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Muffin Mix

While I found the movie Juno charming, I instinctively thought that the musical tastes of its teenage heroine—the old soul anti-folk charmer who upstages the cynical guy whose head is stuck in 1993—had to be an adult artifice, created for people over 35 (for example, me) to validate their own moldy tastes as “classic.” But generational truth is more complicated than that. It turns out that Juno herself, actress Ellen Page, was the one who touted the Moldy Peaches’ Shaggs-meet-Jonathan hardcore shoegaze to the film’s director, turning “Anyone Else But You” into a late-blooming sensation. (It could have been worse; they could have made the Peaches’ equally catchy “Who’s Got the Crack” the latest teen anthem).

Blowing away any remaining generational snobbery, I randomly discovered a recipe for Monterey Jack muffins on an intermittently updated music blog called Half a Person, whose sixteen year-old author, Nina, says she “likes music and long walks on the beach.” Nina’s accompanying “Muffin Mix” seemed uncannily close to home:

Stay Positive- The Hold Steady
Two Halves- My Morning Jacket
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb- Spoon
The Sons of Cain- Ted Leo
Eraser- No Age
Sequestered in Memphis- The Hold Steady
Alex Chilton- The Replacements
I’m Amazed- My Morning Jacket
Constructive Summer- The Hold Steady
Sheila Take a Bow- The Smiths
A Little Bit of Feel Good- Jamie Lidell

This is how close I live to the Muffin Mix: Swap Bon Iver and Tinariwen for No Age and Jamie Lidell, and you would come very close to my own heavy rotation for the same week. Nor is Nina a guitar-rock one trick pony; her latest post displays precocious taste in rap both new (Nas, Lupe Fiasco, Lil’ Wayne) and prehistoric (De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest). And I doubt I’ll read a better review of Mamma Mia than the following from Nina: “I now have every ABBA song simultaneously stuck in my head. It was charming at first, but now I’m just feeling suicidal.” Nina’s hall-of-fame post thus far, however, is intriguingly titled “Sorry I Accosted You”, where she summons her teenage fortitude to defend Radiohead’s honor (details after the click-through).

Smiths, “Half a Person”

Half A Person – The Smiths

Replacements, “Alex Chilton”

Alex Chilton – The Replacements

When Nina and her friend were in line to buy summer books at Barnes and Noble, an unsuspecting couple were poised to buy a copy of The Best of Radiohead, which Nina correctly identifies as “EMI’s plan of revenge after Radiohead left their label to give away In Rainbows.” In prose worthy of a sober Lester Bangs, Nina recounts the following:

“Oh, Radiohead!” said the man, picking up a copy.
“They’re great,” replied his girlfriend tracing her finger down the back
track listing.

I fretted. “These people can’t purchase this sham of an album! Radiohead wouldn’t want that!” I thought. So, I did what any partially insane teen would do.

“You can’t buy that!” I said abruptly.

The couple stared at me blankly. I stared back. “Um. EMI, Radiohead’s old label, released it without permission. Radiohead, uh, doesn’t want people to buy it,” I stammered. The couple stared at me blankly.

“Um.Ok,” said the male with a forced chuckle, placing the album back on the rack. “Why is this nervous girl with braces yelling at me about Radiohead?” he was probably thinking. My friend Victoria looked at me with an amused smile. I turned around and walked away. Mission accomplished.

My apologies for accosting you, friendly couple. But you really shouldn’t buy the album.”

Nina’s little vignette actually gives me hope for the future, because it’s a story only a real fan could tell and it’s free of the cool distance that too often accompanies music writing. I’ve also been there before. As a partially insane teen, I came close to accosting someone at Chicago’s Wax Trax records who was on the verge of buying Squeeze, an album by a Lou Reed-less version of the “Velvet Underground” fronted by bassist Doug Yule. In retrospect, Squeeze wasn’t terrible, and it’s not as if cranky old Lou Reed needed the money; it’s just that something viscerally bothered me about allowing that record to be purchased on false pretenses. I cared enough about what the Velvets had done for me that I didn’t mind looking like a nutcase trying to defend their honor.

Years from now, when Nina is old enough to be me, I hope she stays positive, finds new and adventurous ways to mix her muffins, and never lets her enthusiasm molder. If I’m still around, I’ll still be listening.

Radiohead, “House of Cards”

Moldy Peaches, “Anyone Else But You”

From → Playlists, Slow Jams

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