The DJ of ‘The O.C.’

Show creator's musical taste guides skein

A correction was made to this article on Feb. 10, 2005.

Josh Schwartz still remembers the moment he began his love affair with music.

“I was in fourth grade, back in 1986 or ’87, and I was at my first concert: Huey Lewis and the News at the Worcester Centrum,” the creator of “The O.C.” recalls, offering the warning that what’s about to follow is “not the coolest story in the world.”

In any case, “I was standing on my seat, on the tip of my feet, and Huey made like he had fake binoculars to scope out the audience,” Schwartz continues. “Then he pointed at me and said, ‘This song is dedicated to that little guy right there.’ ”

“It was ‘The Power of Love,’ ” Schwartz says, insisting he’s not making any of this up. “That kicked it all off for me right there.”

Yes, the man who’s helped bring the likes of the Walkmen, Modest Mouse and Rilo Kiley to the masses once rocked out to “Fore!” As a kid growing up in Rhode Island, listening to 92 PRO, he also made up his own weekly top 40 lists and says he “was all about (Casey Kasem’s) long-distance dedication.”

Huey and Casey, Schwartz explains, both helped him “to realize that you could tell stories through music.” British counselors at summer camp and the dorms of UCLA expanded his musical tastes, as have regular concerts at the Troubador and frequent visits to Amoeba Records in Hollywood.

Now, through “The O.C.,” Schwartz, 28, is influencing an entire generation of nascent music lovers, filling his hit Fox sudser with anywhere from 10 to 14 songs a week.

And while a classic cut from Journey or Bob Seger will pop up every once in a while, for the most part, Schwartz’s tastes run toward modern alternative rather than the bubble gum one might expect from a skein populated by ridiculously good-looking young adults and their filthy rich parents.

“I wanted the music to reflect who these characters are,” Schwartz says. “And the design of this show was that all of the characters are outsiders.”

During the early days of “The O.C.,” skein didn’t have a musical supervisor. “It was basically my iPod,” Schwartz quips, adding he’d often be inspired to add a song to a show because it was playing while he was writing a scene.

A few months into “The O.C.’s first season, Alex Patsavas came onboard to help Schwartz pick tunes for episodes. “She has supercool, great taste,” Schwartz says of his music supervisor.

Every week or so, Patsavas burns a compilation CD of 20 new songs she digs, including some tracks that are months away from release.

“It’s all encompassing, and it saves me a trip to Amoeba,” Schwartz says.

Not surprisingly, record companies have embraced “The O.C.,” particularly after Rooney appeared on the show last season — and saw its record sales soar the next week.

As a result, Schwartz and Co. now often get first crack at a number of tunes. The Beastie Boys bowed their new single on “The O.C.” during one of the final episodes of the first season, while an upcoming seg of the skein will boast a whopping five songs from Beck’s latest.

This season also has seen the introduction of several “O.C.” soundtracks as well as a new effort to incorporate live performances into episodes.

Still, Schwartz seems determined to make sure “The O.C.’s” on-air soundtrack doesn’t become filled with just radio singles.

“It’s all about whatever sounds good to me or Alex or (other producers),” he says. “It’s about the gut.”

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