Episode 179: Beck, Modern Family Values, and Love’s Songs

Beck/Photo by Gina Ribisi

This week: Pop star Beck Hansen’s new album looks great on paper… Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” offers etiquette advice… Darlene Love, singer of Xmas soul classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” lists non-awful yuletide tunes… We sing the praises of Leonard’s Cohen’s “Hallelujah”… Top chefs debate if food should come with footnotes… and we learn how “Gone With The Wind” brought Jimmy Carter and MLK together. Plus: paper beats air, a nutty joke, and Destiny’s other child.

Icebreaker: Beck

Beck – pop star and sheet music author (see below) – cracks a nutty joke.

Small Talk: Reyhan Harmanci

Reyhan Harmanci, deputy editor at the forthcoming food-and-culture magazine Modern Farmer, tells us why paper beats air… almost every time.

A History Lesson with Booze: Driven to Failure and “The Edsel

This week back in 1939, the epic civil war film “Gone With Wind” had arguably a MORE epic premiere. 150,000 people flooded the streets of Atlanta to celebrate. Hear about the Southern spectacle, then give a damn about this custom drink:

The “French Connection,” as directed by Stuart White, mixologist at Miller Union in Atlanta, GA:


  • 3 oz. Hennessy V.S.O.P. Cognac (infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)
  • 1 oz. Leopold Bros Tart Cherry Liqueur
  • fresh ginger
  • champagne

Add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the cognac; let it sit overnight. Strain into your most elegant cocktail glass. Add cherry liqueur, top with champagne to taste, and garnish with fresh ginger. Sip in genteel fashion and enjoy the flavors of the South of France — er, France in the South.

Guest List: Darlene Love

Soul singer Darlene Love topped the charts in 1962 with The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel.” She’s also known for Phil-Spector-produced holiday songs like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Just in time for the holiday home stretch, Darlene offers a list of underplayed gems.

(Darlene hosts her annual Christmas show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on December 22, and she’s in the upcoming Sundance doc “Twenty Five Feet From Stardom” about legendary backup singers.)

Guest of Honor: Beck
Back in 1994, Beck Hansen’s single “Loser” became an unintended Gen X anthem. Since then four of his twelve albums have gone platinum. He’s scored hits with everything from funk rock tunes to folk ballads. His newest creation “Song Reader” came out this week… and it’s not an album at all, in the modern sense of the word. It’s a beautifully-packaged portfolio of 20 all-new Beck tunes… in sheet music form. Rico talks to him about the American folk tradition, shanties, and Bing Crosby, but not about his six-pack.

Eavesdropping: John Brandon
John Brandon’s “Citrus County” was one of 2010’s most acclaimed novels. This summer he released “A Million Heavens,” which follows a motley band of characters in and around the Albuquerque desert. This week, we overhear him reading a dinner party worthy-excerpt from the point of view of one of those characters: a wolf.
Main Course: Food Sources
Sure, it’s unethical to present other people words as your own….but what about chefs ripping off other chefs’ dishes without crediting them? This ‘attribution’ debate has been boiling over in the food world lately; Momofuku’s star chef David Chang railed against the practice via twitter. Brendan gets the latest from from Gabe Ulla of foodie website “Eater,” who recently dug into the topic topic.

Chattering Class: Hallelujah!
Bono once called Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” ‘the best song ever written.’ He then proceeded to record one of the worst covers of it imaginable (he’s since apologized), but he’s not alone in idolizing and reinterpreting the track: hundreds of artists have tried with varied results. Rolling Stone scribe Alan Light charts the sublime and tortuous path of the iconic song in his book “The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Hallelujah’”, and shares some of his discoveries with Brendan.

Etiquette: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson is best known for portraying the lawyer Mitchell on ABC’s mega-hit sitcom “Modern Family”. (Yes, he says, he’s also known as “the redhead one” or “the openly gay one.”) His performance has earned him 3 consecutive Emmy nominations. Jesse offers up wisdom and wisecracks about taking off your clothes, bugging your parents, and giving your best friend space to marinate. (Head here for more information about Jesse’s non-profit Tie the Knot.)

One for the Road: Solange – “Losing You”
Solange Knowles famously got her start performing with big sister Beyonce in Destiny’s Child. Her new solo album “True” (her third) comes out in January. It’s called “Losing You”.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Max Steiner – “Tara’s Theme”

Damu the Fusgmunk – “Gone With The Sunset”

Israel Houghton – “Hark”

Bing Crosby – “The Bells of St. Mary”

Whitney Houston – “Joy to the World”

Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Doozy – “Do We? We Do.”

Automatic Toys – “Do We? We Do.”“

Danny Goulter – “Do We? We Do.”

Laura Marling – “Sophia”

Nolan – “Thief”

Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah”

Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”

Bono – “Hallelujah”

Washed Out – “Eyes Be closed”

Solange – “Losing You”