The intersection of food and music is a heavily trafficked one, especially these days. Martha Stewart has put her stamp on everything from holiday jazz collections to lullabies. And Rachel Ray is hosting another party at SXSW this year, with a band line-up that includes the Hold Steady, Ra Ra Riot, the Thermals, and what’s left of the New York Dolls; that’s a better line-up than a lot of magazines and blogs can muster.
Of course, before Martha and Rachel, before the Food Network, there was Julia Child. Her PBS staple “The French Chef” turned a whole generation on to the art of preparing fine cuisine in the home. In a universe where you can’t swing a cast iron skillet without hitting a so-called “celebrity” chef, she casts a long shadow. Yet I was still surprised when, while digging through used LPs at Revolver Records in Phoenix, AZ, last week, I found this odd artifact:
Oh joy! Even though the billing made it clear that Julia only provided narration on this program — what I wouldn’t give to actually hear her warble in those plumy tones of hers — I couldn’t leave this record behind. Not after I looked at the track listing: Melanie’s “Brand New Key”? “76 Trombones” from Broadway classic The Music Man? How could this not be brilliant? There are few things better than non-singers attacking “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”
Alas, it turns out that Julia really only features on one cut, the children’s orchestral favorite “Tubby the Tuba.” The rest of the performances are instrumentals. But I guess the fact Julia got billing above Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, even though they’re the ones who do all the heavy lifting on the record, just underscores her pioneer status. Too bad she never hooked up with the New York Dolls; that’s a party I wouldn’t have missed.
DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog.