Folk-singer Tom Glazer gave the world the gift of “On Top Of Spaghetti” in 1963. Meatballs everywhere mourned the loss of their mushed cousin.
But it’s not the only song in which food takes the starring role. From more meatballs to chicken to tofu and rants about gelato and other culinary offerings in San Francisco we’ll take a look at a handful of odes to the edible.
Cat Food Sandwiches – David Lindley
Of course, king-of-ugly-polyester-shirts David Lindley would write a song about the variety of backstage concoctions that await performers backstage. He even adds that the “woman that made them looks just like Jimmy Page!” It’s on the album, “Live in Europe!”
Chicken Cordon Blues – Steve Goodman
The blues of a man who’s been deprived of his favorite foods. The lobster, steak and potatoes have been replaced by granola, beans and rice. According to him even the cockroaches can’t stand the new diet and have “moved next door.” When he can’t take it anymore he heads to the bakery for a jelly roll and a chocolate eclair.
Last Meal – Asleep at the Wheel
This tune finds front man Ray Benson waking up in his cell on death row. He’s got one more meal and to delay his death he starts listing off the meal he’d like. Two dinosaur eggs over easy, black-eyed peas, saber tooth tiger steak, hippopotamus (well baked), crocodile tears, purple watermelon, alligator ears, two cross-eyed catfish, fried moonbeams and a barbecued brick of chocolate ice cream among other imaginative items. Since he’s currently touring the country, I guess they just had to let the man out.
Chicken Ain’t Nothing But A Bird – Cab Calloway
Cab makes the point that no matter what you do to it, if you boil it, fry it or barbecue it, chicken is still just a bird. All the dressing up and calling it a fowl or whatever else you want to doesn’t change that simple fact.
Alfalfa’s – Leftover Salmon
Back before Whole Foods took over Wild Oats and Wild Oats was still Alfalfa’s, Leftover Salmon poked fun at the dairy-free cheese and bulgar eating, soy milk and wheatgrass drinking population of Boulder, Colorado and beyond.
One Meatball – Ry Cooder
With fifteen cents, the man in Ry’s song has just enough cash to buy one lonely meatball. After being embarrassed in front of the restaurant he and his meatball go off down the street, presumably to grieve the meatball that once was on top of spaghetti.
Neko’s Food Rant – Neko Case
In this live clip from Bimbo’s 365 club (June 25, 2006) Neko shares how they will be like “unsupervised children” in San Francisco’s restaurants. After brushing her teeth with gelato, taking a moment to discuss PBS and songs from such (cookies at the disco anyone?) there’s the declaration that she’ll break her teeth out, drink things from a straw, get dentures and by day four have broken those out as well. The four-minute bit of banter ends with dinner from a plastic fireman’s hat and an apology for her “little freak out there.”
Be Careful What You Eat – Animaniacs
We won’t turn this into a discussion of the musical contributions (or lack thereof) of the Animaniacs or any other cartoon series. We will consider the astonishing list of additives (Glycerin, aspartate, Mono sodium glutamate, dehydrated calcinate, gelatinized triglyceride, phosphate, and deoxylite tri-silicon dipped in chocolate) that they manage to get out in very few breaths. It ends with this reminder, “We like sweets a lot / But they make your insides rot / So remember it’s your body /And the only one you’ve got.”
And about that picture of Jackson Browne eating a banana… I can’t think of any songs he’s got about food, but he’s on a version of Catfood Sandwiches and it’s a great pic so we’ll call it good. It’s from Rhino Records.