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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 onl 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, 1997 - 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 1990s - Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, REM, Weezer - as well as classics by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin and more. 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.


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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 onl 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, 1997 - 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 1990s - Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, REM, Weezer - as well as classics by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin and more. 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.

30 review for Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This review’s content may be confusing, annoying, trite or downright laughable to persons not born between 1965 and 1978. Hell, it may be all of that and more to just about anyone. Consider yourself warned. Put your thinking caps on ‘cuz I’ve got some trippin’ down memory lane for you: Where were you when you first heard ‘A Day in the Life’? What about ‘Wild World’? What did you think when you finally understood the meaning of ‘She Bop’? What does ‘My Heart Will Go On’ mean to you? Do you know whe This review’s content may be confusing, annoying, trite or downright laughable to persons not born between 1965 and 1978. Hell, it may be all of that and more to just about anyone. Consider yourself warned. Put your thinking caps on ‘cuz I’ve got some trippin’ down memory lane for you: Where were you when you first heard ‘A Day in the Life’? What about ‘Wild World’? What did you think when you finally understood the meaning of ‘She Bop’? What does ‘My Heart Will Go On’ mean to you? Do you know where you were when you heard that Kurt Cobain was dead? What about that guy from Alice in Chains who wasn’t found for like days, rotting away in his apartment, do you remember that? What was the song that was playing the first time you slow danced? Does ‘Darling Nikki’ make you blush? What’s the most important song that you’ve ever put on a mix tape? Okay, enough. You get it. It’s just overkill now. Confession time: I was a groupie. I was. Really. Duran Duran was my group of choice. Those bastard fans in Wham! and Culture Club were pussies compared to us Duranies. We knew how to obsess. There is still a bond among us. Whenever I meet a woman born around 1970, I know that I can slip in a ’Save a Prayer’ reference and our eyes will meet and there will be that conspiratorial nod... We know that we both cried when we saw the ‘Feed the World’ video and that they were robbed (ROBBED!) of air time. Damn Bono. It wasn’t until I met my future husband that I actually LISTENED to Duran Duran. Those bass lines are awesome! I knew I loved John Taylor for more than his bangs and impeccable fashion sense! I never knew that certain instruments made certain sounds. I was just used to the end product. I’ve been told I’m a sucker for a good ‘bridge’, whatever that means. Maurice was also the first male friend that actually liked Duran Duran and didn’t mock me for my past transgressions. Boys can be so dumb. Don’t you know that we’ll like you more if you admit that you’ve sung along to Rio? Maurice actually brought me to my first Duran Duran show. We sat on the grassy lawn at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass and rocked to Ordinary World and danced to The Reflex. I was so proud of him. How many boyfriends will do that? Okay. So, you see where I‘m going with this, right? I mean it’s so obviously clear. I may have been a groupie, but Maurice was a full out audiophile. To the point of annoyance.. We’d be out walking and he’d hear something from an open window somewhere and say ‘Oh! Zeppelin 4! Awesome! Did you know that Rolling Stone rated it only 66 out of the top 500 albums! What assholes!’ and then a rant would ensue and that would turn into some sort of ‘ultimate band’ fantasy. And so on. He would wake me up in the middle of the night to ask me what I thought about Geddy Lee’s vocals on ‘Caress of Steel’ versus ‘Fly by Night’. He wasn’t embarrassed to go total Wayne’s World when Bohemian Rhapsody came on while we were driving. My favorite was when we would play ‘who should have been on the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane?’ On our first date, Maurice ended it, not with a kiss, but a ‘I’m going to make you a mix tape!’ I was amused. I was concerned. I was somewhat petrified. This guy was a prog rock fan. Hadn’t I spent most of my adolescence mocking Rush and Yes? Is this karma taking a bit ol’ dump on me? He mailed me the tape. I was living in Boston at the time, he was in the boondocks of NH. I held it. I read the songs. I put it on my desk. I went out for ice cream. Around day 3, I finally had the room to myself (living in a boarding house with 40 other woman, that was a feat) and carefully placed it in my boom box. The first song was ‘Sweetness’ by Yes. ’Honey Pie’ by The Beatles, ’She’s a Rainbow’ The Rolling Stones, ’Come up and See Me (Make me smile)’ by Duran Duran, ‘It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl' by Faust, The Musical Box by Genesis: She's a lady, she's got time, Brush back your hair, and let me get to know your face. She's a lady, she is mine. Brush back your hair, and let me get to know your flesh. Not. Very. Subtle. Anyway, this book. This could be Maurice and me. I know that some people dismiss Rob Sheffield and I don’t know enough about him to say that that’s okay. Maurice would probably know… he knew all the rock critics. But, this story… these mix tapes. They spoke to me in a completely sappy selfish way. I see a lot of Maurice in Rob. Another confession: I don’t read the blurbs about books before I start them. If I like the title or the cover or someone said ’You should read this’, I will go with that. I had no idea that this was a sad love story. (Yeah, I know… the title is ‘Love is a Mix Tape: Life and loss, one song at a time’ --I didn’t really catch the loss part. There’s Rob. Then there’s Rob and Renee and then there’s RobinRenee and then there’s just Rob again. There’s a part where he’s talking about just being Rob again: “I now get scared of forgetting anything about Renee, even the tiniest detail, even the bands on this tape I can’t stand--if she touched them, I want to hear her fingerprints.“ I wonder if Maurice ever thought things like “I suddenly realized how much being a husband was about fear: fear of not being able to keep somebody safe, of not being able to protect somebody from all the bad stuff you want to protect them from. Knowing they have more tears in them than you will be able to keep them from crying.” I know that I did. Rob relates almost everything through music. He reminds me a lot of Rob Fleming from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. The guy that always has headphones on, that totally judges you by your cd collection, that has a song for everything. Maurice was always gently forcing me to like his music. I’m a whiny guitar alternadude type of gal. Play me some REM or Blind Melon or Polyphonic Spree. I would get in the car and find a cd in the player and suddenly I’m listening to Argent’s ‘Hold your Head Up’ or ‘Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Pt, 1 & 2’ by ELP. This went on for TWENTY years…. He never tired of it. I have milk crates full of Maurice creations. I can identify with these people. I would strike back with some of my own and we would argue during long car rides what was neutral ground. ELP was out. Genesis was neutral. Poi Dog Pondering was out. INXS was neutral and so on… I guess that what I’m trying to say is that this book might not be for every one. The minute gestures and pop culture commentary might annoy people. They may not laugh where I laughed or cried when I cried. That’s okay. There are other books. I’m just glad that I had the opportunity to read this one. I feel less alone and that’s a biggie for me. “They always end with our favorite song “Killer Parties” and sometimes I think, man, all the people I get to hear this song with, we’re going to miss each other when we die. When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other.” I can’t think of a truer sentiment. Maurice is the Smashing Pumpkins ‘1979’ when I’m driving on a warm spring night with the windows down. He’s Nanci Griffith’s ‘Late Night Grande Hotel’ when I’m having a good cry in the tub. He’s Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name Of’ when I’m annoyed with hipsters. It sounds corny, but he gave me this gift and I’m so proud of him and so thankful. I miss you, Maurice.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    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 unraveling. “When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other.” I'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 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 unraveling. “When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other.” I'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 more 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 lives. “Sometimes 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 more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    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 around. ”Renee was a real cool hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock chick. But, the first record she record she 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 around. ”Renee 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 last.” Even 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 city. ”We had nothing in common, except we both loved music.” Each 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 there. ”She 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 life.” At 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

