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-EffectSample 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.