The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Song Of A Baker

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rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Song Of A Baker

I watched a doco on TV recently on the erratic but – to my mind – much under-rated 60s UK band, The Small Faces. Their 1968 ‘concept’ album Ogden’s Nutgone Flake, a psychedelic rock classic, was one of the first albums I bought. I still treasure this unique work – for the great music, the warped and inspired narrative in “Unwinese” by Stanley Unwin, and the eccentric fold-out tobacco tin cover (in good nick, this album is now a prize collectors’ item fetching $300+ …but I’d never sell mine).



One of my favourite tracks is Song Of A Baker. Strange, but in all the times I’ve listened to this song, I’d never really pondered on the lyrics until the TV doco – even though I know them by heart:


There’s wheat in the field
And water in the stream
And salt in the mine
And an aching in me


I can longer stand and wonder
Cos I’m driven by this hunger


So I’ll jug some water, bake some flour
Store some salt and wait the hour


When thinking of love
Love is thinking for me
And the baker will come
And the baker I’ll be


I’m depending on my labour
The texture and the flavour


Hey!


I can no longer stand and wonder
Cos I’m driven by this hunger


So I’ll jug some water, bake some flour
Store some salt and wait the hour…

 

I found myself greatly moved as I finally properly ‘heard’ those words after all these years of listening to the record. I was moved not only by the lyrics, but because of the beauty of the song, because of the nostalgia it evoked in me, and because of knowing of the tragedies that would befall The Small Faces, both as a band and individually (they were unmercifully ripped off – killed off, effectively – by unscrupulous management; singer/writer/guitarist Steve Marriott subsequently developed schizophrenia and died in a house fire a bankrupt alcoholic without ever receiving a royalty payment for his work in the band, and co-writer/bassist Ronnie Lane died way too young of MS).

But back to the lyrics. Why did they finally ‘speak’ to me this time, and with such emotional impact?

Well, this is the first time I have listened to this song since I discovered sourdough bread baking at home and joined the movement of which all here are part. Spend a moment with those lyrics, and I think you will understand...but also, there are personal aspects to my reaction I will spare you here (if you're interested, see the end of this post for a link that will take you to the full gory details).

Of course, metaphorical possibilities leap out of the lyrics of Song Of A Baker, but there can be no doubt that The Small Faces understood the calling of the baker, the peace to be found in the process, the wonder of conjuring bread from ingredients as simple and seemingly disparate as grain, water and salt. To bake bread is to invite the best of nature to your table. Who would not welcome such a guest?

Then there is the most important element of all – the secret ingredient of all good bread, of all good food. Except that it’s not really a secret. The Small Faces knew it. My mother knew it. All good cooks and all home artisan bread bakers know it. It is that great X factor, love. Anywhere else, I would fear ridicule for that statement, but not here.

Anyone interested in hearing Song Of A Baker can do so via my regular blog, The Boomtown Rap (this post is an abridged version of one I have just uploaded: link here).

Cheers
Ross

 

Comments

alabubba's picture
alabubba
rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Yes, I've already got the same video embedded on my blog, along with scans of the famous album cover. The main focus of my post was the lyric content, which is why I didn't include the youtube link here.


Still, doesn't hurt to have it here now. If a few more people are alerted to the largely overlooked 60s classic that is Ogden's Nutgone Flake, then that's a good side-effect of this post.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

OK, this is quite interesting!...I chose this user name (Song Of The Baker) as it was one of my favourite songs (the Posies did an amazing cover version of it in the 90's).  Just now, I wanted to hear the song, so I typed it in Google and your forum message came up!  I was also embarassed that I got the name of the song wrong.  I will be trying to change my username to Song Of A Baker from Song Of The Baker. I just joined this site last week.  Anyway, glad to see that someone actually remembers this beautiful song.  The lyrics are quite amazing.  Here is the YouTube link to the Posies version:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVxhxrOaPQY. 

Rock and Bake on!

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Remember the song? It's one of my favourites, along with the marvellous album it came from. Hearing Ogden's Nutgone Flake for the first time (at 15 years of age) was a life-changing moment for me, musically at least.

If I didn't know the original, I would probably share your assessment of the Posies' version - it's such a great song that it shines through any competent contemporised treatment. To be honest, though, I find The Posies' take a bit unsubtle and emotionally one-dimensional. Better than the Screaming Trees version, but I think both bands steamroll the dynamics of the original to their detriment.

The best cover of the song I've heard is by Ocean Colour Scene, which I think is truer to the spirit of the original:

http://youtu.be/wIy766tV4NY

Anyway, musical preferences aside, great choice of name deriving from a great song!

Bake (and rock) on!
Ross

PS: A guy who commented on my private blog post provided a link to his very different cover of the song. You might be interested to have a listen. Click here, and go to Brendan's post in the Comments thread.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Didn't realize you had commented on the Posies version in this thread.  Ignore my private message asking you about it.  I know how it is to love an original more than the re-makes.  Eitherway, it's a great song to begin with :)

 

alabubba's picture
alabubba

wanted to post the link for the rest of the board. :o)

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Of course, I understand that. But anyone interested would have gone on to my blog via the link provided and seen it there. No worries anyway - see last para of my previous reply.

adam's picture
adam

Rossnroller, It probably comes from the Parable of the Three Domains, Tales of the Dervishes, Idries Shah.


"Let us consider, for example, three things: the wheat in the field, the water in the stream, and the salt in the mine. This is the condition of natural man...


This is the condition of the first domain, or state of man."


In the second domain, the wheat is ground into flour, the water is stored for a further use, and the salt is extracted and refined.


The third domain sees the appearance of the baker. The salt, water and flour are mixed and kneaded to become dough. When the yeast is brought, a living element is added: the oven is made ready for the baking of the loaf. This making depends as much upon touch as upon store knowledge.


"Everything will behave in accordance with its situation, and its situation is the domain in which it is cast."

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

You know, adam, you may well be right! The timing works, since Ogden's Nutgone Flake was released in 1968, and Tales Of The Dervishes in 67. Given Crowley's influence in rock circles in the 60s, it's a fair call that Idires Shah's wiccan associations may have pushed his work to the fore with the counter-culture, also. Further, his interest in hallucinogenic mushrooms may have endeared him to The Small Faces, who were big into the chemical excesses of the time.


My best bet was that one of the band had a baker in the family, but I think you may have hit the jackpot here. Thanks for posting! I wasn't aware of the lines you've quoted, but I think The Small Faces might well have been.


Cheers
Ross