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    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 more deeply than any book I've read in recent memory, woven throughout with a genuine and bleeding love for music 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 more 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 Tape I Want You We're Doing It? Awesome! You Like Music, I Like Music, I Can Tell We're Going To Be Friends You Broke My Heart And Made Me Cry and Here Are Twenty or Thirty Songs About It The Road Trip Good Songs From Bad Albums I Never Want To Play Again . . . and many more. "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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    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, 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    JSou

    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 ty 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 painful...it 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    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 more (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 h 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 more (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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rory

    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 lik 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    mina

    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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    3-1/2 stars In 1991, when they were both 23, Rob Sheffield fell in love with a woman named Renée. 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 3-1/2 stars In 1991, when they were both 23, Rob Sheffield fell in love with a woman named Renée. 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 Renée'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 Renée 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    RandomAnthony

    How come, when most authors write about music, they write as if they're trying to sound like scholars of the Pitchfork generation? And how did Rob Sheffield know he should skip all that and write a great book about the intersection of music, tragedy, and everyday existence? Love is a Mix Tape is Mr. Sheffield's account of his marriage, wife's death, and the role music played in their lives. The couple were one of those with a musical cute meet (Big Star related, even) and a shared Pavement fanati How come, when most authors write about music, they write as if they're trying to sound like scholars of the Pitchfork generation? And how did Rob Sheffield know he should skip all that and write a great book about the intersection of music, tragedy, and everyday existence? Love is a Mix Tape is Mr. Sheffield's account of his marriage, wife's death, and the role music played in their lives. The couple were one of those with a musical cute meet (Big Star related, even) and a shared Pavement fanaticism. This book could have gone downhill so quickly. But Mr. Sheffield manages to walk the line between false humility and rock critic verbiage because he sounds, well, like he's talking in a normal voice, very slowly and carefully, about his history. He seems like the kind of person who accessed music to mediate his interactions, so when he gets a girlfriend, gets married, and loses his wife, he contextualizes events and emotions around the music that's playing and the songs passing through his mind. The music and narrative intertwine and emerge raw and heartfelt (and I don't like the word “heartfelt” but the word fits). I hope Mr. Sheffield felt better after he wrote this book because he takes serious, honest risks when, for example, he considers whether or not he should use the word “widow” or when he describes how he reads at Applebee's because he knows he won't run into any friends at mall restaurants. Sheffield writes like Chuck Klosterman's shy friend at the bar, the one who interjects a comment here and there but doesn't need to dominate the conversation. I'm not surprised Klosterman praises this book on the back jacket; fans of one author most likely are/would be fans of the other. My only problem with Love is a Mix Tape surfaced near the text's end; Sheffield wraps up the narrative too quickly, in my eyes, out of nowhere. But I have new respect for Mr. Sheffield, who I only knew previously from VH-1 list shows (e.g. “40 Top One Hit Wonders”). Sheffield gets the fan's quieter, more personal relationship with music, the kind that gathers most of its power when no one is around, or when only one other person is around and the experience is shared as a manifestation of trust and love. Love is a Mix Tape captures this state in surprising, meaningful ways.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Rob Sheffield only had a few years with his wife before she died suddenly, and this book is about their relationship and his own background, all through mix tapes. It is a clever framing but also full of meaning, because all of us are probably most connected to the music from our teen through college years. Some of the music was unknown to me, but a lot of it was deeply familiar - I immediately went looking to see if someone had already pulled it together in Spotify, and they had! Another thing I Rob Sheffield only had a few years with his wife before she died suddenly, and this book is about their relationship and his own background, all through mix tapes. It is a clever framing but also full of meaning, because all of us are probably most connected to the music from our teen through college years. Some of the music was unknown to me, but a lot of it was deeply familiar - I immediately went looking to see if someone had already pulled it together in Spotify, and they had! Another thing I loved about the book is how it reminds me of High Fidelity, a book/movie I happen to love, and the main character is also named Rob. Impossible not to think of it while reading this. Love... loss... music, this has everything that matters about life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Veronica D ✿

