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I sat in Lulu's Beehive this morning with my coffee and banana bundt amongst a sea of laptops, a painting of ducks that looked suspiciously like a picture in my own flickr photostream, and a friend's ex-boyfriend with another girl I knew but couldn't place. While I wasn't the only one with white buds in my ears, I was the only person cracking the spine of a book. The women that kept walking into the cafe were all cleavage and caffeine and cigarettes and a welcome distraction from the chapters about grief in this love letter to music and marriage and life. I kept catching myself staring too long at these ladies and thought, either I need to get laid or get loved.
I kind of hate Rob Sheffield for making me feel like all the relationships I've had in the past have been inadequate. I have never loved anyone like he loved his Renee. He doesn't even hide the feelings he had for her in ebullient metaphor or shlocky hyperbole. He just tells it like it is and it is wonderful and amazing and way shorter than it had any right to be. While I did blow through the chapters focused on his loss and his dealing (or not dealing) because I don't quite have the emotional armor right now to handle more mourning, it's a beautiful love story all explained in terms I totally get--song lyrics and beats and all the feelings and emotions that we associate with music.
There's probably a mix tape of my own that will come out of this that includes "Symptom Finger" by the Faint, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" by The Arcade Fire, "Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix)" by Feist, "One More Hour" by Sleater-Kinney, "Keeping You Alive" by The Gossip, "Misread" by Kings of Convenience, and "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" by Beck, almost all of which acted as my soundtrack this morning. Somehow, I don't own nor don't think I have ever even heard "One More Hour" by Sleater-Kinney and it is the one song he goes into detail about in the book that I want to know everything about. I can imagine the track in my head by his description. I can hear Carrie and Corin going back and forth. I've already attached an emotional response to it. I will love it. Even if I was deaf, I would love it.
Sheffield goes into great detail about the significance of Nirvana on his life and, in particular, "Heart-Shaped Box". I decided while reading that I'd add Joe Hill's (Stephen King's son) recent debut novel of the same name to my queue. While reading, I aped a line of his that he stole from some outfit a member of Pavement was wearing for a twitter message. I took down quotes, one for me that's a truth I'm going to keep for myself about love and loss and fear and the real agreement that people make to each other when they go into a commitment like marriage and one for you:
"Most mix tapes are CDs now, yet people still call them mix tapes."
There's a reason for that. I leave it to you to figure out why.
Rob Sheffield is a music journalist, and it’s no surprise that the strongest moments in this book are when he’s talking about the music of the 90s. At its best, this is about how music plays as the soundtrack to grief and love and memory. It’s very sweet.
Rob Sheffield is that most unique of critics. He breaks the rule that says you shouldn’t talk about yourself because of the self-indulgence, yet manages to do so in such a way that he shines new light on both the soul of music and the soul of man. That’s probably a bit dramatic, but it doesn’t make it less true.
LOVE IS A MIX TAPE is a soulful book, written as a way of understanding not only love and loss, but the role music plays in helping us achieve even the tiniest bit of understanding. His recollection of his relationship to his wife, Renée, is filled with beautiful passages about discovery of love and self. But he also uses these moments to reveal truths about the music which inspired these recollections as well—I will never listen to Nirvana the same way again.
It’s the best praise I can give to say that this book opens both your mind and your heart. Enjoy the laughs, the cool turns of phrase, and the constant desire to queue up another song from these playlists, but also make sure you keep a few Kleenex on the ready.
somebody recommended this to me because of its content. it's pretty much tailor made for me: it's not too long of a read, it's a first person account, it's heavily based around making mix tapes in the 90s/of 90s music, and it mentions both sebadoh and sleater-kinney. brilliant! it kept me company on a couple of long, exhausting train journeys and i'm definitely glad i read it. i'd say for anybody that loves music being closely twined with irreplaceable, interpersonal relationships, they should give this a go at least once.
the themes touched on (mortality, loss, living) are all things i gravitate towards by default. it's the sort of thing i write about and the sort of thing i love to read about. the recollections are vivid at times and the blurry sort of memories you remember on nights you can't sleep at others and it's a beautiful tribute to love, renee, and music in general.
I have to say I would have enjoyed this book even without the deeply personal story of Rob losing his wife. In fact, I may have enjoyed it even more. I think I could have read an additional 600 pages of Rob reminiscing about the late 80s, early 90s, listing all of the music he and his wife listened to, bands they went to see, parties they attended and guilty pleasure television shows they watched together. What are there like 800 other people in the US who remember and know that Grenadine put out one of the best records of the 1990s???? So for that reason alone, I beg Mr. Sheffield to revise this book and keep it strictly to the good times. Ok and if that isn't actually possible, this is still a fine book, far surpassing my expectations.
I love mixtapes. Make them to this day, but with discs and music apps. So, the title pulled me in, anyone who appreciates the heart of a mixtape is my familiar. This was a moving tribute to love and music, a portrait of sorrow and grief. Oh, to be loved enough to have a mixtape, or 12, or 200 created in your honor.
I think this book would be better read in physical form - it was too hard to read the mixtape song lists on my Kindle. I'll probably pick up a paperback, just to have access to that. If you love love stories and music, you'll want to grab a copy for yourself.
As a lover of music, I really enjoyed this book. I believe any person who views music as a necessity will relate to the comparison of love being a mix tape. The love shared between Renee and Rob is clear and so is the agony of her death. I cried at Rob's account of the day Renee died. Just when I thought my tears were done, they weren't. Rob's account of the days following her death did me in too. This was a great read and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Nice book, if you love music. I read it on a trip to Charlottesville (where the story is set), and it transported me back to the 90s... The zillion musical references made me want to make mix tapes again! Not a masterpiece novel, but still well written, fun and easy to read, with an emotional side to the story that is almost comparable to a "coming-of-age" at some point. I recommend it!
Did not expect the book to be heartfelt and heart warming. Clearly each mixtape is crafted with great attention, and it translates to us, readers, who will likely be taken to sweet nostalgia as we begin seeing ourselves in each of the chapter written. It's a pleasing read, and an effortless page turner.