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The Jukebox As She Turned

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 38948 ; Jeff Deitchman]

Jeff Deitchman sang his own song The Jukebox As She Turned on his 1979 cassette Silver Dollar. He noted on his website:

This song played a key role in the annals of digestion. I’d overeaten, again, and it was either take a walk or become one with the sofa. I did both. When I got back from my walk, this song had finished writing itself. So I sat on the sofa, copied out the lyrics, and fell asleep. I knew I’d sing it unaccompanied, so I could sleep soundly knowing I didn’t have to work up a guitar part for it.

It’s done some travelling. Rick and Lorraine Lee put it on an LP; Nic Jones, over in England, heard their version and wrote a guitar part for it. There are at least two versions on YouBoob, nice ones, I might add. A couple of friends, the duo named Magpie, once walked into a pub in England, and the folks in the place were singing it. So they got to say, “Hey, the guy who wrote that song lives around the corner from us.” I need to check with them; I’ve forgotten whether anybody replied, “In that case, let me buy you a pint.” Seems only proper.

The song’s interpretation has been the object of some debate. The roles of, and relationships between the characters, and the exact circumstances behind the narrative–as it were–have sparked some lively discussion. I often boast that I deliberately included ambiguity to encourage differing views, thereby giving the song life and mystery, though that’s a lie. Truth is that I wasn’t thinking at all clearly; I was stuffed with arroz con pollo—I think it was—, so I was in no mood to argue; and I just let the song have its way. So, if the lyric is brilliant, that’s its business. I’m only accidentally brilliant, and not very often.

Maggie Holland recorded this song as Smokey's Bar on her 1995 album By Heart. She noted:

I am eternally grateful to Bill Prince for providing me with a tape […] of Nic Jones singing Smokey's Bar back in 1980. I never heard the original but Nic's version had seared an image into my visual cortex—the girl turning and looking at them all, and the good old boys' baffled faces.

Nic Jones learned The Jukebox As She Turned from the singing of Rick and Lorraine Lee. A live recording of unknown origin, possibly from the 1980 tape mentioned by Maggie Holland, is on his 2001 anthology Unearthed.

Lyrics

Maggie Holland sings Smokey's Bar

Now all the boys down at Smokey's Bar they could easily understand
How Judy left without a word, but not without a man.
That old routine that she had going was like the sun, so sure
Which, by surprise, just may not rise but it always has before.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And I still remember what was on the jukebox as she turned:
The dobro part out of Cheating Heart. She never has returned.

She snapped the little plated latch, closed her pocket book.
And after paying for what she'd drunk she gave all us boys a look.
And something in that little glance sent chills throughout the room,
No-one stared and no-one dared to speak or even move.

Now what others felt I cannot say, oh, but I can likely guess.
They're probably scared of where, just where, she'd take what we'd confessed.

Now that good old gang down at Smokey's Bar's practically busted up,
With no-one here to drink our tears or fill our empty cup.

Nic Jones sings The Jukebox As She Turned

Now all the boys down at Smokey's Bar they could easily understand
How Judy left without a word, but not without a man.
That old routine that she had going was like the sun, so sure
That, by surprise, just may not rise but it always has before.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And I still remember what was on the jukebox as she turned:
The dobro part out of Cheating Heart. She never has returned.

She snapped the little plated latch and she closed her pocket book.
And then paying for what she had drunk, she gave all us boys a look.
And something in that little glance sent creeps throughout the room,
No-one stared or even dared to breathe or even move.

I cannot say just what others thought, ah, but I can likely guess.
Well they were probably scared of where, just where, she'd take what we'd confessed.

So now that good old gang down at Smokey's Bar they've just about busted up,
With no-one here left to drink our tears or to fill our empty cup.