June 29, 2010
Sometimes, food is so good you’ve just got to sing about it.
When I was younger, I convinced my mother that my younger brothers and I should have “singing dinners,” which would require everyone to sing anything we would normally speak until we were excused from the table. For some reason she agreed. Overcome with joy, I launched into a jubilant ode to my turkey burger (or whatever I was eating) and engaged in a lively call and response about green beans with my brothers.
My mother only let this go on occasionally, as one of my brothers always seemed to confuse singing with screaming at the top of his lungs. But I still find myself singing sometimes as I’m preparing food (in my defense, I was a music major in college).
Thankfully, I’m not alone. There are hundreds of artists who have produced hits with food as their muse, whether they sing about the food itself or a memory associated with it. Here are some of the songs about food that come to my mind, compiled with the help of this list.
“Suppertime,” You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Musical: Once upon a time when I was an aspiring thespian, I was the lead dancer in this musical, which meant I got to star with Snoopy in this song as he bemoans the fact that Charlie Brown has forgotten to feed him. Despite the horrible memory of my horrendous costume, I still appreciate Snoopy’s enthusiasm in this song—the dog just wants to eat. “So what’s wrong with making mealtime a joyous occasion?” he asks Charlie, who can’t seem to understand why Snoopy won’t just eat his meal and quit whining already.
“C is for Cookie,” The Cookie Monster, Sesame Street: Though I also think C is for chocolate, I used to love watching cookie monster dive head first into a pile of the treats after he finished singing “C is for cookie, and cookie is for me.” But since then, the song has been changed to “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me,” and he now reminds viewers that “cookies are a sometime treat.” Apparently some producers were concerned about what messages the song were sending about selfishness or obesity (one commenter on a discussion board even called our beloved cookie monster the “evil puppet demon of obesity”). I think Cookie just likes his cookies, and a lot of other people do, too.
“That’s Amore,” Dean Martin: I guarantee if you walk into a restaurant or bar with an older crowd and begin to sing “Whennn theee moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie,” your fellow patrons will be able to finish the line of lyrics with “that’s amore.” The food in this song (pizza, wine, pasta) is romantic; the scenery (Napoli, the streets of Italy) is romantic; and the ting-a-ling-a-ling of accompanying bells is romantic (or maybe just charming, but play along with me here). I can’t guarantee that you’ll make women swoon like Dean Martin did, though.
“Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk,“Rufus Wainwright: One of those songs that explores (in the beginning, anyway) how food and cravings make us feel. The sound of cigarettes and chocolate milk together sounds rather unappealing to me, but then again, I’m not a smoker or a famous lyricist. I think most of us can relate to what Wainwright says about jelly beans, though: “If I should buy jellybeans, have to eat them all in just one sitting. Everything it seems I like’s a little bit sweeter, a little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me.”
“Peaches,” Presidents of the United States: Some people have mixed interpretations of this song, but it always reminds me of summer and my favorite farming stands. If I were “movin’ to the country,” I’d eat a lot of peaches too. Sadly, the song also forecasts the only way I’ll be able to find peaches when the weather moves toward winter: “Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man in a factory downtown.” This song, like a peach, is addicting, in part because it repeats “gonna eat me a lot of peaches” about 16 times, in one form or another.
What’s your favorite song about food? Though the Turkey Burger serenade is among my best work, I’ve been singing another original composition as I make oatmeal-to-go for my morning commute: “Oats in a Jar” sung to the tune of another original composition, “Pants On The Ground,” made famous by a man auditioning for the most recent season of American Idol. I have no explanation for why that happens, but who knows. If people can sing about cookies and peaches, who’s to say a song about oats won’t go viral?
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