    Not me wanting to read this just because Harry Styles did 💀💀💀

  14. 5 out of 5

    Buggy

    Opening line:"The playback: late night, Brooklyn, a pot of coffee, and a chair by the window. I'm listening to a mix tape from 1993." Before I-pods and ripped CDs we all made mix tapes. I'm sure most of us over a certain age still have them safely hidden away somewhere, never quite having had the nerve to throw them out (broken cases and all) We named these tapes, gave them away to friends or lovers and assigned them different purposes. Remember the break-up tape, the I'm so infatuated with you t Opening line:"The playback: late night, Brooklyn, a pot of coffee, and a chair by the window. I'm listening to a mix tape from 1993." Before I-pods and ripped CDs we all made mix tapes. I'm sure most of us over a certain age still have them safely hidden away somewhere, never quite having had the nerve to throw them out (broken cases and all) We named these tapes, gave them away to friends or lovers and assigned them different purposes. Remember the break-up tape, the I'm so infatuated with you tape, the party tape, workout tape, road trip tape, stolen off the radio tape etc, etc. It took hours to create a mix tape, attempting to get the songs in perfect order without cutting off the last one. Now imagine, nearly 20 years later having the courage to scour through and listen to all those tapes again. The joy of rediscovery, the nostalgia, the OMG I forgot all about that song which reminds me of that party/girl/boy/car moment. You might also experience pain or sadness over that long lost love. Well this is what LOVE IS A MIX TAPE is all about. I absolutely adored this book. Rob Sheffield style of writing is so honest, natural and funny that you'll feel like your talking with an old friend. He manages too capture the spirit of the 90's perfectly too as he tells a moving autobiographical account of his years spent with wife Renee. Anyone who lived through that time and is into pop culture will find something relatable here. This is also a tragic love story and on the very first page we learn that Renee has died, we just don't know how or why. We then flash back to the time to before they met as Rob experiences an awkward adolescence and discovers his love of Indie rock. One night Rob meets the sweet Southern girl of his dreams and although only 25 they soon marry. It's not a perfect marriage however; they're broke most of the time, they fight, they get a dog, they drink Zima (remember Zima?) but they always listen to music as one. Rob and Renee ultimately get 7 years together and even though I knew that Renee was going to die when it actually happened I was left stunned. Sheffield depicts the ache of new love and utter helplessness of losing it beautifully and following Rob through the next grief stricken chapters was at times hard to take. Throughout this story it is always about the music and each chapter begins with a dated mix tape complete with side A/B track listings. Some of the tapes were made by Renee others by Rob but you're sure to have a lot of moments remembering your own life's soundtrack as you journey along with the music. You might even find a couple of new favourites. Cheers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    I really wanted to like this book, despite my mild dislike for Sheffield's writing in Rolling Stone magazine. While the story is heartbreaking -- he becomes a widower earlier than anyone should be allowed to -- I was expecting much more insight than what's provided in this slim tome (I read it in one sitting.) The story boils down to this -- music nerd from Boston meets awesome Appalachian girl who is everything he isn't. You know where the story is heading after he is instantly smitten when she I really wanted to like this book, despite my mild dislike for Sheffield's writing in Rolling Stone magazine. While the story is heartbreaking -- he becomes a widower earlier than anyone should be allowed to -- I was expecting much more insight than what's provided in this slim tome (I read it in one sitting.) The story boils down to this -- music nerd from Boston meets awesome Appalachian girl who is everything he isn't. You know where the story is heading after he is instantly smitten when she is the only other person in a University of Virginia bar to recognize that Big Star's second album is playing. They make a connection and later, much to his surprise, they fall in love and get married. After his wife is tragically taken away from him he spends the final half of the book telling the reader over and over to the point of irritation how awesome his wife was. While each chapter begins with a playlist of a mix tape he or his wife had made, Sheffield doesn't write enough about the songs on the tapes. Why did he select certain songs over others? What makes a good tape. For a man who made tapes for such mundane chores as washing the dishes and walking the dogs, it's a cop-out not to write about the music itself. Of course, that may not be a bad thing. You would think that someone who writes for Rolling Stone would have high standards for determining what makes a good song. Not Sheffield. To him, all music is great, from the Replacements to Journey to the J. Geils Band. Makes you wonder how he wound up writing for a national magazine. Unfortunately we never learn because Sheffield is too busy telling how awesome his wife was. I wanted at least some idea of how he climbed out of his grief to become a columnist for one of the most storied music magazines in the country. Sheffield likes to liberally sprinkle his writing with pop culture references as a way to show cool and ironic he is, and this book is no exception. While sometimes the references make you smile, most of the time they come off like the junior high social outcast who tries to show how hip he is by making jokes about the Dukes of Hazzard or Star Trek.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine

