Soundtrack

Jack Garratt Throws an Old School Dinner Party

The British multi-instrumentalist builds a party playlist perfect for a throwback dinner party, featuring songs by Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and more.

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(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Jack Garratt’s mix of electronica, pop and soul won him the BBC’s “Sound of 2016” Poll and a Brits “Critics’ Choice” Award. To put things in context, the last folks to do that were Sam Smith and Adele.

Jack told us before making his playlist, “Usually when my mom and dad had dinner parties, I was the one annoying everyone and trying to be a part of the adult conversation and the fun. That was definitely me.”

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Stevie Wonder -“As If You Read My Mind”

Trying to think of songs for this, it’s difficult because there’s so many different kind of dinner party routes you could go down. But I think I’m going to go with the opening track of Stevie Wonder’s album, “Hotter Than July.” It’s called “As If You Read My Mind.”

The chorus is unbelievably catchy, but the song doesn’t follow an obvious structure. The way that it’s been composed is genius. It’s extravagant and kind of out there.

You hear these incredible sounds, and then you find out that he was playing all of them. Those seven different drum parts that you can hear in the background, it’s all him just laying it over each other and doing it himself. And to hear someone do it in the way that he was, where it was challenging and fun and interesting… it’s something I still learn from today.

Steely Dan – “Peg”

So, I feel like the next best song to go to is “Peg” by Steely Dan. This song, I love so much.

It’s such a life-affirming piece of music! It feels so effortlessly happy. The thing I love about Steely Dan — this is something my dad, I remember, really drove home for me when I was a kid. He would always sit there and go, “Now, you won’t get this because you’re too young, but trust me, when you grow up, you will appreciate the level of artistry in this music.”

They would change the musicians for every song because the song was asking for something different. So, the band constantly changed. The only people who were there the whole time were the original two.

One of the people they brought in and they worked with a few times is incredible vocalist Michael McDonald, but they asked him to do backing vocals for a track. And it honestly is one of the finest backing vocal performances I’ve ever heard in my entire life. [laughs.]

Jackson Browne – “Something Fine”

I feel like this is a good time — you know, after the meal is finished — to kind of just start winding down with something that’s a little bit more bare. I think I’d go for “Something Fine” by Jackson Browne, but I’d take it from his acoustic volume series.

You can feel the audience being a part of this recording in their silence. It’s him on guitar, and it’s a song about giving yourself wholeheartedly to another person.

There’s an introduction where he explains the story behind the song, and he talks about how he was staying in this ridiculous castle in England somewhere. And there was one other person staying there, and it was this woman. And they ended up having this very passionate affair over the few months that they were sharing this place, and that’s where this song came from.

It’s poetry. Just summing up an entire state and comparing it to a spoiled child that wants love. Like, the beautiful thing about Jackson Browne is you could take his lyrics away from his music, and they would still leave you feeling so desperately lost.

Jack Garratt – “My House Is Your Home”

If I was forced to choose one of my own songs — just in case I hadn’t made the evening about myself enough — I’d probably go with the final track on the album, which is a track called “My House Is Your Home.”

It’s the only song on the album where I’m not doing a thousand things at once, and I just sit down at a piano and play a love song.

I’m not sure why the music I’ve chosen for this is kind of analog-y feeling. I mean, if you look at the date of a lot of the tracks, as well, apart from mine, a lot of it would’ve been recorded on tape — literally, you know, analog — and maybe I have a yearning for the romanticism of that kind of era of music.