I used to drink at a place called Uncle Jimmy’s in Pittsburgh, and there were two separate times I stopped by there to find it ‘closed due to stabbing’ – blood on the pool table, blood in the ice well. They played that kind of music that, in the early-1990s, was the youth-music of the people who had come to run bars – people who had been 19 in the 1970s, bought their Uncle’s place when they were 37, had a few shift beers and listened to the music of their late-teens/early-20s all day long in the dark and neon.
At the time, this was not what you might expect for the kind of place that had people get stabbed over a game of pool: Lou Rawls and Teddy Pendergrass; the J Geils Band and Styx. I once took a girl there on a ‘date’ – she didn’t know it was a date, probably still doesn’t, and if she reads this maybe she’ll suddenly realize I was just too shy and too stupid, but more likely she doesn’t recall.
One day I was in there and asked what a certain song was and the bartender incredulously told me it was Steely Dan – I’d guess it was “Peg” or “Deacon Blues,” but maybe “Kid Charlamagne.” I would’ve recognized “Do It Again” or “Reelin In The Years,” but it was definitely ‘Greatest hits’ stuff. I was actually angry, because I hated Steely Dan – I was certain of that – but this song was … amazing. But I hated it, and that was that.
I bet a lot of us went through that, didn’t we? Genuine hatred for these two dorks and their perfectionism and their smooth-jazz hackery and lack of PUNK attitude, except of course they had that in spades; more than many punks, that’s obvious now. If I owned Uncle Jimmy’s – and sometimes I wish I did; it’d be so difficult, the temptation to become a ‘cool’ or ‘college’ bar so great, but it would be worthwhile if you could fight that temptation and keep $1 Irons and $2 boilermakers alive and only serve the obsolete and the desolate. I would play Lou Rawls and Teddy Pendergrass and Steely Dan and all those dear divebar-Gothic sounds all day long.