GUEST MENTALIST: MARK DESROSIERS!
As a paycheck-to-diminishing-paycheck Minnesotan whose lifestyle abruptly became very lean on January 1, 2004, I’d like to announce that I am now surviving on a diet of rice, lentils, and beer. This may seem like paradise to some of you, but believe me, this pastoral feast gets old real fast. How do I cope? Besides muttering curses at President Bush while unleashing a cloud of steam from the rice pot, or sending bilious letters to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, I occasionally trawl my CD collection for food songs to ease the hunger pangs. Here are five of my favorites, in no particular order. (I’ve excluded the food-as-sex songs, such as Angry Samoans’ "Tuna Taco" or Tuscadero’s "Candy Song", since my gal’s in Cameroon for two years, and, well let’s just say those tunes don’t ease that
Five Food Tunes for Hungry Times
- Fred and the New J.B.’s, "Breakin’ Bread" (1974): The J.B.’s recorded a whole mess of classic food jams ("Pass the Peas", "More Peas", "Givin’ Up Food for Funk", "Rice & Ribs"), but this one is my personal favorite because it actually satisfies my hunger. The title seems to indicate a larger metaphor for peace & understanding, and indeed there is much family communion here ("Breakin’ bread with my momma", goes the refrain). Not to mention lust for a cousin Johnnie Mae ("she look so good I wish she weren’t my cousin!"). But the mouth-watering descriptions of funky bread dipped in molasses have me setting back, loosening my belt ("grease all over your fingers, that molasses runnin down the side of your mouth, onto your chest!"). There’s even a recipe if you listen close! (Special Funk Note: Fred talks a lot, but does not solo on this song, yet Jimmy Nolan’s cyclical guitar lick is a satisfying, rarely-sampled downhome groove. James Brown is nowhere near this track, this was 1974 after all!)
- The Lapse, "Buffet" (2000): The endearing self-righteous adenoidal dork Chris Leo (Ted’s brother, I think) chants on and on about how "we make meals out of condiments": very spiritual and metaphorical. But the wonderfully melodic endurance-test riff which repeats for the first 90 seconds of the song always puts a grin on my face. When he spits out, "Our children are raised on mustards and party dips", my poor pyloric valve gasps a little. "I dare you: walk away from the buffet, content in the knowledge that there are better deals to be found, better food to be found, and that nothing is wasted in entrees left untasted." Yes, Mr. Leo, but my stomach! Anyway, the semi-rave-up that begins when he says "untasted" sounds like hypno-indieriff #221C overbending the strings and getting its groove back. I love this song.
- ANTiSEEN, "Animals. Eat ‘Em" (1992): The centerpiece of this redneck-bloodsport band’s groovy concept album Eat More Possum advocates meat-eating as a practical solution to. well I’m not sure what. "Animals, eat ‘em! So you don’t have to feed ‘em! [or is it "beat ‘em"?, can’t tell for sure]" I remember Bob Mould had similar utopian ideas when he said you can feed the rats to the cats and the cats to the rats, to get the catskins for nothin’! I don’t eat meat, myself, but I do love loud incompetent guitar riffs and bellowing assholes, so this tune pushes all my buttons.
- Atom and His Package, "Nutrition" (circa 1998 [?]): From Atom’s early EP Behold, I Shall Do a New Thing, released on Vital Records (home of G.G. Allin’s Murder Junkies, thus this snotty Jewish kid is connected with ANTiSEEN in some obscure way). This is a synthcore declaration of spoiled-brat nutrition-consciousness, originally performed by the Dead Milkmen (whose Serbophile economics-geek bassist Dave Blood killed himself last week). Enough spidery connections and tributes for you? Anyway, I love the "Axel F" riff, and please note that Atom hates all fruit. (And the multitalented Dave Blood seemed to have killed himself because he was overattached to his mom and had trouble recontextualizing himself after Dead Milkmen’s retirement ten years ago. Very sad.)
- Gang of Four, "Cheeseburger (Live)" (1981): From the Another Day / Another Dollar EP, this surpasses the studio version because it begins with the breathless announcement: "This is a very hungry song about ‘ungry things: cheeseburger to go!" Plus it’s faster and noisier, and you can thrash about to the rebellious Marxism (with a fake idealized American trucker as narrator!). I’ve listened to this so many thousands of times that it’s sorta just a background in my brain, but hearing it close I notice the band was trying to make some sort of twisted pop song, with its "yeah yeah yeahs" and "oooooh"'s backing up the guitar noise. And the limp capitalist cheeseburger they serve up ain’t exactly digestible. But anger makes me forget my hunger. And then I can play “To Hell With Poverty", which gets me drunk just hearing it. As my beloved Maggie says, "let’s just get our calories from beer!"