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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mix Tape

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone has been the industry's most entertaining music critic for some time now. His humor and obscure '80s pop culture references make every review an easy read, even when it's a review of a band I hate. (Check out the opening lines of these Paris Hilton and White Stripes reviews.) When I heard that Rob had just written a book, I got excited because I knew I'd probably read the whole thing in a couple days.

Love is a Mix Tape lived up to my expectations. It's the story of how he and a girl named Renee met and turned their love of mix tapes into a 5-year marriage, which lasted until she tragically died at 31. It's a sweet, nostalgic tale that covers all the important music of the '90s, from Nirvana to Hanson. He describes Renee:

She would wake up in the middle of the night and say things like "What if Bad Bad Leroy Brown was a girl?" or "Why don't they have commercials for salt like they do for milk?" Then she would fall back asleep, while I would lie awake and give thanks for this alien creature beside whom I rested.

The anecdotes are what make the story interesting, like when he heartwrenchingly describes how after her death he would visit the 24-hour Walmart to spy on other married couples:

I just wanted to be near them, to listen to them argue. This one is $2.99! But this one is $1.49 for just one!... But $2.99 is cheaper per roll! But you can never have to much of it! And so on. Married people fight over some dumb shit when they think there aren't any widowers eavesdropping.

Rob shares my unabashed affinity for mainstream pop music, and his paragraph on the subject could be the manifesto of this very blog:

In some circles, admitting you love Top 40 radio is tantamount to bragging you gave your grandmother the clap, in church, in the front row at your aunt's funeral, but those are the circles I avoid like the plague or, for that matter, the clap. The beauty of Top 40 is you don't have to be any kind of great artist to make a great record - indeed, great artistness is just a pain in the ass...

Besides making me pine for my own Renee, the story made me want to immediately start making my own mix tapes. It drags a bit towards the end, but it's still one of the best books I've read recently.

In addition to his magazine existence, Rob has a blog. Here's a recent entry, entitled "40 Things Rob Sheffield hates more than Paris Hilton." My favorite from the list: "31. Quad City DJs not making a record lately. That party train isn't going to ride itself, you know." (Simple yet brilliant writing...) Also, I have to stop saying "the internets" now, because Rob has declared it uncool.


1 comment:

BeckEye said...

I hate Rolling Stone, but this guy must be cool if he appreciates mix tapes as much as I do. Love is a mix tape? Nah, too limiting. Life is a mix tape.