Eleanor & Park’s Lovely Mix Tape

2Sometimes reading a book twelve times isn’t satisfying enough. You’ll want to strap a phenomenal book to your heart with packing tape, assume the fetal position inside its pages, and jump inside to join the characters. I certainly felt that when I finished Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. And if you’re a huge fan like me, you’re dying to enter E & P’s world. It’s not as fantastical as it sounds—you can get pretty close by listening to all the songs mentioned in the book. Go ahead, close your eyes and listen. Pretend you’re in Park’s room, between him and Eleanor, sitting on the floor. (“Hey guys, don’t mind me! Pretend I’m not here! Oh…were you gonna make out or something?”)

Some of these songs, like Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” were topics of conversation mid-makeout/petting sessions. Others, like Prefab Sprout’s “Cars and Girls” were songs that the two probably listened to, though they weren’t specifically mentioned. (Park has a Prefab Sprout T-shirt.) They say when you’re in love, every song you hear is about love and seems to speak directly to your situation. When I listen to these songs, I feel like they are speaking directly to Eleanor and Park. “Forever Young?” “I Wanna Know What Love Is?” “Breakin’ Us In Two?” “Love Will Tear Us Apart?” “Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild?” I’m not sure if Rainbow Rowell snuck in these song titles on purpose or not, but they work. And listening to them make Eleanor and Park all the more real.

Listen to this mix on Spotify!

Eleanor hated the Sex Pistols. (p. 2)
Anarchy in the U.S.A. (The Sex Pistols)

XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus. (p. 5)
Dear God (XTC)

Tomorrow he was going to bring Skinny Puppy or the Misfits. ( p.5)
Smothered Hope (Skinny Puppy)

“I Got a Right (The Misfits)

“So,” he said, before he knew what to say next. “You like the Smiths?” He was careful not to blow his morning breath on her.

She looked up, surprised. Maybe confused. He pointed at her book, where she’d written How Soon Is Now? in tall green letters.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never heard them.”

“So you just want people to think you like the Smiths?” He couldn’t help but sound disdainful.

“Yeah,” she said, looking around the bus. “I’m trying to impress the locals.”

He didn’t know if she could help but sound like a smart-ass, but she sure wasn’t trying. The air soured between them. Park shifted against the wall. She looked across the aisle to stare out the window. (p. 44)

“How Soon Is Now?” (The Smiths)

That night, while he did his homework, Park made a tape with all his favorite Smiths songs, plus a few songs by Echo & the Bunnymen, and Joy Division. (p.45)

“The Killing Moon” (Echo & The Bunnymen)

She looked up at his face, even though she knew how that was going to feel, like someone was hooking her insides out through her chest. “No. It was awesome. I did’t want to stop listening. That one song—is it ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’?”

“Yeah, Joy Division.”

“Oh my God, that’s the best beginning to a song ever.”

He imitated the guitar and the drums.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she said. “I just wanted to listen to those three seconds over and over.”

“You could have.” His eyes were smiling, his mouth only sort of.

“I didn’t want to waste the batteries,” she said.

He shook his head, like she was dumb.

“Plus, she said, “I love the rest of it just as much, like the high part, the melody, the dahhh, dah-de-dah-dah, de-dahh, de dahh.”

He nodded.

“And his voice at the end,” she said, “when he goes just a little bit too high… And then the very end, where it sounds like the drums are fighting it, like they don’t want the song to be over…”

Park made drum noises with his mouth: “Ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch.”

“I just want to break that song into pieces,” she said, “and love them all to death.” (p. 58)

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” (Joy Division)

(He did have one white T-shirt, but it said BLACK FLAG on the front in big black letters.) (p. 77)
Rise Above (Black Flag)

He started singing his number to the tune of “867-5309,” which cracked her right up. (p.90)
“867-5309” (Tommy Tutone)

And then he wrote it on her book anyway. He hid it in song tracks.

“Forever young.”

“That’s a 4,” he said. “Will you remember?”

“I won’t have to,” she said. “I already know your number by heart.”

“And this is just a 5,” he said, “because I can’t think of any 5 songs, and this one”—”Summer of ’69″—”With this one, remember the 6, but forget the 9.”

“I hate that song.”

“God, I know… Hey, I can’t think of any 2 songs.”

“‘Two of Us,'” she said. (p. 92)

“Two of Us” (The Beatles)

“Forever Young” (Alphaville)

“Summer of ’69” (Bryan Adams)

“Is that U2?” he asked. He could hear “Bad” in the background. (p. 106)
“Bad” (U2)

He waited for her to cut him down. To say Ha or God or You sound like a Bread song. (p. 109)
“Everything I Own” (Bread)

Eleanor deliberately pressed a key.



Her finger tips trembled over the keyboard.



Nothing happened. No one stirred. The house was hot and stiff and as quiet as a library in hell. Eleanor closed her eyes and jerked her chin into the air.

“Scarborough Fair” (Simon and Garfunkel)

She felt better on the way home. (Which was probably the point of this whole field trip.) It was still cold, but the sun was shining, and her mom was humming that Joni Mitchell song about clouds and circuses.

Eleanor almost told her everything. (p. 182)

“Both Sides Now” (Joni Mitchell)

“Like punk?” She wrinkled her nose. She could stand a few Dead Milkmen songs, but other than that, she hated Park’s punk music. “I feel like they’re yelling at me,” she’d say when he tried to put punk on her mixed tapes. “Stop yelling at me, Glenn Danzig!”

“That’s Henry Rollins.”

“They all sound the same then they’re yelling at me.” (p. 230)

“Punk Rock Girl” (The Dead Milkmen)

“Mother” (Danzig)

“Lonesome On’ry and Mean” (Henry Rollins)

Park pushed Play.

“What’s this song called?” she asked.

“‘Alison.'” (p. 232)

“Alison” (Elvis Costello)

Park played Elvis Costello for her—and Joe Jackson, and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. (p. 233)

“Breakin’ Us In Two” (Joe Jackson)

“Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild” (Jonathan Richman)

“Roadrunner” (Modern Lovers)

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Oh, God…look, what we did to ‘Meat Is Murder.'” (p. 233)

“Meat is Murder” (The Smiths)

“The Smiths and the Smithereens…” she said. “We even broke them in alphabetical order.” (p. 233)

“A Girl Like You” (The Smithereens)

Because it’s prom,” he said.

“And it’s lame,” she said.

“How do you know?”

“Because the theme is ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.'”

“That’s not such a bad song,” he said.

“Are you drunk? It’s Foreigner.” (p. 270)

“I Wanna Know What Love Is” (Foreigner)

Park must be feeling strange, too. He sat through two Bon Jovi songs without even touching the radio. Eleanor had left a mark on his shoulder, but you couldn’t see it anymore. (p. 276)

“Livin’ On a Prayer” (Bon Jovi)

“Here,” Park said. He was taking off his sweatshirt. Then his T-shirt. He handed the shirt to her. It was green and said PREFAB SPROUT. (p. 306)

“Cars and Girls” (Prefab Sprout)

What’s your favorite song on this mix tape? Would you have wanted to hang out in Park’s room listening to the Smiths?

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