Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday tea tunes: Deluxe edition (Brendan Benson)

A little backstory: Brendan Benson's first album, "One Mississippi," hit in 1996, a great power-pop year. Half of it written by Jason Falkner (Jellyfish, the Grays, now turning Beatles tunes into lullabies on CD), it opened with a short, jaunty tune called "Tea":

Tea - Brendan Benson

I interviewed Benson last week — ahead of his Chicago show pushing his first solo album since his few years with Jack White in the Raconteurs, a fine return to form titled "My Old, Familiar Friend" — and couldn't help notice the tea cup in the foreground of his latest promotional photo (above). So he really must be a tea guy. So I had to ask him another batch of questions, which he answered after the Chicago gig:

t2. How often do you drink tea? Loyal to tea, or also a coffee drinker?
bb. I drink tea in phases nowadays. I also love a good cup of coffee. Both are hard to come by unless you make them yourself.

t2. What do you drink? What's your fallback tea, the kind you can always rely on? What's the best cup of tea you've ever had?
bb. I prefer black tea. Barry's is a favorite, but I'll settle for PG tips or Tetley. I bring boxes home from the UK because it's better for some reason. The best tea I've ever had was that which my grandpa made. There are many factors involved in making a good cup of tea, and he had all of them down, it seems.

t2. Was there any particular epiphany that led you to tea?
bb. I grew up drinking tea. When I was little, my mom made me tea that was mostly milk, and so I developed a taste for it.

t2. How does tea fit into the (mythical?) rock 'n' roll lifestyle? Does it stimulate the songwriting?
bb. Definitely. It's a kind of buzz. Unlike coffee which is just stimulating, tea is a real high. Physically and mentally.

t2. Why did you pick the song "Tea" to be track 1 on your debut album?
bb. It sounded good there.

t2. What's the story behind it? Who were you trying to have tea with?
bb. It's just a light-hearted song about an interlude between two people.

7. Probably my favorite song on the debut album is "House in Virginia." Simple, beautiful, great sensory detail. Who was Emma, and how did she come to have such fine taste in teacups?
bb. She was my girlfriend for many years. We both liked to drink tea and were interested in the custom and history about it. Always in search of the perfect teacup.

House In Virginia - Brendan Benson

1 comment:

  1. Ahh. Thanks for this tea tunes entry. Because this one is "correct" lyrically by being so all-out about tea. Therefore I've added it to my own collection of tea-themed songs. And I'm quite pleased with it, too. It's going to be an inspiration to listen to, just like the rest of my tea music. --Spirituality of Tea