"Jukebox of Steel"...there's something solid and timeless about that phrase.

Being a musician on the road, you're always sampling some of the local bars and taverns. More often than not, you find a place that has good old country music on it, even though finding good country music is kind of a sport. There's a lot of questionable stuff out there, from artists I consider great. They really put out some novelty songs and stuff that are hard to handle.

I remember the first time I went to a Waffle House, seeing their jukebox. They had all their Waffle House country things.

Son Volt: As American as apple pie, baseball and St. Louis itself.
J. Wagner & S. Waugh
Son Volt: As American as apple pie, baseball and St. Louis itself.

I've even memorized some of the artists. [Laughs] Billy Dee Cox, I think, is one of the guys, and his big song is called "Special Lady." "Working at the Waffle House..." [Laughs]

I smell a B-side...

I've thought about it. [Laughs] Never got beyond thinking about it. Maybe someday.

[Death Cab for Cutie vocalist/lyricist] Ben Gibbard was in town last year working with you on some music. Has any of that seen the light of day?

It's in the works. I did work with Ben on this recording project, which started out as each of us contributing songs to a documentary about Jack Kerouac. We both wound up in the studio together, just sort of decided to take a step further and record a whole batch of songs. It's kind of evolved into a real project. I guess there aren't a whole lot of details about it yet, but it's in the works, and it could possibly come out in the fall, like around October — which I think is a Jack Kerouac anniversary of sorts....It was a great experience working with Ben. I guess because there wasn't a whole lot of planning that went into the process, I think we both really got a lot from the experience.

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