Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mix Tape From a Marriage

Last weekend, Jeff and I drove up to the North Shore of Massachusetts to see our dear friends Mike and Lindsay get married (Jeff, who has known Mike since kindergarten, also photographed the wedding).

The trip took 4 hours and change, so we brought along our little travel sleeve of CDs, which I haphazardly threw together sometime back in 2005 and which we are always too lazy to change. What this means is that we have basically three options on any car trip: Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis, and The Eminem Show. But on Saturday we discovered, towards the back of the sleeve, a fourth option: “MIX FOR JEFF BY UNA.” Undated.

 Hey, Staples, I'm giving you free advertising! You now owe me for life.

An aural time capsule! Jeff practically drove us off the road lunging to put it into the CD player.

Here's what it sounds like, apparently, if I love you:

Track 1: “I Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” The White Stripes
Sample lyrics: I just don't know what to do with myself/I don't know what to do with myself/Planning everything for two/Doing everything with you/And now that we're through/I just don't know what to do
Message: When Jeff and I first hooked up in the spring of '03, the album Elephant had just been released, so we listened to it pretty much non-stop, mostly while getting high and screwing our brains out. (Sorry, Mom and Dad! There's really no other way to put it.) So it's a nostalgia track. We also broke up for six months shortly after that spring (which led me to write verbose, bleeding-heart prose poems), so the fact that it's also a breakup song is apt.
Jeff's reaction: Passive acceptance.

Track 2: “Teenage Dirtbag,” Wheatus
Sample lyrics: I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby, like you. Oooo-ooooooooooh.
Message: I like obscure bands! There is more to me than Madonna's Immaculate Collection! I am sensitive and insecure.
Jeff reaction: Bemused resignation. (This may have been effected by my insistence upon singing entire song at top volume.)

Track 3: “Rumpshaker,” Wreckx-n-Effect
Sample lyrics: I like the way you comb your hair (UH!)/I like the stylish clothes you wear (UH!)/It's just the little things you do (UH!)/that makes me wanna get with you (UH!)
Message: All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom and a boom-boom. (Read: take your clothes off.)
Jeff reaction: Reluctant foot-tapping.

Track 4: “Such Great Heights,” The Postal Service
Sample lyrics: I am thinking it’s a sign/That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images/And when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned
Message: I lie in bed thinking about your irises and naming our future children.
Jeff reaction: SKIPS PAST SONG AFTER ONE SECOND. (I think he may have shuddered.)

(At this point I should mention that almost every song that gives me the warm fuzzies about Jeff turns out to be a song that Jeff hates. “Stay With You” by John Legend comes to mind – back in the summer of 2007 I had what I thought was the great and romantic idea to have a friend sing it at our wedding, so I sat Jeff down and played it and gave him meaningful looks and held his hand at meaningful times, and at the end he just kind of went, “Eh.”)

Track 5: “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”
Sample lyrics: My baby may not be rich, he’s watching every dime/But he loves me, loves me, loves me/We always have a real good time
Message: You are not perfect but I love you anyway. You know what else I love? Footloose.
Jeff reaction: SKIP (!) “You made this for the most effeminate man alive.”(He has a point.)

Track 6: “Holdin’ Out For a Hero,” Bonnie Tyler
Sample lyrics: Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?/Late at night I toss and turn and dream
of what I need/I need a hero/I'm holdin' out for a hero till the end of the night
Message: No, I mean I really love Footloose.
Jeff reaction: SKIP (!) (I guess someone's not exactly a white knight upon a fiery steed...)

Track 7: “The Tower of Learning,” Rufus Wainwright
Sample lyrics: I saw it in your eyes, what I'm looking for/I saw it in your eyes, what will make me live
Message: I think about your eyes maybe more than is normal (see Track 4).
Jeff reaction: SKIP. Gay!

Track 8: “It’s Always You,” Chet Baker
Sample lyrics: Whenever it's early twilight/I watch 'til a star breaks through/Funny, it's not a star I see/It's always you
Message: I am sitting outside your bedroom window right now with a boom box, a Peter Gabriel tape, and maybe also some chloroform. 
Jeff reaction: Awwwww.*”

*This heartwarming moment was tempered somewhat by the following exchange:
Me: Didn't Chet Baker die young?
Jeff: No, but he was a heroin addict. He hid out in Europe in the 60s and lost all his teeth.

