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The Pinup of Williamsburg

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As I’m leaving L.A., I listen to Deschanel’s mix tape. The first time I met her in New York she was going off to D.J. an event with Gibbard (all LPs, of course), and I mentioned that I had a friend who had been feeling down and listening to “Do You Realize??,” by the Flaming Lips, on repeat. The song, with its lyrics, “Do you realize … that everyone you know someday will die?,” was a comically terrible choice. She needed something else. “I’ve got it,” said Deschanel. “Happiness songs are, like, my area.”

Three months later, I’d forgotten all about it when she walked into the Fox screening carrying a CD. Rather, her publicist was carrying it, but same difference. “You said you wanted happy songs, right?” said Deschanel. “Enjoy it; I hope that you love it.”

On it was the following, all songs produced between 1962 and 1979, only five by artists I recognized. As Gibbard told me: “I was immediately taken when we first met that she had this just, like, immense knowledge of really obscure music. I hate to say it, but it’s the kind of obsession that mostly dudes have. Like, ‘Oh, but Emitt Rhodes’s second record …’ Nerdy, lonely guys know about this stuff. She’s turned me on to a lot of music I hadn’t heard.”

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)

Hearing the CD reminded me of how she had gotten very impassioned when I asked her if she and Gibbard bonded over music the first time they met. “I’m wary about this thing about being in the generation of social networking where people are like, ‘I am my musical taste,’ ” she said. “I am not just a collection of music. Or a collection of movies. I think that’s a thing that people romanticize: ‘Oh my God, she likes this band so she is a dream.’ I’ve definitely learned that you can easily get stars in your eyes. I’ll meet directors and they’ll be like, ‘I love Godard!’ And they love screwball comedies and they love all these things I love, and then it’s, like, ‘Wait a minute, that doesn’t mean they can make movies.’

“Just because somebody likes something doesn’t mean … anything, really.”


*This story has been corrected to show the correct spelling of Molly McAleer's name.


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