A rock critic tells about the love of life via a series of 15 mix tapes full to bursting with songs of passion, regret and bad rhyme schemes.
Like any true music obsessive, Sheffield—a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes the “Pop Life” column—has a vast back catalog of mix tapes, either self-made or given as gifts. In this touching and frequently hilarious book, Sheffield structures each of the 15 chapters around a different mix tape, most of which relate in some way to his wife, Renée, who died of a sudden pulmonary embolism in 1997, after they'd been married for five years. Even though Sheffield was a geeky Irish Catholic music obsessive from Boston and Renée was a “real cool hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl” who was raised Southern Baptist, “rooted for the Atlanta Braves and sewed her own silver vinyl pants,” when the two met in Charlottesville, they clicked. Renée would take them driving for hours on southern roads just so they could sing along to songs on the radio, while Sheffield was the kind of guy who made mix tapes to do the dishes to. While eulogizing the punk awesomeness of Renée, Sheffield also throws in a surprisingly heartfelt eulogy for the unsung ’90s, “an open, free time of possibilities, changes we thought were permanent,” before radio lost its last vestige of non-homogenization, and Pavement was the greatest band of all time. This is a lightly-handled, skillful and sincere celebration of pop, of love, sad songs, bad songs and the long, nearly unbearable ache of being a young widower.
Witty and wise; a true candidate for the All-Time Desert Island Top 5 Books About Pop Music.