Jukeboxes have been a glorious staple of Americana for eons. In the early 1900's, a music machine was invented that could automatically change records on command and a coin-operated record player called an Audiophone was perfected in 1928.
A key result of the widespread use of jukebox machines is that recorded music became available in bars, honky-tonks and various other public places.
As jukeboxes became part of everyday vernacular, Tin Pan Alley songwriters
turned out songs that reflected the popularity of the new record machines.
For example, in 1938, Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians recorded a ditty called
DROP A NICKEL IN THE SLOT. Then in 1941, Gene Krupa & His Orchestra recorded LET ME OFF UPTOWN
in which vocalists Anita O'Day & Roy Eldridge shared a lyric that mentioned 'Rib joints, juke joints, hep joints' and a year later, Glenn Miller & His Orchestra with Marion Hutton, Tex Beneke & The Modernaires had everyone singing along to
JUKE BOX SATURDAY NIGHT!
Of course, those were the days when jukeboxes housed shellac 78rpm records.
As historian and author Joel Whitburn points out, Billboard magazine ran Music Box Machine lists of popular records beginning in the late 30's and a 'Most Played In Juke Boxes' chart beginning in 1944.
Jukeboxes continued to be particularly popular in the 50's and 60's as evidenced in some of the lyric extracts
I've listed below and there are countless examples of hillbilly, country and rock 'n' roll songs referring to
those magical music machines!
The jukebox industry came up with interesting offshoots, one of which was
a miniature song selection machinewhich sat on the tabletops of each booth in diners…
you put in a coin,
chose your song and it would be played on a 'master' jukebox housed elsewhere in the restaurant.
Over in England, listening to Chuck Berry and other songwriters, we learned about American juke joints
where folks danced to jukebox songs. In the 1950's, jukeboxes turned up in seaside funfairs as well as in pubs,
though they weren't always the rich multi-colored, light-changing neon Wurlitzer machines that became the
epitome of the jukebox in its heyday.
The following is a random list of just a few of the memorable songs
that allude to the influence of jukeboxes in what I loosely categorize as the classic rock era.
A1 ON THE JUKEBOX (Dave Edmunds/Will Burch) by Dave Edmunds (Swan Song: 1978)
A-11 (Hank Cochran) by Buck Owens/Pro: Jim Shaw (Capitol: 1988) US #54 Country in '89
ALL AROUND THE WORLD (Robert Blackwell/McKinley Millet) by Little Richard & His Band (Specialty: 1956) US #13, R&B in '57 'You can hear those jukebox jumpin' '
BAD BOY (Larry Williams) by Larry Williams (Specialty: 1958)
‘He's off to the juke box, man’
BROTHER JUKEBOX (Paul Craft) by Don Everly/Pro: Wesley Rose (ABC/Hickory: 1977) US #96 Country
and by Mark Chesnutt/Pro: Mark Wright (MCA: 1990) US #1 Country in '91
BUBBA SHOT THE JUKEBOX (Dennis Linde) by Mark Chesnutt
Pro: Mark Wright (MCA: 1992) US #4 Country
DANCE TO THE BOP (Floyd Edge) by Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps/Pro: Ken Nelson (Capitol: 1957) US #8 R&B and #23 Pop in '58
'Well there's a little juke joint on the outside of town' https://youtu.be/51P0zhHUc0Q
DANCIN' PARTY (Kal Mann/Dave Appell) by Chubby Checker (Parkway: 1962) US #12 Pop, UK #19
'Make a scene with the record machine'
Song was successfully revived by British rocksters Showaddywaddy in 1977.
A DIME AT A TIME (Jerry Chesnut/Dottie Bruce) by Del Reeves (United Artists: 1967) US #12 Country
'Two dollars in the jukebox, one dime at a time' https://youtu.be/tHv30IlJy1k
DON’T ROCK THE JUKEBOX (Alan Jackson/Roger Murrah/Keith Stegall) by Alan Jackson/Pro: Scott Hendricks and Keith Stegall (Arista: 1991) US #1 Country https://youtu.be/B_1RhyEr1UI
DROP IT JOE (Eddie Curtis) by Connie Francis (MGM: 1962) 'Drop a dime in the jukebox, Joe'
EARLY IN THE MORNING (Eric Clapton) by
Eric Clapton/Pro: Glyn Johns (RSO: 1978)
'I pass by the juke joint'
HEY MISTER, THAT'S ME UP ON THE JUKEBOX
(James Taylor) by Linda Ronstadt
Pro: Peter Asher (Asylum: 1975) https://youtu.be/A_D8um9EsX8
HIGH SCHOOL U.S.A. (Joseph Royster/Frank Guida) by Tommy Facenda (Atlantic: 1959) US #28 Pop
'I dropped a nickel in the old juke box'
(Johnny Horton/Howard Hausey/Tillman Franks)
by Johnny Horton
Pro: Don Law (Columbia: 1956) US #9 Country
'I love to give the girls a whirl to the music of an old jukebox'
and by Bob Luman
Pro: Glenn Sutton (Epic: 1970) US #22 Country
and by Dwight Yoakam
Pro: Pete Anderson (Reprise: 1986) US #3 Country
I LOVE ROCK 'N' ROLL (Jake Hooker/Alan Merrill) by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Pro: Ritchie Cordell & Kenny Laguna (Boardwalk: 1982)
US #1 Pop, UK #4
'So put another dime in the jukebox, baby' https://youtu.be/iC8oP4Z_xPw
(Song originally recorded with producer
Mickie Most in '75 by The Arrows of which
Jake Hooker and Alan Merrill were members).
