My favourite pub jukebox

This week’s trend in beer blogging is the pub jukebox. It’s an easy post to write and it’s either this or the development of the Prussian beer market in 1869, so here goes.

I’ll be upfront and say right at the start that I don’t like canned music in pubs. I go to pubs to chat to my mates, not to listen to someone else’s CDs or iPod. There is no appropriate level for pre-recorded music in pubs, it seems. Either it’s so quiet that you subconsciously strain your ears trying to figure out what the hell it is they’re playing, or it’s so loud that you can’t hear what your pals are saying.

Clubs are different. There the music is the main event and I’m in the frame of mind to appreciate (or not) a playlist that, say, follows Autechre with the Just Joans and the entire side three of Metal Machine Music at ear-splitting volume, seguing into Klaus Wunderlich’s instrumental cover of “Good Vibrations” before finishing with a twelve-minute mash-up of Lady Gaga, Jandek and the Wombles mixed by a drum ’n’ bass obsessed madman in his bedroom in an unfashionable suburb of Lisbon. But I don’t want that in the pub.

In the pub, I want live music if there’s to be any at all, and music to complement the chat rather than dominate it. There is still a bit of folk music in Glasgow pubs and I quite like that. What annoys me, though, is that although a couple of guys with fiddles and guitars were for years loud enough to entertain a pub without amplification, for some reason the two guys nowadays appear to need a 200 watt PA system in the same pub. It’s too much, too loud.

There is one pub jukebox I like. It’s the one in the Laurieston Bar in Glasgow. It’s free to use, but that’s not why I like it. I like it because it doesn’t quite work properly (which is the reason it’s free). Most of the time it functions normally, but occasionally, rather than playing the song you’ve chosen, it just plays “This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” from Hair instead. Really rather charming in its own way.


  1. I agree that if you can't hear your companions speaking in a pub while the music is playing, then it's too loud. Friends tell me it's a sign of old age, but I've always thought that, even when I was a student. Clubs are entirely different, as you say - not that I go to them any more.


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