Good music puts vintage clothes in context. I like to imagine what the person who wore this dress, those gloves and that hat would have listened to.
The music I play in the shop is vintage but not “oldies; I like to keep the mix fresh and unexpected. So I put in Billie Holiday and Pandora, bless it’s digital heart, gives me Dinah Washington. I watch how customers respond: I see which songs make people shimmy while they shop and which ones make them nod their heads like patrons of a jazz club, then I use the thumbs up button to groom the playlist.
Back to vintage clothes: listening to these great songs makes me wonder what the musicians were wearing when they were singing and playing them.
Here is a stylish glimpse of some artists on my playlist:
I like to cast a wider musical net so I can have more interesting songs. Everyone loves Motown, sure, but it’s become a kind of shorthand to encapsulate an earlier era. So I try to keep the mix stocked with unexpected artists. That’s how you end up with a little quirkiness, like the French version of These Boots Were Made for Walking.
Here are my current stations, which I put on shuffle:
Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Duke Ellington
Carmen MacRae, Anita O’Day, Billie Holliday, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong
Nina Simone, Sugar Pie Desanto, Ann Peebles, Lee Moses, Irma Thomas, Soloman Burke
Serge Gainsbourg, Chico and Rita Habana Band, Bossacucanova, Paris Combo, O Samba da Minha Terra, Zou Bisou Bisou
Patsy Cline, Pokey LaFarge, Pink Martini
Here’s a fun vintage playlist for you:
Rum and Coca Cola by Tim Tim
That’s Alright by Mose Alison
Cool Stuttin by Sonny Clark
Fine Fat Daddy by Dinah Washington
Seven Come Eleven by Charlie Christian
And one of my favorites by Nina Simone: