The Romance of a Mix

Full disclosure: I've had my fair share of whiskey this evening.

Now allow me to describe the series of thoughts that have brought me to this particular blog.

I clicked on the coverage of the Haiti benefit and, in turn, followed it to the Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris cover of "Hallelujah." I rather love that song and I thought their version was pretty damn good.

Hearing their cover of it made me want to listen to my favorite cover of it, by the late Jeff Buckley. And while I could have just pulled it up from that album, I instead headed to the playlist for a mix CD I made over 5 years ago.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley is the last track on the first mix I made for my wife, Nicole.

This is part of the brilliance that is Nicole and I: on our first date, we exchanged mix CDs. No, really. We'd "met" initially online, so there was a great deal of virtual conversation well in advance of our initial meeting. When we finally did meet, we came baring CDs. Nicole was going through a big Wilco phase, so she made me a mix of Wilco songs (a funny side note is that she refrained from putting any of their "weird" songs on that first mix, not knowing back then that their weird songs would be the ones I liked the most).

I, on the other hand, had put together a mix of multiple bands, carefully organized to flow from poppy to sappy, back to poppy and ending on sappy again. It was a High Fidelity moment, to be sure. And while there are a few bands on this mix that were clearly of the moment, most of them have stood the test of time.

So here it is, the first (of many) mixes that I gave to the most important person in the world to me the night I met her for the first time.

"How to Be Dead" by Snow Patrol

I went through a BIG Snow Patrol phase at one point. For those who have read it, "Unrequited" is actually based entirely on my interpretation of the lyrics to "Run." Funny enough, everyone who has read that story assumes the female lead is based on Nicole, when I actually wrote it before I ever met her.

"Lola Stars and Stripes" by the Stills

I love the Stills. That's all you need to know.

"20 Years" by Idaho

Yeah, this is one of those bands that was of the moment. This is a great song (and they have a second on this mix, as I was going through a phase), but this isn't exactly a band that really stuck with me.

"Title and Registration" by Death Cab For Cutie

The best part about this song is the fact that Nicole actually hates it. Okay, "hate" might be a strong word, but she thinks it's stupid. And, you know, I kind of love it.

"Too Much Thought" by Oceanographer

What's that? You've never heard of Oceanographer? Go buy their stuff then. No, seriously, do it now.

"Shoe-In" by Secret Stars

Karate (the band) is a hard sell. But Secret Stars? Well, they're a much easier sell.

"Wait" by Death Cab For Cutie

See how clever I am, going from a Secret Stars song to a cover of a Secret Stars song?

"Inside of Love" by Nada Surf

Kind of a bold choice for a first mix CD, I'll admit, but anyone who knows me knows that I generally wear my heart on my sleeve. This was also good because Nicole would have to accept Nada Surf into her life when she started dating me, as I'm rather crazy about them.

"Penelope" by Pinback

Pinback is one of those bands that I really like, yet don't often proclaim my love for.  They rather perfectly a certain type of music that I love, that being hooky yet relatively mellow indie rock.

"Same" by Snow Patrol

Like I said, I was going through a Snow Patrol phase.  Again, this is a pretty ballad-y song to be putting on a mix CD for a girl I'd never meant.  And the lyrics are overly identifying, which is kind of creepy.

"Yesterday Never Tomorrows" by the Stills

Have I mentioned that I love the Stills?  This is such a fantastic song.  And, at the time, incredibly appropriate for me.

"The Sound of Settling" by Death Cab For Cutie

Not exactly a winning sentiment to put out there on a first date, but it's a really catchy song with some really great lyrics, so I went with it.  Of course it could be looked at as a cautionary tale, one which Nicole and I took to heart.

"Happy Kid" by Nada Surf

I would imagine that if there's a single song Nicole associated with me during the early days of our relationship, it was this one.  The opening line is "I'm just a happy kids with the heart of a sad punk."

"Concrete Seconds" by Pinback

Not really much more to say about Pinback, aside from the fact that they're one of those bands that not many people know, so I suppose putting two of their songs on here was my way of establishing some indie credibility, which is funny, given how little of that I actually have.

"Last Night's Fight" by Mellowdrone

Mellowdrone was a band of the moment, for sure, although they were also a local Los Angeles band so they carried a little extra weight in my mind.  This song is probably really depressing to most people, but I find it kind of uplifting, in a sad way.

"Gunner" by Denali

And speaking of a song that sounds depressing...You know, listening to this again I am struck by the fact that Nicole must have thought I was horribly depressed.  I guess she was willing to look past it.

"Bass Crawl" by Idaho

Another song of the moment, another depressing song -- it's becoming clear to me that I was lucky to meet Nicole when I did.

"Mad World" by Gary Jules

Funny that I would end this CD with back to back cover songs, and pop culture infused cover songs at that.  This one is, of course, from the end of Donnie Darko, a movie I will go to my grave defending from those who claim it's for hipsters and intellectuals.  The final scene with this song over top of it punches me in the gut.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

A few years after I made this mix for Nicole (and maybe even just a few months later, really) this song was everywhere.  It was unreal.  It's a great final song, yes, but perhaps not a great final song for a mix CD for a girl you just met.