This month, the Session is hosted by The Lost Abbey Brewery, and theme is music and beer.
When I was little, my parents ran a pub. It was called the Artillery Inn and was a slightly grotty, failing Whitbread pub in Exeter. When I was four years old I used to help with the stocktake so I have vivid memories of counting bottles of pale ale in crates in the cellar.
Failing it might have been but that didn’t stop my folks from trying hard at it, working every hour the license would allow, organising bands, social nights, barbecues, pantomimes, darts tournaments — anything to liven the place up.
But the one thing that really helped give the place some atmosphere was the jukebox.
My Dad, being obsessed with music, put a lot of effort into stocking it. It must have been one of the last to play 7″ vinyl singles. I remember watching it pick out a record from the huge stack, swing it into place and drop a needle onto it. The noise was great, incredibly loud and mechanical. There would be a few moments of amplified crackling and popping before the music kicked in.
Particular songs spring to mind: Eton Rifles by the Jam; Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant; I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by Nik Kershaw; Michael Caine by Madness. Those were there because they were in the charts, but Dad wouldn’t have a song in the box he didn’t kind of like. After all, standing behind the bar, he’d have to listen to it over and over again.
Then there were his own records — songs from the sixties and seventies. Lola by the Kinks must have been in there. His copy certainly has the middle punched out, like so many others in his collection.
I think a pub should have a jukebox. I know there’s a “no music” lobby, but I just don’t get it. Is the idea that loud music will somehow interfere with your tastebuds?
Well, frankly, I find silence interferes with my mood.