Round the Dial
Wednesday 27 August @ 15:29:19
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I suppose you might just call me a sadist.”
—Hank Williams, Sr.
SONG OF THE WEEK: “What’s Your Sign, Girl?”
Ah, the final days of summer. The weather becomes about as predictable as a badger in a briar patch, the State Fair fires up their grills, games for the shills, an’ stages full of ’80s has-been acts, and firewood starts to look like a wiser investment than an air conditioner. Amid all that seasonal hoo-rah, though, I’m starting to notice that quite a few of my single buddies’ thoughts are turning from that ever-elusive one-night stand to actually trying to find a mate for those long, cold, winter months ahead. It’s tough, though, they tell me. After all, there’s sooo much attractive, half-dressed eye-candy traipsing around, that it’s hard to stop that inbred wolf-chase long enough to actually hook up with somebody they wouldn’t go insane with once cabin fever and frostbite replace our current wanderlust and sunburn. I can diggit; I too once tread the treacherous ground of the single male, and it can be, to put it in gentle terms, less than thrilling at times.
The main thing guys forget once they’re single, footloose, and fancy-free, is that gurls (aw, shucks) are just people, too. Sure, there might be some stuck-up, stuck-on-themselves, just plain rude femme fatales (just as there are plenty of moronic macho mugwumps) gummin’ up the works from time to time, but for the most part, single women can be just as shy, afraid of rejection, and socially awkward as your average single dude. The difference is that women (by necessity) sometimes have to use their looks, or an attitude, or even a big wet drink in the face, to get the point across when they’re just not interested. Some guys just can’t take a hint.
In my experience (though there’s bound to be a Glenn Close-alike around once in awhile), men don’t have that problem with women nearly as often. If a man makes it clear he’s not interested in a woman, she usually takes the hint and moves on. Point here is, guys, that you don’t need to act like a dumb-ass tough dude, or put on a floor show, or stand around like a wallflower waiting for your one true love to suddenly spring into your life and do all the work for you. Just chill out, be yourself, and, above all, give as much respect as you expect in return.
But hey, I’m no Abigail Van Buren, an’ this ain’t no column for the lovelorn. I’ll go on the record admitting that I know less about women now than I did when I was a teenager, simply because the more time I spend with ‘em, the more I realize how beautifully, naturally complicated they are. An’ that’s why I love ‘em so much! Men are about as exciting as an evening spent in line at the DMV with a smacked-out heroin addict who’s fighting off the nods while he tries to convince you the car he’s selling you is “top of the line.” But that’s just me. No, I’m no expert, kids. The only reason I tackled this particular subject to rant about this week is because I’ve noticed a lot of guys playing really, really bad music on local jukeboxes lately in an apparent (and horribly transparent) attempt to woo members of the opposite sex their way. That’s right, they’ll swagger up to a jukebox fulla Al Green, The Green Pyramids, and Green Day, and which one do ya think they pick? Bingo. Green Day.
SIX Green Day songs in a row. They’ll then stroll confidently back to the pool table and commence to hootin’ and hollerin’ and bangin’ the stick on the overhead light in what I assume is some tribal ritual they believe will cause said members of the opposite sex to come tearing, willy-nilly, to their sides, where they’ll sing (Green Day) songs in the sunshine fore’er more. Yawn. Super-fookin’ yawn. Listen, man, any girl who thinks you’re cool for cranking six Green Day songs in a row and carousing like a couple o’ recently arrived submarine sailors probably isn’t going to provide you with a long-term, happy relationship. No offense to Green Day, or even idiots yelling at a pool game, but that’s not the most effective way to attract attractive partners.
The glory of the jukebox in the 21st century is that it’s so much more eclectic and user-friendly than the radio or some cheesy cover band. (I mean, you don’t really want to slither up to some guy with a poodle haircut and too much cologne and beg him to slip Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” in between Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and Tommy James’ “Mony Mony,” do ya? Ack.) And, as fun and romantic as mix tapes/CD’s can be, with the juke you’re getting a chance to kick out the jams you want your potential sugarpie to dig RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER! Yeah—you can actually sit in the same room and get stupid, slobbering drunk while you pour out your soul through a shiny, spinning disc, rather than sitting alone by your stereo doing the same.
