Sommeliers, brewmasters, mixologists, and moonshiners all want to tell you what pairs well with what. Champagne pairs well with oysters. Lager pairs well with pizza. Mountain Dew pairs well with Funyuns.
Experts may know what pairs well, but you don’t need a fancy title to know what pairs best. Music and drink can lift our inhibitions, relax our consciousness, and expose the beauty of the world around us. And when the mix is just right it’s hard to tell which is more intoxicating.
As part of our deep dive on drink, we gathered a few of our favorite beverage-inspired songs. Now playing at our office, or yours. Find the full playlist at the end of this post.
“Color in Your Cheeks,” The Mountain Goats
This is a song about immigrants and refugees (timely, I know). I chose it because it’s a good reminder of how the simple offer of a drink can be a powerful gesture to someone in need — how a small act of kindness toward the weary and unrested can be profound.
“Spoonful,” Howlin’ Wolf
It could be a spoonful of coffee
It could be a spoonful of tea
But one little spoon of your precious love
Is good enough for me.
This song is so raw. And that voice. I want to have a drink just listening to it.
“Waiting for Kirsten,” Jens Lekman
I’ll find any excuse to add Jens Lekman to a playlist. As legend has it, Kirsten Dunst traveled to this Swedish singer’s Swedish to film Melancholia. Jens heard a little rumor that the early 2000s starlet liked his music, so naturally, he embarked on a drunken quest to thank her. Sadly he never finds her and strangely I find this endearing rather than creepy.
“All My Friends,” LCD Soundsystem
Stereogum probably says it best:
It’s one seven-minute summation of the experience of the millennium, the sense of wanting everything all at once, having access to everything all at once, and ultimately not feeling so much freed as paralyzed at the inescapable weight that comes with carrying all that with you… So, then, in celebration of paradoxes. ‘All My Friends’ is happy and it’s sad. It’s naïve, but also disillusioned. It can make you feel twenty again. It makes you feel forty before your time. It makes you feel twenty and forty at once. It spirals into drug-fueled escapism, and it spirals into nostalgia.
If that doesn’t make you look around on a Saturday night, wishing you could make time stand still — because you’ll never be this young again — and order one more drink, then you’re not hearing that sick piano riff right.
“Water Fountain,” Tune-Yards
This is not your traditional drinking song about the highs and lows of drunkenness. “Water Fountain” tends to stay with me for days after I listen to it. Maybe it’s the beat, or maybe it’s a constant reminder of how lucky we are to be able to turn on a faucet and have clean water at the ready.
“The Bottle,” Gil Scott-Heron
“The Bottle” is intractably bold and honest, as much of Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken word work and writing is. Scott-Heron said he wrote this song after seeing men line up every day in front of a liquor store called the Log Cabin in New York City, bringing back their empty bottles to get a discount on their next purchase. I love how the song evokes a feeling of the time and the situation. This social commentary from 1974 feels truly authentic.
“Tequila,” The Champs
How can anyone not love this song? The gold record and Grammy award winner’s “yakety sax” and toe-tapping guitar riffs are an instant bad mood neutralizer! Whenever I hear it, the tune always makes me smile and want to move around (I won’t go so far and actually deem it dancing). And, it’s also good for escaping an angry biker gang. At least Pee Wee Herman thought so — remember that “dance?”
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