IF I DIDN’T HAVE A DIME (To Play The Jukebox) (Bert Berns/Phil Medley) by Gene Pitney/A Schroeder/Gold Production (Musicor: 1962) US #58 Pop
IF THE JUKEBOX TOOK TEARDROPS (Michael 'Dee' Graham/Don Goodman/Nelson Larkin) by Billy Joe Royal
Pro: Nelson Larkin (Atlantic: 1990)
IT’S JUST THAT SONG (Raymon Maupin) by Charlie Feathers (Vetco: 1976)
‘Someone dropped a coin in the jukebox’
JUKE BOX (Jack Reno) by Jack Reno/Pro: Buddy Killen (Jab: 1974) US #70 Country
JUKE BOX ANNIE (Edward Lisbona/Sidney Prosen) by Kitty Kallen (Mercury: 1950) US #17 Pop
JUKE BOX BLUES (Maybelle Carter/Helen Carter) by June Carter (Columbia: 1953)
Song was performed by Reese Witherspoon in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk The Line" (20th Century Fox: 2005).
JUKE BOX FURY (Rickie Lee Jones) by Rickie Lee Jones
Pro: Rickie Lee Jones & James Newton Howard (Warner Bros: 1984)
JUKE BOX GYPSY (Alan Hull) by Lindisfarne/Pro: Gus Dudgeon (Mercury: 1978) UK #56
JUKE BOX HERO (Lou Gramm/Mick Jones) by Foreigner
Pro: Robert John 'Mutt' Lange & Mick Jones (Atlantic: 1981) US #26 Pop in '82.
JUKE BOX JIVE (Wayne Bickerton/Tony Waddington) by The Rubettes
A Wayne Bickerton Production. (Polydor: 1974) UK #3
JUKE BOX MUSIC (Ray Davies) by The Kinks
Pro: Ray Davies (Arista: 1977)
JUKE BOX MAN (Hank Mills) by Dick Curless/Pro: George Richey (Capitol: 1971) US #41 Country
JUKEBOX BABY (Noel Sherman/Joe Sherman) by Perry Como (RCA: 1956) US #10 Pop, UK #22.
JUKEBOX CHARLIE (Johnny Paycheck/Aubrey Mayhew) by Johnny Paycheck (Little Darlin': 1967) US #15 Country
JUKEBOX IN MY MIND
(Dave Gibson/Ronnie Rogers)
Pro: Josh Leo, Larry Michael Lee and Alabama
(RCA: 1990) US #1 Country
The track opens with a jukebox sound effect.
JUKEBOX JUNKIE (Jerry Cupit/Janice Honeycutt/Ken Mellons) by Ken Mellons/Pro: Jerry Cupit
(Epic: 1994) US #87 Country
THE JUKEBOX NEVER PLAYS HOME SWEET HOME
(Dan Mitchell) by Jack Greene
Pro: Earl E. Owens (EMH: 1983)
THE JUKEBOX PLAYED ALONG (Ken Bell/Charles Quillen) by Gene Watson
Pro: Paul Worley, Ed Seay and Gregg Brown
(Warner Bros: 1989) US #24 Country.
A JUKEBOX WITH A COUNTRY SONG (Gene Nelson/Ronnie Samoset) by Doug Stone/Pro: Doug Johnson (Epic: 1991) US #1 Country in '92.
JUKE JOINT BLUES (Joe Turner) by Big Joe Turner
Pro: Norman Granz (Pablo: 1976)
A 7-minute track recorded in '75 with Joe Turner supported by Milt Jackson, Roy Eldridge and Pee Wee Crayton.
