What’s up, everyone? I’m Steve, writer at Those Who Dig. You may or may not have known that Kyle is just one of three of us Digsters because he’s been holding it down here at the PCC thus far. Anyways, this week it’s my turn to make a list (something I like doing way too much, despite the occasional agony) for All Time Top 5. Today, I present to you my favorite tunes to rock on the jukebox.
For Kyle and I, as well as our other brother-in-Dig, Dave, the jukebox has been and remains a key component to many of our nights out. I’m sure it is for most of you reading this as well. There is something very alluring about having the chance to create your own soundtrack to the night, especially for those of us obsessed with music. We all have songs that get us in certain moods or that we believe can accomplish a certain purpose. Maybe you’re feeling good and riding high. Maybe you’re having a rough night and need to bring things down. Maybe you just want to dance. With a few quarters or dollars, the jukebox has it all covered.
I’ve spent time thinking about what makes a good jukebox selection, as it’s clear not every song does, even if it’s a great song otherwise. I don’t know that there’s an empirical series of universal rules, but I’ve realized my personal favorites meet some or all of several key criteria. Those are:
Familiarity & age (I rarely play new music or music “obscure” to a general bar crowd)
consistent tone (doesn’t matter what that tone is)
average length (I’d say between 3 to 5 minutes)
high energy vs. groove (sometimes just one, but often both)
Got it? Cool. Let’s get to the tunes.
This makes it because of a sort of inside joke among one of my circles of friends that I doubt will translate if I took the time to explain it. So I won’t get into it, except to say that ultimately through this situation, it became a thing for us to always put this song on when we were out. This is what I mean by personal connection. Beyond that, 90s rock will always meet the “familiarity” factor since that was my and many people my age’s (who tend to fill the bars I’m at) introduction to music.
Besides 90s songs, I gravitate towards certain classic rock tunes when playing the jukebox. Not only are they even more universally familiar, they just sound so good to me in this context. Plus, I always secretly hope everyone in the bar will join in on the chorus because it sounds perfect for a big group of people to just shout along. Hasn’t happened yet unfortunately. Maybe someday.
Here’s my top song that fits what I mean by “groove.” It won’t set the night afire, but it’s strongly rhythmic and gets your head nodding. I like it for the more relaxed nights or when things are winding down. I also like it for its versatility. It works on the nights that aren’t all that great, which do happen, as much as we hope otherwise. To me, this song about the times of angst and boredom while growing up nevertheless also feels appropriate for those moments of adulthood when I’m a victim of inertia or things not going the way I wanted.
Ok, let’s bring things back up shall we! I find “Rudie Can’t Fail” to be an excellent way to do just that. It is probably the best and most vivid example of that elusive blend of energy and groove, largely due to the Clash’s gift for channeling the sensibilities of ska and reggae into the fury of punk. You can dance to it, you can rock out to it, or you can just sit back and smile. I love the guitar riffs and the horns, which give the song a nice kick.
If the Clash makes me happy and a little amped, “Rebel Rebel” is what really gets me going. I think this is the perfect jukebox song. It’s not so short you feel it ends too soon but not too long that you don’t want to play it again right after it ends. The riff is classic, it gives the song an immediate energy which sustains all the way through. The tone / mood is celebratory, defiant, and infectious. It makes the night feel like anything is possible and that all of it will be good. Simply put, it’s just a damn good song. Every quarter I’ve ever put in the jukebox to play it has been worth it.