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Pizza Songs: A ludicrous podcasting folly

I'm definitely one for an over-ambitious goal. In 2014, I pledged to meet 10,000 new people. I stalled at three. In 2015, I aimed to photograph all the pub floors in Sheffield. That stopped when I stopped drinking. In 2016, as part of my activities with my podcast, Dispatches From The Communal Bathroom, my goal was to write 50 songs about pizza. Me and my friend Sam Bradley have been producing the podcast since 2015, crafting songs and laughs while soaking in a virtual bath together, and for two years running we have held an annual celebration of pizza over the August Bank holiday weekend. Last year, I wrote three songs for Pizza Weekend. This year I wanted to write 50. It was just the right amount of too much. 50 was silly. 50 was not a listenable amount of songs for a podcast. "I thought you were mental," says Sam, "but then you just kept sending me messages saying, 'I've written another song'. You'd written five songs in a day and we had four weeks to go, so I thought, 'Fine, let's go for 50'. Bringing our friend Mario on board, the three of us set to work writing a varied collection of songs about pizza and its interaction with love, life, loss, memory and mermaids. Mario wrote a song about an astronaut stranded in space who longs to share a slice with friends back on Earth. I wrote a song about a fugitive cross-dresser who commits murderous crimes in the guise of a door-to-door pizza seller. Sam wrote a song about a politician whose career is ruined by a journalist's tricky question about pineapple on pizzas. Why pizza? Songs are so often about love, but love is such a small part of life, whereas food is something that is in our lives every day. If songs are to reflect life, there should be many more food songs. And what bigger food is there than pizza? Pizza is popular and universal, the foodstuff of comfort and convenience. Pizza is the sandwich's sexy cousin. Having eaten our fair share of pizzas, we thought we could bring new observations to the pizza sphere. We also felt we had the song writing chops to bring a half-ton of new tunes to the fairly slim pizza songbook. What we quickly found was that once you set that goal - once you say, 'Yes, I am going to write songs about this one thing and this one thing alone' - nothing is off limits. You think to yourself, 'What if pizza learnt to fly?' and very quickly it becomes a song. You think to yourself, 'What if Karl Marx ate a pizza?' and very soon you are rhyming 'quinoa' with 'bourgeois'. You think, 'What if, instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Pizzas and they enjoy eating baby turtles?' and very swiftly lose your mind. You see, this is the thing they never tell you about attempting to write 50 songs about pizza: it is insane. You start out enjoying exploring new ways of writing, but then the enthusiasm mutates, you start seeing pizza in everything and you have ideas quicker than you can deal with them. To keep going and avoid getting stuck in production hell, I quickly recorded several acapella songs and Sam bought himself a new instrument, a Pocket Operator, so he could soon lay down a beat in seconds. We even took a pilgrimage to Edinburgh to meet our comedy hero, Chris Gethard, and tell him about our project. He, a New Yorker, didn't understand how we, being from Sheffield, had any kind of connection to pizza. Confused, he intimated that we knew nothing about pizza, then told us a story of a grumpy pizzeria owner in his college town, evicted by gentrification, which inspired me to write 'The Ballad of Old Man Tata'. There were times towards the end when we didn't know if we could do it, but we persevered. Now I'm proud to say that our 50-strong collection of pizza-inspired songs exists in all its rag-tag, lo-fi glory. So grab a slice and join us. )

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