my name is phillip

This is my little corner of the internet

I like books, music, cooking, Gardening, mountaineering, and building embedded systems

Love is a Mixtape

Love is a Mixtape

Author: Rob Sheffield
Rating: 10/10
Last Read: February 2015

Quick Summary:  A music journalist for the Rolling Stone writes a book about his relationship with the love of his life.  Each chapter has a playlist, and the songs that are picked are intertwined into his retelling of their life story.  

The book opens telling you that this is not a happy story - it's the story of how he found love and then lost it due to a tragic death.  As he's spinning the tale of their love, you manage to forget this fact - until the terrible event happens and you feel the deep pang of loss ("how could this happen to them?!").

I have a deep appreciation for this book - music is equally important to me and equally intertwined in my life. Losing the music is a tragic thing.

My Highlights

It was a smashing time, and then it ended, because that’s what times do. --loc 141

Renée loved to do things. That was mysterious to me, since I was more comfortable talking about things and never doing them. --loc 149

Tonight, I feel like my whole body is made out of memories. I’m a mix tape, a cassette that’s been rewound so many times you can hear the fingerprints smudged on the tape. --loc 171

A song nobody likes is a sad thing. But a love song nobody likes is hardly a thing at all. --loc 188

There are millions of songs in the world, and millions of ways to connect them into mixes. Making the connections is part of the fun of being a fan. --loc 295

Walter Benjamin, in his prescient 1923 essay “One Way Street,” said a book was an outdated means of communication between two boxes of index cards. One professor goes through books, looking for tasty bits he can copy onto index cards. Then he types his index cards up into a book, so other professors can go through it and copy tasty bits onto their own index cards. Benjamin’s joke was: Why not just sell the index cards? --loc 301

I’d rather hear a Frank Sinatra song between Run-DMC and Bananarama than between two other Frank Sinatra songs. When you stick a song on a tape, you set it free. --loc 307

Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of a life. --loc 335

It was a painful night, but I got the message: Let the dancing girls dance. That’s the one ironclad rule of pop muzik, whether in New York, London, Paris, or Munich, and I’m just lucky I learned it so early. I had always been taught to fear disco, and to fear the disco inside me. But by the second verse of “Bad Girls,” it was obvious everything I knew was wrong. “Toot toot, beep beep” was meaningful on a much deeper level than I could have fathomed. --loc 440

It’s this kind of syndrome—where if a guy sees his girlfriend likin’ somebody, that’s called ‘bitch power.’ Like Elvis Presley was hated by men, hated, ’cause he had bitch power. Teddy Pendergrass has bitch power. I just found out that I have a little bitch power. But beyond bitch power, I have something else, that men like—and that’s the truth, and the down-to-earth shit, OK? So men don’t mind bringin’ their women to see me, ’cause I have bitch power but it’s in another way. --loc 448

How do you turn down the volume on your personal-drama earphones and learn how to listen to other people? How do you jump off one moving train, marked Yourself, and jump onto a train moving in the opposite direction, marked Everybody Else? --loc 620

Sometimes you lie in a strange room, in a strange person’s home, and you feel yourself bending out of shape. --loc 765

Is there any scarier word than “irreversible”? It’s a hiss of a word, full of side effects and mutilations. Severe tire damage—no backing up. --loc 774

Girls take up a lot of room. --loc 792

I thought, There is nowhere else in the universe I would rather be at this moment. I could count the places I would not rather be. I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand, but I’d rather be here. The majestic ruins of Machu Picchu? I’d rather be here. A hillside in Cuenca, Spain, sipping coffee and watching leaves fall? Not even close. There is nowhere else I could imagine wanting to be besides here in this car, with this girl, on this road, listening to this song. If she breaks my heart, no matter what hell she puts me through, I can say it was worth it, just because of right now. Out the window is a blur and all I can really hear is this girl’s hair flapping in the wind, and maybe if we drive fast enough the universe will lose track of us and forget to stick us somewhere else. --loc 839

