Download “For Zoe.mp3

(Want the sheet music?)

You find a funny picture

Of a girl who you don’t know.

You Photoshop the background

Or add captions down below.

You post it on the Internet

For ev’ryone to see.

You’re looking at my face --

But you never think of me . . .

Can you remember five?

When you were very small?

Your room was full of toys.

You hadn’t started school.

Your family was all the world you knew...

Can you remember five?

‘Cause it’s the oddest thing --

I can’t remember five.

My memories are fading,

And all that helps remind me

Are the moments someone captured

In a picture . . .

Do you remember nine?

When you were growing up?

When you were getting tall?

Exploring on your bike.

Athletics after school.

Your parents cheering all the things you do...

Do you remember nine?

‘Cause it’s the oddest thing --

I do remember nine.

‘Cause that’s the year

When I became a meme.

And when you’re nine,

You like the attention.

But when you’re nine,

You don’t understand.

At nine, you lack perspective.

You simply think it’s funny.

And bombs are just in movies.

And Hitler’s just a name . . .

Do you remember twelve?

About to turn thirteen?

When things began to change?

Your world began to sprawl?

You fight with Mom and Dad.

You cope with jerks at school

You re-examine all the things you knew...

Do you remember twelve?

‘Cause it’s the oddest thing --

I do remember twelve.

I’m living through it now.

And if that weren’t enough --

I know I’m still a meme!

So what if I tire of being a meme?

What if I tire of teasing at school?

What if I tire of seeing my face

Next to pictures of Nazis

And bombs and catastrophes?

What if I hate all the cruel innuendo?

What if I think that the punchlines aren’t funny?

What if “Disaster Girl”

Tires of being Disaster Girl?

You post me on the Internet

For ev’ryone to see.

The sentiments are yours,

But you attribute them to me.

And I cannot disown them,

Or at least, I don’t know how.

If you were in the seventh grade,

What would you do now?

Pictured above . . . is “Disaster Girl.”  This photo (taken in 2005 and posted to the Internet in 2007) was exploited and turned into an Internet meme that peaked in popularity in May of 2011.  (If you want to see examples of the meme, you’re just a quick Google search away -- find it yourself.)

The first round of SpinTunes #6 challenged us to write a song about a meme, with the stipulation that the meme had to come from the list of 42 Internet memes that was posted with the challenge.  As I perused the list, I found that the vast majority of the memes on that particular list were memes with which I had no familiarity at all.  (And many of them did not impress me.)

I was somewhat amused by the Disaster Girl meme.  However, I didn’t suspect it would lend itself well to a song.  I didn’t think that stringing together various punchlines that people had already created would be interesting enough as a song (Law of Diminishing Returns, anyone?), and I didn’t think that choosing just one punchline would provide enough “meat” for an entire song.

Additionally, I had a bit of a moral hangup about writing such a song.  It’s one thing to ascribe vindictive or caustic sentiments to an animated character or to an anthropomorphized animal (as other memes on the list did).  It’s quite another to presume to speak on behalf of another person.  And then beyond that, it’s yet another thing to put spiteful, adult words into the mouth of a small child!  I didn’t feel comfortable at all with participating in such an activity.

But then, as I was talking with my girlfriend about possible song ideas, she suggested something along the lines of, “You could write a song about how she feels about being a meme, and what she thinks about all these things that people are photoshopping into her picture . . .”

And that was brilliant.  (Ironically, it would still require me to put words into this particular girl’s mouth -- but in a completely different way!)  So I worked hard, in the hope that I might be able to come up with words and sentiments that she might not mind so much -- if not words that might actually resonate with her!

Knowing right off that this song would require a “guest artist” -- a preteen girl to sing the part -- I thought almost immediately of Zoe Gray.  She’s the daughter of Brian Gray (another SpinTuner), and she had already submitted (quite good!) three shadow entries to previous SpinTunes competitions.  But asking her to collaborate became even more of a sure thing when, while researching for my song, I discovered something that people unfamiliar with the Law of Large Numbers would call a coincidence (to borrow a line from The Big Bang Theory) . . .

The girl whose image inspired the Disaster Girl meme’s name . . . is Zoe!

So.  To one Zoe, I say, “Thank you for all of your help -- you did great!”  To the other, I say, “I hope you like it.  I am very sorry for any places where sentiments in this song do not align to those you hold yourself -- but I do still hope you find this song to be a respectful homage, and something worthy of existing in this world.”

(Zoe -- growing up...)