There's nothing quite like going out to the local bar/saloon/public house/dive/hole in the wall/watering hole and relaxing with some friends, some beer (or whiskey, as your preference may be) and some good, comfortable music. In fact, on the list of things I'd rather be doing than working, this activity falls somewhere between writing a blog and having an adventure in the sea with my imaginary dragon best friend. Sure, you could gather with friends at their house and replicate most of what happens at a bar, but you can't account for the magical things that happen when you're forced to cohabitate with inebriated perfect strangers in an enclosed environment.
This is also the problem of going to the bar. A bunch of strangers have to listen to whatever music some drunken ass wants to hear. Back in the day it was simple. Country bars had only country jukeboxes, Irish bars Irish jukeboxes and so on. But now with every bar having access to every song and genre ever created, the choices are mindnumbingly exponentional. So here are a few ground rules to follow before staggering up to the magic music machine with your hard earned cash.
1. The Bar Is No Place For Top 40
It's Friday night, the mood is right, gonna have some fun, show you how it's done...by playing the same Lady GaGa song everyone at the bar heard in the car on the way to said bar. Uh-uh. No sir.
Look, I have nothing against pop music. Or popular music. But being at a bar is one of the few times where we're not at the mercy of brainless DJs who are paid to force Poker Face and whatever Coldplay has excreted lately down our throats. So the rule is, you can play popular artists. But not their song that's been in every car commercial and MTV's 13 and Knocked Up (or whatever that is) promo.
2. You Play Three (3) Songs At a Time. That Is All.
OMG Becky!!! We totally need to play the entirety of Jack Johnson's new CD for these people whether they even like him or not!!!
There are other people who would like to use the jukebox. And unless you carried turn tables into the bar and are being paid to share your personal collection with us, three songs is plenty 'nuff to gauge the depths of your musical tastes. Oh, and while I'm at it, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, under any circumstance, play the same artist more than once. I know I'm asking you to make the Sophie's Choice between American Idiot and Longview, but you can do it. Besides, every Green Day song sounds the exact same anyway.
3. Know Thy Audience
Hmmm...these guys are all wearing Metallica shirts and trucker hats in a non-ironic way. I bet they'd LOVE to hear some Vampire Weekend!
Variety is the spice of life, but sometimes that spice will get your ass kicked. And rightly so. It's important to experience different...er...experiences. So I encourage people to check out as many different bars as they can. You'll find that deep down, people are pretty much the same. But if you look around and see a bunch of folks drinking bourbon straight while ignoring the no-smoking sign that's basically there for decoration, it's probably not a good time to expose them to The Decemberists or TV On The Radio. Just learn to enjoy John Lee Hooker and get yourself some Knob Creek. The ass kicking you save could be your own!
4. Skip Happens
Hey, my song only played for 10 seconds. Must be some malfunction with the machinery. Surely the barkeep will rectify this!
Yeah, um...no one wanted to hear what you played, it was bringing everyone down, and the bartender did us all a favor. Don't bother him by asking why he skipped your song; he's busy enough looking out for potential date rapists and pretending he doesn't know about the blow in the bathroom. Get over it.
5. No, Alanis, That is Not Ironic
Dude, wouldn't it be hilarious if I like played....like....some Cannibal Corpse right after I played some Britney?! I bet everyone here would think I'm a regular David Cross!
No, you're not being ironic, you're just being an asshole. This is right behind number 3 as a legitimate reason for getting your ass kicked.
Ok, so that's about all I can think of. Pretty simple, right? And yet, every night, in bars across the world, these rules are being willfully and woefully ignored. Why? Beats me. I guess, as Lord Byron once posited, people are douche bags.
Oh, and before I forget, here are some songs that need to be retired from jukeboxes permanently.
Journey - Don't Stop Believing
Long before The Sopranos, this song was ruined by drunken college girls who like, totally, knew this song was about them. It wasn't, it isn't, and it never will be. Stop it. Come to think of it, let's just ban all Journey songs. Nothing good can come from them.
Neil Diamond - Sweet Caroline
Are you ready? Are you ready?? Here it comes!!! Don't miss it!!!! ..........BUM BUM BUM!!!!
OMG That was so awesome how everyone knew to do that at the same time! We're all besties now!!!!
I think that's about it. Follow these simple rules of jukebox etiquette, and your bar experience will be the better for it. As will mine. Especially, most importantly, mine.