I kept thinking of an old Robert Mitchum cowboy movie where he goes back to see the farmhouse where he was born and finds the house falling apart and an old man living in it by himself. “Lonely place,” Robert Mitchum says. The old man says, “Nothing wrong with a lonely place as long as it’s private. That’s why I never married. Marriage is lonely, but it ain’t private.” --loc 946

Our lives were just beginning, our favorite moment was right now, our favorite songs were unwritten. --loc 1073

The songs were all either fast or sad, because all songs should be either fast or sad. Some of the fast ones were sad, too. --loc 1122

“Honey, is this song about us?” the strategic answer is, “Yes, but so is ‘Just Like Heaven.’” --loc 1250

“If it’s got tits or tires, it’s gonna cost you money.” --loc 1284

Chuck Berry the night he decided to mix country with the blues, --loc 1399

I suddenly realized how much being a husband was about fear: fear of not being able to keep somebody safe, of not being able to protect somebody from all the bad stuff you want to protect them from. Knowing they have more tears in them than you will be able to keep them from crying. --loc 1439

Every time I started to cry, I remembered how Renée used to say real life was a bad country song, except bad country songs are believable and real life isn’t. --loc 1747

I had no voice to talk with because she was my whole language. --loc 1825

You lose a certain kind of innocence when you experience this type of kindness. You lose your right to be a jaded cynic. You can no longer go back through the looking glass and pretend not to know what you know about kindness. It’s a defeat, in a way. --loc 1912

Human benevolence is totally unfair. We don’t live in a kind or generous world, yet we are kind and generous. We know the universe is out to burn us, and it gets us all the way it got Renée, but we don’t burn each other, not always. --loc 1944

One day, you’re in a physical landscape you share with this bizarre and fundamentally alien creature, not alien because she’s female but alien because you’re a fool in love and there’s nothing not alien about that. And then when she’s gone, you’re alone and all the strangeness and wonder have gone out of the landscape and you’re still a fool but now nobody notices how many days in a row you wear the same socks and cleaning the shower doesn’t make the girl smile anymore so everything smells a little worse and doesn’t get fixed when it breaks. --loc 2049

But all the things you want to learn from grief turn out to be the total opposite of what you actually learn. There are no revelations, no wisdoms as a trade-off for the things you have lost. You just get stupider, more selfish. Colder and grimmer. You forget your keys. You leave the house and panic that you won’t remember where you live. You know less than you ever did. You keep crossing thresholds of grief and you think, Maybe this one will unveil some sublime truth about life and death and pain. But on the other side, there’s just more grief. --loc 2181

It’s not human to let go of love, even when it’s dead. --loc 2187

Ralph Waldo Emerson knew the score: “I grieve that grief can teach me nothing.” That’s from “Experience,” his late essay about human loss and his son’s death. --loc 2195

It’s the same with people who say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying.

Sometimes great tunes happen to bad times, and when the bad time is over, not all the tunes get to move on with you. --loc 2294

It was strange to fall back in love with really old songs, or to hear them for the first time and not get to hear Renée sing along with them. --loc 2390

I realize that I will never fully understand the millions of bizarre ways that music brings people together. --loc 2438

After Renée died, I assumed the rest of my life would be just a consolation prize. I would keep living, and keep having new experiences, but none of them would compare to the old days. I would have to settle for a lonely life I didn’t want, which would always remind me of the life I couldn’t have anymore. But it didn’t turn out that way, and there’s something strange and upsetting about that. --loc 2450

sometimes I think, man, all the people I get to hear this song with, we’re going to miss each other when we die. When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other. --loc 2504

But the rhythm of the mix tape is the rhythm of romance, the analog hum of a physical connection between two sloppy, human bodies. --loc 2511

The cassette is full of tape hiss and room tone; it’s full of wasted space, unnecessary noise. --loc 2511

But the answer is simple. Love is a mix tape. --loc 2533

Big Bill Broonzy Story

Big Bill Broonzy Story

Once a Hero

Once a Hero