Rob Sheffield is a Ghod, & his book LOVE IS A MIX TAPE (2007) is the best music-based memoir I've ever read.
Take that, Nick Hornby!
Technically, MIX TAPE is about Sheffield & his late wife Renee -- how music brot them 2gether, kept them 2gether, & how it still connected them after Renee's sudden death less than 5 years in2 their marriage.
At 1st, it seems like MIX TAPE is gonna B 1 of those deep, dark memoirs about lost love, as Rob sits at his kitchen table & plays back 1 of the mix tapes his late wife made 4 him, & he stays up all nite listening & remembering.
At 1st it seems like it might B kinda dark & painful & hard 2 take.
But it's not. Oh boy, is it not.
MIX TAPE is lite & funny & beautifully written & moving & touching & all that other good stuff.
It's also funny as hell. There R big laughs all thru it, starting around Page 2. Big belly laughs. (Really -- 1 of the jokes is about the band, Belly.)
It will also make you tear up, but in a really good way. Despite what happens, it's really a joyous book. & it's a quick read -- just a little over 200 pgs. You can gulp it down in a coupla hrs. & you'll want 2.
There's something else going on here, 2. Sheffield convinces me that I missed a lot when I dropped outta touch with music in the '90s. Tho he includes a lotta familiar songs & artists in his lists of mix-tape contents, I didn't recognize at least 2/3rds of the music he mentioned. Which means I might havta check-out L7 & Sleater-Kinney & Pavement & The Pixies & The Smiths & Yaz & lotsa other stuff, cos I'm a real Musical Idiot when it comes 2 that decade.
There's some other good stuff -- a pretty great chapter on the death of Kurt Cobain (yes, I've heard of him, & Nirvana, tho I sure wouldn't say I'm an expert); & on the heavy symbolic meaning of '80s synth-pop duos.
But of course the best stuff is the story of Rob & Renee, as clearly observed as Sheffield could probably get. That story is warm & human & funny.
The chapter on Renee's unexpected death starts around Page 140 -- & even it isn't as hard 2 take as I'd expected. I dreaded reading about it.
There is a slight chance that the last couple chapters of the book R just a bit of an anti-climax, as Rob comes back 2 life & starts talking 2 people & making friends & making mix tapes again.
& tho it seems odd 2 say it, Bcos of the subject matter, the laughs on the way there make this book worth it. It's bn awhile since any book has made me laugh this much. Sheffield's just hysterical in places -- real good with the 1-liners.
So, how did I go 5 years without discovering this book? Why didn't any of You Folks Out There warn me about it?
All music blogging is at least partly about the connections music makes between people -- which means anybody Out There reading this is part of the right audience 4 this book. Seriously, it's some of the best, most vivid, most moving music-based reminiscing I've read in a long time. 4 gosh sakes, go read it....