Remembering Doug Sahm & The Jukebox Era

That photo is a beauty, isn't it? Wish that old jukebox was mine, but it's just a stock photo I found somewhere in space and snatched for this week's column. The plan was to write an update on the Doug Sahm documentary that debuted in 2015 at SXSW, but I got sidetracked when I found this 1959 single he recorded of “Why, Why, Why” and it reminded me of Gilbert's El Indio on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.

It's been over 25 years since I've been there, and it was a Friday night destination for years. In addition to serving up the finest margaritas and Mexican food west of Boyle Heights, they had an old school “three for a quarter” jukebox, loaded with mostly 45s from the ’50s and ’60s. My go-to song back in the day was Patsy Cline's “Crazy,” and usually by the time we were on our second pitcher of adult beverage I'd stack it up to play a dozen times in a row. But had this one been on there, it might have been a contender.

That's not Doug's first record, and I don't really have too much to tell you about the film other than the title: Sir Doug and The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove. I did find a pretty good article about it published in Texas Monthly and a review here on No Depression, which has several video clips including the trailer. It's been showing at film festivals for the past year or so, and despite exceeding a Kickstarter campaign goal to get it into distribution, seems like it's not quite a done deal yet. I can’t wait to see it because I've been a fan since I was a kid, and his story spans several decades, genres, and memories.

 Back to the jukebox ... I miss it. When I was a kid my family would often have Sunday night dinners at a place in Philly called the Italian Riviera, and their box was filled with songs from Mario Lanza, Rocco Granata, Caterina Valente, Dean Martin, and Connie Francis – our favorite because cousin Arnold was her producer. But this was probably the most played song of that era: Domenico Modugno's version of “Volare.”

While you can still find them at some bars, there are only two companies left that currently manufacture the coin-operated devices. There's a bunch of touch screen, digital models being sold, but they just don't connect with my teenage memories of sitting in a diner and dropping quarters into the slot.

These days I prefer the one that fits in my pocket, can hold 20,000 songs, lets me pay the bills, read the news, get a car, play games, rant on social media, take pictures, and occasionally make a call. I'll close it out with sharing five songs currently on my “new music” playlist. Three are new or recently found versions of old songs, and two are new songs that just sound old, which sums up how I'm feeling right now.

Easy Ed’s Broadside, No Depression

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