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

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Mix tapes: Stick one into a deck and you’re  transported to another time in your life. For Rob Sheffield, author of Turn Around Bright Eyes that time was one of miraculous love and unbearable grief. A time that spanned seven years, it started when he met the girl of his dreams, and ended when he watched her die

in his arms. Using the listings of fifteen of his favorite mix tapes, Rob shows that the power of music to build a bridge between people is stronger than death. ...

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2007 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New. First Edition. Cover is slightly wrinkled along edges. Glued binding. Paper over ... boards. With dust jacket. 224 p. Audience: General/trade. Sheffield relates the two important love affairs of his life, the first with music and the fine art of the perfect mix tape, and the second with a woman who changes him forever. Read more Show Less

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

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Overview

Mix tapes: Stick one into a deck and you’re  transported to another time in your life. For Rob Sheffield, author of Turn Around Bright Eyes that time was one of miraculous love and unbearable grief. A time that spanned seven years, it started when he met the girl of his dreams, and ended when he watched her die

in his arms. Using the listings of fifteen of his favorite mix tapes, Rob shows that the power of music to build a bridge between people is stronger than death. You’ll read these words, perhaps surprisingly, with joy in your heart and a song in your head—the one that comes to mind when you think of the love of your life.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
Do you remember the song that was playing when you fell in love for the first time (Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are") or when you suffered your first breakup (Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer")? How about that song from the perfect summer at the beach (Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight")? Memories and music are inextricably linked -- which is why Sheffield's memoir struck such a chord with us.

Before becoming the acclaimed rock critic that he is today, Sheffield was a grad student in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, too, lived Renée, a fellow student with whom he began conversing about (what else?) a song. Before long, they were a pair, eating cheap food, renting an inexpensive apartment, devouring books, and sharing their mix tapes with each other. Marriage soon followed.

With his bond to Renée as the cornerstone, Sheffield's unique memoir (complete with playlists) is built upon the music that affected both of their lives. Tragically, Sheffield's life with Renée ended much too soon, though one can't help feeling that he will survive -- with the aid of his beloved music. And once readers finish this bittersweet book, they'll compare their own playlists with Sheffield's. Even now, we can almost hear the sound of computers whirring as the downloading begins. (Spring 2007 Selection)
Publishers Weekly