    I started reading this book during the two-day buffer between the beginnings of both 2012 proper and the working year, thinking that I’d have to look no farther than the other end of the couch if the story really destroyed me to the point of needing my myriad mostly-under-control-but-always-threatening-to-surface spousal fears allayed by husbandly hugs. Turns out, catching up on laundry and tidying up our soon-to-be-vacated first home ate into my reading time and I wound up finishing this about I started reading this book during the two-day buffer between the beginnings of both 2012 proper and the working year, thinking that I’d have to look no farther than the other end of the couch if the story really destroyed me to the point of needing my myriad mostly-under-control-but-always-threatening-to-surface spousal fears allayed by husbandly hugs. Turns out, catching up on laundry and tidying up our soon-to-be-vacated first home ate into my reading time and I wound up finishing this about an hour after hubs left for work. (Luckily, this book wasn't the sob-fest I was fearing, which is a huge point for the "pro" column.) But you know what? That lost solitary reading time was put to good use. Hubs and I giggled our way through the brutal minute-long walk to the laundry room, encountered a comedy of errors while corralling our smallclothes and turned vacuuming into a contact sport. And I think that, more than actually sitting down with “Love is a Mix Tape,” helped drive home the unspoken point of the book, which is that you never know how much time you'll have with someone so you'd better make the most of the present. Every time I’ve seen Rob Scheffield waxing eloquent about music on television, he always seems to have this goofy grin and be a generally amiable person, an image which I’m sure is aided by how not pretentious he is about the music he loves (that's admittedly foreign territory to me). We can all agree that a personable demeanor is unusual for a rock critic and an avid connoisseur of music, right? Because you should believe everything you see on TV, I assumed he was a happy-go-lucky dude who just truly loves and is animated by music. So imagine my surprise when I realized there’s a heart-rending tale under all of that. This isn’t a prettied-up-for-mass-consumption account of an individual's personal tragedy that is just, like, so super unique and deserving of publication because the author said so, thank God. It’s about Rob. It’s about other things, too, of course – music being chief among them – but mostly how they’ve left distinct and indelible marks on Rob’s persona. Renee gets a lot of mention, but she’s a living, thriving presence for most of the book. The reader wouldn’t get the full extent of the things that made Renee so magnetic if this was another pity-party strutting its stuff for affirmations of the author’s suffering. Instead, Rob displays enough of his late wife’s traits and habits to make us understand her without betraying all of her secrets. We see Renee through Rob’s eyes: She’s flawed but good-hearted, quirky but grounded, an individual who’s bubbling over with life. It is so obvious that Rob is still smitten with Renee and probably has been since their first encounter. And it’s obvious that his love is motivated by who she is as a whole rather than what she represents to him. For someone with so little relationship experience, like Rob, that kind of selflessness is nigh impossible to either understand or execute. But you can tell that this boy is just wild about his girl by the way she’s framed within the book. A memoir like this should be more of a tribute and less of a fishbowl therapy session, and it should exist to deliver a message rather than parade the author's personal tragedies in morbid self-congratulation; thankfully, this one rises above the usual credibility-killing narcissistic pitfalls. There are no excessive displays of grief and Rob doesn't rely on his wife's death as the storytelling vehicle, as either would be disrespectful to Rob and Renee’s short-lived union. Rob mourns his wife, of course, accepts that he’ll never be rewarded for dealing with his widower status by getting to have Renee back, and spends an appropriate amount of time in the fetal position, but he does so with dignity. He doesn’t want to wallow in self pity or spend night after lonely night in a cemetery because to do so would be to succumb to a dismissal of Renee’s joie de vivre, which was clearly one of her defining attributes. There were definite divisions marking life before, during and after Renee, which certainly helped the story find a universally applicable element, but it’s Rob’s love of music that gives this books its strongest framework. Just like there was life with and without Renee, there’s music before and after Renee, too. For every milestone, be it as a child or a grieving adult, there’s a song or album or band to serve as the soundtrack. What is music’s greatest purpose if not to act as a personalized landscape for each individual, after all? As someone who went through a rabidly elitist phase of music consumption (a phase that has, fortunately, waned over the years but still needs to assert its lingering presence at the least appropriate times) and is drawn to those who’ve traveled a similar path, I feel pretty confident in saying that the least musically talented music aficionados aren’t the most accepting folks. It’s easy to scoff at pop music and the bands who create it but Rob doesn’t fall victim to this. He admits to secretly loving some disco ditties as a teenager and accepts his phases of enjoying some truly craptastic tunes. The mix tapes’ track listings that open each chapter illustrate that he never really let go of that open-mindedness, which make his honesty and vulnerability regarding other facets of his life that much more credible. He doesn’t limit himself to the music that’s peripherally cool or only listen to what the radio spoon-feeds him, which, to me, demonstrated an unabashed affinity for all music, much to his credit. One of the points that Rob subtly made was that when two people are just as sick about music as they are about each