[Ebook] Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time By Rob Sheffield – Writerscompany.co.uk
This is one of the most touching books I ve ever read It s sweet without being sappy, cute without being cutesy, painful without being unbearable It s about music and how it can weave through our lives and sew us together, even when we think we re unravelingWhen we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each otherI ve had that quote on my wall for a couple of years, framed with several photos of musicians I love and have the good fortune to know or to have met What I didn t know is that the quote is Rob Sheffield s and is from this book What a delight to come across it, and just one reason to love this story.Rob Sheffield is a music journalist and contributor to Rolling Stone magazine In Love Is a Mix Tape, he plays his life for us, song by song, and shares the mix tapes that led him through a music obsessed and passionate life with his wife, Renee If you are of an age to remember the magic of mix tapes in your youth and in your love life, you ll totally understand this book Although the musical focus is primarily that of 90 s music, Rob also highlights the couple s love of many genres and many other decades of songs and how they impacted their livesSometimes great tunes happen to bad times, and when the bad time is over, not all the tunes get to move on with you Every mix tape tells a story Put them together, and they add up to the story of life Through his mix tapes, Rob leads us not only through his life with Renee, but through his devastation at her death, and how music stayed always and forever a part of it all He takes us through the music he can still no longer bear to listen to because it was theirs together, to the new artists and songs that Renee never got a chance to know, to the songs that helped him understand what to hold on to and what to let go of As a music addict, I related so much to this story, through a basic, gut knowledge that Rob s story is the story of so many music lovers lives, not necessarily because of the death of a spouse, not necessarily because everyone lived through the 90 s and listened to mix tapes, but because music gets it It gets us It knows everything we go through and there s always a song for it Because our lives are basically a mix tape of everything we think and live and love and do 5 stars And many, many. I fell head over heels in love with this book, just as Rob Sheffield fell hard and fast when he met Renee The book is their love story, but it s also a love story about music Each chapter opens with the song list from a mix tape Rob either made or received It was fun to skim the titles, looking for tracks I had used in my own mix tapes.One of my favorite chapters was when Rob got picked to play the music at his junior high dance He screwed up big time He filled his tape with power anthems, which the boys loved, but the girls hated them and wouldn t dance He said he still had a lot to learn about women.Both Rob and Renee were radio DJs and music writers, and he admits the only thing they had in common was music Rob even wooed Renee by making her a mix tape, which is included in one of the chapters I expected this book to be sad because Rob warns us early that his wife died of a pulmonary embolism after only five years of marriage, but the book is very funny and sweet, with only one chapter that was a real tearjerker.By the end, I wished I could have met Renee, who sounds like a firecracker of a Southern gal But at least I got to hear about her favorite music, which is as close to meeting someone as you can get.Update Aug 2013 Sheffield has a new book out about his life after his wife died, and it reminded me how much I had loved this memoir I was glad I gave it five stars when I first read it because I remember it so fondly that I would have been forced to increase it if it wasn t already there I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music, memoirs or love stories. They met when they were both twenty three Rob told Renee,I ll make you a mix tape , the same thing he d told every girl he had a crush on Except this time, it worked and Rob fell hard Later, they planned to step on a cassette tape at their wedding ceremony, instead of a glass Between them, they had a love for music, bound by a love for one another Or maybe it was the other way aroundRenee was a real cool hell raising Appalachian punk rock chick But, the first record she record she ever owned was KC the Sunshine Band s Get Down Tonight KC was her first love I was her lastEven though I knew Rob would lose Renee, my heart was broken by page five Just read that final line in the quote above Renee was a country girl Rob was from the cityWe had nothing in common, except we both loved musicEach chapter in this book begins with the name of a mix tape, and its song list I remember making mix tapes for my high school girlfriend followed immediately by a copy for myself because damn I just put some fine music on there Making mix tapes is an expression They say, Here s what I like Party tapes Sad tapes Road tapes Music for the occasion Reading this book was like reading a ballad to the music of the 70 s, 80 s 90 s, and all the music worthy of being put on a tape together It s also a love song to this girl who entered Rob s life, and then his heart, and will always remain thereShe liked passion She liked adventure I cowered from passion and talked myself out of adventure Before I met her, I was just another hermit wolfboy, scared of life, hiding in my room with my records and my fanzines Suddenly, I got all tangled up in this girl s noisy, juicy, sparkly lifeAt times this memoir gets off track from the relationship I wanted it to stay with Renee But it s wholly sentimental, and that s the way I like em Plus, it reminds me of those people that come along and change our lives, no matter how short our time with them At one point I thought of those songs that evoke past memories The ones when we were young, or young at