Music critic Sheffield's touching and poignant memoir of love and death will strike a chord in anyone who has used a hand-selected set of songs to try to express something that can't be put into words. A socially awkward adolescent, Sheffield finds true love as a college student in the late '80s with Renée, a "hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl." They're brought together by their love of music, get married and spend eight years together before Renée suddenly dies of a pulmonary embolism. Sheffield's delivery is not that of the typical actor/ reader. We come to know Rob as this geeky, lanky guy, and his reading is characteristically a little bit uncoordinated, yet it is tender and heartfelt enough to win us over. Each chapter opens with a song list from a mix tape made at the time. Listeners may wish that, as with Nick Hornby's essay collection Songbook, there had been an audio component that would allow the music to take us back or would introduce us to new songs that helped Sheffield press on into an uncertain but hopeful future. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 18). (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly
A celebratory eulogy for life in "the decade of Nirvana," rock critic Sheffield's captivating memoir uses 22 "mix tapes" to describe his being "tangled up" in the "noisy, juicy, sparkly life" of his wife, Renee, from the time they met in 1989 to her sudden death from a pulmonary embolism in 1997. Each chapter begins with song titles from the couple's myriad mixes-"Tapes for making out, tapes for dancing, tapes for falling asleep"-and uses them to describe a beautiful love story: "a real cool hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl" meeting in graduate school a "hermit wolfboy, scared of life, hiding in my room with my records," and how they built a tender relationship on the music they loved, from the Meat Puppets to Hank Williams. Their bond as soul mates makes his reaction to her death deeply moving: "I had no voice to talk with because she was my whole language." But Sheffield's wonderful, often hilarious and lovingly detailed stories about their early romance and their later domestic life show how they created their own personal "mix tape" of life in the same way a music mix tape "steals moments from all over the musical cosmos and splices them into a whole new groove." (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Rolling Stone contributing editor Sheffield's memoir is a beautiful and poignant portrayal of the author's relationship with his late wife, Renee. The gimmick of using a mix tape as a theme for each chapter (there are 15 in all) seems silly at first, but Sheffield's talents as a music writer ensure that each list of songs provides the perfect mental soundtrack. Sheffield's description of Renee's brilliant eccentricity and lovable quirkiness causes the reader to fall in love with her just as he does: she was raised a Southern Baptist in rural Virginia and turned out a punk rocker; he's a Boston Irish Catholic. As they date, marry, and begin their life together, their story is joyful and lighthearted. Then you turn the page, Renee gets up from the sewing machine, and she dies of a pulmonary embolism. This tragedy doesn't happen at the end of the narrative but in the middle, mimicking how it struck Sheffield in life-suddenly and devastatingly. The author's grief and recovery are just as integral to the story as the couple's first date. Somewhere, Renee is beaming with pride at her husband's achievement. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]-Renee Axtell, Independence, MO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A rock critic tells about the love of life via a series of 15 mix tapes full to bursting with songs of passion, regret and bad rhyme schemes. Like any true music obsessive, Sheffield-a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes the "Pop Life" column-has a vast back catalog of mix tapes, either self-made or given as gifts. In this touching and frequently hilarious book, Sheffield structures each of the 15 chapters around a different mix tape, most of which relate in some way to his wife, Renee, who died of a sudden pulmonary embolism in 1997, after they'd been married for five years. Even though Sheffield was a geeky Irish Catholic music obsessive from Boston and Renee was a "real cool hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl" who was raised Southern Baptist, "rooted for the Atlanta Braves and sewed her own silver vinyl pants," when the two met in Charlottesville, they clicked. Renee would take them driving for hours on southern roads just so they could sing along to songs on the radio, while Sheffield was the kind of guy who made mix tapes to do the dishes to. While eulogizing the punk awesomeness of Renee, Sheffield also throws in a surprisingly heartfelt eulogy for the unsung '90s, "an open, free time of possibilities, changes we thought were permanent," before radio lost its last vestige of non-homogenization, and Pavement was the greatest band of all time. This is a lightly-handled, skillful and sincere celebration of pop, of love, sad songs, bad songs and the long, nearly unbearable ache of being a young widower. Witty and wise; a true candidate for the All-Time Desert Island Top 5 Books About Pop Music. Agent: Daniel Greenberg/Levine Greenberg Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"No rock critic- living or dead, American or otherwise- has ever written about pop music with the evocative, hyperpoetic perfectitude of Rob Sheffield. Love is a Mix Tape is the happiest, saddest, greatest book about rock'n'roll that I've ever experienced."
—Chuck Klosterman, bestselling author of Fargo Rock Cty, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Killing Yourself to Live and Chuck Klosterman IV

"This is a lightly-handed, skillful and sincere celebration of pop, of love, sad songs, bad songs and the long, nearly unbearable ache of being a young widower. Witty and wise; a true candidate for the All-Time Desert Island Top 5 Books About Pop Music."
Kirkus, starred review

"I can't think of many books as appealing as Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape; Sheffield writes beautifully about music, he's hilarious, and his story is alternatingly joyous and heartbreaking. Plus, everyone knows there's no better way to organize history and make sense of life than through the mix tape."
—Haven Kimmel, bestselling author of She Got Up Off the Couch, A Girl Named Zippy and The Solace of Leaving Early

“A celebratory eulogy of life ‘in the decade of Nirvana.’”
Publishers Weekly « starred review

“Sheffield's description of Renée’s brilliant eccentricity and lovable quirkiness causes the reader to fall in love with her just as he does.”
Library Journal « starred review

"A glorious elegy to a pop culture-blessed decade and a tender, unforgettable tribute to the power of love"
The Miami Herald

“Humorous, heartbreaking, and heroic.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Sheffield writes elegantly without turning it into a depressing tale of love stolen away too soon. . . . Wry and sardonic, even in his suffering, he’s the tragic romantic who never gets overwrought.”
Newsweek

“The finest lines ever written about rock ’n’ roll . . . Like that song on the radio, every word of Rob’s book is true. Love is a mix tape.”
Rolling Stone

