20 Classic Songs Essential for Any Good Dive Bar Jukebox

I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about a good dive bar; I used to play in an 80s hair metal band, had my share of break ups, and I enjoy an occasional Olympia on draft. The dive bar definitely serves a purpose in today’s drinking society. For one, it’s the only place to go after a break up to drown your sorrows, and two, it’s cheap as hell.
As far as the jukebox goes, you won’t find any modern digital music player flashing like a UFO with access to over a million songs. Instead, any reputable dive bar has a classic refrigerator size monster with huge plastic pages full of CD covers and numbers. You put your dollar in, 5 or 6 times after smoothing out the edges, then take a gamble on whether or not you are able to see straight enough to correspond the correct number to the correct song. Five bucks can get you about 20 plays or so, and with that being said here are 20 songs that you are likely to find.

AC/DC – “Back In Black” – A tribute to the late Bon Scott, and the gift that keeps on giving to dive bar air guitar champions everywhere.
Guns n’ Roses – “Welcome To The Jungle” – You know where you are, you’re in a dive bar baby, and you’re going to (fill in the blank).
The Doors – “Roadhouse Blues” – “Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer”, enough said.
T-Rex – “Bang A Gong (Get it On)”– A blues rock boogie about one night stands and cars; the epitome of dive bar conversation.
Cheap Trick – “Surrender” – The counter-choral of “We’re all alright!” is repeated four times in the final chorus of the song, which is often ignored continuing on until someone is in fact, not alright.
The Champs – “Tequila” – The title of the song constitutes the entirety of the lyrics, and is spoken, I mean SHOUTED, three times during the song.
Johnny Cash – Any song from Folsom or San Quinton – A dive bar without Johnny Cash is like a prostitute who accepts checks. It simply doesn’t make sense.
Lynyrd Sknyrd – “Freebird” – It has become a tradition of humor for the audience in many concerts to shout “Free Bird” as a request to hear the song, regardless of the performer or style of music. This unfortunate trend is also applicable to dive bars.
Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – This song slipped into the dive bar jukebox after the owner likely had a fling with a stripper.
Metallica – “For Whom the Bell Tolls” – One of the few metal songs allowed into a true dive bar jukebox and the only song that can be played over a dozen times a night with no complaints.
Motley Crue – “Girls, Girls, Girls” – This one slipped in after a second relationship with a stripper after which the owner vowed to never date strippers again.
Garth Brooks – “Friends in Low Places” – If it were possible for a CD to actually wear out, this one would have to be replaced on a weekly basis in the dive bar jukebox.
Ted Nugent – “Stranglehold” – The cheapskate’s pick. Clocking in at over eight minutes, this classic jam is the dive bar jukebox bargain.
James Brown –“Sex Machine” – Suddenly the possibility of meeting girls who are enamored with the whole “dive bar experience” enough to go home with you becomes a “good idea”.
Steppenwolf – “Born to Be Wild” – The dive bar gift and welcome anthem to bikers everywhere.
Journey – “Don’t Stop Believin” – Drunk college girls are convinced that the cast of Glee wrote the song and Journey is simply covering the track.
George Thorogood –“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – One Advil, one Gatorade, one David Hasselhoff moment.
Hank Williams –“ There’s A Tear in my Beer “– In a dive bar a tear in your beer is the least of your worries as God only knows what else may have fallen into your drink.
Michael Jackson – “Beat It” – Many dive bar regulars still have no idea The King of Pop is dead, and so it’s no surprise when they claim to meet Elvis for happy hour.
Patsy Cline – Anything – The actual definition of a dive bar: A dark and smoky bar with various memorabilia on every wall, and Patsy Cline playing on the Jukebox.

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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

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