Pastry Tune

September 9, 2013

It’s officially September, which means it’s time for me to write nostalgic blogs about how sweet it is to be on a college campus when back-to-school time rolls around. Except that when last September rolled around, I wound up doing a month of blogs on food songs in order to distract myself from the twenty-somethings dressed in their summer clothes that suddenly take over the MSU campus. Picking up on that theme again this year, I’m going to call your attention to a somewhat obscure tune by Willie Nix called “The Baker Shop Boogie”, one of the early releases by Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in Memphis. Nix starts out telling us that he’s “got a little girl with a baker shop” before he gets around to the chorus, which is pretty simple:

It’s the baker shop boogie, the baker shop boogie.
It’s the baker shop boogie—nicest place in town.

Hey! Now that’s a food song we can all get behind, isn’t it? Nice little elegy to baked goods. I do have some puzzles about some of the lyrics. Like one that seems to say “She’s got mothers & sons & cornbread, too; Sweet rolls & jelly, boys, I’m really tellin’ you,” then it goes back into the chorus. I Googled “mothers & sons” looking for an obscure soul food item from Memphis that I’ve never heard of before, but no luck. If any of you out there have an answer to this vexing query, you might want to add an explanation in “comments” box. And no robots!

According to the Sun Records website, Nix was an innovative drummer who performed around Chicago and Memphis mostly in the 1950s. He is apparently no relation to Don Nix, who not only wrote the immortal late sixties ballad “Going Down”, but also produced a cookbook of rock star foods entitled Road Stories and Recipes. Notable for foodies, I think.

“The Baker Shop Boogie” continues on for about five verses extolling the virtues of pastry, including this one:

I walked in the bakery, thought everything was sold.
I found out she saved me some sweet jelly roll.
It’s the baker shop boogie, the baker shop boogie.
It’s the baker shop boogie—nicest place in town.

Now, we’ve gone over jelly roll before in the Thornapple blog. Which makes me wonder if we aren’t back where we left off with food songs last September. Maybe we’re not really singing about food, after all. And if that’s so, maybe this is not really such a good way to keep me distracted. Hmm.

 Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University