Jukebox Heroes

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Remember jukeboxes? The only place I see them now are Waffle House and the occasional bar, but they used to be as much a part of the landscape as pinball machines, pay telephones, and other stuff that’s gone the way of the dinosaur. Jukeboxes, especially the original ones that had the giant ring of 45 rpm singles in them, were cool to watch, and when I find one I’m still drawn to checking out what’s in them. Waffle House ones have actual original Waffle House songs plus the kind of classic country, rock, and semi-current pop you’d expect.

The jukebox inspired many songwriters over the years–here’s a list of my favorite jukebox-related songs. If you have others, add yours in the comments.

“Jukebox Hero”, Foreigner: classic rock referencing a rock classic, the jukebox, as the ideal career destination. Now, this would be written as “American Idol Hero”, probably.

“I Love Rock and Roll,”
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: I used to know every word of this song by heart and I even remember singing it as a kid at a party my parents were having.

“Please Mr. Please”, Olivia Newton-John: From her early country phase, this one made people look for B-17 on jukeboxes for years. A great example of the jukebox as an active part of someone’s relationship, or breakup in this case.

“Wild Night”, Van Morrison: “And the jukebox roars out just like thunder,” goes the line in this one…Van the man knew how magical a great jukebox could be.

“Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” Alan Jackson: A late entry chronologically but a great chorus and a typically country turn of phrase in this pro-country anthem.

“Bubba Shot the Jukebox,” Mark Chesnutt: Country music’s full of jukebox-related songs, but this is the only one I know of where the juke is destroyed in the process.

For pictures of some classic jukeboxes and other great memorabilia, check out this California retailer, Brooks Novelty.

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