heart, singing at the top of our lungs in the car with the windows rolled down.PS The following song wasn t included in the play list It s too recent for that But I got hung up on playing it while finishing Love is a Mix Tape, and the words sort of resonate Take It All Back Love Is A Mix Tape just absolutely knocked my socks off.I devoured this book in one weekend and enjoyed every single page, heartily This is ostensibly a book about mix tapes, and looking back at a life spent seeing the world in a series of 45 minute vignettes then, of course, you flip the tape over Rob Sheffield has penned an honest yet wildly entertaining book that affected me deeply than any book I ve read in recent memory, woven throughout with a genuine and bleeding love for music It s electric.The meta theme of the book is great love, great loss, and the soundtrack his relationship and marriage to Renee, a girl who he says was in the middle of everything, living her big, messy, epic life, and none of us who loved her will ever catch up with her Rob loved Renee, and chronicles that here beautifully from their first meeting to her sudden death at 31.Parts of the book are evisceratingly intimate Sometimes I felt almost too close to his darkest and most intimate moments, and it s hard to phrase this right but because I knew so much of the music that weaves throughout their stories, I almost felt like I had a personal stake I kept thinking that it was surprising to find a story so real and honest and intimate when I initially picked this up because, duh, it s about mix tapes.If you don t like reading about other people s love stories, you should still 100% read this book Renee was his muse, but his passion and hers is thoroughly and unabashedly music and there is some absolutely fantastic stuff in here He writes of their relationship, We had nothing in common, except we both loved music It was the first connection we had, and we depended on it to keep us together We did a lot of work to meet in the middle Music brought us together They were both music writers and radio DJs, they fell in love hard and married young They made lots and lots of fabulous mix tapes, and each chapter begins with a reprinted tracklist from one cassette from that era in their lives.This is a man after my own heart How could I do anything but love a man who starts chapter 14 with Every time I have a crush on a woman, I have the same fantasy I imagine the two of us as a synth pop duo He goes on to elaborate how she is in the front tossing her hair, a saucy little firecracker , stealing the show and he is hidden in the back behind his Roland JP8000 keyboard, lavishing all my computer blue love on her He even lists all the best band names he s come up with for their synth pop duo Metropolitan Floors, Indulgence, Angela Dust.And you should hear him wax poetic about mix tapes Be still my heart Rob writes, There are all kinds of mix tapes There is always a reason to make one He then gives his examples The Party TapeI Want YouWe re Doing It Awesome You Like Music, I Like Music, I Can Tell We re Going To Be FriendsYou Broke My Heart And Made Me Cry and Here Are Twenty or Thirty Songs About ItThe Road TripGood Songs From Bad Albums I Never Want To Play Again and many There are millions of songs in the world, he writes, and millions of ways to connect them into mixes Making the connections is part of the fun of being a fan The book starts with Sheffield pulling out a box of old tapes and all throughout the book from his childhood school dance recollections, to the first mixes he can remember making for Renee, to the ones that accompanied him in the dark days and months following her death the mix tapes and the songs are as much characters in this story as the actual people are.Since each of us have our own completely sovereign and self focused memories surrounding our favorite bands and favorite songs the unique feelings, smells, companions, activities associated with them , there is something that I just find so ebullient about seeing all these bands and songs through the unique rubric of their lives A MUST READ. I didn t like this as much as others have seemed to And what I liked most was probably what others discarded I liked hearing about the signifcance of all the songs and mixes and bands But the love story Sap tastic and hit me over the head repetitive Every tenth line of the first long chapter is heavy foreshadowing mixed with hipster melodrama you know, That music changed my life But Renee was my life And then my life went away Then something like Love isn t like a cassingle It s like a mixed CD And my and Renee s hearts were mixed with an A and a B side And then she broke Or WHATEVER A lot of cutesy little details are repeated throughout the book, too, and I wondered if the book had originally been published as a series of columns it wasn t, as far as I can tell Finally, just to be a real grouch, the author seems to have a type he describes all his girlfriends and his beloved dead did you hear wife the same from the South, pie baking, punk riot, energetic, dyed red hair, music loving, extrovert So I never quite got why Renee stuck out so much. I didn t really know what this book was about until I started flipping through it last night I bought it as a last minute, bargain priced add on from Barnes Noble, pretty much just to bump up my total to 25 so I could get free shipping The title caught my eye since making mixtapes took up a lot of time during my teenage years Seriously, when the iPod was first introduced, I thought it was the greatest invention since the automobile.Anyway, I was expecting this to be a humorous, dick lit type novel, having no idea that Sheffield wrote this memoir after his wife of only 5 years passed away I read the first page, just to get a feel for it, and didn t put it down until I finished It was a very quick read, but I loved it There were parts that I had stinging eyes and a lump in my throat, but was laughing out loud at the same time The references to nineties music, even the