Jukebox Hell

I hate jukeboxes. Let me rephrase that. Jukeboxes, since they were invented, are an engineering marvel. They ushered in era of rock ‘n roll. They were often a place where you’d hear a song for the first time. They were even a place where a guy named Earl could steel himself against a cruel world by playing ‘My Way’ sixty three times in a row.

And that’s the problem. The technology, as most technology, is perfect. It’s when we put humans in the mix jukeboxes, like most other technological advances, begin to suffer.

Music is supposed to be exciting, its a path to discovery. Music is not supposed to be the two 1972 hits from Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show played back to back ( did not know this. I looked it up). As a guy does at this one place every time he comes in. Dr. Hook should at least call this guy because he’s keeping the Doctor alive in ASCAP’s eyes.

I was sitting there the other night, The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald being offered as a sing-a-long, contemplating many evil deeds which I can not speak of here because, if they ever happen, I know you bastards would snitch on me. As TWOTEF was coming to a merciful close I enjoyed that moment of quasi silence until I knew the next musical ziconia would spring to life.

When I came to a few songs later I found myself wondering, “What the fuck’s the deal with Tony Orlando?” and quickly thereafter, “What the fuck was going on in the 70’s?”

You see a man had enough left in his 401K to seize control of the jukebox. And he does so with a vengeance by playing every song he remembered, and ten or twenty he misremembered, from the 70’s. It was during the middle stretch when I found myself asking those musical questions from above. Let’s tackle the first one, shall we? The second one is too daunting.

“What the fuck’s the deal with Tony Orlando?”

Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree because ‘I’ve done my time’ and ‘it’s been three long years’? What the fuck’s that deal? Who says ‘I’ve done my time’ and ‘it’s been three long years’? Convicts, that’s who. He’s been gone three years, probably assault and battery, possibly a domestic, and he wants her to drop everything, go out shopping for yellow ribbon and spend time fashioning a bow around some probably diseased tree. Why not suggest leaving a light on or tape a sign with an answer on it? See how controlling he is?

And it was a world wide hit. About a guy getting out of jail and forcing a woman he hasn’t heard from in ‘three long years’ to jump to his bidding? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem right.

Then Tony comes back with ‘Knock Three Times’? If that’s not a song about cheating I’ve never heard a country song about cheating. ‘Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me, twice on the pipes, if the answer is no.’ How romantic. The only reason to have special signals is if you’re throwing down a bunt sign in baseball or doing something nefarious.

And, again, he makes the poor woman go the extra mile to say no. He makes her get a wrench, walk over to the radiator pipe, give it a couple of whacks if her husband is going to be home, then put the wrench away so her husband doesn’t suspect anything. Also, I don’t know if the guy understands how sound works but the moment she starts beating on the pipe the entire building is saying,

“Looks like Paul’s not going to be getting laid tonight.”

And what happens if she happens to walk a little heavy and he takes that as the knock? Does he go running up there only to have her husband answer the door? What does Paul think then?

‘Is she suggesting a three way? Does she want us to get caught? I hope he doesn’t see the condoms in my pocket.’

And then there was the third song in this trilogy about the full blown moral decay that was the seventies. The last song was ‘Take A Letter, Maria’. What is going on there? A man, wait, a gutless man is making his secretary take a letter to tell his wife he’s found greener pastures. He doesn’t even have the decency to call her? With the whole letter idea I know he’s such a ball-less twit he couldn’t do it in person.

“Take a fucking letter, Maria, address it to my wife tell that battle axe I’m outta here. I’m telling you, Maria, one more neighborhood fondue party and I was going to stab everyone with a fondue fork. Tell her she can keep the dog.”

And that’s it? That’s his plan? Letter, check. Maria, check. Mail, check. Life is going to be. . .hold on just a moment, Mr. Divorce Attorney has some letters of his own he’d like you to read. Plus I’m sure, to finance his little plan, this weasel nose snot has been skimming from the company. And you know who knows all about it?

His loyal secretary Maria, that’s who. She’s been keeping duplicates of all the books because she knew one day he was going down. Making copies of all your ‘appointments’ too. Yeah, she’s been waiting for this.

“Pat my ass once more and I’ll break your fucking finger. One more ‘Sweetie fetch’ and I’d have stabbed you with a letter opener.” Yeah, Maria is going to be one awesome witness on the stand.

I was walking to the car after hearing these debaucheries of that heinous decade and all I could think was,

“To maintain the puddle level of sanity I still have I gotta stay outta that place, if it’s the last thing I ever do.”


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