You’ve probably heard that the number one album in America last week was the soundtrack to Juno, which I saw on Christmas Eve, not long after I overcame my irrational fear of Ellen Page. Great, fine. But can we talk about another album? Namely, the one that gets a shout-out in Juno? There’s a scene in which Juno and Mark (Jason Bateman) rifle through his CD collection and he holds up his copy of the 1994 tribute album/compilation If I Were A Carpenter. I think I may have squealed in the theater. And I do not squeal.
See, If I Were A Carpenter basically defines my senior year in high school. I wallowed in self-pity after I broke up with my girlfriend to the sounds of Sonic Youth’s “Superstar,” which is featured on the Juno soundtrack. (Incidentally, I’m now in a committed 11-year relationship with a man; she’s now into the lady-lovin’.) I almost wrecked my car while Shonen Knife’s “Top of the World” blared over the stereo system. (Shonen Knife! Remember them??) I refused to listen to Sheryl Crow’s version of “Solitaire” because I thought it was boring. But then, this was before I became a Sheryl Crow fan.
If I Were A Carpenter is swathed in flannel and Doc Martens and ringer tees, so utterly alt-rock-in-’94 it hurts. My classmates were blasting Ini Kamoze and Boyz II Men, and I was rocking out with Matthew Sweet. And I alllllways see this album in used-CD bargain bins. People, come on! Bettie Serveert, Redd Kross and 4 Non Blondes on one album, singing the music of Richard and Karen Carpenter! What is not to love? Does anybody else remember it as fondly as me and Mark?