whole nineties era were hilarious, and the chapter on Nirvana was some of the best writing on Kurt Cobain s life and death that I ve ever read.I love how Sheffield pointed out how strong an effect music can have on us, especially when dealing with losing someone you love There s the times when even a favorite song is ruined because hearing it is just too painfulit just makes the situation too real Other times, it s hearing a new song that you know that person would totally flip for, but knowing they ll never be able to hear it.I think anyone who loves music, lived through the nineties, or has ever lost someone would really enjoy this I know it was well worth the whopping 3.99 I paid for it. I love how music was such a big part of Rob s life it feels like music had a greater meaning back then Music nowadays is still important I can t imagine my day without music, the thought itself is depressing but I don t get the same vibe as when I read this memoir, it s like people instead of air breathed music which is awesome After this I want to receive mixed tapes. 3 1 2 starsIn 1991, when they were both 23, Rob Sheffield fell in love with a woman named Ren e Five years later, she died, of a pulmonary embolism just bad luck, the coroner tells Rob In between, they married, wrote for music magazines, hung out in record stores remember those , and went to a lot of live shows featuring whoever made it to Charlottesville, Virginia And they made mix tapes Lots and lots of them For washing the dishes, walking the dog, driving, sewing, getting up in the morning, going to sleep at night You name it, they came up with a mix of songs for it Each chapter of this book starts with a tape and its contents, as Rob reminisces about their relationship with each other and with the music It s bittersweet and poignant, of course, but mostly enjoyable and eminently readable thanks to Rob s natural charm This book felt to me like a US oriented essay version of the Phonogram graphic novels, in the way it captures both a musical scene of the moment, and relationships between people that now feel tied to that moment forever, with both the scene and the people gone Rather than the Britpop that makes up Phonogram s soundtrack, Rob and Ren e s life together is all grunge and guitar bands, leavened with a lot of Pavement The most moving essays for me were one about Kurt Cobain, where Rob describes how he hears Nirvana s MTV Unplugged performance as the wrenching cry of a young husband desperate to protect his wife and baby and clueless about how to do it as Rob also feels , and one about the burst of female fronted bands in the 90 s, as Rob s passion for feminism really shines The part of the book right after Ren e dies is tough to read, especially if you ve been through a sudden, unexpected death Rob s numbness, disbelief, and paralysis are all too familiar, as is his eventual acceptance that life just keeps going on, even when you think it shouldn t, and don t really want it to I loved his thoughts about how there are songs you can just never listen to again, period but also songs you think you ll never be able to bear again, but which get reintroduced and reclaimed, because life is sneaky and unpredictable that way This is a melancholy, yet at the same time celebratory, time capsule of a book. In This Stunning Memoir, Rob Sheffield, A Veteran Rock And Pop Culture Critic And Staff Writer For Rolling Stone Magazine, Tells The Story Of His Musical Coming Of Age, And How Rock Music, The First Love Of His Life, Led Him To His Second, A Girl Named Renee Rob And Renee S Life Together They Wed After Graduate School, Both Became Music Journalists, And Were Married Only Five Years When Renee Died Suddenly On Mother S Day, Is Shared Through The Window Of The Mix Tapes They Obsessively Compiled There Are Mixes To Court Each Other, Mixes For Road Trips, Mixes For Doing The Dishes, Mixes For Sleeping And, Eventually, Mixes To Mourn Rob S Greatest Loss The Tunes Were Among The Great Musical Output Of The Early s Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, REM, Weezer As Well As Classics By The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin And Mixing The Skilful, Tragic Punch Of Dave Eggers And The Romantic Honesty Of Nick Hornby, LOVE IS A MIX TAPE Is A Story Of Lost Love And The Kick You In The Gut Energy Of Great Pop Music Oh man, shucks.I loved this book.I could say that the story arc could have been stronger or that he could have talked about mixtapes even though he talked about them a lot, I never get sick of it But I won t I don t care about those things.I care that I basically love this book way too much There are many reasons.1 I am a sucker for exercises in love and grief, which a lot of this book is his wife died suddenly after they were married for like 5 years, and most of the book is about how he loves her and music 1a He describes her as this sort of girl that s bouncy and adventurous and strong, the kind of girl that I basically assume all boys love, and the great thing is, she s a real person.2 He is an Irish Catholic This means he talks about being Irish, likes to wash the dishes, and also it means that he thanks the BVM in his acknowledgments Thats the Blessed Virgin Mary for those of you not in the know TIGHT.3 He has excellent musical taste, by which I mean, really devotedly eclectic He talks about loving crap pop, and Pavement, and old country music on the radio Plus, he is talking about a great time in music and mixtapes At the end of the book, he reflects on how awesome music was during the 90s, because they actually let the indie ppl out to play for a little while And it s true Plus some of his mixtape selections made me grin They include Don t Worry Baby , I Can t Make You Love Me , Prince, Liz Phair, Sleater Kinney s Little Babies , Famous Blue Raincoat , and just generally a lot of stuff that reminds me of listening to the radio at about age 14 , which, all told, wasn t such a bad age.It may not be your cup of tea, but it sure was mine Mixtapes forevs.