Songs for a Quiet Night with Jeremy Jay

Words like cryptic, dark, mysterious, and dreamy come up frequently when critics try to pin down the sound of Jeremy Jay.

The Los Angeles-raised musician now lives in London, and a bit of English gloom may have soaked into his newest, most gothicly-tinged recording, “Abandoned Apartments,” which is out this week.

He chose to work on this record largely in self-imposed isolation – but now that it’s finished and he might have a bit more time for socializing, we wondered what kind of music he would play at a dinner party. His selections, which showcase his interest in the craft of songwriting, are perfect for a late, introspective night.

Hi, my name is Jeremy Jay. My new album is called “Abandoned Apartments” and this is my dinner party soundtrack.

Rose McDowall, “This Calling”

The first song I’d like to play is a song by Rose McDowall, and it’s the song called “This Calling.” It came out in 2008. Rose McDowall is a Scottish musician who started a band called Strawberry Switchblade in 1981 and had a solo career that kind of went under the radar. No one talks about what she does, which is a shame because it’s so beautiful. You know there’s no drums, there’s no flashing lights, and there’s no distractions. The songwriting shows through a little bit clearer.

What I would really like to highlight is the verses D minor E minor, and from the E minor it goes to E major – like the glory chord. I think it just shows in songwriting how change is so effective.


Elliott Smith, “Needle in the Hay”

The next song I’d like to play for you is this song by Elliott Smith it’s called “Needle in the Hay” off his first album on Kill Rock Stars. “Needle in the Hay” is fascinating to me because he doesn’t play the top three strings of the guitar and his voice is really dry. There’s no reverb, it’s very stark. In my opinion it’s his best song.

He’s bringing into his poetry what might seem like mundane facts, like walking down Powell Street in Portland. I think it brings the listener as close as you can get to the singer. It really makes, for me at least, a complete picture. It’s so fascinating when the singer is not trying to sing lyrics, and they sing insight. I’m always searching for insight, and I’m not looking to be entertained only.

Tones On Tail, “Performance”

Okay, let’s mix it up a bit and let’s get out of this world of simplicity.

Have you ever heard the song “Performance” by Tones On Tail? It was made in 1984, and if it came out now it would fit right in. Synths and drum machine and it just hits you in your face like with a baseball bat, and then your face just goes in the stands. It’s so fun. It just makes you want to dance, and it sounds kind of like textbook horror. They’re fascinated with the surreal of the night. They were fans of David Lynch before David Lynch was cool.

Jeremy Jay, “Graveyard Shift”

And finally I’d like to play this new song we just recorded, it’s called “Graveyard Shift.” This song is about working at a convenient store late at night, about that sense of family and knowing the secrets of that world – that’s kind of what pulls you through.