LET THE JUKE BOX KEEP ON PLAYING (Carl Perkins)
by Carl Perkins (Sun: 1955)
LET THE SAD TIMES ROLL ON (Buck Owens/Red Simpson) by Buck Owens
Pro: Ken Nelson (Capitol: 1965)
'Put a quarter in the jukebox'
LITTLE OLE WINE DRINKER, ME (Hank Mills/Dick Jennings) by Dean Martin
Pro: Jimmy Bowen (Reprise: 1967) US #5 AC, #38 Pop
'I matched the man behind the bar for the jukebox'
LYIN' JUKEBOX (Bobby Barker/Randy Archer) by Hank Williams Jr./Pro: Barry Beckett, Hank Williams Jr. and James Stroud (Capricorn: 1992)
(Put Another Nickel In) MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC! (Stephan Weiss/Bernie Baum) by Teresa Brewer with The Dixieland All Stars (Coral: 1950) US #1 Pop, UK #1 (Instead of using the word jukebox, the lyric runs:
'Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon')
PUT A QUARTER IN THE JUKEBOX (Buck Owens) by Buck Owens/Pro: Jim Shaw (Capitol: 1988) US #60 Country in '89 https://youtu.be/1oisw4cSA30
QUEEN OF HONKY TONK STREET (Jim Anglin) by Kitty Wells (Decca: 1967) US #28 Country
'The lights are low and the jukebox is loud'
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN (Berry) by Chuck Berry (Chess: 1956) US #2 R&B, #29 Pop in '56
'The jukebox blows a fuse'
(Song was a huge success in the UK in '73 by the Electric Light Orchestra).
SCHOOL DAY (Chuck Berry) by Chuck Berry (Chess: 1957) US #1 R&B, #3 Pop, UK #24
'Drop the coin right into the slot'
There's another jukebox reference in Chuck's song LITTLE QUEENIE in which he sings about a girl
'Standing over by the record machine'.
Song also charted in the UK in ’57 for local act Don Lang & His Frantic Five.
STONED AT THE JUKEBOX (Hank Williams Jr.) by Hank Williams Jr. (MGM: 1975) US #19 Country
SWINGING DOORS (Merle Haggard) by Merle Haggard & The Strangers (Capitol: 1966) US #5 Country
'I've got swinging doors, a jukebox and a bar stool'
(Later charted versions of this song were by Del Reeves in '81 and by Buck Hall in '89).
TRUCK DRIVIN’ MAN (Terry Fell) by Jim & Jesse
Pro: Billy Sherrill (Epic: 1967) 'I put a nickel in the jukebox'
and by George Hamilton IV/Pro: Bob Ferguson (RCA: 1965) US #11 Country
and by Red Steagall/Pro: Glenn Sutton (ABC Dot: 1976) US #22 Country
THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE JUKE BOX PLAY (Jimmy Work)
by Jimmy Work (Dot: 1955) US #6 Country
and by Moe Bandy
Pro: Ray Baker (Columbia: 1978) US #11 Country
THERE AIN'T NO COUNTRY MUSIC ON THIS JUKEBOX (Tom T. Hall) by Tom T. Hall & Earl Scruggs
Pro: Randy Scruggs and John Thompson (Columbia: 1982) US #77 Country
TWO DOLLARS IN THE JUKEBOX (Eddie Rabbitt) by Eddie Rabbitt
Pro: David Malloy (Elektra: 1976) US#3 Country in ’77
WAITIN' IN SCHOOL (Johnny Burnette/Dorsey Burnette) by Ricky Nelson (Imperial: 1958) US #18 Pop, #12 R&B
'Throw a nickel in the jukebox, then we start to rock'
THE WURLITZER PRIZE (I Don't Want To Get Over You) (Bobby Emmons/Chips Moman) by Waylon Jennings
Pro: Chips Moman (RCA: 1977) US #1 Country
'They ought to give me the Wurlitzer prize/For all the silver I led slide down the slot'
YESTERDAY AND YOU (Armen's Theme) (Ross Bagdasarian) by Bobby Vee
Pro: Snuff Garrett (Liberty: 1963) US #55 Pop
"When you hear a jukebox playin'
(YESTERDAY AND YOU was a vocal version of ARMEN'S THEME which Ross Bagdasarian aka David Seville
had recorded in '56 as a tribute to his wife Armen Kulhanjian; the instrumental original ARMEN'S THEME
on the Liberty label was credited to 'The Music Of David Seville' and charted at #42 in 1957).
In addition to the above records,
Texas-born country singer Mitchell Torok created a break-in novelty single called THE TALKING JUKEBOX;
it was released on Republican in 1974.
"If you enjoyed this week's edition of The Door To Yesterday,
there's more where that came from!"