[Every week, American Public Media's The Dinner Party Download brings radio and podcast listeners a fast and funny hour of conversation about culture and food – “public radio’s Arts & Leisure section.” On the show's “Soundtrack” segment, top musicians provide a playlist of some of their favorite dinner music.]
Indie troubadour Kevin Morby has spent a life on the move. He launched his first band, Creepy Alien, while still in his teens in Kansas City. Not long thereafterafter he landed in Brooklyn, playing in the noisy outfit Woods and a side project, The Babies. And his first solo album, Harlem River, was an ode to New York City… recorded right after he abandoned the East Coast for his current hometown of Los Angeles.
At the moment Kevin’s still in motion, touring behind his reflective, ironically titled second solo record, Still Life. Not surprisingly, even this mellow dinner party playlist ends with a tune about driving away.
Django Reinhardt, “Georgia on My Mind”
Kevin: First is Django Reinhardt, a song called “Georgia on My Mind.” As a guitarist myself, when you listen to someone like him, or someone like John Fahey, even though their styles are completely different, they’re the masters of their craft. It’s like watching a magician perform a trick or something. You can’t even comprehend ever being able to play like that. And then it’s amazing: Django Reinhardt, I think, two of his fingers were out of the mix — they were paralyzed in a fire or something like that. And so that on top of it is unbelievable.
I’ve always said Django Reinhardt is the best music to cook to. From the moment that I first heard him, it has been amazing cooking music. Something about when it’s on in the kitchen that brings a certain warmth to the room. In the context of a dinner party, it would be: People show up, some Django Reinhardt is playing, the host is like, “I’m sorry, I’m still getting everything together, but have a seat, pour yourself a drink.”
Steve Gunn, “Wildwood”
The next song is called “Wildwood,” by Steve Gunn. “Wildwood” is on his latest album, Way Out Weather. Steve Gunn is a New York musician by way Philadelphia — he’s someone I’m proud to call a friend.
There’s something about when the vocals come in — because the guitar is so beautiful when it starts out. It comes on, and it’s the very obvious beautiful song, it could almost exist on its own, just as a guitar piece. But then when the vocals come in they’re very, very powerful.
So at this point in this hypothetical dinner, people will be sitting down. The food is all prepared and the guests have all gotten to know one another a little bit. Something a little more contemporary, maybe a good conversation piece.
I just think he’s a living legend, I think he’s incredible.
The Velvet Underground, “Pale Blue Eyes”
When this comes on at the dinner party, I think things are sort of winding down. You know, whether I’m at a show or out to dinner at a friend’s house, and this song comes on, I really get that really cheesy, cinematic “movie moment,” where I feel like I’m watching the movie of my own life.
It’s one of those, like, special treasures in life — I don’t even listen to it too much at home, because I like to just be surprised by it out somewhere, in the moment. That little guitar lick comes in, and that little tambourine hits, and I like to just sort of watch the world around me freeze up, and be taken away by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground.
Kevin Morby, “Motors Running”
If I had to choose a song for my own album to close out the dinner party, I would choose “Motors Running” (which starts in the YouTube player at 7:09). It’s a song about just being in motion and wanting to get to the next thing. It’s one of those songs that I went in thinking would be an acoustic song, but by the time the record was finished, it was kind of this rocker.
The dinner party at this point is over. Maybe everyone is getting in their cars — they’re going somewhere else, and they’re all still going to hang out. The night’s not over… but the dinner party is.
The Dinner Party Download can be heard locally every Friday at 7 p.m. on 89.3 KPCC, or on online at www.dinnerpartydownload.org — where you can hear the audio of this interview.