other, music gradually becomes a third entity in the relationship. Having that life raft of shared music (and, later, music he wishes he could share with Renee) is what kept the intimacy of his late wife close and, as I saw it, kept Rob from totally coming unglued. It always seemed like he knew he’d soldier on without his other half, but music seemed to be what kept propelling him forward, however stumblingly or reluctantly. Music does emerge as the real hero and great unifier when it comes to the crux of the story, though the quiet messages of human kindness and self-discovery serve as its moral. I held myself together through Rob’s accounts of Renee’s death and funeral and his mourning period; what finally pierced my groggy heart was Rob’s awe over complete strangers’ acts of kindness toward him. I’m a sucker for the moment the veil of cynicism is lifted (probably because I’m pretty certain humanity comprises a bunch of selfish jerks and, therefore, get all warm and gooey when someone can convince me otherwise for a little while), and Rob’s realization that he can’t go back to his former skepticism over the goodness of people was a defining moment of the story. Yes, there is some goodness in the world: It just took a world-shattering tragedy for Rob to gain some firsthand knowledge of it. Human kindness helped him to move on while pointing out the places where some silver lining is peeking through. It is hard to write about a loved one’s sudden death without summoning every cheaply sentimental cop-out to prey on the audience’s emotions, so Rob gets all kinds of kudos for offering up a good read rather than a cloying trick. This is a beautiful remembrance of a well-loved someone while doubling as a love letter to the music that will always be there through the highest highs, lowest lows and every small moment or long car ride between.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    My neighbor pressed this book into my hands, and I can't even remember how we even talked about why I should read this. The format is so clever and such a unique way to delineate life- by mixed tapes that Rob creates or is holding onto. Music and song lyrics hit each person so differently. They can trigger memories, smells, and even nostalgia for a period in time- for Rob- Zima+Chambourd concoctions. I wish I knew more about Rob & Renee or some of the artists he's interested in, it wasn't until w My neighbor pressed this book into my hands, and I can't even remember how we even talked about why I should read this. The format is so clever and such a unique way to delineate life- by mixed tapes that Rob creates or is holding onto. Music and song lyrics hit each person so differently. They can trigger memories, smells, and even nostalgia for a period in time- for Rob- Zima+Chambourd concoctions. I wish I knew more about Rob & Renee or some of the artists he's interested in, it wasn't until we get into the 1990's that I could recognize some of the songs/artists on his mixed tapes. I appreciated Rob's candor and how deeply he felt his wife's loss. How he came to terms with it and the deep hole it pushed him into.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    This is the kind of memoir I'd like to have written (albeit without the deceased wife). I've had a few conversations with friends in the last year or so about the long-lost art of the mix tape, which has been delivered a death-blow by the digital age. Burning a CD mix just isn't the same; for one, it doesn't take nearly as long to make a CD mix, which cheapens the sentiment attached to giving one to someone, especially when the hope is that the gesture and the songs themselves with make the reci This is the kind of memoir I'd like to have written (albeit without the deceased wife). I've had a few conversations with friends in the last year or so about the long-lost art of the mix tape, which has been delivered a death-blow by the digital age. Burning a CD mix just isn't the same; for one, it doesn't take nearly as long to make a CD mix, which cheapens the sentiment attached to giving one to someone, especially when the hope is that the gesture and the songs themselves with make the recipient fall instantly in love with you. And you no longer have to worry about the time remaining at the end of a cassette's side: will one last song fit? Maybe, but only if it's a short one. So what song is both a. short enough to fit, and b. the perfect statement of my feelings? And then there was the planning for the sequence of the mix's sides. You couldn't just randomly throw a bunch of songs together; you had to carefully balance both the tempo and the lyrical content of the songs. When all was said and done, the whole process took the better part of a Saturday... (re-read, April 2013)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Any book that describes the summer of '94 as a series of drunken southern barbecues populated by mod-girls and indie rock dudes who always ended the party with the girls singing along to the entirety of Liz Phair's 'Exile In Guyville' on the back porch (word for word) while all the guys listened intrigued and obsessed and befuddled in the kitchen is A+ in my book. See also, the tragic passage inspired by Sleater-Kinney's 'One More Hour', the eulogy to the '90s, and the author's recipe for the pe Any book that describes the summer of '94 as a series of drunken southern barbecues populated by mod-girls and indie rock dudes who always ended the party with the girls singing along to the entirety of Liz Phair's 'Exile In Guyville' on the back porch (word for word) while all the guys listened intrigued and obsessed and befuddled in the kitchen is A+ in my book. See also, the tragic passage inspired by Sleater-Kinney's 'One More Hour', the eulogy to the '90s, and the author's recipe for the perfect party. All in all, a really wonderful read. Fun, poignant, relatable, adorable, so '90s, so riot grrrl, and so successful in adding a deeper, introspective, human dimension to Rob Sheffield -- the coolest, if sometimes vapid -- member of Rolling Stone's waning pool of talent.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ✨ kathryn ✨