Pretty cool, huh? The biggest difference—besides the fact that, if you fuck up, you can’t rewind or erase and stick a different tune in without her knowing it—is financial. After all, blank discs and tapes cost next to nothing, whereas your average juke is gonna run ya around fifty cents a song these days. So if you’ve got your eye on a certain cutie and you plan on utilizing Mr. Juke in your little romantic endeavour, you certainly don’t want to waste your hard-earned sheckles on six songs in a row by the same artist, unless you’re playing side one of Marvin Gaye’s Greatest Hits, and even then, that marks you as probably not having the most developed imagination in the house.
Today’s jukeboxes are as genre-inclusive as the early playlists of much-lamented former local FM radio station REV105—find your standard Best Of The Beatles, Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits, Volume One, and Party Favorites! nestled up right beside The Pixies’ Doolittle, The Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, and the latest Donnas, Queens Of The Stone Age and Bob Dylan. Rifle through the stacks a bit, and, at least here in Music Paradise, you’ll most likely find a gaggle of great classic and new local tunes, as well.
Some of the more rockin’ bar jukes around town include the ones at The Triple Rock (lots of hip new shit alongside some of the greatest albums ever made), The Turf Club (great selection of old and new local music and a perfect representation of what you’ll probably hear for the rest of the week on the bar’s main stage), Big V’s (where bar owner Vic has made the most concerted effort I’ve ever seen to present an on-the-money, completist selection of the BEST local rock around mixed with kickass classic country), and The CC Club, where Iron Maiden, Dolly Parton and The White Stripes have been known to conduct impromptu juke jam sessions. Honorable mention HAS to go to The Trend Bar in St. Paul, which has the most entertaining jukebox of all, what with their “Whack-A-Mole”-style on-screen game, where you can “win” an extra track if you have the skill (read: sobriety) or the luck to do so. All in all, we’ve got one of the gnarliest j.b. scenes in the country, which is why I’m absolutely perplexed when I hear SIX Green Day songs in a row.
Look, it’s not that hard to suss. For starters, try to avoid playing more than one or two songs by the same artist—and come up with a theme, instead. Like, for instance, if you REALLY wanted to hear Green Day, cool. Play your Green Day tune (I’d try to pick one that hasn’t been BURNED to death by lame FM radio, though), then go into an Al Green tune (“Tired Of Being Alone” is a great song, but a little desperate sounding. I’d go for “Let’s Stay Together,” maybe), then tie that title in with the next pick. For instance, you could play another song with “Let’s” in the title—Paul Westerberg and Joan Jett’s cover of the old classic “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” would be PERFECT. Or you could play another tune with “Stay” in the title: “Stay With Me” by The Faces is a great, ballsy, made-for-the-pub rocker that’s both sexy and tough. And really, what intelligent, music lovin’ modern female could resist the razor-damaged pipes of Rod Stewart?
I think you get the point, guys. Treat your jukebox seduction with the same care, respect and reverence you would a mix tape/CD. You might not get her attention on the first try (and then again, you might never get her attention, but some other, equally tempting gal just might notice all the trouble you’re going through and strike up a conversation), but you’ll definitely enjoy the HUGE amount of money you’re spending at a bar much more, and you’ll learn more than you ever dreamed about the ins-n-outs of the rock n’ roll woo woo, baby.
And finally, there simply aren’t enough TREES in the world to cut down and make paper out of to list all the WRONG songs you can play on a jukebox when you’re trying to catch the eye/ear of a potential squeeze. Thankfully, I don’t even know ‘em all—all I know is that the bad ones are really bad, and a lot of guys seem to think they’re making a good impression by playing them. Suffice it to say that “Feelings” by Morris Albert, “I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John and “Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)” by Leo Sayer—and ANY SONG LIKE THEM—are strictly off-limits. What I can do is leave ya’ll with a short list of definite no-no’s for jukebox sparkin’:
FIVE JUKEBOX SONGS THAT WILL NEVER GET YOU LAID:
1) “Be My Lover”—Alice Cooper.
Besides the obvious here—the misogynistic order to BE his/your lover—this song is just WRONG in a lot of ways. Though it’s a fun kegger blaster, and a somewhat entertaining account of Alice picking some rock chick up, it’s simply that. ALICE picking some chick up. No woman in her right mind is going to be turned on by you playing a song that talks about a freak like ALICE scoring in a bar. Yuck. It even makes me a little queasy. Stay away from guys in makeup (with the exception of David Bowie and maybe T. Rex) when playing jukebox woo-woo.
