Yes, here it is, the long delayed Zooey Post. The idea of a post devoted to the music of Zooey Deschanel has been brewing for a couple years now, unconsciously awaiting a full-length Zooey CD to emerge. Under the moniker of She & Him, her collaboration with indie folk artist M. Ward entitled Volume 1, a title which tantalizingly foresees future recordings, hit stores yesterday on one of those magic new music Tuesdays. Next week will prove to be even more magical as new albums from Raconteurs, Danny Michel, and Supergrass all hit on the same day! But for now, back to Zooey.
I've been entranced with Zooey Deschanel ever since Almost Famous when she leaned down, looked directly in the camera with big googly eyes, and said:
...parting words to her younger brother William as she left home to become a stewardess. She also leaves a treasure trove of LPs behind for him: Pet Sounds, Zeppelin II, Axis: Bold as Love, The Who's Tommy... what's not to love? Mainstream audiences first got a taste of her singing talents in the 2003 Will Ferrell hit Elf, the soundtrack of which features her in a duet with Leon Redbone on the standard Baby, It's Cold Outside. Other things you may recognize her from:
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as Trillian
- Bridge to Terabithia as a elementary school music teacher (contrary to its baffling ad campaign, a surprisingly moving film)
- a guest stint on Weeds
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (she sings in this too)
Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone - Baby, It's Cold Outside [originally by Frank Loesser]
M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel - When I Get to the Border [originally by Richard & Linda Thompson]
Hearing her croon on Baby, It's Cold Outside was a revelation, but my fascination with Zooey Deschanel was further sparked when I found out she performed in a jazz cabaret act with fellow actress Samantha Shelton called If All The Stars Were Pretty Babies. To my knowledge, they only performed in clubs in Los Angeles. While there are no official recordings of If All the Stars... there are a couple clips floating around and a 1926 recording (cover, no less!) of the song that inspired their act's name.
The Green Brothers' Novelty Band - If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies (And I Was a Moon In The Moon) [originally by Fred Fisher and Billy Rose] [via]
Zooey Deschanel & Samantha Shelton - Walk Right Back [originally by The Everly Brothers]
Zooey Deschanel & Samantha Shelton - Stormy Weather [originally by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler]
Zooey Deschanel - Dream a Little Dream of Me [originally by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt]
Zooey performed this at an Erin Fetherston fashion show gig. Apparently, she models for her as well.
Zooey Deschanel - Hello Dolly [originally by Jerry Herman]
From the short film Raving directed by Julia Stiles, Zooey's penchant for singing jazz standards is once again on display.
M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel - Bring It On Home to Me [originally by Sam Cooke]
M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel - Magic Trick
From a live radio session last summer before they adopted the name She & Him. Neither of these songs ended up on the final album, though I'm a fan of both.
Coconut Records - Slowly
Coconut Records - Ask Her to Dance
Last year, one of my favourite albums was Coconut Records, the solo project by actor Jason Schwartzman, a former boyfriend of Zooey. On the album, she contributes some background vocals to these two tracks.
Expect to hear more from Zooey Deschanel later this year. It's been 3 years since Ben Lee announced his Mix Tape project, in which a remarkable assembly of guest artists perform songs he's composed. On the menu: Neil Finn, Kylie Minogue, Ben Folds, the eels, Gomez, Ash, Nina Persson, Zooey, Sean Lennon, Maria Taylor, New Buffalo, Sleepy Jackson... and more. While I had vaguely given up hope of even hearing this, in a blog entry from last October, Ben describes the project as his own "personal 'Apocalypse Now!' taking me about 5 years to finish". All signs point to a release in 2008.
Last weekend, She & Him performed one of their rare tour dates at SXSW. Go to The Smudge of Ashen Fluff to hear three tracks they performed for the radio from their album: This is Not a Test, Black Hole, and Change is Hard.
Also, you can sample whole album here. Some promising reviews from The AV Club and Pitchfork... not that anything could really stop me from buying the record anyway.
Surprisingly one of the best, most up-to-date sources for Zooey Deschanel news of all sorts (including several of these mp3s) is a 4-year old thread run amok on The Fashion Spot forums. Kudos to them!