“Many of us use pop culture as a mirror of our emotional lives, but Sheffield happily walks right through the looking glass.”
Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400083022
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/2/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

BIG STAR: FOR RENÉEOctober, 1989Side OneBig Star: *Sister Lovers*
plus
The Bats: "Sir Queen"
Velvet Underground: "Radio Ad"Side TwoBig Star: *Radio City*
plus
Lucinda Williams: "I Just Wanted To See You So Bad"
The Raincoats: "Only Loved At Night"
Marti Jones: "Lonely Is As Lonely Does"As far as mix tapes go, *Big Star: For Renée* is totally unimaginative. It's basically just one complete album on each side of a tape. But this is the tape that changed everything. Everything in my life comes directly from this Maxell XLII crush tape, made on October 10, 1989, for Renée. Renée and I met at a bar called the Eastern Standard in Charlottesville, Virginia. I had just moved there to study English in grad school. Renée was a fiction writer in the MFA program. I was sitting with my poet friend Chris in a table in the back, when I fell under the spell of Renée's bourbon-baked voice. The bartender put on Big Star's Radio City. Renée was the only other person in the room who perked up. We started talking about how much we loved Big Star. It turned out we had the same favorite Big Star song -- the acoustic ballad Thirteen. She'd never heard their third album, Sister Lovers. So naturally, I told her the same thing I'd told every other woman I'd ever fallen for: "I'll make you a tape!" As Renée left the bar, I asked my friend, "What was that girl's name again?""Renée.""She's really beautiful.""Uh huh. And there's her boyfriend."The boyfriend's name was Jimm, and he really did spell his name with two M's, a dealbreaker if I ever heard one. Renée had actually just broken up with the guy that night, but I didn't know that yet. So I just cursed my luck, and crushed out on her from afar. I memorized her teaching schedule, and hung around the English department whenever she had office hours, hoping to run into her in the hallway. I wrote poems about her. I made her this tape, and slipped it into her mailbox. I just taped my two favorite Big Star albums, and filled up the spaces at the end of the tape with other songs I liked, hoping it would impress her. How cool was this girl? She was an Appalachian country girl from southwestern Virginia, Pulaski County. She had big curly brown hair, little round glasses, a girlish drawl. I just knew her favorite Go-Go was Jane Wiedlin. One Saturday night we met at a party and danced to a few B-52's songs. Like all Southern girls, Renée had an intense relationship with the first three B-52's albums. "All girls are either Kate girls or Cindy girls," she told me. "Like how boys are either Beatles or Stones boys. You like them both, but there's only one who's totally yours." Her B-52 idol was Kate, the brunette with the auburn melancholy in her voice. I wanted to stay all night and keep talking to Renée about the B-52s, but my ride wanted to go early. So I left her stranded and went home to pace up and down the parking lot outside the subdivision, shivering in the cold with my Walkman, listening to Prince's "Little Red Corvette." The ache in his voice summed up my mood, as Prince sang about a girl driving right past him, the kind of car that doesn't pass you every day. Renée and I ran into each other again when the poet John Ashbery came to town for a reading. He was one of my idols, the man who wrote *The Double Dream of Spring*. I got to meet him after the reading, but I blew it. A bunch of us were hovering around, trying to think of clever things to say. He'd just read his poem "The Songs We Know Best," and was explaining that he'd written it to go with the melody of Peaches and Herb's "Reunited," because the song was all over the radio and he couldn't get the tune out of his head. So I asked if he was a fan of Wham!'s "Last Christmas," which of course has the same melody as "Reunited." He smiled graciously and said, no, he hadn't, but he liked George Michael. Then he went back to saying nothing at all and my friends were furious and I was mortified and I will go to my grave wondering why I spent my one moment in the presence of this great man discussing Wham! (and not even a good Wham! song) but I guess that's the double dream of dipshit I am. Afterwards I stood at the bar, drowning my sorrows. Renée came up to kick my shins and bum a cigarette. She mentioned that her birthday was coming up in a few days. As