Love is a Mix Tape is a Sad but Good Book

I recently read the book “Love is a Mix Tape” by Rob Sheffield. It’s a book about Rob and his wife: how they met, how they fell in love, how she died suddenly and how he’s coping with it. They were both rock critics so every step of the way, there’s music and a mix tape. It’s a sad book, but it’s a good book. If you want something to cruise through, and you like music of the 80’s and 90’s i’d recommend it. Some of my favorite passages:

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. 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. She has all the courage and star power I lack. She sings our hit because i would never dare to get up and sing it myself. She moves the crowd while i lurk in the shadows, lavishing all my computer-blue love on her, punching the buttons that shower her in disco bliss and bathe her in the spotlight. I make her a star.

The new wave girl knows what pop dreams are made of. She knows that Debbie Harry was just kidding when she sang, “Dreaming is free.” She knows dreams are something you have to steal. The new wave girl scams on other peoples identities, mixing and matching until she comes up with a style of her own, knowing that nothing belongs to her, that she just gets to wear it until somebody else comes along with faster fingers to snatch it away. She knows pop dreams are a hustle, a deception, a “glamour” in the witchcraft sense of the word. She knows how to bluff and how to scam. She sings about counterfeiting, shoplifting, bootlegging, home taping. She’s in on the hustle – you steal it, it’s yours, it’s legal tender. The new wave girl knows all this, which is why she is dangerous. The new wave boy knows how dangerous she is, which is why he stands behind her. The boy and the girl, together in electric dreams.

Because the book is mostly about his wife’s death, there are quite a few sad parts. Such as…

We drove away with nothing inside us. I talked to Duane a bit, kept repeating to her the line Harvey Keitel says to Tim Roth at the end of Reservoir Dogs: It looks like we’re gonna have to do a little time….Every time i started to cry, i remembered how Renee used to say real life was a bad country song, except bad country songs are believable and real life isn’t. Everybody nows what it’s like to drive while crying; feeling like a bad country song is part of why it sucks.

The book is great to read and i especially like how he interprets Nirvana as a band largely speaking to us about marriage and how Biggie Smalls played a huge part in his mourning process.

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