We get a lot of people asking about the music at The Cart – in particular how come a Vietnamese woman has a cafe with a playlist that ranges from eighties new wave to alt country via Jake Thackray.

The answer is the music is culled from the iPod of me, Loan’s husband, Steve.

It’s long been a bugbear for us when we go out to a nice restaurant and the music is just wrong. One of Hanoi’s swankiest restaurants scared us away with Avril Lavigne’s greatest hits. Another cafe’s ironically cheesy eighties pop was fun at first and now, five years later with the speakers long since shot, it irritates beyond belief.

In the end it’s not enough to buy a bunch of albums and put them on repeat.  There has to be some cohesion and you have to weed out the tracks that jar. You may think that jazz is the very definition of coffee shop music but I’ll argue that there are few things less relaxing than free form jazz.

So not everyone will like my choices but at least there’s a cohesion about them and if you like a couple of them you’ll probably like them all. If I had to explain them from a British context it’s the overlap between Radio 2 and Six Music.  Or to put it another way it’s occasionally “alternative” but it’s old people’s alternative.

Above is Nick Lowe and there’s plenty of that on the playlist, elsewhere you’ll find Elvis Costello, Wilco, The Smiths, Billy Bragg, Johnny Cash, The Unthanks, My Morning Jacket, Prefab Sprout, The Beatles, The Cure, The Decemberists, the Go Betweens and much more.

And Neil Diamond is cool, always was. Glen Campbell too.  Rod Stewart was cool.

And if you’ve never heard Ronnie Lane singing Debris and then you hear it at The Cart – then my work here is done. It’s a song that can still move me to tears.

We don’t do Jack Johnson or Bob Marley and Morcheeba to name but three. Nothing against them but thanks to coffee shops and bars I never ever want to hear them again.

In fact the playlist has over 1,400 songs meaning that every day has different songs.  When songs are repeated they are different versions by different artists.  At the last count we had five Jolenes – one of which you can see and hear below.

In time we hope to get the playlist on here so it’s worth checking back here if you want to know about a specific song.  I’ll leave comments enabled on this page if you want to ask anything about a song you heard.


3 comments on “Music

  1. i will visit your Nghi Tam cafe for breakfast tomorrow, and try your BLT, and sample your playlist..Well Done!

  2. Steve, good to see you’re still the musical guru you were in those 1980’s Hexham days. I fancy dropping by for a few days from Hong Kong and checking the cafe out… and catching up.
    Hope you are well
    Chris Taylor

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