Sunday, May 15, 2022

Exotic Breakfast

It's been a long month of bad news and a long weekend of activity, both work related and volunteer gig related.  Frankly, I feel beat... I figure I'd put up a fun post about music, I think we can all engage in a brief bit of escapism.

In the wee hours of the morning, stalwart DJ Big Al of Fairleigh Dickinson University's radio station, played the song Breakfast at Denny's by Providence, Rhode Island neo-lounge band Combustible Edison.  You may recall that neo-lounge, sometimes called Space Age Bachelor Pad music, was briefly in vogue back in the 1990s.  It's a trippy number:

While the song certainly could be interpreted as a song about breakfast at one of the restaurants run by the diner-style chain Denny's, I immediately suspected that something else was going on...  This song certainly seems like a tribute to Martin Denny, a lounge musician who incorporated latinesque and asiatique sounds into his compositions to form a subgenre of lounge music dubbed 'exotica'.  A prime example of Denny's work is the title track from his album Quiet Village:

My primary interest in Denny's oeuvre is the fact that his brand of exoticization of the Mysterious East inspired Japanese popular music giant Haruomi Hosono to form a band as a joke, poking fun at Western stereotypes of Eastern culture.  It didn't hurt that he formed this band, Yellow Magic Orchestra, with fellow geniuses Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, so this joke of a band was hugely influential on succeeding generations of electronic musicians.  Fittingly, YMO's first single was a cover version of Martin Denny's Firecracker:

It's funny how the mind works, sending me on a musical odyssey, beginning with a jokey 1990s tribute to a 1950s purveyor of 'exotic' music and ending with a jokey 1970s tribute-cum-parody of that very same music.  Along the way, I listened to a good bit of Denny's body of work, itself inspired by the post-WW2 fascination of all things Pacific, and now I want a breakfast at Denny's, complete with some tiki-bar cocktails.  Looks like I might have to whip up some orgeat syrup.

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