A seminal record of early post-punk is The Talking Head’s sophomore release More Songs About Buildings and Food . The album’s name is a bit of a non-sequitur. Especially for a band that in 1978 was known for songs about psycho killers more than anything else.
The name of the title does beg the question: where are the songs about buildings and food? They were missing from this album, but throughout the rest of punk culture they thrive. Today, I present some of those punk songs about buildings and food. Spoiler alert: they are mostly about food.
Check it outbelow!
10. Descendants – “Coffee Mug”
An ode to the power of coca beans and the containers we consume them with. Milo sounds like he is so hopped up on caffeine that it might just be criminal. There’s no stopping him or any of the other caffeine addicts–“I don’t need no booze or drugs/just chug-a-lug-o my coffee mug.” Keep the refills coming.
9. Frank Turner – “A Decent Cup of Tea”
An ocean away, Frank Turner croons about unrequited love served over tea leaves. Nights of regrets found in hot water diffusion and friendships appears on “A Decent Cup of Tea.” Sour as lemon and sweet as the honey I add to my earl grey, Turner is cynical in the heartbreak of a female friend who finds him undesirable in a sea of heart breaking men. A “nice guy” appeal that asks to break a cycle, sure, but also a heart breaking song about the inability to comfort the ones closet to you.
8. The Lawrence Arms – “The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City”
Not only the longest title of a punk song, but the mixing of both of our themes on this list. “The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City” has The Lawrence Arms musing on the loneliness in a city of millions. “I walk through the snow to a bar where there’s no one I know/ drink slow with nowhere to go/ and when I leave I’ll be singing a song/summer’s gone, carry on, I’m a ghost in the dawn.” Winter is a time for reflection, a time to overcome loss and figure out the next move over a beer or six.
7. Joy Division – “Interzone”
Making reference to Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, Ian Curtis and the rest of the Mancunians who make up Joy Divison bury the hammer of post-punk with this track off of Unknown Pleasures. Bringing the fear and anxiety of modern life to song, Curtis intones the dangers of cities and the space of the interzone. Mental blocs and a smattering of Joy Division tropes that we have all come to love. Hard rock sound with a post-punk ideology. A solid song from the early years of Factory Records.
6. The Bouncing Souls – “The Pizza Song”
The ‘Souls remind us of the importance of quality pizza in the American experience on this track from The Gold Record. My mouth waters at the idea of good New York style pizza on the boardwalk. A single sold by the slice that brings back memories of love lost.
5. Fear – “More Beer”
I am pretty sure this song is about the cruelty of the global north on the third world in our modern transnational world. Nah, its about beer. Specifically, it’s about more beer. It is a key part of Fear’s musical repertoire. Fear likes alcoholic beverages.
4. The Menzingers – “Sun Hotel”
“I’m pretty sure this corner of the world is the loneliest corner in the whole world.” Probably my favorite lyric from On The Impossible Past. Menzingers give us cold memories over cold beer. Anxiety and sleeplessness nights follow you and haunt your present day through the rented worlds of your soul.
3. The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket”
A song about suburbia, Mick Jones sings about consumer culture as it relates to childhood memories. Tea, records, all a part of a hunt for “guaranteed personality.” Some things are for sale and some things can never be found in the multitude of alleyways between the past and the present–between the lager and the milk. Mick tells us about it all on London Calling.
2. Bad Religion – “Skyscraper”
A Tower of Babel in the modern day, Bad Religion reminds us of the power of creating garish city-spaces. Again, it brings out the feeling of isolation in me. Buildings are less about the builders but the ideas that are created inside of them. Bad Religion reminds us that we may be one in building the world, but our ideas fall upon the few elite who sit inside the halls we shape with our hands. Also, it might be about the first Bush presidency; which is fun.
1. Fugazi – “Cashout”
On The Argument we are given a direct and thoughtful trip into the world of municipal government–and the value of human life in an era of increased gentrification Fugazi’s “Cashout” makes more sense than ever. “Everybody wants to live somewhere,” screams Ian MacKaye, and you believe it when it comes from these discorded fellows. Progress means pushing out the poorest of our people. Something to remember when you sip a latte in Brooklyn sometime.
Ten songs about buildings and food (mostly about food). Any that I missed? Any that should have been replaced? Don’t like when Brian Eno gets involved with producing punk bands? Let me know in the comments below!
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