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“Bubba Shot the Jukebox” by Mark Chesnutt


The given music analysis will primarily focus on a song called “Bubba Shot the Jukebox,” performed and recorded by Mark Chesnutt. It is important to note that the song was written by Dennis Linde, and it is a country song, which was released in 1992 under the label of the Music Corporation of America or MCA. The total duration of the performance is 3:05 minutes, where the main story revolves around a person, Bubba, who shot a jukebox due to his emotional disturbance, which resulted in the arrival of police (Lee Kelley).

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Musical Elements

The first part of the musical analysis will be based on the assessment of musical elements. These include structure or form, silence, pitch, timbre, rhythm, harmony, and melody (Chapter 2: Music: Fundamentals and Educational Roots in the U.S.). The timbre can be categorized as light, vibrant, and strident, which is mainly the result of Mark Chesnutt’s signing pattern. Since country music is deeply rooted in folk music, the approach of performance in regards to the singing process has elements of a southern folk accent. The singer uses a vibrant timbre, which is created through his vocal dynamics, where, for example, he applies a vibrant timbre to a word “forty-five” (Lee Kelly 00:01:43). In the case of the pitch of the musical performance, the note vibrations are within a higher range of vibrations with periods of slower pacing, such as during the “bathrobe” moment (Lee Kelly 00:01:57). The amplitude of the song is mostly loud, with no clear indications of soft elements of music. Through the performance, one can notice that the duration of the sounds is primarily short, and the longer sounds are mostly used at the end of the song. Furthermore, the song is highly melodic, with evident indications of frequent musical notes successions in an array of pitches. The assessment of the performance’s harmony relevels that notes’ vertical combination forms chord are harmonic. In regards to the rhythm, the music is dynamic and has a fairly quick pace. It is important to point out that the texture of the performance is homophonic because it is structured as a melody with accompaniment, where there are a band and a lead singer (Chapter 2: Music: Fundamentals and Educational Roots in the U.S.). Therefore, in general, the song is highly rhythmic, homophonic, and dynamic.

Instrumental Elements

The second part will revolve around the analysis of instrumental elements of the performance. By observing and listening to the song, one can easily distinguish the primary instrument, which is string instruments. The latter is also accompanied by keyboard instruments and percussion instruments. Therefore, there are three major instrument families, such as string, percussion, and keyboard. More specifically, one can hear two types of string instruments, which are guitars of various types and fiddles. Both fiddle and drum set the rhythm and pace of the background music, and the former provides more depth to the overall performance. The band also includes drums, which are critical to set the core pace of the song, and it both begins and ends the performance because it comprises the foundational layer of all sounds. In addition, there are a number of different guitars, such as acoustic, electric, and steel guitars. They are required to set and give texture to the musical performance. Lastly, a keyboard instrument is also present in the song, but it is mostly imperceptible and becomes highly important when a lead singer transitions between chorus and verses. For example, a keyboard instrument can be prominently heard when Mark Chesnutt sings about “a charge” for a crime committed by Bubba (Lee Kelley 00:01:35). Therefore, the musical performance is a product of a lead singer, who is accompanied by musical sounds emerging from string instruments, percussion instruments, and keyboard instruments.

Lyrics and Context

The third part will mainly focus on the lyrics of the song and the meaning in regards to the overall context. The song describes a situation from a third-person perspective about a person, Bubba, who was spending time at the bar called Margie’s. During this moment, an unidentified individual turns on a jukebox, which starts to play a sad song. As a result, Bubba gets emotional, where he tears up, which is probably due to the fact that the song had some form of relevance and meaning to him. Subsequently, Bubba jumps up and leaves to bring his 45 caliber handgun from his truck, which he uses to shoot the jukebox playing sad music. The next scene reveals that Bubba is a mentally unstable individual, which is indicated by the unease of his friends. A shortly after, the police and sheriff himself arrive at the shooting location, where the latter stated that Bubba is charged for reckless firearm use, for which Bubba replies: “Reckless! Hell! I shot just where I was aiming” (Lee Kelley 00:02:14). In other words, the song reveals that Bubba is a highly mentally unstable person who responds to his emotional urges with violence through deadly gun usage.


In conclusion, the song “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” by Mark Chesnutt is about an incident at a bar where a man shoots a jukebox due to his mental and emotional instability. It is important to point out that the music is highly melodic, dynamic, and quick-paced with deep texture. In addition, the performing band uses three main instrument families, which are string instruments, such as acoustic and electric guitars, percussion instruments, such as drums, and keyboard instruments.

Works Cited

“Chapter 2: Music: Fundamentals and Educational Roots in the U.S.” MILNE Library.

“Mark Chesnutt – Bubba Shot the Jukebox – Country On the Gulf.” YouTube, uploaded by Lee Kelley, 2015.

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