I’m currently showcasing each track from my newest album, Broken Heart, in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Cookie Dough” is the fifth track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
I had a lot of fun writing this song. As usual, the chorus came first in a fit of inspiration. Actually, not trusting people who don’t enjoy cookie dough is a real thought that I have frequently had. I try to remind myself that everyone’s different and there’s no accounting for taste, but deep down I’m like, there are biological reasons for our preferences for fat and sugar, so what’s wrong with these people who don’t have it? Apologies to anyone who fits into this category – intellectually I know this doesn’t make any sense, but it did make for a cool song idea in my opinion!
At some point I started thinking about the parallels between liking a food that feels good but is bad for you, and liking a person who might make you feel good in an immediate sense, but is bad for you in the long run. And it turned into a whole song idea!
Writing and releasing this song made me think of a bit of feedback I got a while back, about a completely different song on a different topic that the person found silly/frivolous. They told me that I should think more before I write, and not just write a song about any old thing that pops into my head. This bothered me for a couple of reasons. First, I found it a little insulting that they assumed that just because they didn’t understand the point of the song, meant that I must not have had one or even thought about it. Second, there are actually plenty of hit songs, as well as songs that are widely considered to be great (those two categories don’t always match up), that are written about totally frivolous topics that seem to have just popped into someone’s head! It’s not always about writing the most profound song in the world.
In fact, I have also been criticized for writing a song about war and peace because that was trying too hard to have a message (of course, that song never saw the light of day because I ultimately agreed that it was tacky, but that’s beside the point!). So it seemed like I just couldn’t win, if there is such a delicate balance between being too frivolous or too sincere. So I guess I’ll just continue writing about what feels meaningful to me and not worry about how others will perceive it!
Anyway, even if some people would hear this song and say, “I can’t believe you wrote a song about liking cookie dough even though it’s bad for you – how pointless!”, for me, there is meaning in that metaphor. And while I mainly find the first verse (the one that’s all about our evolved love of substances like cookie dough) to be a bit of fun, I feel like the second verse and chorus deepen and intensify the emotional meaning by making it about a person, while still keeping a fun and light feel to it.
A note about the chorus: I really wasn’t crazy about the word “inhibiting.” I like to keep my songwriting pretty close to natural language, and I just feel like that’s not something people would say. Then again, I could see myself saying it, so that’s probably good enough. (Even if most people are nothing like me at all, I suppose the people that I want to listen to my songs are those who are much more like me. How else will we relate to each other?) In the end, I tried a bunch of other words that vaguely fit in with the syllables, rhyme and meaning, but none of them flowed as well and had the precise meaning that I wanted, so it stayed in. Hopefully I made the right decision! These are the kinds of small decisions that perfectionist songwriters like me can agonize over for much longer than you’d think.
Overall in this song, I spent a lot of time making small adjustments to the lyrics so that it would flow better, and I think I did a really good job, if I can say so. Some songs need more of this than others; it depends on how quickly I wrote it and how much of it was inspiration vs. craft and graft.
Cookie dough might be my favorite food
In love with fat and sugar after millions of years of evolution
The sweetness, the texture, and the feel of it
Overwhelm the system with pleasure
But it can make you sick in unexpected ways
And I never really liked the aftertaste
God, I wish it were a superfood
Not just fighting a famine that we made it through
But can’t forget
I can’t trust people who say they don’t enjoy cookie dough
So who could trust me if I said I didn’t want you?
And I’m sick of this inhibiting
But pleasure’s not everything
There must be some way that we can make do
You’re my favorite kind of guy
Excitement in your eyes and uncertainty in your life
You look like a prince from a Disney movie
And you’ve almost got his manners too
With just enough edge so you aren’t boring
And I could see us taking the world by storm
I can’t pretend it would all be fine
If I settled for the guy who always gets it right
Instead of you