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Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time Paperback – Dec 4 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (Dec 4 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400083036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400083039
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sheffield was a "shy, skinny, Irish Catholic geek from Boston" when he first met Renee. Southern born and bred, "she was warm and loud and impulsive." They had nothing in common except a love of music. Since he made music tapes for all occasions, he and Renee listened together, shared tapes, and though never formally planning to, married. On May 11, 1997, everything changed. He was in the kitchen making lunch. Suddenly, she collapsed, dying instantly of a pulmonary embolism. Devastated, he quickly realized that he couldn't listen to certain songs again, and that life as he knew it would never be the same. Fun and funny, moving and unbearably sad, Sheffield's account at its quirkiest, and because of his penchant for lists, is reminiscent of Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity (1995). Anyone who loves music and appreciates the unspoken ways that music can bring people together will respond warmly to this gentle, bittersweet reflection on love won and love irrevocably lost. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 of them again. The joy of rediscovery, the nostalgia, the OMG I forgot all about that song which reminds me of that party/girl/boy/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 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?
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Format: Paperback
This is a book that I haven't tried to read super fast. I like the way Rob writes and his references to music in general.
This book is for anyone who knows the importance of love, and clearly mix tapes...

With LoveXX
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Different.....interesting.....sad.....and a sudden quick finish.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa69560fc) out of 5 stars 165 reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6ca0300) out of 5 stars Up All Night Jan. 25 2007
By suzy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Started the book somewhat resistantly, because I am grieving my sister's recent death, and was not sure that I was ready to become involved with a sad subject. Only reason that I went ahead is because I heard that he recently married again (I don't know if this is true, it's just what I heard) so at least I felt that no matter how tragic the story was, there was a someday things can be ok out there. Read it cover to cover, stayed up all night to finish it, fell in love with Rob, Renee, and rediscovered my own mix tapes and added lots of new stuff to my iPod. Really great book about dealing with bereavement and it is helping me cope with my own tragedy around my dear sis. I will recommend this book to everyone that I know who loves music.
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa717c8ac) out of 5 stars MIXED EMOTIONS Jan. 8 2007
By DELETED - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I knew I was in trouble when page 2 of this book was soiled by tears. Especially because they were fresh and mine. This book had it's way with me for the next several hours. By the end I had experianced a wild ride of emotional peaks and valleys. Belly-aching laughter & woeful sobbing. The Sturm und Drang. The stuff of life.

Rob Sheffield & Renee Crist were contributers to the SPIN ALTERNATIVE RECORD GUIDE. A book I've kept close at hand for years and referenced time and time again. It's led me to bands like The Wipers & The Only Ones. For which I'm eternally grateful. I haven't always agreed with Rob. In fact, once upon a time, I sent a spiteful diatribe to him because he used the word "miasma" to describe the sound of a Jane's Addiction song in a Rolling Stone review. I was too young then to freely admit that sometimes I like a little noxious foreboding in my Zeppelin spawns. Rob, I take it all back.

I was unaware that Rob & Renee were married, or that Renee had passed in a sad & sudden manner. This book is their story told through the hiss & crackle of mix tapes. It's also about the journey from adolescence to adulthood and the music that gets you there. It is so gut-wrenching and, by turns, hysterical you devour it in one sitting and if you (like me)have any of your old mix-tapes around, you'll dig them up immediately. You'll play them and they will caress and maim you...or at the very least show you how much you've grown.

It's hard for me to imagine anyone reading this book not being extremely moved. However, I know people for whom music is just background noise. They don't listen to it. They just consume it. These people have never made a mix-tape for anyone. These people are not my friends. These people have no soul.

If music is how you enter this mortal coil...if it's how you love...how you hurt...how you cope...if music has ever been the only place you've found solace...if it's been your bridge to the next unfathomable day, then I'm bettin' you've made a mix tape. Probably dozens. You've courted people with them. You've crushed people with them. You've had fights about them. Maybe your spouse has thrown them out and with them the story of your life. You need to read this book.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6ca0e64) out of 5 stars Pop References A-Poppin' April 18 2007
By buddyhead - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
You either made mix tapes as a kid or you didn't, and this book speaks to those of us who, though we may have moved on to iPods and ripped CDs, appreciate the emotive power and nostalgia-inducing ability of a customized cassette. [In many cases, we still have those cassettes though lack the means to play them.] Sheffield, a music writer since at least the early 90s (still with Rolling Stone), knows his stuff, and fills this autobiographical account of his love affair with wife Renee with as many pop references as the pages can handle. A beautiful story is woven about the geeky Massachusetts boy's instant and soulful connection with a loud and extroverted Southerner, originating with their shared interest in music and continuing in that melodic vein until Renee's timely 1997 death in Rob's arms (from a pulmonary embolism that hit her in their kitchen while Rob made French toast).

