Sing while you enjoy your wine and food (favorite culinary songs)

A playable post:

What are your favorite eating and drinking songs? There must be a million of them; but then again, not. But these days the vast library in the internet sky allows you put your favorites all together in once place, making for one, big musical food, wine, beer, whiskey, and coffee fest.

As in this practically unknown, seminal (1962) tribute to java and heartache by reggae god Bob Marley:

Yet for all the eating and drinking songs in our own language, one of my favorites is actually French – La Danse de Limonade, performed by the Savoy-Doucet Cajun band – that starts:

Mon j'aime cousine, mon j'aime cousin
J'aime mieux la cuisiniere

(I like my girl cousin, I like my boy cousin

But I like the cook the best…)

… and then goes on to describe the typical Cajun dance party; where the girl, in her innocent voice, describes how she gets “drunk like a big pig,” begs her friends to force her to drink lemonade, but in the end needs to turn to Hadacol (a snake charmer’s medicinal, popular in the 1940s) to regain her composure.

One of the oldest classics is Bessie Smith’s circa-1920s Gimme a Pigfoot (… and a bottle of beer… give the piano man a drink because he’s bringing me down), although I think Ferdinand "Jelly Roll” Morton’s Wining Boy Blues – composed and first performed in the New Orleans brothels that employed him – pre-dates Smith’s Pigfoot.

The way Morton once told the story of how he came up with the bluesiest wine song ever written:

When the place (Hilma Burt’s on Basin Street) was closing down, it was my habit to pour these partly filled bottles of wine together and make up a new bottle from the mixture. That fine drink gave me a name and from that I made a tune that was very, very popular in those days…

I'm a wining boy, don't deny my name,
I'm a wining boy, don't deny my name…

Hate to say it, but it reminds me of exactly what we used to do when I first got into the restaurant business, mixing leftover wines and making coolers out of them (I’ve since acquired “good taste”… I think).

Otherwise, I wouldn’t exactly call most of the songs written about wine “great.” After a while, for example, the repetitive cycle of UB40’s Red Red Wine, penned by Neil Diamond, starts to wear thin. Diamond’s Cracklin’ Rosie (… you're a store bought woman), on the other hand, still sounds as fresh as ever, some 40 years after it hit the charts (my freshman high school days, as it were). Despite the great salsa beat, Eric Burdon’s Spill the Wine now sounds as silly as his Sky Pilot, as do Dean Martin’s and Mel Tillis’s renditions of Little Ole Wine Drinker Me.

But if there is any song that will always pluck the heart strings of a wine lover, it would be the late Jesse Winchester’s little known, under-appreciated (hey, just like a French vin de pays!) Little Glass of Wine:

Little glass of wine, a good thing you are here
You're warm on my lips, warm as a tear

A comfort to the fool who's restless in his mind

The lover's trusty potion, little glass of wine

Have a taste of the montage of 2014 harvest photos that I arranged around Winchester's ode to bottled poetry:

The most sing-able wine song ever written? For that honor, I nominate Jerry Jeff Walker’s obscurity of a gem, Sangria Wine, which even contains a recipe for the best sangria and suggested sangria-friendly foods:

In Texas on a Saturday night
Everclear is added to the wine sometimes

Some nachos, burritos and tacos
Who knows how it usually it goes…

It goes... I love that sangria wine
Just like I love old friends of mine

They tell the truth when they’re mixed with the wine

That’s why I blend in the lemons and limes

Is that poetry in a bottle or what? Well, maybe I think so because I love to sangria too much, and the lazy half-reggae rhythm of the song.

And just about as elegaic as the names of the best she-done-left-me-and-drove-me-to-drink country songs: George Jones' If the Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will), Jerry Lee Lewis' What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me), and the all-time great Merle Haggard's Tonight the Bottle Left Me Down.

Eating and drinking songs are just like wines – it’s difficult to name your favorite. But I’ll give it a try, dividing them into four categories.

