Valerie June Mixes a Playlist for a ‘Blowout Extravaganza of Masterful Taste’

The singer-songwriter helps you channel your inner-Diana Ross with a party soundtrack full of Dinosaur Jr., The Supremes, and more.

Photo Credit: Danny Clinch

Memphis singer and guitarist Valerie June‘s last album “Pushin’ Against a Stone” was produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. For her work on that album, The New York Times called her “one of the year’s most intriguing, fully formed new talents.” Her new album, “The Order of Time,” is a fresh take on bluegrass. Here she is with a playlist fit for a couple of kings of rock.


Dinosaur Jr. – “Watch the Corners”

One time I was watching the lead singer J Mascis perform and I loved it so much. We ended up becoming friends and he invited me up to share the stage with him and sing “Watch the Corners” with him.

I’ve never been on stage with that much sound coming from behind from the speakers and having it basically lift me off the stage like I was sitting on top of a fire hydrant that just opened up. So if I could achieve having the speakers be that bumping as their stage sound at my dinner party, I think that everybody in the neighborhood would be invited.

Elvis Presley – “Suspicious Minds”

I’m such a huge Elvis fan and I wasn’t. I lived in Memphis for 10 years, I was raised in Tennessee, and I told myself, “I’m never going to Graceland.” But some friends from Germany came over and they wanted to go. You’re showing them around town, you have to take them to Graceland!

And what a house to host a dinner party in! Because he was really, really, really all over the place, animal print and everything.

I just always overlooked Elvis. I began to realize that he really was not defined by genres. He was able to do a little blues, he was able to do a little rock & roll, he was able to do soul. To me, he held it all, gospel, all of it. And the song “Suspicious Minds,” I don’t know why it just comes into my head. Maybe because I have a suspicious mind and for all the girls who come to the dinner party wearing short skirts, I’ll be telling my boyfriend, “Don’t you look at them! No, I’m joking.

The Supremes – “Baby Love”

Next on my list, this is a song everyone knows and is so worth playing because everyone can sing along to it.

People are into their fried chicken by now and we’re like, “Mmm baby, baby.” Even though we’re talking about things going on in our lives we’re also singing.

You feel like she’s singing to you personally, like you are just sitting in a chair right in front of her and nobody else is in the room. When I’m looking out at the crowd at my shows I’m so insular with my work so sometimes I have to say to myself, “Open your eyes and address them as if you were Diana Ross.” Everyone has an inner Diana, right?

Valerie June – “With You”

Well, the dinner party is winding down and I want to end it with my own song called, “With You.”

I feel like we dance through life, you know? And we don’t get very many moments with the people we love and care about in life so even if you’re just having a cup of coffee, can it be a special thing? Can it be a do-si-do? Can it be a toe-to-toe?