The sounds of contractual obligation

Phil Ford

According to the traffic stats, nobody’s reading. Well, not nobody,  but a lot fewer people than during the academic year. It’s summertime and the living is easy. And it’s also just after professors and students alike have heaved themselves across the end-of-term finish line and are now trying their best to forget the very existence of their academic disciplines. So demand for musicology blogging is at its yearly low. I’m not feeling too motivated here, to be honest. And however much I’m phoning it in right now, it’ll be a lot worse after June 14, when we move.

You know who else phoned it in, once? Van Morrison. He was still under contract at a small record company when his career started taking off. He owed the label one more record, so he apparently knocked off thirty-one unreleasable songs at a single sitting. The songs are about whatever was going through Van Morrison’s mind at the time. Like, for example, wanting a Danish.

The other day I complained about how moving forces you to confront all your failed acts of consumption. But you know what’s worse? Going through your kids’ toys and realizing how many they’ve grown out of, and then having to get rid of them. (The toys, that is.) I got all choked up going to Goodwill this weekend and handing over the little Fisher-Price schoolbus they played with when they were toddlers. Damn.

Still here?

I don’t think I really ever managed to become a convincing Texan in the time I lived in Austin. I did, however, invent a drink that is sort of plausibly Texan. I originally called it “Blood of a Cowboy Poet,” in honor of Cocteau’s Sang d’un poète*, but my son spontaneously renamed it “The Bloody Cowboy,” which is actually a much better name. Anyway, the recipe:

The Bloody Cowboy:

Mix together 4 oz port wine, 2 oz medium rum, and the juice of 1 fresh-squeezed lime. Pour over ice. Enjoy.

Since nothing else seems to be going on, I invite my friends in the blogosphere (fellow bloggers, comment posters, and lurkers) to contribute drink recipes they’ve invented. Post them on your blogs, in the comments section, or you can inaugurate my new email address: fordp at indiana dot edu. Any drink that is not obviously a prank or a dare will be kitchen-tested and reviewed at Dial M as time and my bar budget permits. If I get enough entries maybe we can make a musicology mixed drink recipe book, sort of like The Ethnomusicologists Cookbook. That alone would justify the existence of this blog.

*this is why I didn’t cut it as a Texan

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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14 Responses to The sounds of contractual obligation

  1. -- says:

    Not sure how common this is in the drink-making world but The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis makes a Port Authority.
    a few ice cubes
    half port
    half bourbon
    splash of bitters
    enjoy
    Obviously it is a twist on a Manhattan with port instead of vermouth. Again, this may be a common drink to everyone out there, but it was new to me. Everyone I have asked has never heard of it…maybe I live a sheltered life.

  2. Greg says:

    [A certain well-known scholar of Italian opera who will remain nameless] has been known to serve “The Donizetti” at parties: pear nectar and Prosecco.

  3. I recently discovered Añejo tequila, which is sometimes aged in barrels that were originally used for bourbon whiskey (this is what makes the tequila darker). So I make a whiskey margarita:
    4 parts Añejo tequila
    1 part Cointreau or other orange liqueur
    1 part single barrel bourbon
    1 part lime juice
    Agave syrup to taste
    I’m still experimenting with the proportions, but it makes a nice end-of-the-day cocktail.

  4. Galen says:

    Another great musical “phoning it in” story comes from the quintessential gothic rock band The Sisters of Mercy. A 1998 reshuffle of WEA resulted in the Sisters being assigned to EastWest Records, with whom they did not get along. USA record distribution was stopped in 1991 or 1992. At the end of 1993, frontman Andrew Eldritch declared that the band was going on strike against EastWest. The Sisters were still contractually obligated to deliver one more album, and apparently Eldritch ultimately got them to agree to accept whatever he gave them under a different band name, and on delivery of the album in 1997 the contract was terminated.
    The album that Eldritch delivered to EastWest was basically really bad techno written by some obscure techno producers, employs some samples of Eldritch, and had the drums removed. The Sisters website says that “It’s reasonable to assume that ‘techno without drums’ is designed merely to bore and annoy.” The band name was SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW, about which the Sisters website has this to say:
    “Could this possibly stand for ‘Screw Shareholder Value – not so much a band as another opportunity to waste money on drugs and ammunition, courtesy of the idiots at Time Warner’? Surely not. That would require a comma.”
    The album was never released, although it was leaked to the internet.

  5. ben wolfson says:

    2oz sweet vermouth
    1oz plum eau de vie (you could use slivovitz if you liked, I guess)
    2 dashes peach bitters
    Also good:
    2oz rye
    1tsp simple syrup
    2 dashes peach bitters
    Surely the most infamous contractual obligation record is Metal Machine Music?

  6. Matthew says:

    Drinks: something old, something new.
    http://sohothedog.blogspot.com/2006/10/laudace-impresa-compiere-io-ti-dar.html
    http://sohothedog.blogspot.com/2007/06/e-nulla-arida-landa-non-un-filo-dacqua.html
    My favorite contractual phone-it-in would have to be Ben Folds’ “One Down,” which is actually a song about how hard it is for him to phone it in. (Copies all over the place.)

  7. teo says:

    1 part rum
    2 parts chocolate ice cream
    2 parts milk (regular or chocolate)
    Mix well.

  8. Lane Savant says:

    2 parts hydrogen, 1 part oxygen.

  9. Phil Ford says:

    A new drink:
    Since I’m moving, I’m trying to use up the last odds and ends of the liquour cabinet. Last night I mixed 2 oz. gin, 1 oz. orange cognac, and about as much pomegranate juice as gin, since that’s pretty much what I had left to mix together. And whaddaya know, it tasted pretty good, a bit like a cosmopolitan. In honor of Gene Kelly’s sidekick in “Singin’ in the Rain,” I’m going to call it the Cosmo Brown.
    You have to have a name, you know. Ben, what do you call your drink? You could call it “Metal Machine Music.” Come to think of it, that’s a great name for a drink.

  10. Rebecca M says:

    Well, here’s my drink contribution (basically a martini with cucumber garnish, but it is the PROCESS that is important here ;-)):
    http://www.extratasty.com/recipe/3267/eau_de_concombre
    And, as long as we are straying from musicological topics, I’d recommend saving one or two of those toys the kids have outgrown. They’ll thank you. I just moved (clear across the country) with a few toys my mother saved for me…little joyous remnants of the past which seems so very far away.
    Can’t wait to try your drink!
    Faithfully reading…even in summer.

  11. -- says:

    “Hokkaido Cocktail”
    1.5 Gin
    1.0 Sake
    0.5 Triple Sec
    Renowned amongst IU musicology students.

  12. Adam R says:

    This Danish song is fantastic. I don’t want to say I enjoy it better than that Moondance album, but I mean — I do.

  13. -- says:

    Reverse the rum to port ratio on the Bloody Cowboy and you have a Bloody Pirate. Slightly less sweet.

  14. Phil Ford says:

    Hey, that sounds good! I’ll have to try it.

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