I, Jukebox

A prose poem about music that really got a hold on me

I am an old Victrola in my grandmother’s parlor

And a cabinet full of scratchy 78s:

Benny Goodman & Doris Day

The Mills Brothers & Danny Kaye

I am a transistor radio shaped like a rocket ship

I am a tan & white portable phonograph with a big round spindle for 45s

I am a frayed blue Methodist hymnal at a Wednesday night sing

I am the blinking Wurlitzer jukebox at the Choo Choo Grill

Full up with Marty Robbins & Jackie Wilson

Booker T & Brenda Lee

I am the stereo with fat JBL speakers that helped me and The Who to rattle a dormitory

I can see for miles and miles and miles

I’m a believer

I am a rock

I am an island

I am woman, hear me roar

And I’m a man, yes, I am, and I can’t help but love you so

I don’t care if it rains or freezes

Long as I got… you, babe

I got you, ba-buh-ba-buh-buh-buh-buh-baby

I wanna play house…of the rising sun… sun, sun, here it comes… again, mmmm-um-mmmm, catch me if you can…I get a witness

Can I get a witness?

Listen, people, to what I say

I have been to Funkytown

I have boogaloo’d down Broadway

I’ve come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses

And I read the news today, oh boy

And I think I’m going out of my head

Yes, I think I’m going out of my head

But it’s all right, Ma, I’m only….

That old Victrola at my grandma’s house

I’m that rocket-ship radio

I’m that portable phonograph and thumb stack of 45s

I’m that frayed blue hymnal (please turn to Number 68, “The Old Rugged Cross”)

I’m that throbbing, grinning jukebox at the Choo Choo Grill

Full up with truck-driver songs and Roy Orbison operas

Skeeter Davis keening “It’s the end of the world”

Van Morrison buzzing ’bout his brown-eyed girl

I’m that stereo with the big-ass speakers that rattled a dorm

I’m CDs of Marty Winkler and Manfred Mann

Brubeck, Prince and Steely Dan

And if I go deaf, as I am clearly going, I will still hear it all

Nothing that went in one ear came out the other

I will still hear it all

Noel Holston is the author of Life After Deaf: My Misadventures in Hearing Loss and Recovery, a memoir published by Shyhorse and distributed by Simon & Schuster. He released his first CD of original music, Better Late, last year.

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Noel Holston

Writer, photographer, horticulturist, international music icon. Lives in the South. Email Noel at nholstonga@gmail.com