always, there were a few other boys from her fan club hovering around, so we all went out for a late-night tour of Charlottesville's cheaper drinking establishments. I squeezed into a booth next to her and we talked about music. She told me you can sing the *Beverly Hillbillies* theme to the tune of R.E.M.'s "Talk About The Passion." That was it, basically; and as soon as she started to sing "Talk About The Clamppetts," any thought I had of not falling in love with her went down in some serious Towering Inferno flames. It was over. I was over. We hung out again the next night -- Renée showed up with another gang of suitor boys, all giving her puppy dog looks, but I wasn't too worried about outlasting them. Joe passed out around midnight. Paul staggered out a few minutes later. Steve's offer to help walk Renée home lasted as long as it took for him to smash into the wall twice on his way down the stairs. I was the last man standing. Renée led me to her place, a couple of miles away. It was so dark I couldn't see her at all while we walked; I just followed her voice. I spent the night on her couch, sleeping under a huge portrait of her painted by some sweet indie-rock boy back in Roanoke. I was a little sad about being on the couch, but I was going for the long bomb. Her incredibly annoying cat, Molly, kept jumping on my face all night. I woke up at dawn and lay there drowsing, feeling a little less lonely than I had the morning before, waiting for this girl to make some noise.Renée had Saturday errands to run, and I invited myself along to keep her company. We drove all around Charlottesville in the afternoon sun. We listened to a mix tape another guy had made her, back in Roanoke. It had some lame indie rock, some decent indie rock, and one really great song: Flatt and Scruggs doing their bluegrass version of "Ode To Billie Joe." She told me she'd thrown a Billie Joe party that summer. "I had it on the third of June," she crowed. "You know, the day the song takes place. I served all the food they eat in the song: black-eyed peas, biscuits, apple pie." We couldn't think of anything else to talk about, so we just drove in silence until she dropped me off at my place. I spent the rest of the day making a birthday tape for her, mostly Senegalese acoustic music by Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck, just in case she smoked pot. I started to add Bob Dylan's "I Want You," but then thought better of it. Instead, I added Scrawl's "Breaker Breaker," to show off my affinity with feminist trucker punk songs, and the Neville Brothers, to make her think maybe I smoked pot. We met up at a dive called the Garrett on Monday, the night before her birthday. It was not a romantic bar -- the carpet was so pot-soaked you got a buzz walking to the bathroom -- but it offered privacy, cheap liquor, a cigarette machine that was easy to tilt, and pool tables to distract pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders. I'd spent the day writing a sonnet sequence for her. I'm not sure what I was thinking--I mean, I used the word "catachresis" in the first line. But I was certain my prosodic ingenuity would melt her heart for good. I used one of my favorite rhyme schemes, stolen from the James Merrill poem "The Octopus," though he stole it himself, from W. H. Auden's The Sea and the Mirror, rhyming the first syllable of a trochee with the final syllable in the next line. How could she resist?At midnight, I gave her the poems."What's going on?" she asked."Well, the last word in the first line is a trochee, and it rhymes with the end of the next line. So 'catachresis' rhymes with 'fleece.' ""No, what's going on?""In a catachresis?""No. What are you talking about?""Uh…I have a big crush on you.""Oooooh," she said. She smiled and let the pages drop on the table. She relaxed in front of my eyes. "So how did it start?""Well, I think you're really beautiful." She relaxed a lot more -- in fact, her face changed shape a little, got a little more round, as if her jaw unclenched. I didn't know whether that was a good sign or not, but I couldn't shut up yet. "I always thought so. Right away, when I saw you." "The amazing black dress," she nodded. "I was wearing that when I met you. There's, uh, a lot of *me* in that dress. My Fuck the Hostess dress. It's a real 'drop to your knees and say amen' dress." "I noticed. It's gotten worse since then." "I know." She lit one of my Dunhills. I had never seen her so comfortable. "I was on the phone with my friend Merit tonight, and she was like, Does Rob like you? And I said, I don't