch of other cool 70's funk like the Ohio Players, but not the popular songs at all. And I made sure I put next song on all of them (it was touch tunes, not a jukebox). All these people were looking around all confused once my songs came on, but it didn't bother me at all. I will have no problem doing it again too!

P.S.-The Grateful Dead rule

Mistress Wynter said...

Really? You've put the Doors on your list? I love the Doors, and I will always play them if I see them on a jukebox. Same goes for Zeppelin, Hendrix, Joplin. Especially Joplin. Especially at a dive bar. You want to drink away your sadness, you need some Joplin. You need to sing her loud and drunk and feel her.

Of course, I have played jukeboxes with you, and I tend to disagree quite strongly with the songs you like the best... so I'm going to say that I like my jukebox rules better than your jukebox rules.


advochasty said...

Curtis Mayfield! Yeah! When he and Jerry Butler were the Impressions.

Mistress Veronica NYC said...

I just knew this was going to be a contentious post! Shit, now I have to defend myself...

Excuse me, Marvingaye-

You are condemning precisely the thing that you said that you do! The guy who played country music obviously just wanted to listen to whatever HE wanted to, without any concern for what kind of place he was in, or for the other patrons. According to rule #1, you should always be mindful of the type of bar you're in. Hence, if all the guys at this bar were wearing Metallica t-shirts and looked like women from behind, then no, one should not play Garth Brooks (ugh, just typing that made me cringe).

There is a bar in Greenpoint that I like, where everyone is a metalhead- balls out. They don't even have Al Green on their jukebox, but even if they did, I would not bother playing him, because none of the patrons can appreciate it.

Mistress Wynter-

Ha ha! The only times I like to play The Doors and Janice Joplin are when I do it for you.



He was a genius.

hoodman said...

Four Tops, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green.
Mistress Veronica, You're a fan of the men who can sing. By all means no more comments with that list.
i'll listen to Your jukebox selections anyday.

Metal God said...

While I completely agree with being mindful of your surroundings, I do take issue with a few of your points.

Firstly, I'm with Wynter on a few of these- The Doors, Joplin, Hendrix, and especially Zeppelin are perfectly fine for a selection. As far as your comment on choosing only obscure tracks from groundbreaking bands- as much as I personally love doing so, it would seem to be far more annoying to other patrons who may not be familiar with the particular band. While I don't need to hear "Sweet Emotion" for the millionth time, not everyone will recognize "Lick & A Promise" or "Chip Away at the Stone." So deep cuts from a popular band like Aerosmith have the potential to be rather boring to some people. Additionally, I have no problem subjecting someone to "Over The Hills & Far Away", but would not saddle them with ten minutes of "Achilles Last Stand" if I were in the mood for Zeppelin.

Being a huge rock/metal fan, I don't understand what significance the year 1983 holds in particular for you. Some bands became much more polished as they matured, while others just died a quick death. Am I to assume that "Shout At The Devil" is fine, but "Dr. Feelgood" is not up to snuff? Or that Guns And Roses is never a good choice (Appetite for Destruction came out in 1987) and that I should opt instead for old Motorhead? I think you need to look at the specific band rather than the genre of music, especially when it comes to rock and metal.

Marvingaye said...

But here's the deal...that bar used to be like a heavy metal bar just like a year ago, and somehow or another it changed to a country bar??? I never remember being asked if I approve of this drastic change! Also they played like 4 or 5 NEW country songs in a row! It was nauseating...and truly just awful. And lets not pretend we're in Nashville here anyway...we're in NYC. So maybe I did break one rule by playing The Jackson 5, an Ohio Players song, a Parliament song and whatever else (they were all obscure songs BTW, no hits), but who cares that deserved it and if anyone there wants an apology they're sure as hell not getting one from me!!

Mistress Veronica NYC said...

Hello My Darling "Metal God",

First of all- and that should be added to the original post- never, ever play Aerosmith, even if it's obscure. They suck. I said it, I stand by it. People love Aerosmith because they have like two good songs?? Talk to the hand, seriously.

Secondly, if you read my post, it says never to play any punk or metal made after 1983. Not rock. I consider Guns N Roses to be a rock/pop band.

I made this rule because everyone knows that punk music became mainstream at that time (how many times have you heard Rock The Casbah?), and "metal" was starting to become increasingly operatic. As the Emperor Joseph II once said to Mozart, "Too many notes, just cut a few, and it'll be fine!" That's exactly what I want to say to Joe Satriani and all those assholes who turned a perfectly good genre of music into a scale-riding cacophony of madness. It has it's place- don't get me wrong- but it's not something I'm going to subject people to in a bar. As metal may be a sub-genre of rock, it is unacceptable in most atmospheres.

As far as the Stones, Black Sabbath, and Jopin go- I'm sticking to my guns. Because I just don't want to fucking hear it. Sure, most people probably do want to hear something they can get on the radio all the time. But I don't. And these rules are mine. You must admit, though, that most of these bands have relatively obscure shit that people "know", but haven't heard ten million times. I mean, say you have Physical Graffiti infront of you- are you gonna play Casimir? Really? Everyone loves Ten Years Gone, but you don't hear that shit on the radio. It's a great song by a band that is waaay overplayed. Most of the bands that are overplayed are so for a reason. That being, they made a whole shit-load of stuff that's good, yet not all of it is jammed down your throat.

Now gimme some cheese!

Mistress Veronica NYC said...


Aha! So you admit you broke the first rule! However, since you did it out of spite (and played the Ohio Players) I've decided you made the right choice. I would be pissed off too.

My deepest condolences on your bar and it's catastrophic transformation. Horrible.

James Moriarty said...

Signs by Tesla... 1990?

Metal God said...

