Anthony Bourdain's favourite songs
Credit: James Cann

From Bob Dylan to The Stooges: A perfect playlist of Anthony Bourdain’s favourite songs

Anthony Bourdain is a figure who became synonymous with non-conformity. Whether through his progressive food, his dedication to the dive bar and all its inhabitants, or his adoration of all things punk, Anthony Bourdain was a bastion of anti-establishment splendour.

Here we take a look back at parts of the connective tissue music provided between moments and people in his life with a brand new playlist of some of the iconic chef’s most treasured songs.

It is well-known that Bourdain was a champion of New York’s punk movement, the chef was somewhat coincidentally at the forefront of the scene as bubbled away in the cauldron of NYC’s backstreets. In fact, he was often cited as saying that both chefs and musicians worked in similar undulating patterns. They were nightwalkers, the working men of the dark streets of New York’s bubbling underbelly.

It was a theory that Bourdain took with him wherever he went. Whether he was reviewing a restaurant—often commenting on the music being played in the dining room as much as the food—or speaking with the numerous musicians and icons that littered his show Parts Unknown, Bourdain was always an authentic lover of music.

Over the course of a few interviews and radio shows, Bourdain has given us a plethora of songs to call his ‘favourite’. While we can’t be sure on his definitive list, sadly leaving us before any such choice was made, this list is a mirror of the icon’s burning past and reflects back a life led in the subversive shadows.

The chef seemingly connected with songs that had a charge of electricity running through them, the quaking moments of unkown terror permeating through every note. These were the song he connected with. First on the list is Brian Jonestown Massacre’s ‘Anemone’, which Bourdain said was “drenched in opiates and regret, I heard this song once and became besotted by it. It sounds like lost love, past lives, unforgiven mistakes and transgressions,” fitting acclaim for the song’s creator and Bourdain’s friend, Anton Newcombe.

The chef also had a lace in his heart for the downright dirty, New York Dolls and their hit ‘Personality Crisis’, which Bourdain says was “an answered prayer,” before adding: “The antidote to all the lousy music of the era. Loud, unapologetically sloppy. Johnny Thunders guitar made life worth living again and gave permission to everything good that followed, like New York punk. Joyously nihilistic.” A theme that sadly runs throughout the playlist.

Bourdain was punk rock until the end, never-wavering from his mission, never dropping his gaze from you or anyone else who crossed his path. Anthony Bourdain was one of the realest motherfuckers this world has ever seen. It was a badge of honour that he had sewn into his sleeve and one that permeates the music with which he feels most connected to.

From Roxy Music’s ‘Do The Strand’ being described as “two years of college and this was all I remember”, to the subversive moments of Curtis Mayfield, about which he says: “Ahhh…cocaine. I wanted it. And even though the Superfly soundtrack (unlike the film) is decidedly anti-drug and cautionary, it sure made coke sound desirable to me. The lush arrangements are timeless, whatever your position. This is still in heavy rotation on my iPod long after I gave up the powders.” Bourdain was always open and honest, upfront and unabashed, something he and his favourite musicians always shared.

Below our chef selects the most veined, fat-dripping chunks of meat for us to sink our teeth into with Talking Heads, Bob Dylan and the Stooges all adding extra weight to the megawatt playlist below.

Anthony Bourdain’s favourite songs:

  • ‘Anemone’ – The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  • ‘Pusherman’ – Curtis Mayfield
  • ‘What’s Going On’ – Marvin Gaye
  • ‘Do the Strand’ – Roxy Music
  • ‘Once In A Lifetime’ – Talking Heads
  • ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ – Bob Dylan
  • ‘Chinese Rocks’ – The Heartbreakers
  • ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ – Public Image Ltd.
  • ‘Personality Crisis’ – The New York Dolls
  • ’96 Tears’ – ? and The Mysterions
  • ‘Down on the Street’ – The Stooges
  • ‘Sonic Reducer’ – The Dead Boys
  • ‘Love In Spurts’ – Richard Hell & The Voidoids
  • ‘Fight For Your Right’ – Beastie Boys
  • ‘Pay to Cum’ – Bad Brains
  • ‘White Lines’ – Grandmaster Flash
  • ‘Riot Act’ – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Source: Rolling Stone / KCRW / Spotify CNN

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