One of the books I bought last weekend during the sale at Open Books was “Love Is a Mixtape” by Rob Sheffield. It’s a book I’ve been wanting to read for some time, mostly because when I was in college, Rob Sheffield had my dream job: music journalist.
I’m not done with it yet (though I imagine I’ll be finished with it by the end of the week) but so far, it’s really good. Rob writes about falling in love with his wife Renee (and the music they listened to) and coping with her sudden death at 31. Every chapter is assigned a different mixtape, with music that resonates with different events and memories.
I’m not going to pretend I know half the bands that are referenced in this book. I was born in the late 80s and I was only a toddler when Rob and Renee met. But I still got to live through the 90s and this book had made me nostalgic for the era of cassette tapes.
I’m not even sure my 15 year old sister even knows what a tape is, much less has she ever owned one. But when I was 11 or so, I remember buying tapes by the dozen. Always trying to rewind them to the point where my favorite songs started. Winding them carefully. And recording over some of them with songs on the radio.
Growing up in a quiet, small town could have left me ignorant about music the rest of the world was listening to. But I had MTV and at the time, I had 99.9 FM, which played all the popular hits of the time. I would spend summer afternoons listening to that station, just waiting for a song I loved to play so I could record it. Creating my own hapzard, pre-teen mixtapes was a hobby I didn’t even realize I had. I loved tapes so much that when CDs started to become popular, I stubbornly refused to upgrade and held onto my Walkman for as long as I could (before bending to peer pressure, of course).
Things are so easy now. You can download whatever song you want. Share music easily with friends online. Stream stations on your phone. Today, I’m attached to my Pandora stations and my iPod. I still make mixes though. Sometimes I wish I could still listen to the ones that 11 year old me made too.
What books have you been reading lately? Do any of them make you nostalgic?