    This punched me in the gut. Hard. Tears were shed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Androconis

    I wasn’t able to pick up on all of the 90’s music references, but I still really enjoyed this read. I picked this book because I wanted to read something sad and this delivered lol

  22. 5 out of 5

    N.miller

    Life is filled with the most beautiful moments one can imagine but these beautiful moments could also end in some of the most painful times. Although this may be a scary concept that many avoid talking about, it is this reality that will set us on our path to enjoying these precious moments to the max. In the memoir, Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, this concept of losing love and enjoying what you have while you have it is shown through the musically bonded love of two music journalist, Rob Life is filled with the most beautiful moments one can imagine but these beautiful moments could also end in some of the most painful times. Although this may be a scary concept that many avoid talking about, it is this reality that will set us on our path to enjoying these precious moments to the max. In the memoir, Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, this concept of losing love and enjoying what you have while you have it is shown through the musically bonded love of two music journalist, Rob and Renee. Even though reading this memoir really had its impact on me, I don't believe this book should be mandatory for a high school readers to read, but should definitely be offered independently for its ability to grab the interest and hearts of the reader and give life to the idea of loving something as much as you can while you can. In this memoir by Rob Sheffield, through Rob’s original love for music he falls in love with love true love of his life, his wife Renee. After a short five years into their lives together married, Renee suddenly passes away on Mothers Day 1997. When looking back on his life and time spent with Renee, Rob is able to use their mix tapes they have created over the years to show the love they shared. Through songs by some of the, most famous bands who have ever lived these mixtapes show small things like their time spent cooking together in the kitchen to the time Rob spent in deep grievance, all alone after the loss of his wife. These mix tape that are quoted throughout the book are much more than just words to show their lives together, they symbolize a special moment in a specific time in Rob’s life. The idea of living life to the fullest and loving every moment of it can be seen by a man who can no longer love these moment when he says, “Our lives were just beginning, our favorite moment was right now, our favorite songs were unwritten.” Now that Rob has lost the love of his life he is unable to live for a more beautiful tomorrow and shows that he was at least able to make every moment the best moment of his life. The life lesson to be taken from this beautiful memoir has little to do with any educational values but a lot to do with personal experiences. This is specifically why I would recommend this book to be used by high schools more as an optional read because once this book is picked up it will be hard for the student to put it back down. Also, the lesson about living and loving what you are going through and have at this moment is cherish-able and important for any age group. Although a scary thought, we may have the world today but tomorrow we might not have a single thing so take the time now to cherish and enjoy it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    "I didn't know what to do without Renée. I didn't know what I was. I didn't have a noun." This is a heartbreaking story doused with a lot of love and happy times. Some parts were a bit cheesy, but the mix tape chapter headers were a fun touch. I appreciate Sheffield sharing this difficult part of his life and how he coped. "I didn't know what to do without Renée. I didn't know what I was. I didn't have a noun." This is a heartbreaking story doused with a lot of love and happy times. Some parts were a bit cheesy, but the mix tape chapter headers were a fun touch. I appreciate Sheffield sharing this difficult part of his life and how he coped.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    There are millions of songs in the world, and millions of ways to connect them into mixes. A mix tape steals these moments from all over the musical cosmos, and splices them into a whole new grove.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicy

    Thank you Harry Styles for recommending this book. This was so beautiful. It really spoke to me on a personal level. Rob talking about all of his favourite songs and artists, finding his love, marrying and losing her while remembering her through music.. I just felt so seen! And everybody who loves music as much as I do will do too! Especially when you have a partner you share all your music with. This was just wholesome. At times a little dragging but nevertheless a beautiful memoir I will prob Thank you Harry Styles for recommending this book. This was so beautiful. It really spoke to me on a personal level. Rob talking about all of his favourite songs and artists, finding his love, marrying and losing her while remembering her through music.. I just felt so seen! And everybody who loves music as much as I do will do too! Especially when you have a partner you share all your music with. This was just wholesome. At times a little dragging but nevertheless a beautiful memoir I will probably never forget.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Annalisa

    I picked up this book because of the title. I loved the idea of the intense power of music to draw on memory and expected my own memories to mesh with the story. But I found Sheffield's mesh of music unusual, sometimes jarring, and I found myself not connecting with it as much as I'd like. It was a bittersweet memoir with a few humorous moments, but there wasn't anything unusual or memorable in his story. Quotable moments: But most of all, I regret turning thirteen, and staying that way for the n I picked up this book because of the title. I loved the idea of the intense power of music to draw on memory and expected my own memories to mesh with the story. But I found Sheffield's mesh of music unusual, sometimes jarring, and I found myself not connecting with it as much as I'd like. It was a bittersweet memoir with a few humorous moments, but there wasn't anything unusual or memorable in his story. Quotable moments: But most of all, I regret turning thirteen, and staying that way for the next ten years or so. At any wedding we attend, my family is the problem table, the one everyone gradually drifts away from out of self-preservation. It's a proud family tradition. Now this was our wedding, and nobody could stop us. Giving us a crate of champagne and a dance floor was like handing a madman the keys to a 747 and saying, "Now, seriously, dude, don't crash it. Promise?" My friends and I assumed that we would be tenured professors, which is an excellent life goal--it's like planning to be Cher. Dog love is blind. For that matter, dog love is stupid. As soon as they hit the stage, you could hear all the girls in the crowd ovulate in unison. You lose a certain kind of innocence when you experience this type of kindness. You lose your right to be a jaded cynic. I was helpless in trying to return people's kindness, but also helpless to resist it. Kindness is a scarier force than cruelty, that's for sure. Cruelty isn't that hard to understand. I had no trouble comprehending why the phone company wanted to screw me over; they just wanted to steal some money, it was nothing personal. That's the way of the world. It made me mad, but it didn't make me feel stupid. If anything, it flattered my intelligence. Accepting all that kindness, though, made me feel stupid. The way I pictured it, all this grief would be like a winter night when you're standing outside. You'll warm up once you get used to the cold. Except after you've been out there a whole, you feel the warmth draining out of you and you realize the opposite is happening; you're getting colder and colder, as the body heat you brought outside with you seeps out of your skin. Instead of getting used to it, you get weaker the longer you endure it. Each side of a tape goes on for forty-five minutes, and then comes to a stop, allowing a chance for somebody to discreetly change the music, whereas a mix CD has only one side. Which means it goes on for eighty minutes, and you can't turn it off halfway through without offering some sort of lame excuse, such as "Garth is singing about cocaine in this song and it's bad for the baby," or "Dave Matthews is mixing violin solos with saxophone solos and it's bad for the baby." Sometimes great tunes happen to bad times, and when the bad time is over, not all the tunes get to move on with you. According to the Western philosopher Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. Her paisan Frank Sinatra would add the corollary that love is a tender trap... Love hurts. Love stinks. Love bites, love bleeds, love is a drug. The troubadours of our times all agree: They want to know what love is, and they want you to show them. But the answer is simple: Love is a mix tape.