Going by the names of my favorite performer(s) of each respective song:

Favorite Eating Songs

1. Diana Krall/Nat King Cole - Frim Fram Sauce
2. Leon Redbone - Mr. Jelly Roll Baker

3. Bessie Smith – Gimme a Pigfoot
4. The Andrews Sisters – Hold Tight, Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood Mama)
5. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys/Asleep at the Wheel & Dixie Chicks – Roly Poly

6. Ry Cooder – Crow Black Chicken
7. Diana Krall – Peel Me a Grape
8. Michael Franks - Eggplant
9. Taj Mahal/Lovin' Spoonful – Fishing Blues
10. The Coasters/Loudon Wainwright III – Smokey Joe’s Café

11. The Kinks – Skin and Bones
12. Dizzy Gillespie – Salt Peanuts
13. Michael Hurley – You’ll Never Go to Heaven

14. Jimmy Rogers/Merle Haggard – Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia
15. Hank Williams Sr. – Jambalaya
16. Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes

17. Ka’au Crater Boys – He `Ono
18. Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, Jane Wyman & Jimmy Durante – Black Strap Molasses
19. Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions
20. Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks – I Don’t Want Love

21. Dusty Springfield/Chrissie Hynde & UB40 – Breakfast In Bed
22. Average White Band – Cut the Cake
23. Presidents of the United States – Peaches
24. The Mamas & the Papas – Sing for Your Supper
25. Bob Dylan – Country Pie

Favorite Wine Songs

1. Jimmie Rogers/Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt – Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
2. Jerry Jeff Walker – Sangria Wine
3. Jesse Winchester – Little Glass of Wine
4. Jelly Roll Morton/Leon Redbone – Wining Boy Blues

5. The Band – Strawberry Wine
6. Neil Diamond – Cracklin’ Rosie
7. Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen – Wine Do Yer Stuff

8. Arlo Guthrie/Hoyt Axton – Lightning Bar Blues
9. UB40 - Red Red Wine
10. Eric Burdon & War – Spill the Wine
11. Marsha Thornton – A Bottle of Wine and Patsy Cline

12. Emmylou Harris – Two Bottles of Wine
13. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood – Summer Wine
14. The Fireballs – Bottle of Wine

Favorite Drinking Songs (Non-Country)

1. The Andrews Sisters – Rum and Coca Cola
2. Lil’ Bob & the Lollipops/Los Lobos – I Got Loaded
3. Leroy Carr – Hustler’s Blues
4. Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band – La Danse de Limonade

5. Flaco Jimenez – En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza (There Is No Beer In Heaven)
6. Billie Holiday – Riffin’ the Scotch
7. Mississippi John Hurt – Coffee Blues
8. The Kinks – Demon Alcohol
9. Bob Marley/Damian Junior Gong Marley – One Cup of Coffee

10. Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs – Sugar Shack
11. Harry Nilsson – Coconut
12. Randy Newman/Bonnie Raitt – Guilty
13. John Prine – They Oughta Name a Drink After You
14. The Doors – Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)

15. Billie Holiday/Frank Sinatra/Dolly Parton – I Get a Kick Out of You
16. UB40 – Bring Me Your Cup
17. Adam Carroll – Of Milwaukee’s Best

18. John Lee Hooker/George Thorogood – One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
19. Ruper Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
20. Loudon Wainwright III – Drinking song

Favorite Country-Western Drinking Songs

1. Merle Haggard/George Jones – Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down
2. Gram Parsons – Kiss the Children
3. Kris Kristofferson/Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down

4. George Jones/The Byrds – You’re Still On My Mind
5. Hank Thompson/Merle Haggard – Wild Side of Life
6. Rhonda Vincent – Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin
7. The Flying Burrito Brothers - Juanita

8. Louvin Brothers/Johnny Cash – Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea
9. George Jones – If the Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)
10. Ernest Tubbs – Pass the Booze
11. Kitty Wells – Death at the Bar

12. Hank Williams Sr. – Honky Tonkin’
13. Tommy Alverson – Uno Mas Cerveza
14. Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places
15. Leon Russell/Hank Thompson – A Six Pack to Go

16. Daryle Singletary/New Riders of the Purple Sage – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)
17. Jerry Lee Lewis – What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me)
18. Louvin Brothers/Johnny Cash – Kneeling Drunkard’s Doom
19. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys – Lone Star Beer

20. Hank Williams Sr. – There’s a Tear In My Beer
21. Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen – Lost In the Ozone Again
22. Loretta Lynn – Honky Tonk Girl
23. Alan Jackson - It's Five o'Clock Somewhere

24. Roger Miller – Chug-a-Lug
25. Loretta Lynn – Don’t Come Home a’Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ on Your Mind)
26. George Strait/Poco - Honky Tonk Downstairs
27. Tom T. Hall – I Only Think About You When I’m Drunk

28. Joe Nichols – She Only Smokes When She Drinks
29. Wanda Jackson – Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine
30. Charlie Rich – Sittin’ and Thinkin’
31. George Jones – These Days (I Barely Get By)
32. Tanya Tucker - Somebody Buy This Cowgirl a Beer


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