I Like Pie (I Like You Best Of All)
This page is about:
- Providing context of the song and message of I Like Pie in the lindy hop community;
- Describing why I saw a need to make a new version; and
- How my version is different and what message it is intended to convey.
I Like You Best Of All is most widely know in the lindy hop scene by the title I Like Pie, and especially before 2011, almost exclusively the 1941 version as sung by the Four Clefs.
In 2011, Steven Mitchell appeared as a guest with my band and sang the song at my live recording in Rochester NY. The version (over 5 minutes long) featuring Steven’s vocals was released on my album, Live In Rochester, and became widely known and played by lindy hop DJs around the world despite its length. People posted YouTube versions of the recording to facilitate DJing it from YouTube.
In January 2015, Sarah Sullivan courageously came forward and began the process whereby Steven was exposed as a sexual predator. Other survivors then came forward, and a long overdue conversation ensued about the ways in which lindy hop culture had potentially enabled or promoted rape culture. This is described very well in the following links:
- Rik's Yahoodi post about Steven
- Sarah Sullivan’s statement from 2015
- Ramona’s Track podcast (Relevant discussion begins at 1:16:57)
- Allison Cordner account
The subtly altered words of my new version are a work in progress with empowerment in mind. They are intended as a rebuke of rape culture, and to reclaim the song (after the negative, and deeply painful associations it took on for many as a result of the widely known version featuring Steven Mitchell as a guest singer on my Live in Rochester album (recorded in 2011). He was outed as a sexual predator by many courageous women who came forward in 2015, some of them personal friends of mine. Two of the women who came out publicly about SM were included in the list of people I consulted about the song... also my wife Katie who is a survivor of rape, and whom I consulted and who wished to be mentioned/named in this context. One of the above unnamed survivors performed the song live with me at a prominent lindy hop camp a couple of years ago. The courage and strength of all three of these women, and the others who came forward is tremendously inspiring to me. I understand and respect that they each have varying experiences and feelings about the song.
Some people separate the song itself from one rapist's version. Some people do not. That’s understandable. Many people have deep associations with music. For me, I see the new version as reclaiming a song that should never have belonged to a rapist to begin with, and making it against him and his agenda.
In recording for Ryan Swift’s podcast the Track last year, I discussed my perspective on the work I had done with Steven Mitchell and tried to make it adequately clear that his predatory behavior towards a long list of women some of whom are my personal friends, was disturbing to the core, beyond words, and I condemned him in no uncertain terms, while expressing my full support and respect to the many survivors who courageously came forward- although the nuance of that discussion might not be fully represented here. You can listen to it here.
In my interpretation of the song, it’s a statement of appreciation and respect for the person/people you are singing to, and how in a healthy situation, this is actually the thing that contextualizes desires and appetites, taking on the highest level of importance. I like pie is a song with two levels of narratives:
A) it is about fun and dessert and food that looks delicious and I’m yearning for it. But in the end it’s YOU I like best of all, above all else.
B) the food references may be interpreted as double entendre, i.e. sexual innuendo. Again in the end, the idea is it’s YOU I like best of all.
I Like Pie, I Like Cake
I Like Anything You Bake
I Like Your crackers too, crumbled up in a stew,
When I see your jelly roll,
I just need my self control
Cause of all these things I like you best of all.
Repeats are all slightly different:
When I see your gender role, it just moves my heart and soul.
But of all these things, I like you best of all.
And the final repeat:
When I see your jelly roll, I’m gonna USE my self control,
Cause of all these things, I like you best of all. (More than your pie.)
NOTE 1: gender role may not be the ideal lyric for the intended (feminist) idea, but it was the best fit I could find. In this context, my intention was “your gender role” could be your chosen role, which is up to you, not me nor a stereotype, and I am stating that I admire you for who you actually are.
NOTE 2: I considered the lyrics “leave you in control” or “glad you’re in control”, giving the control over to the person being addressed. But, to my mind, that sounded like handing over responsibility, sort of a cop out. I remember a woman’s post a few years ago, about “a revolutionary technique to combat rape: Men- stop raping women.” This in my opinion is the starting point. In context of rape, “when I see your jelly roll, I just lose my self control”, is an extremely creepy and oppressive lyric. It seems to suggest that a man isn’t entirely to blame if a woman is so hot he can’t control his urge to rape her. On the contrary, if he rapes her he is 100% to blame. There is no 99% here. Change starts with all men owning up to this. There is no excuse for rape or any part of rape. Not ever.
If the lyric is “When I see your jelly roll, I’m gonna USE my self control” this simply focuses on the most important change needed in our culture, which is the importance of men taking responsibility and making sure they have their partner’s full consent, and/or controlling themselves if they don’t have it. It also replaces the notion in the original lyric that losing control is somehow an acceptable option if/when the object is sweet enough, with the idea that remaining in control is a conscious choice.
Also the art of the song is the two narratives both staying intact.