Neko Case has called her pal Kelly Hogan “the Zelig of rock ‘n’ roll.” Her name appears in the credits for albums by Mavis Staples, the Mekons, Will Oldham, Matt Pond PA, Amy Ray, Giant Sand, Archer Prewitt, Alejandro Escovedo, Drive-By Truckers, Jakob Dylan, Tortoise and many others, Case included. Hogan’s fourth album has been a long time coming, in part because she’s been busy as a crucial part of Case’s band (anyone who’s seen Case live has witnessed Hogan’s amusing banter), in part because of the nature of the project. For I Like To Keep Myself In Pain (Anti-), Hogan sent letters to her songwriter friends, many of whom she’d sung with, asking them if they would send her a song, either one written specifically for her or one that “you think I could do right by,” as she said. That process started several years ago, and results yielded songs from a veritable who’s who: Vic Chesnutt, Stephin Merritt, Andrew Bird, Jon Langford, Janet Bean, M. Ward and others. Hogan will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on her.
Hogan: Hey, people! Have you been hipped to edible wild plants and such? Speaking as a broke-ass musician, it never hurts to be able to find something free to eat.
I’ve been interested in foraging almost my whole life. My mom became a devotee of naturalist Euell Gibbons in the early 1970s. (Hey, where my over-40s at? Did you know that many parts of the pine tree are edible? Of course you did!) And I read Gibbons’ book Stalking The Wild Asparagus in second grade and took it to heart. I was soon tagged as a hippie weirdo by the neighborhood kids who caught me eating violets and sorrel on the hill by the pool in my apartment complex after school—but I was a latchkey kid who didn’t have a mom pulling hot cookies out of an oven like on TV! I was hungry! And that green stuff is good and good for you.
In these days of “locavore this” and “organic that” (which are awesome movements, by the way), you’ll pay out the ying-yang for ramps and chicory if a waiter has to bring it to you on a plate. Or you can educate yourself, and forage for great ingredients to supplement your regular diet and live deliciously and nutritiously on the cheap.
And you’ll be getting to know your surroundings—your environment—which is something I’m always campaigning for in this age of handheld electronic devices and dislocation. I moved from Chicago to southern Wisconsin four years ago and fell completely in love with the local prairielands and the native plant and animal life here, edible and otherwise. But you don’t have to necessarily live in the country to forage. There are classes in urban foraging for city dwellers, though you may have to kick an alley rat’s ass over some dandelion greens. Bring your shiv.
I know foraging isn’t for everyone, and it does take time and effort—but if you’re interested, go online or to your library and read books from credible sources; books with good diagrams or pictures of what you can and cannot eat—or take a foraging class and get out in your local nature, wherever you are. Soon you’ll be ready to survive any coming ____-alypse, zombie or otherwise. Just don’t kill yourselves eating a funky mushroom!
P.S. Super-nice guy Sean Rowe is my Anti- labelmate and he makes beautiful music—but did you also know that he’s a naturalist and an expert on living in the wild? He’s one of my foraging inspirations. Check it!