Sweet, sweet music
The best damn dessert songs that aren’t about your honeypie
There’s a number of sweet hits that permeate the American songbook. It’s a songwriting convention as old as metaphor, and the “desserts” people sing about aren’t always literally about sugary confections. As an example, the “milkshakes that bring all the boys to the yard” don’t use real ice cream, and the female-gendered pie from Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” doesn’t “taste so good [as to] make a grown man cry” because of someone’s expert pie-baking.
Music has gotten sweet foods all tangled up with sexy times—which is fine, no one should yuck your yum—but it leaves a void for honest-to-goodness dessert enthusiasts. Looking through a compilation of the 1,000 biggest hits on tsort.info, there were only a handful about sweet romances, and none about actual sweets. Here’s a list of some of the dessert-themed songs that are what they say they are; because not everything is about sex. Some things are simply about cake.
“Savoy Truffle” performed by the Beatles. George Harrison’s song about chocolate seems like it’s about chocolate treats, and it so refreshingly is. As Harrison told Crawdaddy Magazine in 1977, the rocking song that opens with drums, an organ and the line “Creme tangerine and montelimar” is about Eric Clapton and his love for chocolate. “He’s got this real sweet tooth and he’d just had his mouth worked on,” Harrison said of Clapton. “His dentist said he was through with candy.” This is one of the bigger hits that’s really about “cool cherry cream, a nice apple tart,” though it’s also technically about tooth decay. It still makes the dessert list.
“Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)” performed by CunninLynguists. If you ignore the suggestive play on words in the artists’ name, this song avoids romance altogether. Instead, it opens with distinctive clarity, and it’s difficult to misinterpret when the vocalist says, “Too much pot in the brownie pan / got me baked faster than the brownies, man.” The lyrics then go on to explain just how potent the brownies were. Yes, it may be about marijuana, but in the universe of this song, someone ate an actual pan of brownies—and that’s a rare accomplishment for a catchy song.
“MacArthur Park” performed by Richard Harris in 1968. An overly dramatic take on a breakup, this song written by Jimmy Webb doesn’t fit in the category perfectly—it’s about a failed romance, after all. That said, the chorus of the song commits so wholly to earnest, bizarre cake imagery that it merits a mention. Almost beyond comprehension, the titular park is described as melting in the dark—“All the sweet, green icing flowing down,” and someone has left a cake out in the rain. The “cake,” Harris sings, “took so long to bake … and [he’ll] never have that recipe again.” It’s a can’t-miss dessert cameo in a song voted “Worst Overall Song” in Dave Barry’s 1992 voter’s poll.
“The Candy Man” performed by Aubrey Woods. This song, written for the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, is one about the magic of a chocolatier who can take a rainbow and make a groovy lemon pie out of it. He’s a person who can make the world taste good. Yep, it’s pretty clearly about an actual confectioner. Compare it to other sweet professions featured in song—Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man,” for instance. The singer explains to someone he calls “babe” that he’s her ice cream man, and that all his “flavors are guaranteed to satisfy.”