Hospital Food is a song by the band Eels from the album Electro-Shock Blues. Hospital Food is a fun song when played live. The jazzy style and the counter rhythms of the bongos blending wonderfully with the drumming creating a definite foot tapping tune. Even the album version is fun, mid-way through the song the song halts and one can here E say to the Butch the drummer "I can hear you" there is a mumbled "um I was just…." in response and the song continues. On live recordings there is often a couple of lines banter at this point of the song between Butch and E. Knowledge of all of this could not have prepared me for July 23, 2001.

It was an excellent concert. The Olympia in Dublin is always a nice personal venue. It had been weird up to that point, a little more like a pantomime than a 'gig'. It was about to get weirder. E begins to tell a story. He recalls how when he was a young boy growing up in Dublin his mother had wanted him to become a tap dancer (it should be pointed out at this stage that E did not grow up in Ireland but in California somewhere). He confessed that he consented to her wishes despite the fact that all he ever wanted was to play the bongos. He told of how every day on his was to his tap dancing lesson, he would stop outside "this very theatre" and long to someday play his bongos on stage. He then expressed his sorrow at having let the opportunity to play the bongos elude him thus far, and wished he hadn’t concentrated on his dancing. There was a dramatic pause.      . And then he called up God to set the record straight. "God, if I am truly meant to play the bongos, give me a sign!" he said. Then as the lights dimmed for effect, I could actually feel the presence of a godly force at work: a brief hum followed by an odd squeaking noise. In the dark room there was a reverend silence as the audience witnessed a really important event. A pair of bongos being winched down from the ceiling Heavens. E was duly overjoyed and proceeded to play Hospital Food. Then just when we thought things couldn’t become any stranger, Butch started yelping. The music came to a stop as E turns around in annoyance.

E: BUTCH!
Butch: What?
E: Every night of the tour you have fucked this song up.
Butch: oh, (incomprehensible apologetic mumbling).
E: Is everything OK?
Butch: um….
E: I mean are things ok at home or whatever?
Butch: I was a little confused…
E: Confused by what?
Butch: Um, the signs.
E (incredulous): The signs?
Butch: Yeah the signs out front that say "Rent"
Rent the musical had been showing during the previous week at the Olympia
E: Actually yeah, I was a little puzzled by them too.
Butch: I’d like to apologise to the two thirds of the audience who came here tonight to see Rent, and were shocked and dismayed to discover us playing instead. In order that you cannot ask for a refund, I’d like to take this opportunity to read from the script of Rent.

Butch then produced a script and read (at length) a couple of pages of the musical. He included different voices for different characters and read the awkward rhymes of the songs as humorously as is imaginable.

After this and some more banter with the audience, E, Butch and the band launched synchronously back into the song at the point where they had left off, a good fifteen minutes earlier.

Disclaimer: These events recounted to the best ability of my memory and diction


Hospital Food

Coming through the alley
trying to walk without a sound
It doesn't really matter
'cause there ain't no one around
Tip toe through the alley and
tip toe through your life
You still got it coming
be it gun be it knife
Next thing you know
you're eating hospital food

Karaoke castration
take the wasp alive
He's gonna sting you anyway
and take you to the hive
Yesterday was suckin' and
tomorrow's looking bad
Who knew that today
was the only thing I had?

Hospital food
Want some hospital food
Hospital food
Delicious hospital food

In your tribute album to the world
you must never forget
To sing the one about the cat
who's always getting wet
He's always got a problem
he's a very bitter dude
And now he's complaining
'bout his hospital food

Hospital food
It's gonna help the medicine go down
Want some hospital food
Gonna take a walk without a sound
A little hospital food
Helps the spoonful of sugar come up
I want some hospital food
In your blender and in my cup.

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