When I have company over for a gathering, I have a short list of “must-haves” (beyond the obvious good food and drink): a clean bathroom, fresh flowers, and an appropriate playlist. The first two items are self-explanatory, but the last one can be pretty nuanced, I think. For instance, I have two very talented friends that play in a band (River Rising). They come to my place every month or so for dinner and I always make a playlist for them that includes the bluesy bands that have influenced them and other music that I think they will enjoy. For a Dia de los Muertos dinner I held a few years back, I asked everyone beforehand to send me a few songs that pleasantly remind them of friends and family that have passed. There were a few tears shed, but for the most part, that gathering was a happy celebration of our loved ones.
Lately, I’ve been compiling a pretty universal playlist in Spotify called, “Dinner Party.” For me, this means one thing: jazz (mostly vocals). Something about the voices of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Peggy Lee make me feel celebratory and slightly nostalgic, and that’s exactly the kind of mood I like for dinner or cocktails. I always add a few modern surprises (a thoughtful cover, a new orchestration of an old favorite), but for the most part, I stick to standards. I encourage you to check out this public playlist if you are a Spotify user (my username is fignatius), and I welcome suggestions for additions. This meant to be a living mix that will change over time, but certain tunes will always make the cut.
So, I ask: what’s your dinner party playlist?