07 May 2006

Jukebox etiquette

The do's and don'ts of pay to play
As I mentioned last week, there is nothing worse than going to a local pub on any given night, only to find that someone has loaded up the jukebox with outdated schlock.

Phillip Wong asked, “Doesn’t the bar patron who played the music have the right to play whatever they want since it is their money they pumped into the jukebox – and not yours?”

The answer, of course, is “no.”

There are some people who simply should not be allowed to play the jukebox at all. Here then, are 10 conditions to consider when stepping up to the machine with a crinkled up dollar to the music spewing machine.

1. Unless the bar is occupied only by you, the bartender, a regular who may or may not be asleep and your best friend Morris – don’t put more than three dollars in at a time. This isn’t your party, it’s not your home, and no one wants to hear 37 of your personal favorites because you put in a $20 bill.

2. If you’re upset about something; a fight with the wife, a bad day at the office, dog who was put to sleep – stay away from the jukebox. What sense does it make to subject people to “I Will Survive” or “Go Your Own Way?”

3. Survey the room before making your selection. Are you at the Stanley Kup Inn? Well guess what? It’s never 'club-night' there. Try dropping a track more than 110 beats per minute and see how fast you end up tossed into traffic on Baltimore Pike.

4. By the same token; defend your choices if you feel like you are being scapegoated. If you’re having a cold one at the Milmont and you get grief for playing some Pantera, tell the bartender to remove the choice from the machine. And when he tells you to get out of the bar for arguing about the jukebox, stand your ground, questioning his authority. If your girlfriend at the time has a mortified look on her face that says you may never see here again after this embarrassing scene, pay no mind, stick to your guns!

5. The rule of thumb on song choice is simple: If you heard it more than three times during the week, chances are, so did everybody else. Take a look at the top 40 chart. Anything from it on the jukebox? Good. Flip to the next page.

6. If a song is more than 5 minutes long – don’t play it. There is nothing worse than having to endure a painful eight minutes because some idiot thought playing “Stairway to Heaven” was a good idea. While you’re at it, forget about “American Pie,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and “Hotel California” too.

7. Avoid at all costs any Billy Joel song not named “Allentown” or “Big Shot.”

8. Feel free to play any Skynyrd song except “Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “That Smell,” – scratch that…take them off the list completely.

9. Mix it up. Don’t be the guy who comes into the bar every week and plays Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung.” Go out and buy the CD already.

10. Never be shy about taking credit for a song you picked. When you hear someone in the bar say “good song,” it’s appropriate to thank him, take a bow – and possibly inform him to keep listening, because exposure to even more exemplary delights are coming up.

Trust me, by following these simple rules, you will be looked at as a maverick among your friends and revered by complete strangers.

As someone who has spent thousands of dollars in recent years trying to master the art of sifting through the available songs in any given establishment; I’ve seen it all, and the sad truth is, found my expertise in something that will never reward me for more than a few minutes of pleasure at a time.

But those moments are priceless.

(Original article appeared in the May 7 edition of The Daily Times)

4 comments:

So, what would an expert like yourself spend the priceless $1 on at the jukebox?

Rules You Have Broken:


1. Unless the bar is occupied only by you, the bartender, a regular who may or may not be asleep and your best friend Morris – don’t put more than three dollars in at a time. This isn’t your party, it’s not your home, and no one wants to hear 37 of your personal favorites because you put in a $20 bill.

Good Dog Ring a Bell?

2. If you’re upset about something; a fight with the wife, a bad day at the office, dog who was put to sleep – stay away from the jukebox. What sense does it make to subject people to “I Will Survive” or “Go Your Own Way?”

I don't know what post-Crazy-Bug Eyes Made you play.

3. Survey the room before making your selection. Are you at the Stanley Kup Inn? Well guess what? It’s never 'club-night' there. Try dropping a track more than 110 beats per minute and see how fast you end up tossed into traffic on Baltimore Pike.

Is this how you got banned for life...twice?

6. If a song is more than 5 minutes long – don’t play it. There is nothing worse than having to endure a painful eight minutes because some idiot thought playing “Stairway to Heaven” was a good idea. While you’re at it, forget about “American Pie,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and “Hotel California” too.

What about Metallica?

10. Never be shy about taking credit for a song you picked. When you hear someone in the bar say “good song,” it’s appropriate to thank him, take a bow – and possibly inform him to keep listening, because exposure to even more exemplary delights are coming up.

What if he wants to suck your dick in the bathroom later?

And what about playing a straight set of The Stray Cats, in a new bar in South Bend Indiana?

Pretty good list, but I would submit that if it shouldn't be played, it doesn't belong in the jukebox. Although, if the same song is played multiple times, I agree that the buyer is at his/her own peril of having that selection skipped. I was recently in Puerto Rico and would you believe there was an ENTIRE family from Joousey there, singing earnestly at the top of their lungs to living on a prayer, in a FULL restaurant. Unbleevable.

Juke boxes are totally democratic. You pays your money and makes your choice. In any room there'll be various musical tastes. If other people don't like your choice, they can get their money out and inflict their own choices on everybody else.