I am listening to ‘Strawberry letter 23’ by Brothers Johnson. I picked this song for my IPOD as it was the song playing on the jukebox when i first walked into The Nationalist Bar in 1979. It is in The Calton area down at the East End of Glasgow. This was the bar where I ended up working and living for 15 years of my life!
I remember the smell of the place, old stale beer, piss, smoke and cheap nasty air freshner (or it was a hookers perfume ?-dont shoot me I was only 18 years old.)
I can still hear that song belting out of that gaudy jukebox, it was a free standing one with a big bevelled glass/plastic front and you could see the wee black vinyl single being lifted up with the plastic arm.
It dropped it onto the turntable with a soft ‘flop’. The arm clicked over, a few scratches tickled the needle and gave out that fractured cough followed by musical phlem before the beats started. Wonderful- I do miss vinyl, it coped with scars and cuts, it accepted them, it lived through abuse.
Every scrape was an indication of the customers follies. Each hick that made the vinyl skip a lyric told of a punch up when the bikers beat up a police man. Or when the old prostitute tried to dance with the young guy who spurned her happy feet. I watched as she stumbled and made Elvis jump two verses of ‘Crying in the Chapel’. She stood quietly afterwards and stared into the wall mirror near the toilet and watched herself cry. Rock music blared and yet she danced slowly.
Scarred people listening to abused music!
My husband and I took over the bar in 1981.
My jukebox was full of my favourite music for years after that. I remember fighting with my husband in the back shop, yet again he had hurt me so much that I thought my soul would never recover. I would stand at the jukebox and play a CD and hope the pain would stop dripping through me. I would listen to my song, watch him behind me in the reflection of the mirrored walls. I would cry sometimes, hoping the loud music and busy bar would camouflage me.
My life was never really mine, but my soundtrack would be.
If I had to take shit, i would take it to ‘Steely Dan, Hall and Oates, Supertramp, Eagles and Meatloaf’
Life is different now. Everyone dances to my tune. Even him._