4 Songs That Mention Classic Fourth of July Cookout Dishes

As Americans celebrate Independence Day, thoughts turn to fireworks, flags, and fabulous food. A major highlight of many Fourth of July celebrations is a backyard cookout featuring a variety of delicious dishes.

Videos by American Songwriter

With that in mind, we’ve cooked up a list of four songs by various well-known artists that celebrate or mention foods that you might be enjoying at a July 4 holiday gathering:

[RELATED: 3 Eternal Classic Rock Songs About the 4th of July]

“Hotdogs and Hamburgers” – John Mellencamp (1987)

You can’t have a great cookout without some hot dogs and burgers. “Hotdogs and Hamburgers” is a song featured on John Mellencamp’s 1987 album The Lonesome Jubilee. While the song mentions the popular cookout dishes, the meaning of the tune has nothing to do with those foods.

The song tells of a perhaps fictional incident that supposedly happened when he was young. Mellencamp sings about a time when he met a “pretty little” Native American woman and tried to pick her up. In making a move on the woman, he wound up unintentionally insulting her culture. She then told him stories about how awfully Native Americans were treated by the white settlers.

In the chorus, he reflects on the choices people make in their lives, singing, “Now everybody has got the choice / Between hotdogs and hamburgers / Every one of us has got to choose / Between right and wrong / And givin’ up or holdin’ on.”

In the last verse, Mellencamp sings about making his way to Los Angeles, where he asks the Lord for forgiveness for wrongs done to the Native people.

“Bar-B-Q” – ZZ Top (1972)

Here’s another dish to sample. “Bar-B-Q” appears on ZZ Top’s second studio album, Rio Grande Mud, which was released in 1972. The song was co-written by frontman Billy Gibbons and the band’s producer and manager Bill Ham.

“Bar-B-Q” is a fun blues-boogie rave-up with simple lyrics sung by a guy who’s asking his sweetheart to cook him up some of her “fine, famous barbecue.”

“Heinz Baked Beans” – The Who (1967)

Here comes a side dish. “Heinz Baked Beans” was basically a fake commercial written by The Who’s bassist, Jogn Entwistle, for the band’s 1967 concept album The Who Sell Out. The album was designed to mimic a radio broadcast, with tongue-in-cheek commercials and public service announcements, as well as sound-effect interludes, linking full-length songs.

“Heinz Baked Beans” features music that sounds like a horn-driven military march. Interspersed throughout the tune are comments from Entwistle, guitarist Pete Townshend, and drummer Keith Moon asking, “What’s for tea?” As the song comes to an end, we find out that “Heinz Baked Beans” is what’s for tea.

“Ice Cream Man” – Van Halen (1978)

Are you ready for dessert? Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut album featured a cover of “Ice Cream Man.” The song was written by Chicago blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Brim, whose original version was recorded in 1953, although it wasn’t released until 1968.

The tune features double-entendre lyrics sung from the perspective of an ice cream man who offers his “customer” many flavors and varieties of the sweet treat. Something tells us that the man is offering more than just ice cream.

“I’m your ice cream man, baby, stop me when I’m passin’ by,” goes the song’s chorus. “See, now, all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy.”

Van Halen’s rendition starts out with David Lee Roth declaring, “Dedicate one to the ladies.” The first part of the song features Roth singing with just acoustic guitar accompaniment, but the whole band eventually kicks, as the tune kicks into full gear. Eddie Van Halen rips into a couple of blistering guitar solos for good measure.

Leave a Reply

Remember When: Bon Jovi Guitarist Richie Sambora Released His First Solo Album

American Idol

Fans Issue Warning to ‘American Idol’ Over Possible Major Shakeup: “People Won’t Watch”