Tuesday, August 2, 2011

~REVIEW of Rob Sheffield's LOVE IS A MIX TAPE~

~Heartbreaking and hilarious bit of 90's pop culture~
5 of 5 stars
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, boy, girl, 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


  1. Wow..excellent review Buggy. I remember those 4 track tapes. Party's, road trips etc... Well actually I do remember the 8 tracks and reel to reel but everything changed when the 4 tracks came out. And you're right I still have a lot of them and although I don't listen to them I will always keep them. Part of the past I guess... Geez I still have over 400 Vinyl records...LOL

  2. Hey Thanks Rohg. 8 tracks, thats fun! What about 45's? With those little yellow centers so you could play them on the record player. Why didn't they just make them able to fit?? SOmewhere I have a huge collection of 45's. Same ad you, unable to part with the vinyls.

  3. I have a ton of 45's. LOL...I even have a couple of 78's that my dad gave to me. Don't have the turntable for those though. Nowadays you simply don't have nothing since everything is Digital. I still miss the thrill of opening a new L.P. The artwork on some of them were amazing. The group Yes comes immediately to mind.

  4. Wow, we are so old!
    I remember the album covers too, it was a huge deal what they looked like trying to figure out what they meant? They were as important as the music...Yes?

    I don't think it matters anymore. Sigh digital, nobody has a music collection anymore. You can't browse through someones music and get an idea ofwho they are. Kinda like a bookshelf.

  5. Times they are a changing. But I remember the reverse when I couldn't understand why my Dad did not have a High Fidelity stereo.