July 14, 2024

Three Old Songs About Food

After listening to the seemingly innocent Four Clefs ‘I Like Pie I Like Cake’ (circa 1941) I was thinking that, perhaps, before the advent of rock n roll, before things got all down and dirty, suppressed musical rebels focussed on food as a substitute for sex. Perhaps actually the original focus on food was the first step towards songs a more lascivious nature. After all isn’t there a saying about food and love? ‘Jazz songs about food’, I can imagine twenty-first century conservatives reflecting, ‘were just the thin end of the wedge.’ The potato wedge! But anyway, this freshly cooked musical hypothesis was quickly disproven when I heard Bessie Smith’s ‘Kitchen Man’, 1928. OK maybe sexual content was being masked by talk of food, but it certainly wasn’t being substituted. If sex was being suppressed then only in the way that the top crust of a pie covers the bubbling steamy filling. I better stop here.




Servants by the score
Footmen at each door
Butlers and maids galore
But one day Sam, her kitchen man
Gave in his notice, he’s through
She cried, “Oh Sam, don’t go
It’ll grieve me if you do”
I love his cabbage gravy, his hash
Crazy ’bout his succotash
I can’t do without my kitchen man
Wild about his turnip top
Like the way he warms my chop
I can’t do without my kitchen man
Anybody else can leave
And I would only laugh
But he means too much to me
And you ain’t heard the half
Oh, his jelly roll is so nice and hot
Never fails to touch the spot
I can’t do without my kitchen man
His frankfurters are oh so sweet
How I like his sausage meat
I can’t do without my kitchen man
Oh, how that boy can open clam
No one else is can touch my ham
I can’t do without my kitchen man
When I eat his doughnuts
All I leave is the hole
Any time he wants to
Why, he can use my sugar bowl
Oh, his baloney’s really worth a try
Never fails to satisfy
I can’t do without my kitchen man


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