Joey Sweeney is the rare music critic who also makes great music himself. He has been in a slew of bands over the years and, at the same time, his writing has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Salon, and the Da Capo Press “Best Music Writing” book series.
The Philadelphia-based Sweeney recently released a new solo album, “Long Hair.” He loves playing songs for the captive audience of guests at a dinner party – but luckily, the choices on his playlist would be enjoyable in any setting.
Hi, I’m Joey Sweeney. I am a writer and a musician from Philadelphia, PA, and I have a new record out called “Long Hair.”
It is my honor to do this week’s dinner party soundtrack. I am that awful kind of person that will call people into my home and say “You’ve got to hear this.” Now, you’re next.
Blossom Dearie, “Comment Allez Vous”
The first track I would play is “Commet Allez Vous” off of Blossom Dearie’s album from 1957. Blossom Dearie was a really fantastic New York jazz singer who had a really long and illustrious jazz career. There is just something sweet and elegant about her delivery.
There is something about the backup vocals [on this song] that I think was predominant in film soundtracks in the 40s and 50s. It is sort of a choral, angelic, Disney effect, just otherworldy.
For as sweet as it is, there is also something delightfully dippy about it. It’ll put people in a good mood.
Nina Simone, “My Sweet Lord”
A moment will arrive in a dinner party where you will actually have to sit down and eat and you will have a captive audience.
There is something about the twenty minute live version of Nina Simone doing “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrision that every citizen of the United States needs to hear.
Nina at the piano, a bass player that is unstoppable, very intense tambourine work. It goes from the points of almost hysteria to being this super melancholy thing that is really moving and then back again. It is a concern that it might overpower conversation but again stakes are really high. There will be time for talking later.
Jessie Baylin, “I Feel That Too”
For my third track, I would pick “I Feel That Too” by Jessie Baldin.
It is very Carole King inspired and I also hear a bit of Stevie Nicks and almost everything that I love. This is a record that goes for a real rock-pop classicism.
There’s a really great bridge in this song. I don’t think people really give bridges enough credit, but this one goes to that sort of high, angelic place that you heard in that earlier Blossom Dearie record.
This whole record is one where you can just drop the needle and let it go all the way and reconvene to the living room and share a glass of wine and have a smoke.
Joey Sweeney, “Records and Coffee”
I wouldn’t say that I am not the kind of person to play my own music in my own house – but I definitely am the type of person who would expect to be ridiculed for doing it.
Maybe as an outro, to throw on the lights and tell people that you have to be somewhere but you can’t be here, I would play “Records and Coffee” off of “Long Hair.”