know, he made me a tape and he didn't call and then we danced together and then he left and called and left a message but didn't call after that. Merit was like, So do you like Rob?" I couldn't believe she was making me do this. "So do you?" She smiled. "I don't know. He's not my type, but I really like him." She told me her type was farm boys with broad shoulders, football players. She took her time smoking that cigarette. She still had most of her beer left and she was in no hurry at all. I was too scared to talk but I was more scared to not talk. "I don't know what your type is. I don't know what your deal is. I don't even know if you have a boyfriend. I know I like you and I want to be in your life, that's it, and if you have any room for a boyfriend, I would like to be your boyfriend, and if you don't have any room, I would like to be your friend. Any room you have for me in your life is great. If you would like me to start out in one room and move to another, I could do that." "But you'd rather be a boyfriend than a friend?" "Given the choice. No, not given the choice. That's what I want." "Where are you parked?" "I walked." "What's a catachresis?" "A rhetorical inversion of tense, kind of like a transumption. Let's go." In her car, we listened to Marshall Crenshaw's first album, and when we got to her place, we sat on the couch under that big painting. She was not comfortable any more; she was really scared. She got up and put on my Big Star mix, then took it off. She put on Marshall Crenshaw again. I went through her shoeboxes of tapes. This girl was definitely an eighties girl. She had one tape with REM's Murmur on one side and U2's War on the other, another with The Velvet Underground And Nico backed with Moondance. Uh oh, she also had a lot of XTC tapes. We'd have to work that out later. "Oh, Rob," she said. "I'm really scared." I was scared too. That was a long, long night. I swear her face changed shape several times. I don't know how this is possible, but it did. Her eyelids got heavier and wider. Her breathing got slower and deeper, and her jaw kept dropping lower, making her whole face bigger. She had a solemn look in her eyes. Around dawn, she said, "I hope I do right by you." I didn't know what she meant, so I didn't say anything. I was wearing my Husker Du t-shirt from the *Warehouse* tour. She was wearing a Bob Jones University sweatshirt. I figured there must be a disturbing story there, but I didn't ask. Sometimes you lie in a strange room, in a strange person's home, and you feel yourself bending out of shape. Melting, touching something hot, something that warps you in drastic and probably irreversible ways you won't get to take stock of until it's too late. I felt myself just melting in Renée's room that night. I remembered being a kid, standing on the bridge over the Pine Tree Brook, when we would find a wax six-ring holder from a six-pack the older kids had killed. We would touch a match to one corner, hold it over the water, and just watch it drip, drip, drip. We'd watch the circular rings, long before the flame even touched them, curl up or bend over in agony. The circles turn into writhing squiggles, and they'll never be circles again. Six rings of wax, twisting and contorting permanently, doing a spastic death dance like the one Christopher Lee does at the end in Horror Of Dracula when the sunlight hits him. The minutes dripped by, each one totally bending and twisting my shape. We stopped getting up to flip the tape, and just listened to dead air. I could feel serious changes happening to me the longer I stayed in Renée's room. I felt knots untie themselves, knots I didn't know were there. I could already tell there were things happening deep inside me that were irreversible. Is there any scarier word than "irreversible"? It's a hiss of a word, full of side effects and mutilations. Severe tire damage--no backing up. Falling in love with Renée felt that way. I felt strange things going on inside me, and I knew that these weren't things I would recover from. These were changes that were shaping the way things were going to be, and I wouldn't find out how until later. Irreversible. I remembering that we discussed The Towering Inferno that night, the scene with Steve McQueen, the valiant firefighter, and William Holden, the evil tycoon who owns the hotel. William Holden asks, "How bad is it?" and Steve McQueen answers, "It's a fire, mister. And all fires are bad!" That's the last thing I remember before I fell asleep.
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Table of Contents