Sheffield is as deft writing about love as he is about music, which is saying an awful lot; he expertly captures the thrill and helplessness of falling in love, and his worship of Renee is heart-achingly poignant. Anyone who reads this and doesn't identify with Sheffield's powerful descriptions of fully giving his heart to another, and of loving someone to the point of fear (of losing oneself, of not being able to keep the other safe enough, of recognizing the other will be on hand to witness your inevitable worst), should leave his current relationship and immediately begin searching for the true "right one."

It's all about the music, though, descriptions of which are shored up by Sheffield's encyclopedic knowledge of songs and the artists who make them. Mix tapes are described in general (the Break Up tape, the Fall In Love tape, etc.), and the playlists that narrate Rob's life begin each chapter. On the one hand, the constant assault of artists, tunes, and especially lyrics can be overwhelming, to the point where there occasionally ceases to be prose (and song lines are instead grafted together to make a point). On the other, the songs are so artfully chosen, and the mix tapes do such a good job of capturing the Zeitgeist of when they were assembled, that you'd best keep a pen handy to catch all the obscure gems (and some ice, for writer's cramp).

There will come a point where each reader sees a favorite obscure song referenced in Love Is A Mixtape. It's kind of cool and personal, in a dorky way, recognizing someone who shares at least some of your tastes and knows some of your secrets. For me, it was reading that Big Star's "Thirteen" was a favorite of Rob and Renee, and that they in fact met while Big Star played on the jukebox at a local bar. Thirteen is just so sparse and beautiful, and somehow transcends even greater heights in covers by Elliott Smith and Evan Dando. Seeing it in print was a nice touch to an even nicer read.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ad8a80) out of 5 stars music as metaphor for life March 3 2007
By Nina Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book, after little more than a cursory glance at the dust cover info, because of the title. Sheffield shares the essence of his love, loss and journey of healing through a series of mix tapes. The alt music of the 90s isn't my music, but mix tapes have a universality that transcends time and genre. As someone who has made and received mix tapes, I relate to the careful thought and ordering process behind them, and appreciate their importance. I took great delight in the revelation of Rob and Renee's relationship through the music that brought them together.

Sheffield's writing is crisp and edgy enough to hold your attention. He is never maudlin, yet his despair over his wife's death is evident. Even though I knew from the beginning of the book that Renee died, I was still stunned when I actually read that chapter. Sheffield evokes such a tangible energy and vibrant personality that I found it incomprehensible that Renee could be dead.

Love is a Mix Tape serves as much more than a memorial; it is an explosive celebration of life and an affirmation of the power of music to bind people together.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ad8d38) out of 5 stars Cassettes are Heart-Shaped Boxes March 28 2007
By Jason Toney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sat in Lulu's Beehive this morning with my coffee and banana bundt amongst a sea of laptops, a painting of ducks that looked suspiciously like a picture in my own flickr photostream, and a friend's ex-boyfriend with another girl I knew but couldn't place. While I wasn't the only one with white buds in my ears, I was the only person cracking the spine of a book. The women that kept walking into the cafe were all cleavage and caffeine and cigarettes and a welcome distraction from the chapters about grief in this love letter to music and marriage and life. I kept catching myself staring too long at these ladies and thought, either I need to get laid or get loved.

Probably both.

I kind of hate Rob Sheffield for making me feel like all the relationships I've had in the past have been inadequate. I have never loved anyone like he loved his Renee. He doesn't even hide the feelings he had for her in ebullient metaphor or shlocky hyperbole. He just tells it like it is and it is wonderful and amazing and way shorter than it had any right to be. While I did blow through the chapters focused on his loss and his dealing (or not dealing) because I don't quite have the emotional armor right now to handle more mourning, it's a beautiful love story all explained in terms I totally get--song lyrics and beats and all the feelings and emotions that we associate with music.

There's probably a mix tape of my own that will come out of this that includes "Symptom Finger" by the Faint, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" by The Arcade Fire, "Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix)" by Feist, "One More Hour" by Sleater-Kinney, "Keeping You Alive" by The Gossip, "Misread" by Kings of Convenience, and "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" by Beck, almost all of which acted as my soundtrack this morning. Somehow, I don't own nor don't think I have ever even heard "One More Hour" by Sleater-Kinney and it is the one song he goes into detail about in the book that I want to know everything about. I can imagine the track in my head by his description. I can hear Carrie and Corin going back and forth. I've already attached an emotional response to it. I will love it. Even if I was deaf, I would love it.

Sheffield goes into great detail about the significance of Nirvana on his life and, in particular, "Heart-Shaped Box". I decided while reading that I'd add Joe Hill's (Stephen King's son) recent debut novel of the same name to my queue. While reading, I aped a line of his that he stole from some outfit a member of Pavement was wearing for a twitter message. I took down quotes, one for me that's a truth I'm going to keep for myself about love and loss and fear and the real agreement that people make to each other when they go into a commitment like marriage and one for you:

"Most mix tapes are CDs now, yet people still call them mix tapes."

There's a reason for that. I leave it to you to figure out why.