Brief History Of Popular Music And Food
Before most Zac Brown Band concerts you can meet the band and enjoy some fantastic food. The events are called “Eat and Greets” and they are opened to members of the ZBB fan club, affectionately known as the “Zamily.”
Regardless if Zac Brown Band is in Boston or Eugene, Oregon, you won’t find any rubber chicken at an “Eat and Greet.” Chuck Yarborough from The Plain Dealer attended an “Eat and Greet” prior to Zac Brown Band’s concert at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He raved about the grub. Yarborough said they had the best coleslaw he had ever tasted, and when it came to dessert (chard flavored with pistachio, balsamic vinegar, chickpeas) he didn’t know whether to eat it or rub it over his body.
An “Eat and Greet” is not the only time Zac Brown Band involves itself with food. Since 2011, the band has hosted the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. The fourth edition of the three-day event kicks off Oct. 11. The festival is both a feast for the ears and the taste buds. Attendees get to enjoy great music (ZBB headlines each night) as well as delicious chow.
Popular music and food have a long history together. If you think about it, music and food satiate two of our three biggest appetites (if you know what I mean). Below, Musicology-101 takes a brief look at some of the most significant examples of when food and music crossed paths.
“Shake, Rattle and Roll”
“Shake, Rattle and Roll” was recorded by Big Joe Turner and Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954. Turner’s version is a classic blues number while Haley’s rendition is one of the earliest and most successful rock and roll songs. The lyrics to “Shake, Rattle and Roll” are as dirty and misogynistic as anything you’ll find in today’s musical clime. That includes the line “I’m like the one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store/Well I can look at you tell you ain’t no child no more.” Interestingly, Haley was blind in one eye.
“MacArthur Park” is a very successful song. Richard Harris had a number two hit with it in 1968. Then, a decade later, Donna Summer took the ditty all the way to number one. Yet, Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” is widely considered one of the worst songs ever recorded. It’s pretentious as a cucumber finger sandwich and contains some of the worst lyrics ever put down on paper. That includes the famous line “Someone left the cake out in the rain.” During the recording of the song, Harris sang “MacArthur’s Park” instead of “MacArthur Park.” Webb, who produced the recording, tried to correct the bombastic actor but eventually gave up after Harris failed to correct his pronunciation.
“Savory Truffle” appears on The Beatles’ White Album (1968). It was written by George Harrison about Eric Clapton’s legendary sweet tooth. A lot of the lyrics came from a box of Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates: “Creme tangerine and montelimat/A ginger sling with a pineapple heart.” Apparently all of the desserts Harrison mentions re real except for cherry cream and coconut fudge.
“The Lemon Song”
Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” (1969) evolved out of the band performing Howlin’ Wolf’s “The Killing Floor” in concert. Today, “The Lemon Song” gives Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf’s his real name) a songwriting credit. In “The Lemon Song” you’ll find a line that can be traced all the way back to the 1930s. This line is just as dirty as the one previously cited from “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” That line is: “Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg/The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed.”
"Cheeseburger in Paradise"
Jimmy Buffett took a boat trip where he had to subsist on canned food and peanut butter. With his stomach growling he dreamed of eating a juicy cheeseburger. When he arrived at his destination, Road Town in the British Virgin Islands, he was amazed to find a restaurant serving American hamburgers. That story is the inspiration behind "Cheeseburger in Paradise" (1978), one of Buffett’s most popular songs and a staple during his live show. Historically, there’s been some confusion as to whether or not Buffett croons “in paradise” or “is paradise.” There’s evidence that he sings both.
"Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic has made a living combining popular music and food in hilarious song parodies. His most famous is 1984’s “Eat It,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Other Yankovic songs involving food include "Addicted to Spuds," “Fat," "Girls Just Want To Have Lunch," "I Love Rocky Road," "Livin’ in the Fridge," "Spam," "Taco Grande,” and "Waffle King."
In the earlier 1990s, Sarah McLachlan sang: “Your love is better than ice cream/better than anything else that I’ve tried.” Wow, that’s high praise. She continues: “Your love is better than chocolate/better than anything else that I’ve tried.” That’s even higher praise. I’d settle for my love being better than spray cheese or peanut butter M&M’s. “Ice Cream” was not released as a single but it’s found on S-Mac’s breakthrough opus Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993). Still, the song is very popular.