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July 17, 2014

Book Notes - Mike Edison "The Carnivore's Manifesto"

More Curious

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

The Carnivore's Manifesto is a collection of essays that lives up to its title. These pieces make the case for ethical consumption of meat with clarity, wit, and a true sense of purpose.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"A lively and challenging collection of observations, ideas, philosophical meanderings, and ethical concerns related to the meat we put on our plates."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Mike Edison's Book Notes music playlist for his book, The Carnivore's Manifesto:


There is a stockyard's worth of music in our new book, The Carnivore's Manifesto. In the course of advocating a sustainable, cruelty-free food chain, eating for pleasure, and supporting family farms, Patrick Martins and I dally with Cole Porter ("Making' Whoopee," in the chapter about eating food in season, and the natural sex lives of livestock), Bob Dylan ("to live outside the law you must be honest" — speaking of our code of conduct when it comes to food activism), not to mention truck driving classics like "Convoy" and "Six Days on the Road," in a chapter in which we herald truck drivers as America's largely unsung heroes.

But for this playlist I thought I would go 100-percent Grade A beef (well, more or less) and whip out a playlist of meat songs. Because that's what's for dinner.

"It Ain't the Meat It's the Motion," The Swallows

Classic dirty R&B from 1951, although in the Carnivore's Manifesto we argue exactly the opposite – it IS the meat, meaning quit trying to confound me with recipes and tricks and maybe try scoring your steak from a happy cow who lived a drug-free, cruelty free life for a change, because that's where it's at. But otherwise, yeah. What the man said.

"Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth," The Dead Boys

One of the messages of The Carnivore's Manifesto is that our relationship with food is an intimate one. After all, you put it in your mouth, so you should know where it comes from. This song, of course, has nothing to do with food activism or good eating….

"Meat Man," Jerry Lee Lewis

My personal favorite of the bunch. As ever, The Killer transcends whatever the song seems to be about and goes straight for the final frontier. Here at the Carnivore's Manifesto we stand hard against the Industrial Farming Complex, but Jerry Lee takes it to the next level. Feathers in his teeth, indeed.

"Easy Meat," Frank Zappa

Let me just say it right here that I don't really dig Frank Zappa. After a pretty cool start with Freak Out and a few garishly smart and occasionally funny outings, he turned to the plastic fantastic goop of prog rock and the kind of sexist, smutty novelty tunes that pander shamelessly to awkward, twenty-year old male virgins and would have seen him pilloried if any women actually listened to this crap. This clip pretty much sums up the worst of both crimes — witness the 400-piece drum set and the puerile lyrics: "This girl is easy meat/I seen her on the street…..I knew she was/Easy Meat." This is the kind of stuff idiots listen to when they want to feel superior. But I felt that this had to be included so I could (A) make my case against Zappa and (B) make a segue to Frank's old running mate, a true hero…

"Neon Meate Dream of an Octafish," Capt. Beefheart and the Magic Band

I confess to having no earthly clue to what the fuck this song is about, or even if "meate" and "meat" are the same thing, but the dude's name is "Beefheart" and I'll take any chance to spread the gospel of his mighty vision and pimp the greatest avant garde statement in the history or recorded music, Trout Mask Replica, from which this jewel was purloined.

"One Man's Meat," Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters

Speaking of Capt. Beefheart, guitar ace Gary Lucas was his manager and plucked and slid on the six-string in the last go-round of the Magic Band. This is one of his signature numbers with his New Yawk Supah Group, here heard with special guest David Johansen. Full discloser: I sometimes sit in with Gary and the fellas, jamming theremin on local gigs. Nice work if you can get it.

"One Man's Meat," The Lurkers

Maybe not so surprising is that there is more than one song called "Actor Viggo Mortensen made a record called One Man's Meat (with his ex-wfe Exene, from X,) and features the title track plus "Barbecue Kingdom," and "Carne de Niño," so he is all over the meat thing. Deep Purples's stab at something called "One Man's Meat," meanwhile, (from their 1993 comeback turd TKTKTK) is among the worst music ever recorded in the history of the spot. The best of rest is this minor miracle, from the too-often overlooked British punks the Lurkers, presented here, raw and ready, just the way I like it.

"War of the Superbikes," The Meatmen

As an Epilogue, there are a small gaggle of bands who have the word "meat" in their handles that I could have just as easily tossed on the grill, but, after much thought, have decided to take a pass on Meat Loaf's schlocky karaoke classics and the earnest twang and strum of the Meat Puppets to go with one of my favorite second-wave punk rock acts, the Meatmen. This one is from their later macho metal phase, but if it's too much testosterone for you to handle ("three men on monster machines shot out of God's slingshot"), then as a bonus here's the title track from their first outing, the decidedly juvenile We're the Meatmen and You Suck.


Mike Edison and The Carnivore's Manifesto links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
the book's website

Kirkus review
Publishers Weekly review

Food52 interview with Patrick Martins
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by Mike Edison for I Have Fun Everywhere I Go
Wall Street Journal profile of Patrick Martins


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists


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