Making Music Together

‘Believe It Or Not’ was written by Hunter and Garcia and it was only played live 7 times by the Grateful Dead, thus making it rarer than most of their songs, but out of the 300 songs that they played in concert, 72 of these were played 6 times or less.  It was recorded during the Built To Last sessions, but it never made it onto the album, however the outtake was included on the So Many Roads box set.  Robert Hunter said that this song contains a C&W lyric reminiscent of the kind of stuff that he remembered hearing coming from tavern jukeboxes in 1948, when his father would stop in there to have a few while he waited out in the car.

The jukebox revolutionized music, allowing locals to take turns playing their favorite tunes from the box and enjoy a variety of music.  Jukeboxes back in the day, were known as coin-operated phonographs, as they played 78 rpm records and they were technologically limited to 3 minutes per side.  As newer models were invented, the older ones were recycled down the status chain from the high-end establishments until they reached rock bottom in the seedier roadhouses.  In those bigoted times, when the machines reached into Negro neighborhoods, they acquired the enduring name of “Juke”, which was slang at the time for “dancing”.  For the price of a nickel, you would be able to hear 3 minutes of recorded music on a jukebox.

By the middle of the 1940s, three-quarters of the records produced in America went into jukeboxes.  World war II created an intense demand for jukeboxes as morale builders on American bases that had spanned the globe.  It was said that the Marines came first, the Seabees (Naval Construction Battalions) next, and the Wurlitzer immediately thereafter.  Dancing (and the opportunity to socialize with the opposite sex) was the most popular activity at the USO clubs.  Wurlitzer also made a wall unit jukebox which was popular in diners.  In 1949, Seeburg introduced a breakthrough record changer that offered 100 selections (instead of 24) and it was capable of handling 45 rpm records, which allowed them to quickly overtake Wurlitzer and dominate the jukebox market.

Jukeboxes provided a great way to test-listen a song, before making the decision to buy it, as the record would end up costing you about 15 times more money.  Because the jukebox chart did not start until 1944, the top popular jukebox singles list of the 1940s differs from the top popular singles list, which started in 1940.  At number one is Francis Craig’s (Bob Lamm on vocals) ‘Near You’, which held the number one jukebox singles spot for 13 weeks in 1947.  At number two on the list is the Ink Spots’ ‘The Gypsy’, which also remained #1 for 13 weeks in 1946.  At number three is Ted Weems’ ‘Heartaches’, and the Andrews Sisters’ ‘Rum & Coca-Cola’ ranks #4 in 1945.  At number five is Frankie Carle’s and Marjorie Hughes’ ‘Oh! What It Seemed to Be’.

Some other songs that might have been playing on tavern jukeboxes in 1948 could be #7 ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ by Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters, #8 ‘Buttons & Bows’ by Dinah Shore-Happy Valley Boys, #10 ‘On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe’ by Johnny Mercer & Pied Pipers, #11 ‘Till the End of Time’ by Perry Como & Russell Case, #12 ‘Swinging on a Star’ by Bing Crosby & John S. Trotter, or #13 ‘Journey’ by Les Brown & Doris Day.

One or two moments
A piece of your time
Is all I am asking
And I’ll give you mine
One or two moments
Out of all you have got
To show how I love you
Believe it or not
Remember the day
I rolled into town
With my heart in my shoes,
My head hanging down?
Now my only trouble
The rest I forgot
Is to show how I love you
Believe it or not
Done time in the lockup
Done time in the street
Done time on the upswing
And time in defeat
I know what I’m asking
And I know it’s a lot
When I say that I love you
Believe it or not
I know I’m no angel
My prospects are high
As the flood line in summer
When the river’s gone dry
But I’ll roll up my shirt-sleeves
And make my best shot
To show how I love you
Believe it or not
Right now while the sun shines
On the crest of the hill
With a breeze in the pines
And a gray whippoorwill
Making music together
In a land time forgot
Let me show how I love you
Believe it or not

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Couple/Together/Us.

18 thoughts on “Making Music Together

      1. Jim, you should know the answer to this one. You did such a great job on the post about Jerry’s love life, who was he head over heels about at the time?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. OMG, I loved jukeboxes! Growing up, our favorite Mom’n’Pop burger place – Al’s Cafe – had mini-jukeboxes in every booth! Such good memories! Honestly, I’d choose a jukebox over a DJ any day! 🙂

    Nice commentary!

    Liked by 1 person

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