Food Music Playlist #7: Songs for Coffee Day

I’m a little late in my observance of International Coffee Day–or National Coffee Day, depending on who you ask. As with other food holidays, this day of honoring coffee has its plurality of roots in efforts to promote or market coffee products–but if you give the internet something it likes, it will run the campaign for you. I’ve come across some neat coffee-related pieces today, which I offer to you alongside a short musical menu. Coffee and music go hand and hand–coffeehouses have been both venue and muse for musical entertainment with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Coffee Cantata–so these tunes are merely a fraction of the themes explored in lyrical odes to caffeine.

 Gabriel Mayers, “One More Cup of Coffee”

Like the Beat poets, folk musicians of the 50s and 60s are deeply identified with coffee houses, which provided the spaces for people, music, and ideas to circulate. It’s not too surprising that coffee makes an appearance in lyrics and verse of the period, like this song by Bob Dylan. Here, coffee is both a hello and goodbye: it’s something to be shared with the gypsylike “mysterious and dark” person he sings to just before they go their separate ways.
I had trouble locating a good recording of Bob Dylan on Youtube, but my search led me to the fascinating BUSKRS project and this poigant version by Gabriel Mayers. His voice is killer, and I like imagining this wanderlust song played in a subway station.

Sarah Vaughan, “Black Coffee”

Coffee for two may be somewhat bittersweet, but in this classic song, coffee for one is even more so. Black coffee is what the singer drinks alone, lonely, and waiting for an estranged lover to return. The idea is that black coffee lacks the comfort or sweetness of sugar and cream, but in the lush versions I’ve heard from Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, and other smoldering songstresses, it’s hard not to believe they’re luxuriating in the solitude just a little.

Nat King Cole Trio, “You’re the Cream in my Coffee”

Another classic, this time focusing on what brings sweetness and pleasure to what is otherwise necessity.
If Nat King Cole wasn’t such a classy guy, this song would be potential euphemism material.

Jacques Prévert, “Dejeuner du Matin”

This is almost an inside joke: I memorized this poem for a high school French competition and used to rattle it off to show off at parties (nerdy parties, I guess), but I found myself nostalgic for its simple, apprehensible, coffee-induced melancholy. This is just one of apparently many film adaptations of the poem available on YouTube. Translation here.

For more coffee-related treats:

Emily Contois has a round-up of posts she’s written on coffee history and culture. I particularly like the post that uses Bourdieu and Foucault to contrast Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

The Smithsonian Libraries Tumblr has some coffee print culture on display for today: a lovely botanical drawing and a reblogged medical text.

Buzzfeed introduces us to an Australian man who is attempting to have a cup of coffee with all of his 1k+ Facebook friends, even if it takes three years.

5 responses to “Food Music Playlist #7: Songs for Coffee Day

    • Fun! Of course the Beastie Boys have a coffee recommendation–I was very close to including “Intergalactic” in my lineup purely for “I like my sugar with coffee and cream.” Thanks for the heads up!

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