Songs about Food
1. “Weird Al” Yankovic– “I Love Rocky Road”
It finally feels like “Weird Al” Yankovic is getting his due. We go back to 1983 for this gem, a cover of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ cover of the Arrows’ 1975 song, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Al claims that it’s fine with him if he gets fat and loses his teeth. More than 30 years later, Mr. Yankovic is still looking pretty good.
2. Lou Reed – “Egg Cream”
First appearing on the soundtrack to Blue in the Face, this ode to New York’s signature beverage is a raucous highlight on Reed’s otherwise subdued Set the Twilight Reeling. Think of Reed’s heavily distorted guitar as the super-amped aural equivalent of the head of foam you get on a properly made serving. Scream this song when you order one at your favorite old-school diner, and make sure they use U-bet’s.
3. Descendents – “Weinerschnitzel”
Before they went emo, these California punks were straight hardcore with pinpoint efficiency. Their 1981 Fat EP cranks out five songs in under five minutes, none faster than this 11-second masterpiece of consumer desire. This concise statement consists entirely of an imaginary drive-through fast food-order – hold the bull sperm.
4. James Brown “Mother Popcorn”
It’s not about popcorn, exactly, but this 1969 funk workout from the Godfather of Soul has a beat that sounds like nothing less than funky kernels bursting in time. The 2014 biopic Get on Up dramatized Brown’s musical vision that every instrument be treated like a drum. On this track, every member of his band, from drummer Clyde Stubblefield to saxman Maceo Parker treats their instrument like it’s about to explode.
5. Warrant – “Cherry Pie”
There is nothing more American than pie, right? In all its delicious incarnations, cherry is perhaps the most delectable. Jani Lane is singing about the pleasures of pie, we believe. Nothing sexual here.
6. Teenburger– “Food Court”
The hip-hop duo of Ghettosocks and Timbuktu wanders around a food court to the rhythm and tone of retail store music in this celebration at the vortex of sales and sustenance. I know of no other artist who has ever gone there – the subject matter, that is, not a food court. I know lots of people who’ve eaten at a food court.
7. Bob Dylan – “Country Pie”
Most of the time it’s safe to assume that pop songs about pie aren’t actually about the dessert pastry. But this teasingly succinct honky-tonk hoedown is so goofily earnest that it seems like Dylan just woke up one day inspired to write a song about the different flavors of pie he enjoys. Or it could be about pussy.
8. Jonathan Richman – “Ice Cream Man”
Originally appearing on the ironically named Rock ‘n’ Roll with the Modern Lovers, this childlike ode to a neighborhood treasure is transformed into something else in concert. This live staple frequently turns into an exercise in endurance as Jojo teases the audience into thinking the song will end, only to start another chorus. The eternal return is clearly a metaphor for our childlike desire to keep the ice cream man on call all day and night.
1. M.O.D. – “Aren’t You Hungry”
Possibly the first incarnation of First World Problems, parents in the ‘80s used the plight of famine in Ethiopia to guilt children into finishing all their vegetables. “Think about the children in Ethiopia!” they cried. It was never clear how finishing those last few morsels would help a starving child in a third world nation. It was also not clear why M.O.D. thought the idea of flaunting that consumption excess would be offensive/funny enough material to sit along side songs like “Hate Tank” and “A.I.D.S.”
2. Jack White – “Sixteen Saltines”
White’s cryptic references to crackers are not the only reference to sustenance as he wails, “She doesn’t know but when she’s gone I sit and drink her perfume.” Uh… that’s kind of creepy, Jack. Whatever, just rock out to those searing White Stripes-y guitars while you wonder what the hell this song is about.
3. Paul McCartney – “Monkberry Moon Delight”
Macca claims the title phrase is something his kids invented as a name for “a fantasy drink.” Which makes perfect sense for its nonsensical, surreal lyrics. The real interest with this carnivalesque Ram oddity is the ex-Beatle’s cord-shredding, screaming vocals, at once the most grating and fascinatingly weird of his career.
4. The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket”
God, there are so many choices. Ever have that feeling? Wandering the aisles of Safeway, surrounded by food, yet you don’t want to eat any of it?
5. Tom T. Hall – “Mama Bake a Pie (Daddy Kill a Chicken)”
The big family meal alluded to in the title of this all-time classic, superbly covered by Drive-By Truckers, is unfortunately not a happy occasion. Hall narrates the story of a young G.I. fresh back from ‘Nam with wounds both physical and mental that not even good old-fashioned country cooking can fix. The result is one of the most brilliant of all anti-Vietnam songs — screw all those hippie rock protests!
6. Patti Smith – “Gone Pie”
Patti Smith liked to tell a joke before playing this one live. We’ll repeat it here. Hipster walks into a bar and asks, “How is the lemon pie?” The server says, “The lemon pie is gone.” So the hipster says, “Then I’ll have a piece.”
7. James Vincent McMorrow – “We Don’t Eat”
Conventional wisdom has it that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most would agree that supper is the most important family ritual. Starting the ritual without every member of the family in attendance would simply be rude, particularly the patriarchal father figure – as illustrated here by McMorrow. Fortunately, Adventure Club serves up a particularly meaty remix of the original to feast upon.
8. Big Sugar – “Sugar in My Coffee”
Processed, white sugar has been accused of a lot of things lately. Like a gun, it’s blamed for many a death while a dubious amount of attention is paid to those who wield it irresponsibly. Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson takes full responsibility on this track, however, imploring us to leave it out of his coffee: “It makes me mean/ It makes me mean.”