Dearest V,

You know that you can do little wrong in my eyes. Even your blasphemous comment about Aerosmith does not knock you off the pedestal I have you hoisted upon. But "two good songs?" Really? I've seen them play a two hour concert (before Tyler started falling of catwalks) and still not cover all the good songs that people want to hear! I'll just chalk it up to delirium brought upon by some strong smelling washed rind cheese and forgive that insane proclamation.

My reference to GNR was a poor example of a successful metal band post 1983. They were much more a hard rock band, but we're splitting hairs. I still maintain that 1983 does not apply to metal. Although, I agree with the punk aspect. If you're going to ban metal in a bar- so be it! But making the cut off 1983 suggests that "The Number of The Beast" is proper while "Powerslave" is not.

I am however completely baffled by your assault on Joe Satriani. I'll be the first to state that I believe he can not write a real song to save his life, even though he's an excellent guitarist. But why you'd try to lump him into your statement on metal is beyond me. He never was, nor ever will be a metal guitarist any more than Eddie Van Halen is (who CAN write a good song to save his life- just not in the past 10 years!)


Regarding the comment above about "Tesla"- "Signs." That song is simply a remake of 1971 song by a band known as "Five Man Electrical Jam." Sadly Tesla is another band that gained most of their notoriety because of a song someone else wrote. They go down in history with Great White on that one.

marvingaye said...

Haha, these comments are funny...and yes I do admit I broke your rule out of spite and I'm sure I'll do it again too!

As far as metal after 1983, I grew up a total metalhead, and I still do like it from time to time...I'd definitely agree that most of the best metal was made before the mid 80's...and Mistress Veronica's right that a lot of bands started writing real cheesy cock-rock anthems with shredding guitar solos around this time.

But as for operatic bands, are you talking about Maiden, Priest and Dio because they freakin rule! (Though they've all admittedly put out some terrible albums and even worse videos)

Number of the Beast and Powerslave both are awesome.

P.S. - what exactly is this "good album" that Tori Amos put out anyway?

The Hermit said...

Some very good advice, thanks for posting it. And I agree for the most part but I say there are some times when it's perfectly alright to play Air Supply.

"anything with a synthesizer sung by a gay man" is fine. I agree 100%. It's kind of surprising how many people don't realize this. Very difficult to go wrong making this choice.

I agree the operatic bands can really be an assault on the ears and musical taste. Also yes "All jam band music must be destroyed!!"

"never, ever play Aerosmith, even if it's obscure. They suck. I said it, I stand by it." ----
Sometimes I can't even find the words to express how much I dislike Aerosmith.

"As the Emperor Joseph II once said to Mozart, "Too many notes, just cut a few, and it'll be fine!" That's exactly what I want to say to Joe Satriani and all those assholes who turned a perfectly good genre of music into a scale-riding cacophony of madness. It has it's place- don't get me wrong- but it's not something I'm going to subject people to in a bar."

----Yes! Fuck Satriani! and Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen too!

"But yes, the Tori Amos rule still stands... I don't care who it offends. She will just have to face facts that she hasn't had a good album in 14 years"

---In my opinion she never had a good album. Always reminds me of a frigid Kate Bush.

Also, about Zepplin, I don't think they should be played ever again.

Nobody mentioned Dave Mathews. I think anyone intentionally playing Dave Mathews should be met with quick and decisive action. I say some sort of extreme physical retaliation for this extreme and offensive act. I would prefer someone walk up to me and spit in my face rather than playing Dave Mathews around me. It's an offensive, hostile, insulting act.

Mistress Veronica NYC said...

Metal God-

Thanks for adding your expertise regarding Tesla and Great White. Both hack-tastic, although I love Tesla's version of "Signs", I gotta admit. I also prefer the Guns N Roses version of "Knockin on Heaven's Door"- blasphemy I know. However, you can't say that you are a Led Zeppelin fan if you are against people who steal other people's songs and make mad dough off of them. Zeppelin are notorious hacksters. In my opinion, they made many things better, or else, more accessible.

I stand by my Aerosmith statement. Sorry, I just cannot listen to them. Steven Tyler's screaching makes me want to throw something. Cool points for "Walk This Way", with Run DMC (eventhough it could be argued they used it as a catalyst for their comeback).

I also stick by my statement (maybe Joe Satriani is a bad example) that playing metal in which the voices and guitar solos sound like opera is a bad idea on a jukebox. I like that music, it certainly has it's place, but playing it at a bar in inappropriate. Perhaps "Run to the Hills" would be okay, but that's it.

Mistress Veronica NYC said...


Such a great point, Dave Matthews definitely must be anhialated. I tentatively place them in the same category as jam band music, although, yes, it should be stated right out, that they suck.

Mistress Veronica NYC said...


I agree that it is debatable whether Tori Amos actually put out a good album. I haven't listened to her since I was 14, so am unsure.

Metal God said...


Well for the record, I never said that Zeppelin weren't hacksters. Their first single was a remake of a Joan Baez song! I have no problem with a good remake. I can think of many off the top of my head that put an interesting spin on the original.

We'll just have to disagree about Aerosmith.

But you did redeem yourself with giving your blessing on "Run To The Hills."

Up The Irons!


Mistress Veronica NYC said...

I retract my statement about "Run To The Hills", as I don't need to be redeemed by anyone.


Mistress Veronica NYC said...

Metal God-

I was making a point that you can't get down on Tesla and Great White too much if you really like Zep.

And also- I retract my statement about "Run To The Hills", intentionally to un-redeem myself.


Metal God said...

I'm not really down on Tesla or Great White. I like both bands and have seen them both. My point was more that it is unfortunate that they are best known for their covers instead of their original material.

I expected nothing less than your retraction of the "Run to the Hills" statement. You never disappoint!


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