When Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner posted about this book a while ago (it was one of her "Before I Blogged" reviews), it sounded like a total me book. I'm totally from the generation that remembers the power of the mix tape, from recording favourite songs of the radio (which always turned into the most random mixes) to making mixes for friends of songs that just TOTALLY sum up our friendship. I still have some mix tapes, even though I no longer own a tape deck, and was heartbroken when ICBC stole all my radio-made mix tapes after my car accident. (In their defense, I did sign paperwork claiming that I had all my possessions back, but I didn't realize that the tapes weren't in the bag until my car had already been taken to the junk yard *sob*) The memories summed up by a mix tape are simply indescribable.
So, with that being said, I was totally excited to dive into Rob Sheffield's memoir that tells the story of how he met and fell in love with his wife, who he later lost very suddenly. Each chapter is a mix tape that plays a particular role in their story.
There's so much about this book that I loved, from the mix tapes themselves to the multitude of quotes in the book that just made me want to write them all down. (Cassie @ Books With Cass did a great all-quotes post, so if you want to see some fantastic ones, just click on over to her review). There's so much about the power of music to shape your mood, the way songs just evoke particular emotions and the way listening to certain songs can just transport you back to a time and place in an instant. As a music buff myself, I found myself just shouting "yes!" to many of the points that Rob made throughout this book. I'm totally the kind of person that makes mixes for people, just as I press books into people's hands, exclaiming "You are totally going to LOVE this! Just TRUST me!" I'll obsess over making a mix CD for friends, adding 100 songs to an iTunes playlist, then slowly whittling it down to those magical 15 tracks that just flow effortlessly and completely and utterly convey the theme that I was going for.
Yet at the same time, I found the constant name-dropping of bands and songs to be a little disconcerting. The thing with music is that there's SO MUCH amazing music out there, that's it's virtually impossible to know all the bands and all the songs. So there was a lot of times that I didn't understand the references Rob was making because I didn't know the song he was talking about. Although I did enjoy the book, it was alienating at times to not fully understand all the song references. I think my favourite chapter was towards the end when he was including songs from the mid-90s, which is totally my generation. I missed out on a lot of 70s and 80s music, because my parents only played 50s and 60s music at home (their generation) and then I jumped straight into the current popular stuff of the mid-90s, once I started junior high. I'm slowly discovering the generations of music that I missed out on through my husband, since he's eight years older than me, but there's definitely a gap in my music knowledge, primarily in the years in which this book takes place.
In hindsight, I think that I would have benefitted from reading this book more slowly, and perhaps listening to each referenced song as it is mentioned. Oh the wonders of YouTube, that now allows us this magic! I might just re-read this book one day and do just that -- I'm sure that I will love a lot of the bands and songs referenced if given the opportunity to discover them.