There's a beauty to the jukebox. My favorite resides at the Springdale Tavern. The bar is located just outside of Troutdale and when you walk in, everyone turns to look, keenly aware that you're not a local. The jukebox there has a diverse catalog of both current and past hits and on one particular $1 well drink Wednesday, I plugged quite a few quarters into the machine. And while everyone in the bar may have known I wasn't from around those parts, they certainly didn't know that the music they were being subjected to came from the coins in my pockets.
But what if you put on your guiltiest pleasures and everyone knew it was coming from you? You know the drill: pop songs, classic rock, songs from movie soundtracks; really anything you wouldn't openly advertise as to liking. It's in that spirit that we introduce a new reoccurring column and turn the jukebox over to the members of Blue Cranes to make their guilty pleasures a dirty little secret no longer.
Bon Jovi, "Raise Your Hands"
"I admit to a love affair with a good rock anthem. It all began in 1986. I've just walked home from school to find the house to myself. This is my time. I grab my favorite cassette, go to my Dad's hi-fi player, don the enormous 10 lbs headphones and completely lose myself in the Anthemic Rock Glory of Jon Bon Jovi. I know a lot of songs on "Slippery When Wet" got most of the attention, but "Raise Your Hands" will always be my favorite. There I sat, picturing myself and all of my fifth grade friends and my imaginary boyfriend from whatever fantasy novel I was reading at the time, roaming the city streets and ruling the world. What a feeling.
A sort of reenactment of my daydream took place at my best friend Jill's birthday party. She stood proudly holding her pastel pink cassette player above her head as 8 or 9 of us awkward girls gathered around her on the pavement of Siletz Ct. in Tualatin, yell-singing the lyrics to an audience of shut windows and doors.
Years later, Jill visited me in New Mexico where I went to college. We were digging for something to play and came upon the beloved album. Within minutes, we were in full Bon Jovi gear and the local grocery store watched as two lost 80's hair-band mates loaded a cart with beer and whiskey. Back in my room, the power of Jon Bon amassed 10 more enthusiasts in full costume, crowded around my stereo, bombastically singing to the rhythmic accompaniment of my downstairs neighbor pounding on the ceiling for quiet. I guess not everyone appreciates JBJ like we do. I still have prints from the incriminating mock-photo shoot in the girls dormitory bathroom, complete with cigarettes and too many scarves to prove it."
"Guilty pleasure…Guilty for sure!
I think I have Gavin Castleton to thank for this gem of a discovery. There are just so many tasty things that are right about this tune (and group) that resonate with me; hand claps, tambourines, great ostenato synth sounds, sweet uncluttered rhythm, driving pulse, cool unison parts, counter melodies and harmonies and I love the overall production. Then I found the video… Enjoy!"
Stevie Wonder and the Huxtables, "I Just Called to Say I Love You"
"In Camas, Washington during the autumn of 1984 a just turned eight-year-old me sat in the passenger seat of my mother's green '68 Plymouth Valiant and sobbed. Mom had gone into Ron's Shop'n Cart grocery and left me in complete control of the car radio. Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" came on and I just fell to pieces. Although I didn't know what they were at the time, the half step harmonic modulations and the prominent use of the Major 7th interval in the melody on top of both Major and Minor chords had me completely reduced to a puddle. Thinking back on that moment now, I realize that it marks the first time that I knew on some level that music would play a huge role in the path of my life. Years later "High Fidelity" told me I wasn't cool for liking the song, but with it's simple yet over the top compositional devices I still think of it as a masterpiece of pop songwriting."
Sponge "Molly" (16 Candles)
I lived in Detroit (the band's hometown) when this came out in 1994. The radio stations around the country played the shit out of it and they instantly became hometown heroes. I was studying jazz and blues and composition at the time at Wayne State University so I didn't really have time for these bubblegum grunge (what Rolling Stone called them) heroes, though I couldn't get the song out of my head. When it came to rock at that time I would only listen to the REAL Detroit rock heroes, MC5 and The Stooges.
Fast forward two years and I get a call to audition for Sponge for their next tour supporting their second album, Wax Ecstatic. Apparently there were horns on the second record. They liked me. I got the job. I toured with them for about three years. We would do a version of Molly with a reggae intro which I would solo over for a long time. People seemed to love it. I hated it. But now I love this song. It reminds me of a lot of things. Most of which I can't really talk about. Buy me a whiskey and I'll tell you some stories.
They Might Be Giants "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"
"I didn't listen to much music as a kid, aside from bright orange Disney cassette tapes. I gravitated instead towards computer programming and building electronic gadgets. In middle school I can remember making a point to listen to Z100 on my clock radio at night—not because I liked it, but so that I could try to understand what people were talking about the next day at recess. During middle school, my friend gave me the They Might Be Giants tape Flood for my birthday. The silly songs touched my not-so-inner nerd, and I fell in love with them. My passion for TMBG turned into a passion for Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt and Charlie Parker before I saw them perform live, but their albums Apollo 18 and Flood helped pull me through my final, awkward years of middle school. This is one of their songs that stuck with me the most, performed here in a 1990 duo appearance on MTV Europe: "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)".
**Present-day nerdy side note: I recently looked at the liner notes of Flood and realized that the violin solo on the album version of this song is played by the great improvisor Mark Feldman (John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Paul Bley collaborator)."