Anthony Bourdain's favourite songs from the 1980
(Credit: Anthony Burdain / CNN)

From Talking Heads to Elvis Costello: Anthony Bourdain’s favourite songs of the 1980s

The legendary cook who found fame with his TV show Parts Unknown, the late, great Anthony Bourdain, was an avid lover of music as well as fine cuisine. His infatuation with rock and roll is something that goes far beyond mere sonics. It held itself deeply in the psyche of Bourdain as a man and as a chef. He felt the life-giving energy of music was akin to that of food. It remains part of the legacy that lives on following his sad passing.

Bourdain loved music. He loved the filth of it, the grime of it, the get under your nails and pong for weeks of it. He enjoyed the smells, as funky and anti-heroic as they may be. He enjoyed the characters, the stories and the ‘scene’. His formative years in New York were drenched in the history of rock and roll as he soon became ingratiated with the punk scene that was starting to set alight around him. It was one of the city’s most creative periods and Bourdain was slap bang in the middle of it.

Working in the NYC night at similar times — one lighting stoves, the other stages — Bourdain would often make comparisons between being a chef and a rock star. He cited their nocturnal activities and unusual living habits as reasons for their kindred spirits. Bourdain would often find room for musical guests and musical interludes in all his work and always especially criticising a restaurant for bad music.

Although Bourdain experienced much of his musical crash in the underbelly of seventies New York, the chef’s fascination with music would transcend decades and find him engaging with music throughout his storied life until his recent suicide, which rocked both of the worlds in which he lived his life.

As well as being an expert chef and wonderful writer, Bourdain found himself in a very strange role, the role of a ‘celebrity’. It wasn’t something that he found too comfortable, going to glitzy events with phoney people. It never really sat well with his character. He was a man who’d take a dive bar over a champagne party every day of the week. But, on the odd occasion, it did allow him on odd occasions to share his love music and the music he loved.

In this playlist for CNN, Anthony Bourdain picks his favourite songs of the eighties and it perfectly paints a picture of the man. The playlist is littered with rebellion, intrigue, connection, effortless cool, and a musical palette as highly skilled as his tastebuds. It sees inclusion for incredible artists such as N.W.A, The Specials, Mudhoney, Elvis Costello, Rick James and so many more.

It shows an image of a man undeterred by labels or boundaries and a lover of music who is seemingly as keen to explore every different taste imaginable.

The wide variety of songs match up with a man who was always looking for the next step, the next moment, the next connection wherever that may take him on the globe, in the restaurant or on the airwaves. In all walks of life, he was eager to stretch his known cuisine by way of introduction to new facets of humanity. It remains a lasting part of a man that will have connected with a generation.

Anthony Bourdain favourite songs of the ’80s:

  • ‘Straight Outta Compton’ – N.W.A.
  • ‘Fight The Power’ – Public Enemy
  • ‘Too Many Creeps’ – Bush Tetras
  • ‘Ghost Town’ – The Specials
  • ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ – Public Image Ltd.
  • ‘Riot Act’ – Elvis Costello
  • ‘Johnny Hit and Run Paulina’ – Giant Sand
  • ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ – Mudhoney
  • ‘Obsessed’ – 999
  • ‘Mad World’ – Tears for Fears
  • ‘You Dropped a Bomb on Me’ – The Gap Band
  • ‘Fight For Your Right’ – Beastie Boys
  • ‘Give It To Me Baby’ – Rick James
  • ‘Once In A Lifetime’ – Talking Heads
  • ‘More Than This’ – Roxy Music
  • ‘Ace of Spades’ – Motorhead
  • ‘Pay to Cum’ – Bad Brains
  • ‘White Lines’ – Grandmaster Flash
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