I just finished listening to the latest album from David Crosby – I loved it from the first verse.  Crosby, even at his ripe old age, is a master of lyrical compositions and tonal interpretations of feelings that accompany such prose.  He hasn’t lost a beat in this regard – soulful, melodic, and entrancing.  The title track is a composition written by one of his older love interests and an inspirational writer and songstress in her own right – Joni Mitchel.  He Plays Real Good for Free offers not so subtle advice to her contemporaries in the music business – think about why you became a musician.

Food for thought – the same can be true for all of us who spend a good portion of our lives in professional kitchens.  Mitchell’s verse is not meant (from my perspective) to chastise musicians for accepting pay and accolades for their work – they earn it and are entitled to what comes their way.  But it does point to those who get so wrapped up in what is owed to them for the art that they offer that they lose sight of the joy and privilege that comes from mastering their craft and enjoying what really counts.  In the case of a musician, it might be a listener who becomes nostalgic about a song, melancholy because the music makes them “feel”, responds to the beat and drives them to move or dance, or brings a smile when those listeners chime in and sing along.  Cooks and chefs know that the greatest satisfaction comes from cooking for family, friends, neighbors, or grateful strangers.  To watch that level of enjoyment that comes from food that is beautiful to look at, smells heavenly, stimulates the sense of taste, and brings people together through a common bond and appreciation of good cooking is so gratifying.  This is where we all began, and time and again this is what we relish – the chance to make people happy through the craft of cooking.  Salary, notoriety, personal brand building and profit can never compare to the satisfaction that comes from making people happy, giving them a reason to pause and savor a plate of food.  Music and food should bring joy to those who make it and those who consume it. 

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

A knife, a cutting board, a pan

I slice, chop and dice

Cook for you is my true vice

Mother Nature provides so many tools

Our role is to treat them with respect

To give thanks for the farmer, the rancher, the fisherman too

Working with these tools is what we do

To hold a carrot, a potato, a tomato in our hands

To scale a fish, truss a chicken, or French a rack of lamb

Saying grace in the presence of such gifts

Lifts our spirits and gives us purpose

To trim, slice, mince, and dice

To tourne, to caramelize, to sear and roast

This is the craft that others toast

I cook for you, it’s what I do

My hands, my heart, and my soul

Giving joy is always my goal

Breaking bread, listening to what is said

We raise a glass to celebrate

Life’s gift of food and all that it means

The smells, textures, tastes and sound

Of cooking for you is so profound

It gives us meaning, a purpose in life

It gives us joy, it sets aside our strife

The flavors marry in the hands of one

Who knows the craft, who does it for fun

To some it’s a job, a means to an end

A way to get by, to this I send

A message of angst, of a need for more

A way to get by, this is the lore

My hands are rough, my back is sore

It’s a job, a means to an end – no more

I cook for you, it’s what I do

My hands, my heart, and my soul

Giving joy is always my goal

Breaking bread, listening to what is said

We raise a glass to celebrate

Life’s gift of food and all that it means

We started out giving joy to some

A way to communicate

A skill that allowed

You and me to control the way

That people express some joy today

The smells, the textures, the flavors were fine

This was unique, this skill of mine

We need to survive, to pay the bills

Recognition is important of what we do

Fair pay, a pat on the back, a good review

Boosts us up and gives us pride

But in the end let’s push that aside

Remember why we started

Remember the feeling of being complete

When others said thanks with their eyes

For the food on their plate

It may not pay the bills, but it is so true

This feeling of giving is what we do

I cook for you, it’s what I do

My hands, my heart, and my soul

Giving joy is always my goal

Breaking bread, listening to what is said

We raise a glass to celebrate

Life’s gift of food and all that it means

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