I was completely enthralled by Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield. Even before I owned the book, it inspired a blog post about mix tapes. Reading the book, I was reminded again of my own love of the mix tape and the sheer number I made in high school and college.
Sheffield, a writer for Rolling Stone and other music magazines, uses the mix tapes he’s made to mark time. The book chronicles the first tape he made with his father in 1972 through 2002 with the core of the book being the relationship between Sheffield and the girl of his dreams, Renee. Their life had music at its core and the couple made many, many mix tapes. Each chapter of the book looks at some span of their time together and features a particular mix tape that sets the theme. When Renee dies suddenly, the result of a pulmonary embolism, his relationship to music changed along with the rest of his life.
The book struck me on so many levels. If I’ve done the math right, Sheffield and I are about a year apart in age. I’ve made mix tapes strikingly similar to his. I’ve been through some very similar things in my life, especially learning how to be a husband. I can’t even fathom would it would be like to loose the love of my life, though I think I got a good glimpse of it through this book. The writing is so vibrant going from his early love of the mix tape in middle school and high school, through it being one of the ways he initially connected with Renee and on to all the music they shared during their five years of marriage. He also discusses how he finally reconnected with the rest of the his life in the aftermath of Renee’s death.
It was a remarkable read—highly recommended for lovers of music, lovers of the mix tape and anyone who is in love.
Next up: Michael Downing’s Breakfast with Scot.