I was listening to classic rock on the radio the other day, and I heard Joan Jett belting out this popular refrain: “I love rock ‘n’ roll, put another dime in the jukebox baby…”
And I thought to myself, now there’s a dated reference if ever there were one, because one, what can you even buy for a dime these days anyway? Certainly not a song on a jukebox… and two, kids? Do you even know what a jukebox is? Here, let me show you:
You see, it was a big box that was often located in restaurants, bars, and, in my town, there was one at the public swimming pool. One could hear the song of one’s choice simply by inserting a coin. The song was stored on something called a “45”, or a “single”, which was a black, sandwich-plate sized vinyl disc, and it had one song “pressed” on each side. The jukebox did NOT have a USB jack for your iPod. (Back then, Pods were for peas.) If your money got stuck, you could call your friend “Fonzie” and ask him to bang his fist on it in order to make the music play, and… oh no, wait, that was only on Happy Days.
ANYWAY. I got to thinking, what other popular rock songs reference the lowly dime? I came up with two other ones:
One is from Kix, that 80s hair band, and their song Cool Kids. It’s about a bunch of teens hangin’ out, all bored and lookin’ for fun, and in the first verse, they say:
I’m assuming the reference to the dime is so someone can use a pay phone to call Frankie, because kids? They didn’t have cell phones then, they had phones out in public – all of which featured a handset that was tethered to the phone base by a cord – that you could activate by inserting a coin. Kind of like a jukebox. Or a gumball machine.
Also? Back in the 80’s? They had to call each other because “txt” hadn’t been invented. Back then, TEXT was a noun, not a verb that often omitted its only vowel.
He’s acting shy looking for an answer
Come on, honey, let’s spend the night together
Now hold on a minute before we go much further
Give me a dime so I can phone my mother
They catch a cab to his high rise apartment
At last he can tell her exactly what his heart meant
So then, let’s recap. What we have here is a post chock-full of dated references, including a nearly obsolete coin, a machine that used to play music without the magic of digital files and tiny electronic devices that held massive amounts of music, not one but two references to phones that required the user to insert a coin in order to reach their party, a TV show that was popular in the 1970s but was about life in the 1950s, and finally, three musical artists who, like Rick Springfield, reached maximum popularity in the 1980s, yet, amazingly, continue to attract audiences today by feasting on Generation X’s voracious appetite for nostalgia.
If you can come up with other lyrics that reference that sad coin the dime, please leave ’em in the comments.