I suppose I am hopelessly dating myself by talking about a time when there were jukeboxes in high-school cafeterias. In this age of iPhones and iTunes and everybody’s individualized playlists, it seems completely kooky that once upon a time, when people such as myself were in high school in the middle 1970s, music was not so easy to come by and thus a jukebox in the cafeteria was deemed a good and entertaining and useful thing.
Hey, come to think of it: do jukeboxes even exist any more?
Anyway, I digress. What I want to tell you about on this Friday night – Friday being my favourite night for musical posts, because it is the beginning of the weekend and thus a time to celebrate and tap one’s toes (or, should one so choose, shake one’s booty) – are the Greatest Hits of the CHSS Jukebox, Circa 1973 to 1975.
CHSS is Centre Hastings Secondary School, the high school in Madoc that I attended for Grades 9 and 10 in the school years 1973-74 and 1974-75. (After that my family moved away from Queensborough (and the Manse) to Campbellford, Ont., where the cafeteria at Campbellford District High School also had a jukebox. Somehow I don’t imagine it’s still there.)
How many songs does (did?) the average jukebox have on it, do you suppose? A hundred, maybe? But the funny thing was, it seemed like the playlist was much, much shorter than that on the mid-’70s CHSS jukebox, because what we midday consumers of French fries and gravy – the dish of overwhelming choice in that cafeteria – heard were the same few songs over and over and over and over again. As a result, those songs are seared into my memory for all time. And if you were a CHSS student in those days, I expect they’re seared into yours too.
Take, for instance, the song at the top of this post, Let Me Roll It. It was one of many hit singles from Band on the Run, the monster smash 1973 album from Paul McCartney and Wings. I kind of think the title track of that album was the big hit everywhere else – like on the radio. But for whatever reason, Let Me Roll It struck a chord among the jukebox-playing student body at CHSS, and I must have heard that song hundreds of times in my lunch hours there. It is, in my memory, top of the CHSS mid-’70s pops.
I make absolutely no claim that my list of other hits is complete, or even terribly correct. When I used my friend the internet to look up the top musical hits of 1973, 1974 and 1975 just now, I saw tons of songs that were hugely popular and brought back lots of memories from radio play and general ubiquity – but I don’t think they were among the 20-odd (max) that whatever CHSS students had quarters to spare (all boys, as I recall) were choosing all the time in the mid-’70s. (By the way, take a look at those lists of ’73, ’74 and ’75 hits if you want a serious musical flashback.) But I could be wrong. All that I can tell you is that these songs are the ones that, when I hear them, take me right back to those fake-wood tables and benches, the view out the windows toward adjacent Madoc Public School, the smell of fries and gravy – and a time when, perhaps, more things seemed possible than they do today.
So herewith, my CHSS mid-’70s jukebox lineup. I bet you can sing along!
Benny and the Jets:
Hooked on a Feeling:
The Loco-Motion (and I’m not talking about Little Eva):
The Show Must Go On (and I’m not talking about Queen):
I Shot the Sheriff (and I’m not talking about Bob Marley):
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (and I’m not talking about The Beatles; gee, was there a little bit of re-creating a good thing going on?):
Okay, back to (surprise, surprise) the Band on the Run album. Here’s Jet:
And a sentimental favourite, Please Come to Boston:
And finally, another one that was inescapable in that Canadian cafeteria, We’re an American Band:
Okay, your turn, CHSS students of the 1970s. What have I forgotten from that great old jukebox?