Track 9: “Cheek to Cheek,” Fred Astaire
Sample lyrics: Heaven, I’m in heaven/And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak/And I seem to find the happiness I seek/When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek
Message: I like either slow dancing with you or doin' da butt. I wish the lyrics were more specific.
Jeff reaction: Smile, hand on my knee.

Track 10: “Let’s Get it On,” cover by Jack Black from High Fidelity soundtrack
Sample lyrics: Let’s get it on.
Message: Let’s get it on.
Jeff reaction: “Stop it, I'm trying to drive.

We can't figure out exactly when I made and mailed this mix CD, but it was likely sometime in 2004, when Jeff was living in Cambridge, Mass. (and I was making a Fung Wah bus pilgrimage every other weekend in the name of young love). Still, that was only a few months after we started seriously dating, so I'm impressed with myself for really letting my musical freak flag fly. Love it or hate it, this mix is me: unabashedly cheesy, indulgently schmaltzy, awkwardly sexy, instantly nostalgic.

Now the pressure's on Jeff to produce a list of songs that make him all moony about me -- while my husband is very loving and demonstrative, he has never made me a mix tape. Feel free to heckle him in the comments.


  1. A. i def. heard teenage dirtbag yesterday while on my lunch break. I was late to get back from lunch because i decided to stay in my car, in the parking lot, singing it at the top of my lungs! great choices! and im scowling at Jeff as i type for not making you such a thoughtful sing a long type CD!!!

  2. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I was scrolling through Dizzle's iPod and found a playlist called "Kaela's Mix." I said "Awwww, you're making me a mix tape?" He said "Don't look at that yet, it's not done!" That was a year ago. It's still not "done." I don't even know if there are any songs on it. Sheesh.

  3. I love music blogging! And couldn't stop cralaughing = p'ing pants, crying, laughing as soon as "Lets hear it for the Boy" All that love for Footloose and no "Almost Paradise"?

  4. Awwww...this post makes me sad! The first nine months of my relationship with the hubby were long-distance, California to Missouri. He made me a mixed tape and mailed it to me at college, where I listened to it incessantly. The sad part? It was an actual TAPE. This was 1997, people. Nobody knew how to make mix CDs yet. Therefore, even if I could find it, I couldn't play it because I have no idea where I would find a tape deck. :(

    On a Footloose note, you should have included "I'm Free". I always wanted to remake that song into a female piano ballad. It's so romantic! :)




  6. When my husband and I were dating, I made him several mixed cd's. When we listen to them now, on most songs I get the "eh" from him while I begin to feel all twitterpated all over again. But there are always a few songs he gets sentimental on too...those are those ones that are worth it!

    Love reading your posts! Have a great day!


  7. Love the mix Una! Everybody cut footloose! Very sweet post.

  8. psychsarah9:57 AM

    I can just picture this whole experience. Quite hysterical. I would love to find some of the actual mixed tapes I made for people in high school. I was known for my mixed tapes-I spent hours getting them just right. Now that you can just make a playlist on iTunes and burn it, it just seems, well, less meaningful or something...sigh...I just, this second, turned into one of those "old" people longing for the "good old days"... yikes!

    PS I love that Rufus made it on there-he's fantastic (most recent album not withstanding).

  9. I was JUST thinking about Wheatus's "Teenage Dirtbag" the other day! That's funny!

    Also, I'm pretty sure that Jack Black's rendition of "Let's Get It On" is one of the best parts of High Fidelity. Although, it would be hard to choose what the very best part is because that movie is all kinds of good. I love me some John Cusack.

    +10 points for the Say Anything reference.

  10. i also made my husband mix tapes (on actual tapes, as opposed to cds). i don't know if it's still done on cd or itunes - you can send playlists to people. i have made rockin' mix cds to listen to in our car while driving, since we don't have an ipod hookup.

    but my absolute fave mix tape was one that i made at my friend's house senior year in high school. he had all these cds by bands i had barely heard of, but ended up loving. i've actually been trying to find the tape over the past few years, to recreate it as a playlist on my itunes.

