Bonus playlist Wednesday: soul food edition


Remember the theme mix? Used to be something you crafted over days or even weeks, linking up lyrical motifs and musical patterns into a coherent whole that explored an idea or told a story. Searchable databases have changed all that. Now I can type any word into iTunes—say, “book”—and get a perfectly bookish playlist that includes Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Pylon, Spoon, and Talking Heads, all tidy and even in alphabetical order. Nice, but a great mix ought to be earned.

So the theme gets more complex. Maybe you narrow the subject, expand the genre, or both. That’s how this humdinger of a playlist started: with a Booker T. & the M.G.s song called “My Sweet Potato.” It got me thinking: is the sweet potato a metaphor? A lover’s endearment? Or do the guys just really like sweet potatoes? Turns out that funk instrumentals named after food are ubiquitous. Gradually the list expanded to include R&B, jazz, boogaloo—anything with a groove. My iTunes started to look less like a library than a well-stocked refrigerator. Eventually the playlist split into two courses. Today: dinner. Coming next time: dessert!

1. Cookin’ (Funky 7″ Mix) — Beatfanatic
2. Super Chicken — Ramona King
3. Sliced Tomatoes — Just Brothers
4. Poverty Stricken Chicken — Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
5. Green Onions — Booker T. & The MGs
6. Fish In The Dish — Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
7. Fried Neck Bones And Some Home Fries — Willie Bobo
8. Chicken Heads — Oscar Brown Jr.
9. Soul Sauce — Cal Tjader Soul Sauce
10. Cabbage Alley — The Meters
11. Pig Snoots, Pt. 1 — Natural Bridge Bunch
12. Chicken Strut — King Herbert & The Knights (w/ Jack Harden)
13. The Sad Chicken — Leroy & The Drivers
14. Beans — Jimmy McGriff & Groove Holmes
15. Fried Okra (Mono) — Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
16. Mr. Chicken [Alternate Take] — The Soul Seven
17. Collard Greens And Black Eyed Peas — Bud Powell
18. Ole Buttermilk Sky — Hoagy Carmichael
19. Roast Fish And Corn Bread (Extended Mix) — Lee “Scratch” Perry
20. Taco Wagon — Dick Dale
21. Double Cookin’ — The Checkerboard Squares

5 responses to “Bonus playlist Wednesday: soul food edition”

  1. lane says:

    odd how many “chicken” songs there are.

    i would add Yo La Tengo’s various “Hot Chicken” like # 1 and #5. from Electropura.

    no meal is complete without a little Yo La.

  2. Rachel says:

    Yeah, I was going for some generic unity, but a whole mix of just “chicken” songs would have been possible.

    The “chicken” songs on the mix seem to share some musical DNA, too. Sounds like a case for O-Dub over at Soul Sides.

  3. Tim says:


  4. trixie says:

    fun list, rachel!
    i am surprised that spearhead’s “red beans and rice” did not come up in the search.

  5. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the rec, Trixie! Maybe it’s time to go to work on Vol.II.