Essay on Zooey’s Mix CD


So Jada Yuan, writer behind Zooey’s profile (full disclosure: I like Zooey’s films) in my latest copy of New York Magazine, detailed an old school mix CD the actress gave to her.

Side bar: I was astonished the Generation Now writer had nothing to say about the fact it was a mix CD. She was given a CD in 2011, when rounded up is 2012, which is practically The Future. Remember when at one time in our history “old school” would have referred to an old school mix tape? To those of you who have no idea what I’m referencing when I say “mix tape,” let me just say that it is a serious mind fuck to those of us who do remember that you don’t know what we’re talking about because it stabs the heart of what everyone from the pauper to the King contemplate and struggle with the older they get: the seeming escalating velocity of time until our inevitable death.

On that note, back to the topic of the hipster’s Diana, Jackie, and Marilyn all rolled into one saccharine pair of million dollar…eyes. To sum, (because Generation Now is also Generation ADD), Zooey makes a mix CD for the writer which is a very personal task. Think back to your angsty infatuation seeped youth (an age range that is expanding to the 30-something year olds): When did you ever painstakingly compile an assembly of various singles culled from a wide collection into a coherent THING that was meant to come together like Voltron and convey a singular emotion for an acquaintance or your mailman? Never. And while sometimes society thinks stars occupy a completely different universe we sometimes forget that like the laws of physics, there are certain rules that also apply to stars and celebrities (Prince, Michael Jordan with his continuing stubborn stylistic attachment to his Hitler moustache*, and Ahnold Schwarnzgejager are possible exceptions to this rule) and one of them is that they too or rather, should understand the inherent personalness of a mix CD. As I am not a star, this is a tricky assertion and statement, however let’s accept this inference, okay (mainly because I’ve already written a lot that’s predicated on this constant).

So the writer itemized the songs on Zooey’s mix CD (13 songs total all produced between 1962 and 1979) of which she says she recognized five of the artists. I don’t know if this previous sentence is relevant, but I just felt like it was “significant” and “important” to highlight this fact because the author thought it noteworthy enough to share with New York Magazine’s readers. Reading this list was a viscerally meta experience for a variety of reasons: a film and soon-to-be TV star – with a reputation and image for “keeping it real” (profile tells us she’s in a folk-rock duo that earned the love of indie music’s Judge Dredd: and is married to Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of mainstream indie (ignore the oxymoron) band, Death Cab for Cutie (full disclosure: I like this band) – undertakes the personal business of making a mix CD. Yet, Zooey knows she’s making it for a writer who is working on a profile piece about her, and on some level promoting her upcoming new TV series, and aware that the writer will most likely share with the magazine’s thousands of readers the contents of that mix CD. The writer then accepts the CD and as predicted writes about the mix given to her by Zooey who knows she is writing a piece on her and is mindful that the contents of that mix CD will appear in the article. And what does this great insight reveal? For the answer to this, let’s go back to the first sentence of this paragraph: it’s filled with the musical obscure which correlates to Zooey’s image as a star who “keeps it real.” It’s like getting the answers before a Scantron test. All personalness has been scrubbed, which is antithetical to a mix CD’s mission.

And to further perpetuate the self-referential meta-ness of this, I’m here blogging about Zooey’s mix CD (Full disclosure: I liked it) and you’re reading it.

If a reporter or writer was doing a profile on me and I gave them a mix CD (well, I’d give them a mix mp3 playlist loaded on a hip KAWS designed flash drive) knowing it may be shared in that article, I would submit the following compilation:

1. Amy Millan – I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Cover)
2. Athlete – Casio
3. Esbjörn Svensson Trio – Believe, Beleft, Below
4. Bright Eyes – Triple Spiral
5. Broken Social Scene – All To All
6. Iron & Wine – Always On My Mind (Cover)
7. Lauryn Hill – Lost Ones
8. Mobb Deep – Put Them In Their Place
9. Eels – From Which I Came
10. A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum
11. Coleman Hawkins – And So To Sleep Again
12. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key
13. Aphex Twin – Avril 14th

I like these songs and I’d want the writer to have them as well, but my unintentionally subversive intent is to communicate to the public vis-a-vis the writer that I have a “slightly eclectic yet contemporary taste in music that is also grounded in the influences of the formative period of the 1990s, as well as his father’s love of jazz.” An actually personal mix CD would contain a lot more Country, Club Hip-Hop, K-Pop, and Billy Joel. Sure, it might be the world’s worst mix CD, but it’d also be the most personal.

*No single person has irrevocably ruined what is an aesthetically balanced moustache if you think about it than Hitler did to the little upper lip reverse soul patch.

So, to make a long blog short (Ha! Too late!), here is Zooey’s playlist (listen online here):

1. “Rudy, a Message to You,” by Dandy Livingstone (the original 1967 ska version, long before the Specials made it a hit)
2. “Let’s Dance,” by Chris Montez, 1962
3. “Magnet,” by NRBQ, 1972
4. “Funny Funny,” by Sweet, 1971
5. “She’d Rather Be With Me,” by the Turtles, 1967
6. “Pushover,” by Etta James, 1963
7. “Be True to Your School,” by the Beach Boys, 1963 (Their early period, but, says Gibbard, “she’s really into late-era Beach Boys. For all I knew, the Beach Boys stopped making records after Pet Sounds. I’m a musician. I should know better than that. She was like, ‘You’ve never heard ‘Sunflower’? And she was, like, mad about it.”)
8. “Georgy Girl,” by the Seekers, 1966
9. “Yes We Can,” by Lee Dorsey, 1970 (a hit for the Pointer Sisters, it was remixed in 2008 for Obama supporters)
10. “Wonderful! Wonderful!,” by the Tymes, 1963
11. “Darlin’,” by the Paper Dolls, 1968 (a Beach Boys cover)
12. “Love Comes to Everyone,” by George Harrison, 1979
13. “After Hours,” by the Velvet Underground, featuring Maureen Tucker, 1969 (the song Lou Reed reportedly said was too innocent and pure for him to butcher)


4 responses to “Essay on Zooey’s Mix CD

  1. mrod – your playlist is so much better than Zooeys.

    Remember muxtape? Muxtape was awesome.

  2. Your profile is private yo!

  3. Mixtape fixed.
    Also, I surfed your blog on an iPad for the first time this morning. WordPress built an amazing interface.

  4. It also seems more stable than Tumblr. I don’t recall the last time there was a WordPress outage… #Infamous last words.

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