John Grant
Songs about Food
Lollipop - The Chordettes

Apparently, this 1958 classic was inspired by one of the songwriters arriving to the studio late because his daughter had gotten a lollipop stuck in her hair. With lollipops in mind, his co-writer got to work on a cheerful ditty centred around such a funny-sounding word. How to turn that into a hit? Well, obviously some romance needed to be introduced: “He loves to kiss me / ‘Til I can’t see straight / Gee, my Lollipop is great! / I call him / Lollipop, lollipop …” The song has seen many recordings, but the most successful internationally was the all-female barbershop quartet version by The Chordettes. These days, singing about your man’s lollipop would sound obscene, but not as much so as the mention of a high-sugar snack. Will the coming years bring yet another cover version, updated for modern palates to some sort of lactose-free kefir stick? Good luck with that rhyme scheme.

Bakerman - Laid Back

“Bakerman is baking bread / Bakerman is baking bread.” Laid Back’s 1989 hit united people all over the world (well, mainly Europe) in their love for a freshly baked loaf. The song’s chilled-out, steady-as-she-goes vibe and lyrical repetition bring to mind the busy bakerman stretching, pulling, kneading, slapping … wait, is this really about bread? Might the singer’s insistence that “The night train is coming” be something other than a simple stating of facts about the arrival of a late train while the baker rhythmically whacks his slippery batter against the countertop? The answer, it would seem, is in the ears of the beholder. Whether the song makes you hungry or horny (or if you’re truly twisted, both), the video holds no clues as to the intentions behind the lyrics. In a shocking foray into the sphere of “sense of humour”, Lars von Trier directed the classic clip of the Danish group singing and playing their instruments, all while plummeting towards the earth in skydiving gear.

Caramel - John Grant

Tempting as it might be to pledge one’s undying devotion to actual caramel, it probably makes for a more emotionally engaging song to just use the sugary treat as simile: “My love is the rarest jewel / And he grounds me with his love / My love – he is rich like caramel …” The food references end after the first few lines, as John moves on to describing his love in much less culinary terms, like shelter and healing. In interviews, the singer has been very open about his troubled past, growing up gay in an orthodox Methodist family in the American Midwest of the 70s. Having battled with substance abuse and mental-health issues, John seems to have written Caramel (2010) as a poem to the lover who has become his rock amid the chaos, a sort of sweet ending. Like a nasty meal followed by a surprisingly delicious crème brûlée.

Frim Fram Sauce - Diana Krall

“I don’t want French-fried potatoes, red, ripe tomatoes / I’m never satisfied / I want the frim fram sauce / With the aussen fay and chifafah on the side.” “Ah, yes,” nod the foodie Instagrammers, “chifafah is, like, so hot right now.” Not so fast, douchebags. Diana Krall’s 1993 track is actually an old jazz standard, famous for its silly, made-up lyrics. Originally popularised by Nat King Cole back in the 40s, Frim Fram Sauce is a tale of craving, when just that one dish will hit the spot. The restaurant may offer a whole menu of delights, but Diana can only be sated by that frim-fram-aussen-chifafah thing. Is it all a bit of cheeky innuendo? Possibly. And yet, it’s just so easy to imagine overhearing some grandiose diner insisting, “Yah, I’m gonna go for the frim fram, but make sure the aussen isn’t over-fayed and did I mention that I cannot abide a limp chifafah?”

Old Whore’s Diet Rufus Wainwright ft. Anohni

“An old whore’s diet / Gets me goin’ in the mornin’.” While it’s not immediately apparent what the breakfast of an elderly prostitute might consist of, Rufus clearly has mixed emotions on the issue. The 2004 song moves from wistful ballad to fun reggae-strumming, to poignant violins with the added vocal of Anohni (formerly of Antony and The Johnsons), to funereal organ and an eventual climax of wailing pandemonium. Jesus, Rufus, we can assume this isn’t a strawberry pop-tart you’re talking about. So, what could it be that fires up Rufus’s pistons every morn? His official explanation is that the lyrics were inspired by a time he found himself eating old, cold Chinese food from a hotel fridge. Hmm. Fans point out that an old whore’s diet may not be quite so innocent. How to put this? Apparently, a more aged sex worker will often need to perform certain … favours … to stay popular. Bon appétit!