Sunday, January 9, 2011

Love Is A Mix Tape

It's rare that a book sits on my wishlist for so long that I wait years to read it. And I have no good excuse for not getting around to this one sooner.
Seeing that stack of cassette tapes on the cover of Rob Sheffield's book brought back memories. Ever notice how it almost looks like the tapes have faces - the spools of tape look like sad eyes, the kind that beg you to take them back (even if you have no place to play them). They're like old friends who have said no to Botox. They won't change no matter what.

Kids today have probably never touched a cassette tape. They will never know the sadness of popping in a cassette only to have it - and your favorite songs - chewed up by a player. They will never appreciate the random pairing of songs on a tape that happens to include a few snippets of the DJ talking over the song as it was recorded from the radio. Note: this is almost impossible these days as many radio stations are run by robots, not people who actually press play.

Sure, kids can create a playlist, even record it on a CD, but it's not the same. I think Sheffield says it best:
You go back to a cassette the way a detective sits and pours drinks for the elderly motel clerk who tells stories about the old days -- you know you might be somewhat bored, but there might be a clue in there somewhere. And if there isn't, what the hell? It's not a bad time. 
To say this book is an ode to the cassette tape is an injustice. It's about one man's love lost suddenly. It's about a life lived through music - good, cheesy and even bad. I had not heard of many of the songs listed through this brief biography. It doesn't mean I can't relate to the emotion a song brings from the very first beat. I love music almost as much as I love chocolate and naps. But I will never eat a piece of chocolate or take a nap and remember a very specific part of my life the way I always will with music.

I will forever be grateful to the artists who have provided my life soundtrack. I will also be grateful to Mr. Sheffield for reminding me that no matter what life gives and takes away, the rhythm will always get me. I will always be footloose. I will not stop until I get enough. I should be dancing. I will not stop believing. And I will never get tired of this book.
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