  27. 4 out of 5

    jess

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. spoiler: she dies i'm feeling a lot of love, life & loss right now, so i thought, "What The Hell, Give It A Shot." and, well, this could be the hipster love story of the year... possibly that of the decade. littered with gratuitous references to the music of the 1990s, the uncensored grief of a sensitive hetero dude, the life of a quirky, curvy girl tragically cut short by an unexpected pulmonary embolism, all delivered straight from the keyboard of a Rolling Stone editor -- this book tallies up spoiler: she dies i'm feeling a lot of love, life & loss right now, so i thought, "What The Hell, Give It A Shot." and, well, this could be the hipster love story of the year... possibly that of the decade. littered with gratuitous references to the music of the 1990s, the uncensored grief of a sensitive hetero dude, the life of a quirky, curvy girl tragically cut short by an unexpected pulmonary embolism, all delivered straight from the keyboard of a Rolling Stone editor -- this book tallies up enough points to keep it on the "fave books" list for many socialite myspace pages for years to come. okay! okay! i admit it! i boo-hooed, sobbed, snorted snot, and positively wept through entire chapters of this book! i read it out-loud to my sweetheart, choking every few words and probably providing a nearly unintelligible listening experience (she did not complain). however, this was not much of an accomplishment cause im a big ol tittybaby who loves to cry all day! i cry when puppies wrestle because it is so sweet, okay?! i read the whole damn thing aloud! it was so hard to read it out loud while i was crying! so, anyway, enough about my emotional shortcomings. it was contrived mostly, but i enjoyed the 90s nostalgia and the tragic saccharine tone. i was always been a sucker for the ill-fated romance, wasn't i? the book did freak me out A LOT because rob & renee met one day before krista and i did (september 17 and september 18, respectively) and they got married the same day we did (july 13 --- by the way! i got gay-married!). also, renee was the same age (26) that i was when we got married. does this mean, uhm, that i'm going to die in five years of a pulmonary embolism at my sewing machine? not that long ago, i would have said HERE'S HOPING, FOLKS ! but actually, i guess only time will tell, and frankly, i hope not because i have a lot of shit to do. fortunately the book doesnt take itself so seriously so i dont think it has to stand as an foreshadowing omen of my death. recommended: if you are bored and looking for an indie rock hetero love story set in the 1990s; if you cant get enuff romance from the pages of rolling stone but you love their style; if you wish you had found and lost the greatest love of your lifetime; warning: if you think you already HAVE found and lost the greatest love of your lifetime, this might just hit you *right there* maybe not in a good way. xoxxx

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn Sorensen

    Now I know someone likes making mix tapes (and by extension mix cds) as much as I do. I also know someone's as crazy about the corniness and desperation of 90s music as I am about 80s music. When I embrace some of mainstream music's most desperate attempts to throw something profound into our pop culture - take Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" or Spandeau Ballet's "True" - I know author Rob Sheffield will join me in my heartfelt applause. And, like Sheffield, I think my generation of music - Now I know someone likes making mix tapes (and by extension mix cds) as much as I do. I also know someone's as crazy about the corniness and desperation of 90s music as I am about 80s music. When I embrace some of mainstream music's most desperate attempts to throw something profound into our pop culture - take Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" or Spandeau Ballet's "True" - I know author Rob Sheffield will join me in my heartfelt applause. And, like Sheffield, I think my generation of music - the color and creativity, the upbeat rhythms, the high-road empathy, THE FUN - is better than any other generation, especially the whiny-ness and muffled emptiness of a lot of 90s fare. We all knew life sucked. That's why we spent so much time walking like Egyptians. The writing here is open, conversational, too-the-point and surprisingly funny. Sheffield doesn't let us get to know his wife, Renee, too well, as if he needs to keep a lot of the details to himself. Fair enough. His enthusiasm for music is not quite as limited: "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. No matter who she is, or how we meet, the synth-pop duo fantasy has to work, or the crush fizzles out. I have loads of other musical fantasies about my crushes--I picture us as a Gram-and-Emmylou country harmony duo, or as guitarists in a rock band, trading off vocals like Mick and Keith. But for me, it always comes back to the synth-pop duo. The girl is up front, swishing her skirt, tossing her hair, a saucy little firecracker. I'm the boy in the back, hidden behind my Roland JP8000 keyboard." Sheffield works literary wonders in describing the depth of his love for Renee, which gives the book a aching, vulnerable depth while he describes his appreciation for what is sometimes lighter and funnier musical choices, like Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You" or Tone Loc's "Funky Cold Medina". On the other hand, Renee is a lighter, funnier person, someone who frequently celebrates life or makes those around her feel more comfortable. In the end, I think of this as a brave book. Brave in how Sheffield remembers Renee, brave for being so unabashedly enthusiastic about the music we hear on our radios. I didn't know most of the songs, and I want a more detailed, chronological description of their relationship. In short, I wanted to get into this book more. The author had me at "Hello".

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mirela

    It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying

  30. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

    This book!!! Left me absolutely devastated, trying not to cry on the bus, mourning someone I never met. There is a lot of good music in here, but instead of listening to it I put Astral Weeks on repeat as I always do in the first weeks of spring. At some point I will reread chapter by chapter and listen to the mixes, but not until I feel emotionally fortified enough to stand it.

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