Rumblefish     1
Hey jude     16
Roller boogie     27
Tape 635     38
Love makes me do foolish things     48
Big star: for renee     55
Sheena was a man     65
Personics     71
A little down, a little duvet     77
That's entertainment     87
The comfort zone     96
Dancing with myself     108
How i got that look     118
52 girls on film     131
Crazy feeling     139
Paramount hotel     152
Mmmrob     158
Hypnotize     170
Jackie blue     180
Glossin' and flossin'     192
Blue ridge gold     201
Via vespucci     208
Acknowledgments     221
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 94 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    Heart-breaking and funny

    This is one of my all-time favorite books. It's not only an endearing love story, but a heart-breaking one about loss. But, it manages to be funny at the same time. The music references may be over some people's heads, but if you get them, they are what really makes this book special.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2007

    Avid reader, second time reviewer

    IF You are a fan of pop culture, music, or the 90's you will love this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2007

    If you love music, you will love this book

    This book had me from the first sentence. I had laughed out loud and shed tears by the end of the first chapter. I started reading it on a Friday evening and by Friday night when I was out with my friends, after hearing a song that zoomed me back to high school with the first few notes, I was trying to explain to a 22 year-old new acquaintance (I am well over 22), what a mix tape was and the beauty of them. I told her to read this book. It was an inspiring piece of writing that makes me appreciate my loves (my husband and music) all the more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2014

    A remarkable memoir of Rob Sheffield on finding his wife-his tru

    A remarkable memoir of Rob Sheffield on finding his wife-his true love, feeling real happiness, and dealing with a broken heart on the loss on his wife, Renee, through the mixes they both shared and compiled. 




    A beautiful, sad and moving story on dealing with the death of a partner in the midst of the height of happiness in marriage. Rob’s difficult journey truly is heart-wrenching. 

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  • Posted September 9, 2013

    Absolutely loved it!

    Rob Sheffield is the sweetest geek ever. The way each chapter has an actual musical score to all of his life events resonated well with me as I do the same thing. All my life events has a song that goes along. His heartfelt story of the loss of his wife and how he dealt with this was sincere and quite endearing. Loved his musical originated lifestyle with all it's flaws and triumphs!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    If you love music read this book!

    Great book, nice pace, its a good fast read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    One of the few books that has made me cry.

    In a time where making mix tapes was a way to express your feelings, seeing this love story develop was beautiful and heartbreaking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Heartfelt. Humor within tragedy. It will tug on your heartstrin

    Heartfelt. Humor within tragedy. It will tug on your heartstrings

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    A Must read of ANY music fan...which is everyone!

    How often have you been living your life, and from out of nowhere a song is heard, immediately transporting you back to another time and place? The sights, sounds, smells and feelings come flooding back, providing a window to the past for one to look through and remember. Such is the case in Rob Sheffield’s “Love is a Mix Tape,” allowing the reader to connect with him through the music that is making the mix tape of his life. Sheffield’s deft structural approach allows the pop and rock driven sounds of his life, through the very mix tapes that he and others around him made, to build a story that anyone who has ever loved (which is all of us) can relate to.

    Leading you through the mostly chronological story, each chapter starts with a mix tape that relates to the events occurring in Sheffield’s life. Even in the world of mp3’s and iPod’s, the idea behind the mix tape is easier to understand. One takes a collection of songs that express a certain meaning or desire and puts them on a single tape. There are a lot of rules to making a mix tape, and Sheffield follows these rules very closely (read Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” for a complete listing). Sheffield’s collections are often eccentric and obscure, making one immediately feel a certain level of apprehension, intimidation, or thinking “who the hell is this pretentious guy.” Even those tracks that are recognizable made me go, “Really! You actually liked that song?” Then I remember that the point of music is that same as poetry, film, and books; to transfer and hopefully connect the ideas of the artist to that another. In this aspect, Sheffield delivers in a way that regardless of musical tastes, one is able to immediately relate and empathize. But it is the hidden musical gems, song lyrics and references that are thrown in as simple sentences, which demonstrate how much music plays a part in Sheffield’s life. In this way you see the light behind many of the dark moments in the story.

    The story follows Sheffield primarily from age 25 to 31; a period of life most of us have issues with even when not dealing with the events that occur here. The plot is simple, well, it is sort of simple. There is no complex event that leads Sheffield to the Holy Grail or to some great moment that would have the crowds up and cheering. What does occur within the pages of the book is the unfolding of the soundtrack of one man’s life, and what he learned and experienced while writing the lyrics. Sheffield’s favorite band lineup, the “boy-girl synth-pop duo” best sums up what Love is a Mix Tape is meant to convey. With the boy behind a row of electronics, the strong female vocalist driving the crowd into frenzy, one can quickly surmise that Sheffield understands himself and what type of music/person he needs in his life. In Sheffield’s words, “One is voice, celebrity, performance; the other is music.” Sheffield also acknowledges that bands don’t stay together, and that music changes. Music is a character in the story, as it is in most of our lives, helping to elevate, motivate, and inspire in ways we never give it credit for.

