Justin Charity is a music critic and fiction author. He eats nachos on the weekend. Every weekend.
I recently stumbled upon Anthony Bourdain’s dadcore kitchen playlist on Spotify and decided to psychoanalyze the man’s music picks and sequencing. Since I worship Bourdain, and was even inspired to travel to Beirut based off his experience there, I was to eager to have yet another look inside the guy’s brain and creative taste.
What’s the crux of this playlist? Is it just a bunch of happy-go-lucky songs, or is it specifically optimized for cooking? There’s a lot of cheesy, golden oldies on here, but also a few interesting soundtrack cuts—including a clutch A Tribe Called Quest album cut that just might indeed be ideal for lip-syncing while you sizzle and sweat.
“ACROSS 110TH STREET” by Bobby Womack
A song to cook crack to, perhaps. I used to live on 107th Street. I know what’s uptown.
“PUSHER MAN” by Curtis Mayfield
Anthony Bourdain led a ragged life in the 1980s. (I’ll say, however, this live “Berlin Sessions” version of this essential Motown single is a real gem, and ideal for skating along a hardwood floor in socks whilst minding a stovetop.)
“WEDDING DRESS” by Mark Lanegan
Anthony Bourdain hasn’t shaved in four (4) days.
“USE ME” by Bill Withers
Every one of Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ narrative outros should’ve been spliced over this song, which would’ve swelled in volume as the credits rolled.
“TANGLED UP IN BLUE” by Bob Dylan
Anthony Bourdain is a white man.
“BOTH ENDS BURNING” by Roxy Music
What a sausagefest this playlist is!
“TOO MANY CREEPS” by Bush Tetras
The kitchen is filled with women wearing all black and snuffing their cigarettes on your marble countertops. And you love it, Tony.
“YOU CAN’T PUT YOUR ARMS AROUND A MEMORY” by Johnny Thunders
Johnny Thunder’s voice sounds like a honking alto sax. I’m thankful that Bourdain has put me on to this song, just like he put me on to the wonders of Beirut so many moons ago.
“TIME HAS COME TODAY” by The Chambers Brothers
Great song but are we braising a lamb shank? Or are we watching Forrest Gump?
“HOLLYWOOD PERFUME” by Pretenders
Wow, this is like, a superior version of the melody from The Clash’s “Magnificent Seven.”
“SWEET JANE” by The Velvet Underground
Anthony Bourdain lived in New York when it wasn’t a theme park with bike lanes.
“WHAT?” by A Tribe Called Quest
Kitchen acoustics really do favor this song. “What’s a fat man without food in his gut?”
“IF I HAD NO LOOT” by Tony! Toni! Toné!
If this were a backyard grilling playlist, specifically, this would’ve been song number one.
“ANEMONE” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
I reject this song. Consider my soufflé deflated.
“COLD SHOT” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Anthony Bourdain is cooking for the cast of a Quentin Tarantino film.
“FAMILY AFFAIR” by Sly & The Family Stone
Anthony Bourdain is black, after all. Anthony Bourdain is my uncle, in fact.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE” by Ryuichi Sakamoto
1996 is an incredible album. “Merry Christmas” is its standout, renowned piano track, perhaps ideal for light, bright, dinner atmosphere, but listen to “Bibo no Aozora” and “The Sheltering Sky” while you’re at it.
“PLUNDERED MY SOUL” by The Rolling Stones
“I smell rubber” means you must evacuate the oven and start over.
“STREET LIFE” by Randy Crawford
Anthony Bourdain has a profoundly frustrated sense of musical sequencing, or maybe he was just hasty in compiling this thing.
“PETS” by PORNO FOR PYROS
Where there should, finally, be a Sade song, we instead tolerate this.
“ET MOI” by Jacques Dutronc
For every step Bourdain takes into the 1980s, he then takes seven steps backward into the 1960s.
“MAIN TITLES” by Ennio Moriconne
What, exactly, would I be cooking to this throbbing Morricone deep cut?
“YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE” by John Barry
Anthony Bourdain has bad taste in Bond themes. I’ll just assume he has bad taste in Bond films, too.
“RIOT ACT” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
I don’t know anything about Elvis Costello. (I’m young. Not sorry.) This song is pretty great. What’s important is that I could imagine Anthony Bourdain, specifically, karaoke-cheffing to it.
“THAT THE WAY OF THE WORLD” by Earth, Wind & Fire
I told you Bourdain was my uncle.