I was a little surprised, I have to admit, when I realised just how many songs my partner and I could think of that reference, are tenuously linked to, or are actually about this week’s subject. So, what am I on about this week? Food and drink. That is, the non-alcoholic variety (I’ve covered alcohol before, of course, see the box).
This week’s list is available in both Spotify and Youtube flavours to suit your tastes.
Vegemite (The Black Death)
Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
This week’s list has actually been on the backburner for a while, awaiting a flash of inspiration. And that flash came with this marvellous song from the new Amanda Palmer album (which is a little surprisingly almost all recorded live, despite being all new songs). Basically this is a tender lovesong…to start with. Until she reveals her hatred of said Black Death. Oh, I can so get with her sentiment – at least with Marmite. It’s horrid, horrid stuff, tastes bloody awful and smells even worse. And yes, Daisy loves the stuff, and so do many of my friends. Maybe it’s just me?
Starfish and Coffee
Sign ‘O’ The Times
Still with the breakfast idea, it would be amiss of me not to mention this marvellously odd track. About a pretty odd girl at school who has a truly mind-blowing breakfast…apparently. Part of the charm of this is that I’ve never quite worked out if this is just a track in the form of a dream sequence, or if it’s just utterly batty psychedelia. And no, I’ve never fancied starfish for breakfast. Or coffee, for that matter
Coffee and TV
…and talking of coffee, Blur’s finest late-period single by a country mile, a melancholic lament where the coffee is a central part, even if the rest of the song has nothing to do with it. But the desire to get away, to start again with an unknown other party, appears only possible with another hit of coffee. I’d substitute tea for it, but otherwise I can get with that idea. Blur, of course, had covered (sugary) tea before in Chemical World. Oh, and then there is the legendary video for this, with the heartbreaking life of a milk carton in the big city.
So let’s move on from breakfast. Anyone else who can come up with a song that gets a recipe in it, I’ll give them a cookie. But not one of these, probably. Mix up a grinding, clanking industrial interlude, add in some evil-sounding german speech, and sprinkle with an apocalyptic-sounding, baying crowd. Then go back again and listen closer to the lyrics, and you realise that it’s actually a recipe for hash cakes – without any eggs, mind.
While I’m not including alcohol in this list, there’s nothing to say I couldn’t include the hangover that follows it. So this otherwise unremarkable album track – well, apart from the Kenickie-go-synthpop sound – deserves a mention for detailing with great accuracy that fuzzy morning-after-the-epic-night-before feeling with your mates…and eating toast. Toast vs hangover? There is only going to be one winner there.
By some distance one of the more affecting songs on Nirvana’s last album, this bleak ballad refers to a herbal drink used in the past as an aid to abortion, which is nowadays strongly warned against – not least as the main ingredient (pennyroyal) is actually rather toxic. In retrospect, though, it’s the solo “unplugged” version that really rams home just how extraordinary this song is/was, stripped of the noisy, rough-edged Steve Albini production and left to quiver in the light.
It doesn’t really get much more positive with Eels around, I’m afraid. This album, a reaction to various deaths in his close family, was unremittingly bleak for the most part, but Mark Everett’s gallows humour did shine through on occasion. Like this, where he appears to be hoping to get back into hospital just for the food. I’m not sure I concur with that idea…
Picnic By The Motorway
There will be happier songs along in a moment, I promise. In the meantime, here’s Brett Anderson’s tale of getting away from the bad news with a lover…to a picnic by the motorway. Where you get the added bonus of inhaling the pollution while enjoying your food, and the view of the tarmac while you collect your thoughts to finish off the feast. Not quite the idea I had in mind, I have to say. One bonus, I hadn’t heard this song in bloody ages.
From the sublime to the utterly ridiculous…let’s get some gonzoid hair metal in here, shall we? And it’s somewhat tenuously about food, instead being food as metaphors for sex, sex and more sex – or at least, shall we say, getting it on with an, um, less experienced girl. Food as metaphor for sex is hardly an uncommon theme (see also: Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry, which is certainly not about food, and I’d be pretty surprised if Eagles of Death Metal’s Cherry Cola was, either), and I’d suspect there are other songs in the same genre as this that pulled exactly the same trick.
Also tenuously about food, here is three minutes of quite spectacular aural filth from Kelis, made even more striking by the video that couldn’t be any more suggestive if it tried. Once again the titular milkshake is very obviously a metaphor…and Kelis is clearly so good at what she does, she’s gonna have to charge.