2) “Jump”—Van Halen.
OK, you’d think that by 2003, people would understand how seriously this song SUCKS. But, noooooo!! Somebody always has to pull it out of the hat, and think they’re going to get some Valerie Bertinelli look-alike sidling up to them in the next few minutes. Clue: It’s NEVER going to happen. And would you really want it to? I mean, look at what she did to Eddie, man. Married him and proceeded to strip away his persona one item at a time (You’re perfect, I love you, now change!)—from his hair to his beer drinking to his weed smoking to his lead singer to his—well, we know he’s had some tongue trouble lately, anyway. Argh. Regardless, most women probably won’t be too impressed by this track’s dorky keyboards and David Lee Roth warbling “...can’t you see me standin’ here against the record machine...” If you MUST play a Van Halen song, do it in your car, when you’re at a stop light right next to a couple ‘o beefy St. Paul cops. Really—they’ll LOVE it! It’ll remind ‘em of all those keg parties they were never invited to in high school. Oh yeah, and one more thing—make sure you raise a half-empty beer bottle and BURN your tires when the light changes. You’ll have a coupla pals fer life.
3) “I Saw Her Standing There”—The Beatles.
First of all, The Beatles are a very tricky band to play when you’re attempting j.b. woo woo. You’ve got to stay away from the later, psychedelic shit: “Strawberry Fields Forever” might be sexy on a boombox as you lay together in the grass and—er-—smoke grass, but over a pint in the local, it’s just CHEESY! But I love The Beatles, so this one is a personal choice. Just stay away from “I Saw Her...” because few legal-age birds are going to get all hot and bothered as the Lads croon “well, she was just SEVENTEEN...” You bloody perv, you. The early songs are fun to dance to, but you’re probably not in a dance club, and even if you are, you’re playing the jukebox, so there’s probably nobody into dancing at the moment. And one thing you NEVER, EVER want to do is dance with yourself. Which brings us to...
4) “Dancing With Myself”—Billy Idol.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Billy Idol isn’t the quickest way to the true path of love, but this song takes the cake as one of the best examples of mindless, masturbatory ‘80s pop/rock ever created. Play this one, and the lyrics will surely come true for you: “...with the record’s selection and the mirror’s reflection I’ll be dancin’ with myself...” Whoa, oh, oh oh, indeed. If you absolutely MUST hear Billy, try an old Generation X track (yep, he was their lead singer before his MTV heyday) like “Valley Of The Dolls” or “Friday’s Angels.” At least it’ll give you something to talk about if somebody asks you why the HELL you played Billy Idol.
5) “Cowboy”—Kid Rock.
Do I really have to say anything about this one at all? (Sigh) Yes, I do, because I’ve heard people playing it over the past year or so, and I’m always amazed that they’re amazed when no one is amazed. Especially females. Listen, Woodstock 3 is over, pal. You missed it. If you want rampaging crowds, gang rape and abuse from big guys carrying billy clubs, get caught with a bag of weed. You can experience all of the above and more in STILLWATER STATE PRISON. And some hefty fella named “Tiny” will surely be thrilled to watch you jump around in your underwear screaming Kid Rock lyrics. Which, by the way, aren’t really Kid Rock lyrics, anyway. If you want to hear the ORIGINAL bawitdaba-up-jump-the-boogie, throw on a copy of the SUGARHILL GANG’S classic “Rapper’s Delight.”
Now that just might spark some interest from a gal who’ll end up being more than a late-night fantasy for ya. Good luck out there—and remember: The next time you play SIX GREEN DAY songs in a row, you’ll not only NOT get laid, but I’ll be grabbing you by the ear just like your sixth grade math teacher did, and steering you back to the jukebox, where you’ll be forced to feed ching to the beast all day and read this column OVER and OVER again until you GET IT. Get it? Great! Until next time—make yer own damn news.
Note: Happy Birthday to Elvis Costello and RIP Wesley Willis—we’re glad one is still kickin’ and sad that one ain’t buttin’ heads no more. Rock over London, Rock over Chicago. Randy’s—the rolling papers with a wire!! May the road rise to you both, wherever you are today.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to find out more about the Surefire Jukebox Method of Attracting The Opposite Sex, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com