Thursday, June 19, 2008

Give it a Wurlitzer

John Sellers pointed to a post by Holy Taco about 14 Songs You Should Never Play in a Bar. The list is on target, and the writing is funny, but it's also funny thanks to ultra-cool nastiness: let's belittle everyone who can't bother to have our impeccable taste (not only don't they appreciate bands we like, and think the over-played is somehow singular and special, they look odd, too).

So I thought instead of doing that, I'd try to build the perfect bar juke box. Now, this isn't just a list of favorite songs, as it's about songs to drink too, and contrary to opinion I don't drink 24/7 so the two periods of time do not overlap (exactly). And it's about songs to enjoy in public--they need to make everyone happy whether they know the song or not. As this is a juke box, and a dream, I'm stocking a classic Wurlitzer that plays 45s. As this is my dream, I get to create 45s that didn't exist--my only rule is that the disc has 2 cuts by the same artist. I'm sure there's stuff I left off, as I sort of just got to 12 singles and stopped, and I also admit I avoided at least one semi-obvious choice when I skipped the Pogues. Irish music and tippling--c'mon, we can all do better than that, can't we?

Tom Waits
a: "Clap Hands"
b: "Innocent When You Dream"

The A gives you his patented herky jerky and some fine Marc Ribot, the B gives you a closing time sing-a-long.

Brian Eno
a: "King's Lead Hat"
b: "Fractal Zoom (Mary's Birthday Edit)"

I left off the Talking Heads and will regret it, but at least I got a tribute song to them in (check the anagram in the A title) plus the pulse of that song will get everyone's head bobbing. The B is pretty obscure, but it's the closest to a dance track my juke has. I dance obscurely, you see.

Lucinda Williams
a: "Passionate Kisses"
b: "Essence"

Lucinda helps us get a little sexy, a little dirty. Good things for a bar.

The Mekons
a: "Memphis, Egypt"
b: "Millionaire"

The A let's you below "Destroy your safe and happy lives" as you down a shot. The B gives you Sally Timms all insinuation, singing, "Champagne was never cheap, but I could always find someone to drink it for me."

Frank Sinatra
a: "I've Got You Under My Skin"
b: "One for My Baby"

The A is perhaps the best recording ever--when Nelson Riddle brings the band up, I swear it rocks. The B gives you something to play at a quarter to three.

Old 97's
a: "Jagged"
b: "Barrier Reef"

Two country inflected rockers, the A more serious, for when the drinking is still perched between darkness and light, the B for those funnier moments, and people will sing-a-long and think about sex after drinking, which is what you want them to do, admit it.

Fred Astaire
a: "I Love Louisa"
b: "Steppin' Out with My Baby"

We need some class on the box, and the A is probably better known for its refrain "More Beer!" Plus you get bonus Oscar Levant. How hip is that?

Yo La Tengo
a: "Sugarcube"
b: "Tom Courtenay"

At times you just need to rock and these songs pack more hooks than a bait shop.

Elvis Costello
a: "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea"
b: "Almost Blue"

The A gets us a bit close to reggae and gives us something bitter to go with our bitters, the B is another closing time lament. (I really didn't spend that much time at 2 am in bars. Well, not in the past decade, at least.)

Amy Rigby
a: "All I Want"
b: "Time for Me to Come Down"

Criminally underrated Rigby makes songs of longing, and why else do those of us who can't sing drink?

a: "Sex and Dying in High Society"
b: "See How We Are"

Almost picked "The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss" but with Ray Manzarek on it, that's like putting the Doors on my jukebox, and we can't have that. The A let's us be cynically self-aware as we punish the liver and brain, the B gives us a moment of political awareness and a beat to pound the bar.

Neko Case
a: "The Tigers Have Spoken"
b: "Letter from an Occupant"

The A gives us one of the best guitar figures of the past few years while the B--which I know is really a New Pornographers song, but can you imagine anyone else but Neko singing it?--is catchy pop, and there's a need to be caught in a bar.

Feel free to play along in the comments or turn these into a meme, if you dare. (Shoot, forgot the Replacements! How about a hidden bonus 45 with an a of "I Will Dare" and a b of "Bastards of Young.)



Anonymous Freealonzo said...


The Wait
Stop Your Sobbing


Gary's Got a Boner
I Will Dare

Grass Roots:

Temptation Eyes

Guided by Voices:

Motor Away
Glad Girls

5:42 AM  
Blogger George said...

I'm not sure about the Grass Roots, but the other additions are fine by me. I'd still go with "Bastards" over "Boner," and it was too hard to pick 2 GBV songs. Plus you don't want toplay less than 2 minute songs on the jukebox as you never get your money's worth.

9:38 AM  
Blogger George said...

And some more I might add:

Neil Young
a: "Powderfinger"
b: "Cortez the Killer"

The Feelies
a: "Only Life"
b: "Sooner or Later"

Matthew Sweet
a: "Girlfriend"
b: "Sick of Myself"

Lloyd Cole
a: "My Bag"
b: "Morning Is Broken"

Built to Spill
a: "Randy Describes Eternity" (live)
b: "The Plan"

Anna Waronker
a: "I Wish You Well"
b: "Minneapolis" (OK, w/That Dog)

9:49 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Neil Young
a: "Powderfinger"
b: "Cortez the Killer"

The Feelies
a: "Only Life"
b: "Sooner or Later"

Matthew Sweet
a: "Girlfriend"


I'd include the other Sweet tune, but I don't know it. Is it on Non-stop Fun or whatever that album is called?

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

No meme from me, just a word or two about the 14 songs blog.

It is well written, but I detect the stench of self-righteousness from a guy who's just a little too pleased with his taste in obscure foreign bands of indeterminate genre. He simply loves to prattle on about The Fridge Magnets and can't understand why anyone would listen to those Radiohead sellouts.

But his list of 14 is good, if a bit obvious ...

10:06 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

"Here Comes a Regular" should be on there somewhere, and Crooked Fingers' "New Drink for an Old Drunk" and "The Rotting Strip" would be on my jukebox. (Obvious, sure, but so is being drunk.) I'd also add a Pavement tandem, "Box Elder MO" and "Here."

2:15 PM  

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