Baby Boomer Memory Lane: A Jukebox In Every Cafe And Bar
It was big, it was beautiful, and it sounded great! And depending how old you are, it might have taken a nickel, a dime or a quarter. Whatever it took, we were happy to feed it and get our reward.
A great song.
It was the Jukebox.
It's been around, believe it or not, since the late 1800's. The one's I remember best had names like Wurlitzer, Seeburg or Rock-Ola. You'd walk up, look through the crystal clear glass (if you were early enough before everybody put their fingerprints all over it) and see magical names.
If you were a rock fan, those magical names included Beatles, Rolling Stones, Monkees, and Elvis. If you were a country fan, those magical names included Owens, Twitty, Haggard, Jones...oh, and Elvis. If you were lucky enough to have a really good jukebox, all of those names and more were there.
Flipping the name cards, finding that just perfect song. Oh, and that perfect song? It would depend on who you were with! The guys? Maybe 'Satisfaction'. With your girl? Could be 'If' by David gates and Bread. And God forbid you forgot you were with the fella's and accidentally pushed B7...'Color My World' by Chicago. Oops.
The 'record-puller-outer' would scan the 45's, stop and well...pull. Pull out that favorite and slap it (well, gently lay it) on the turntable. The arm would come across, the needle would drop and then the magic would happen.
Remember watching the label go round and round and round. I can still see 'Roulette' spin as Tommy James sang 'Crimson and Clover'. I can still see 'Columbia' when Johnny Cash gave us 'Folsum Prison Blues'.
And of course, on a really good Jukebox, the lights. Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange. A rainbow of sight and sound.
There gone now, for the most part anyway. What was the main reason for the demise of the Jukebox? No, not CD's. No, not iTunes or whatever else there may be of 'modern' technology.
The transistor. That made portable radios possible (I remember listening to my Minnesota Twins on a little transistor radio) and really, beginning in the late 1950's Jukeboxes became fewer and fewer and fewer. Oh, I remember plugging in those quarters through the 1960's and into the 70's and even later. I just didn't realize I was feeding a dinosaur that was becoming all but extinct.
The music we get these days may be way better than 'back then'. In fact, the music may be perfect, but the experience isn't.
Because we don't use the Jukebox.