  11. oh my god this is the best.
    I recently went through an entire sleeve of old burnt cds, I literally listened to every single one to see if there were any songs worth salvaging onto my iTunes.
    long story short, I wanted to slap myself across the face. hard.

  12. While in the movies it's guys making mixes for girls, I've noticed, here in the real world, it's us ladies making the mixes for them.

    For my first "real" boyfriend I made an actual mix tape (I am SO OLD) that included . . . I can't believe I'm admitting this: "Shameless," as sung by Garth Brooks (it hurts to type that), and "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd.

    My husband actually made mix requests when we started dating, so they're not romantic at all - just stuff he wanted to play at tailgate parties. Sigh. Good thing he's hot.

  13. Gorrystories11:33 AM

    One of my favorite posts! The Mix CD can be dangerous though. My Girlfrind ( before we got together )gave me one and asked me to listen to Track 5.I didn' thought was "why on God's green earth would she want me to listen to freakin' rap music?" So I didn't. It was "You push my bottons Baby" I might have listened if not called Track 5.She thought I wasn't interested.Caused many delays and problems before the issue was cleared up. As I said Mix CD's can be Dangerous

  14. I've been working on a playlist for my wife and me, and it's been taking forever.

    It's called "Uh-huh." I'll let you figure out what kind of mood it's for.

  15. I'm still waiting for my husband to make me a music mix CD...5 years of dating and 22 years of marriage later.

    But, then again, I never made him one either. touchay!

  16. It's impossible to suck your teeth at Chet Baker.

  17. I could never have made a mix tape for my last boyfriend. He used to mutter things like "...shouldn't be allowed to exist." when I played stuff I liked. I think I should have seen our musical incompatibility for the omen it was.

  18. here's how reading this post went for me-
    * is it mix tape or mixed tape? I'm still fighting for long sleeved shirts instead of long sleeve shirts. Just like it's iced tea not ice tea.Bring back the letter d!

    *Oh- I have to buy rumpshaker- bring up Itunes and purchased it immediately, before I forgot.

    *oh maybe lets hear it for the boy- nah.

    * Let's get it on is my and boyfriend's song. If we ever got married, it's the one we'd dance to. It started as him joking that it was our song and it stuck. I figured out how to make a ringtone for him for free with the song.

    * and yeah- I made a cd for him- he skipped through it much like your hubby.

  19. You two seem adorable and these "scenes from a marriage" are really funny.

    Nothing's better than finding a mix you made a long time ago. The ONLY old, old mix I still had from eight years ago (casseete [probably utilizing high-speed dubbing]) was stolen with my car a couple months ago. I would put a frowny emoticon, but I'm pretty sure calling you two "adorable" is enough emasculation for one comment.

  20. Cute mix! But FYI, if you have to have ANY Eminem CD in your car permenantly, make it the Marshall Mather LP or the Slim Shady LP. Classics!

  21. Haha, that's pretty awesome. Just yesterday I found my first CD ever. Weird Al Yankovich's "The Food Album".

    Single Dad Laughing

  22. Anonymous6:22 PM

    Fantastic! Teenage Dirtbag is SUCH an awesome song... l have just downloaded it all over again so THANKS!

  23. I made a mix for someone... but never actually burned the CD. It's a good thing too. I got on meds and looked at the songs and went "Wow. He would kill himself if I sent this!"

  24. That mix makes me want to marry you!

    That's the problem with dudes: They're douchebags. By which I mean, they know nothing about the art of good CD Mixing. Bastards.

  25. Anonymous7:54 AM

    That's just beautiful. Really. Jeff, how about Bob Schneider-40 dogs? It totally reminds me of you guys. Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about mix tapes for the two of you, but I do have roughly six staples cds compiled that I could send if it would help. Is that weird?

  26. I like Jeff's pragmatism and love your cheesy. One of the qualities I love about my husband is his "cheesy". I have been teasing him for 22 years....for the non-stop material from his mushy self. I would not want a mixed C.D. from him because it would be country western...bleh.


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