London-based chef Nigella Lawson is often referred to the domestic goddess and her Guest DJ set revolves around the kitchen – and the dancefloor. Her songs are strongly connected to personal memories of her mother and late husband, and give us a window into how she approaches life. Nigella has written nine bestselling books and hosts a TV show called Simply Nigella.
Hosted by Eric J Lawrence.
Nigella Lawson Song Picks:
1) Sugar Sugar by The Archies
2) Both Sides Now by Judy Collins
3) I Feel Love by Donna Summer
4) Dance the Night Away by The Mavericks
5) I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack
Hi, I'm Eric J Lawrence and I am here with London-based chef Nigella Lawson, often referred to the domestic goddess. She's written nine best- selling books and has a new TV show called Simply Nigella based her latest book. But, we are here today to talk about some songs that have inspired her through her life as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project.
Hi Nigella, thank you for joining us.
NL: It's my pleasure.
EJL: Well what's the first song you've got for us?
NL: The first song is “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. I've chosen it because, one, I do like a bit of bubblegum pop, and also because I remember it when I was a child. I remember we had a program called Top of the Pops in the UK, and every Friday there were, you know, whatever the hit records were... and it was a great treat to be allowed to stay up to watch that. And I do remember that there was sort of a cartoon video, cause I think the Archies wasn't a real band, it was like session musicians who didn't want to put their name to it.
EJL: Sounds right
NL: And when I was thinking what to choose for you Eric, I was thinking I just cannot choose “Sugar Sugar”, as much as I'd like to. But I just kept listening to it, and every time I listened, I realized I had a smile on my face the whole way through! So I thought, I can choose it.
Song: The Archies – “Sugar Sugar”
EJL: That was the Archie's with “Sugar Sugar”. So what's the next track you've got for us?
NL: Well, the next track I've got is “Both Sides Now”, not sung by Joni Mitchell, but by Judy Collins. And I've chosen that because it was my mother's absolute favorite. She had a lot of Judy Collins records and she sang - my mother could sing actually.
She did a lot of that, she sang a lot of Queen of the Night aria from the Magic Flute…I can't sing, it's one of the great tragedies of my life. I have to mime to my kids’ happy birthday, you know? But I love this. Just because it reminds me of my mother, and she died young. And just I'm there, I'm in my kitchen at home and I'd see the blue formica table, I could see the gas range -- it was called a new world cooker.
And it's funny that I’m there, because I've squished two memories together, or synthesized them, because in those days, record players were not in the kitchens like now, when you have speakers everywhere—so it would have been in the drawing room or the sitting room, that she would have played it. But my memories of her are so connected to the kitchen, that somehow I've fused those memories together in this song.
Song: Judy Collins – “Both Sides Now”
EJL: That was Judy Collins with “Both Sides Now”, as selected by our guest, Nigella Lawson. What's the next track you've got for us?
NL: Oh, our next track is just fabulous. It's “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. One of the great, great songs.
Fabulous, I mean, fabulous production - that's Giorgio Moroder isn't it.. so extraordinary good. I love dancing, so music makes me want to dance, and I do often dance -- at home, by myself. And out! I used to love going to discos, dancing to “I Feel Love”. It's one of those records that, if it’s played, everyone just has to dance. That minute that you hear the beginning, and it slightly puts you into a trance, as music does, I think.
EJL: What makes for a good dance song, in your opinion?
NL: A good dance song is all about the beat. And it's all about the way that the music becomes part of your blood stream. It has to be felt in the body. It's not about sitting and listening to something reflectively, wondering if those lyrics are good. I think the lyrics don't really matter for a dance song. It's really a completely physical experience. I'm completely caught along like by a river, or a torrent, when I hear “I Feel Love” or any good disco music.
Song: Donna Summer – “I Feel Love”
EJL: That was “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. What's the next track that you've got for us?
NL: Well, the next track is more dance music - it's “Dance the Night” Away by The Mavericks.
I chose that, because I like it, but primarily because I also used to dance to it with my late husband John. And I remember -- again, back in the kitchen -- in my kitchen, dancing to it with John, with my children who were little, because they were very young when he died. And I remember watching them and thinking, I'm so glad that they have this, that they have a memory even -- if it's a bodily memory, because they were so young -- a memory of their parents happy, dancing. Because it was quite traumatic for them, as it was for all of us.
I certainly liked it that I felt this is what I wanted to give my children, a feeling of security and parents who loved each other. And then, that was obviously, unfortunately, taken away, but it was there.
Song: The Mavericks – “Dance the Night Away”
EJL: That was The Mavericks with “Dance The Night Away”, what's the last track that you've got for us?
NL: I've chosen something, I've chosen this because I like the lyrics, even though they make me slightly embarrassed, because theyre very new age-y and cheesy and cringe-y. It's called “I Hope You Dance” by Leanne Womack. The basic premise being that in life you can either sit it out or you could dance, and it's better to dance. I'm afraid to say that I have many of the faults that she itemizes in this song, that I do fear the mountains in the distance, and I do take the path of least resistance. So all in all, I feel like I’ve got to be better,.. Yes, Leanne, this is not the way I should be, I’ve got to be more like you.
I love a bit of country western, I'm not sure if this is country western, but that's how I think of this -- maybe a country western person wouldn't. I did bring my children up on a bit of country western singers. I love the unabashed emotional quality. I love the fact that people tell whole stories in a song. And it's so other to me. It couldn't be more opposite of anything that I am -- emotionally, culturally, in every way it's the very opposite of my existence, and I adore it.
EJL: Nigella, thank you so much for joining us here today at KCRW.com.
NL: My pleasure, I hope you've recovered from my music choices.