It's a rainy October afternoon, and the Rocket Room's jukebox is relaxing, comfortably ensconced between the bar and the sound-board. The eclectically stocked music machine is, in fact, basking in the afterglow of its Indy Best Of Award, as a nearby television set, tuned to a vintage breakdancing movie, does all the work.
"This is an amazing moment for me," muses the jukebox, its warm inner glow a contrast to the wind howling outside. "I really don't know what to say."
That turns out not to be the case for long. As the following conversation suggests, jukeboxes are unexpectedly keen observers of our cultural milieu and even the human condition, especially when you don't kick them for swallowing the occasional quarter.
Indy: The Rocket Room celebrated its one-year anniversary in May. Any favorite moments from the last year?
Rocket Room Jukebox: I always enjoy the burlesque shows, of course, and I thought that Austin band, Whitman, was really good. Afterward, when Dave [Cantrell, who along with his wife, owns the Rocket Room] took the stage with his band, Whitman's keyboardist started calling out for "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and it was all I could do to control myself and keep from blasting out the Stooges album or #74, as I like to call it.
Indy: So you're a big Iggy fan?
RRJ: Oh yeah, and so's Dave, obviously. We've also got Iggy's Skull Ring album, which isn't one of my favorites, though it did presage the Stooges reunion. But the duets, especially with Green Day and Sum 41, are pretty lame. I mean, if I wanted celebrity duets, I could listen to Tony Bennett or Carlos Santana.
Indy: What else are you into?
RRJ: I listen to everything that's put inside me. And, like most of this great country's Joe Six-Packs and hockey moms, I do so with a great appreciation for musicians and the music industry.
Indy: Um, OK. But could you be a little more specific?
RRJ: Well, I wish more people would play Jim Carroll's first album, which you can find by flipping to #16, because there's a lot more to it than just "People Who Died," as great a song as that is. I've actually got a lot of good punk: mostly American stuff like the Cramps, Black Flag, the Ramones, Nashville Pussy and Fugazi, but also some of the classic British stuff like Pigface and the Damned.
Indy: Did you know that Jimmy Page's favorite record was the first Damned album? Or at least that's what he said when I interviewed him in that awful band, the Firm.
RRJ: Yeah, well, I've got Led Zeppelin's fourth album, it's #14, as well as Latter Days, which is #77. They were smart to quit before they got lame, unlike some other bands I could mention.
Indy: Like who?
RRJ: Well, I'm not a big fan of Berlin, needless to say. I mean, "Riding on the Metro" was sort of amusing, in an L.A.-poseurs-do-Gary-Numan kind of way, but stuff like "Take My Breath Away" makes me want to puke, which is tough since the bathroom's on the other side of the bar and of course I'm always plugged in when somebody plays it. For some reason I've never been able to figure out, I don't mind Pat Benatar, which is #99. By the way, some of these numbers may be a bit off; a pitcher of Pabst got spilled on me last night and I'm still feeling kind of fried.
Indy: Do your CDs get updated often?
RRJ: Yeah, pretty often. Enough to keep things interesting. To tell the truth, it's a very painful experience. I mean, how would you like it if someone opened you up periodically and stuck a bunch of compact discs inside you?
Indy: I never really thought about it.
RRJ: Most humans haven't.
Indy: Moving on to hopefully more pleasant subjects, what do you think of the local bands you play?
RRJ: I'm a big Nicotine Fits fan they're #75, and they remind me a lot of old Stooges.
Indy: They sound like they've listened to some MC5 as well.
RRJ: Yeah, #15, great stuff. I've also been getting into the Jack Trades, Smaug and the Mansfields.
Indy: What about your owner, Dave? Do people pick his CD much?
RRJ: Oh yeah, I've heard it a number of times.
Indy: What do you think of it?
RRJ: Oh, well, it's got a few of his bands on it, you know.
Indy: And ...
RRJ: And, um, it's really interesting. You know, I'd really better get back to work now. Thanks for everything.
Dave's Top 10
We asked Dave Cantrell, whose jukebox at the Rocket Room won this year's Best Of, to pick his Top 10 songs from its selection of 99 CDs. Here's what he chose:
1. "Slip It In/Gimme Gimme Gimme" (live) by Black Flag
2. "Rock Bottom" by UFO
3. "Baby, Please Don't Leave Me" by Buddy Guy
4. "Nothing In Return" by Roky Erickson
5. "Cowgirl in the Sand"by Neil Young
6. "Herbert Harper's Free Press News" by Muddy Waters
7. "Angelene" by PJ Harvey
8. "Ramblin' Man" by Hank Williams
9. "UnSandpiper" by Kyuss
10. "Peace in Mississippi" by Jimi Hendrix