    Love is a Mix Tape is emotional in the realest way one could imagine. Within the same page one may have to wipe their eyes from crying or laughing. Sheffield connects the reader through his truth, and through his music. Any more information here would be wrong, for this isn’t my story to tell. These are not my songs. I thank Rob

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Fantastic

    Bought the book after seeing rob on some vh1special. This is a really fantastic story, and I am glad he was willing to share his love and loss with us.

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    Great book

    A truly emotiinal journey! Great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    SO COOL!!

    I recommended this to my Book Club and it was a great success. I love music and have made many a mixed tape for friends over the years. I am a fan of Sheffield and his writing in Rolling Stone magazine. This is a terrific read. Very funny,sad and heartwarming. I recommend it highly.

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  • Posted October 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great book for 60's-00's music buff

    Great book down memory lane of music. All the music quotes kept the book from being too sad. :)

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  • Posted March 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Touching

    If you ever made or received a max tape, you will identify with the author completely.

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Review on Love Is A Mix Tape

    I thought this book was kind of depressing, but what I loved about it was the lists of mix tapes. In fact, that was sort of the reason I bought the book. I got insight into a bunch of new music. :)

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    My best read to date in 2009

    I was made aware of this book just prior to leaving for a vacation in the Middle East and ran down to my local B&N and picked up a copy to read on the plane. I had a number of reasons: My son graduated from UVA (SEAS '06) and my wife, Ruth Crawford, was born there. She attended one year at the University and worked at the SEAS but graduated from VCU in '74. In 2007 at age 57 she died of cancer. Her resting place is the Columbarian Wall in the UVA Cemetery. The review of the book resonated with me and the reading of it nearly derailed my trip. In fact I had to set it aside to get on with my vacation plans. It was so easy for me to identify with this young couple, both the joy of their life together and the pain Sheffield suffered (suffers) from Renee's loss; I was entirely captured by the story. I seriously wanted to pick up the phone and call him and extend my sympathies. I still do. I started writing a similar memoir after Ruth died because it helped me deal with the agony of losing her. I had set it aside but I'm now thinking I will take it out of the drawer and finish it. I never met Renee but I am oh so happy that Rob Sheffield took the time to introduce me to her and to their life together in Charlottesville. This is the most endearing story I have read in some time.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    New appreciation for the mix tape...

    This is a sad book of love and loss but it's great to see someone so down in his luck still be able to hold his head up high to make you laugh. It was also nice to see a lot of old music being brought back to life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Must read!

    For those of us who remember where we were when we heard that Kurt Cobain died (Knollwood Tavern, Kalamazoo MI), this book's for you! This story was sweet and nostalgic and full of music memories. It's a great read for men and women. I can't decide whether to buy it for my sister or her husband. Rob Sheffield ROCKS!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2007

    Perfect Depth

    Love is a Mixed Tape is a funny, poignant, touching book that recalls the author's own love story written in mixed tapes throughout that distant past of the 1990s. Rob Sheffield writes with such clear passion for both Renee and music, that even the younger reader born in the last six months of the 1980s can appreciate the novelty of the mixed tape and the songs that are carefully placed on them. I doubt that there will be another memoir to so effortlessly mesh together the open air of the 1990s with all its grunge rock music scene glory and flannel with a tragedy complete with laughter and love. Above all, Sheffield introduced me to the late, great Pavement, whose rise, demise, and sheer ingenuity fits perfectly with the story that he has told in Love is a Mixed Tape.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2007

    Finding meaning in Side B...

    Love is a Mixtape is a real treat for anyone. It may be aimed for more music minded people but dont let that fool you. This back has something for everyone. Sheffield shows us how the lost art of mix tapes shaped the person he would become, and uses it as a timeline into his very brief, but very moving relationship with his late wife. Sheffield, a well known music know-it-all, leaves the typical rock jounralist cynicism at the door and truly shows you an in depth look at just an average guy who loved music and loved his girl.

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