I have this weird problem of leaving food in my car. The worst was when an already finely ripened piece of bleu cheese fell out of my Trader Joe’s shopping bag and lodged itself underneath the passenger seat of my blue Mini Cooper. I didn’t smell it at first, and didn’t for many months. I often go on the road and leave my car at home, undriven and undisturbed for months at a time. During those empty days, that cheese blossomed and rotted inside its plastic packaging. The thing blobbed, swelled, got bigger, got smaller, got its own life, got a fucking job, got married, had kids, got divorced, lost custody then regained it – all within the safe, quietly parked ecosystem of my vehicle. By the time I got back, I was like – “who shit in this thing?” because dear reader, it smelled like straight up shit. Not farts. Not stepped in dog shit and then got in the driver’s seat – I am talking about straight up shit in the car. Took a shit in it. I mean shit in it. Can I be any clearer? “Had to take a shit, so got into the car and then did it.” I mean seriously.
I had no idea at this point what was causing the shitness. I didn’t know it was an escaped Trader Joe’s blue cheese. I thought there was something wrong with the car. Possibly an animal had crawled into the manifold and just died. Perhaps it was haunted by a shit ghost. I don’t know what. I took it to the dealership and they couldn’t find anything. Then one day, I pulled the seat back and a very shrunken plastic package came flying out from underneath. It was unrecognizable at first, but then slowly, I came to realize that was where the smell was coming from. As soon as I removed the remains of the cheese, the shit smell was gone. This did not change me. No lessons were learned – I still leave food in my car.
In April of this year, when I drove to Nashville for my recording session with the fantastic Brendan Benson, I bought some jalapeno cheese potato chips, a small but substantially salty and delicious bag. They were special chips to me, mostly because I had enjoyed my recording session so tremendously, because I was recording with someone I absolutely idolize, because we were recording in Ben Folds’ lavish and impressive studio – the chips became sort of souvenirs and like a subject in A&E’s “Obsessed” – I just couldn’t part with them. I kept those chips in my car until late July when I had to actually return the car to the dealership.
Still, four months later– I had a moment where I had to make an actual decision whether or not I should throw them away. I didn’t want to eat them at that point, because not only were they months old by now, but also because the bag had not been properly closed. I didn’t have a chip clip or anything in my car, so I had just kind of folded the top, and tried to weigh the fold down with the car’s manual in the overstuffed glove compartment – which, as any chip lover knows, is not an adequate way of storing chips; the deliciousness of them will fade in just minutes. I had left them this way for MONTHS. Anyway, the chips had sentimental value. They had accompanied me on this tremendous rock and roll journey – from Atlanta to Nashville and back. I thought that one day they would be in the rock and roll hall of fame. I thought these chips could be special legendary rock chips that would be as recognizable as Elvis’ pink pants or Robert Johnson’s guitar. I was having delusions of potato chip grandeur. They were jalapeno, after all! And they were from a Brendan Benson recording session!!!
I wrote the song with Brendan without actually meeting him. I had been a longtime fan of his solo work as well as The Raconteurs, and so I was thrilled when he said yes to this collaboration. I wanted to write a kind of a Pamela Des Barres groupie jam – and I had just read Pattie Boyd Harrison’s book ‘Wonderful Tonight’ which is all about her life in the rock and roll 60s and 70s and her marriages to George Harrison and Eric Clapton. I have spent my own time on a tour bus, and I have a pretty good understanding of what it feels like to be a rock wife. Did you know you can’t shit on a tour bus? Interesting fact! You have to hold it till you get to a gas station. It’s from a Ben Lee Noise Addict song – “The Rigours of Rock” – I’ll say! Anyway, I know what it’s like to be holding with your sweetie in his bunk trying to be sexy with a bullet in the chamber.
So this is the song, “Baby I’m with the Band.” I wrote the chorus and emailed it to Brendan and he loved it. In days I had a demo and we were ready to record. This song fell together easily as we both somehow knew how it was supposed to sound before we even met. I absolutely love singing it. Brendan pushed me to take my voice further than I have ever gone, and it sounds amazing. It’s a hot, GTO-styled rock and roll confection and when I sing it live I need to put a long scarf on the mike stand to emphasize the 70′sness of it all.
Chips and bleu cheese notwithstanding, this song is the shit. Thanks much to Brendan Benson and his genius!!!
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