Some months ago, my friend Grant and I were chatting via Yahoo Instant Messenger when he alerted me to the fact that he had heard of a book that seemed to be perfect for me. Surprisingly, it wasn't How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Instead it was the memoir Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield.
Written by a music critic, the book reads like the best Nick Hornby novel that he never wrote as Sheffield details his transition from an awkward youth into an adulthood through his relationship with his wife Renee, with each chaper opening with, what else, a song list of a mixtape during different periods of their life together.
If that sounds too cutesy for words, it sort of is. But what keeps the proceedings from being completely sugary sweet is the sad undercurrent that goes underneath it. After eight years of marriage, Renee suddenly collapsed in the kitchen of their house and died of a pulminary embolism. Her death leaves Sheffield understandbly devastated and taints some of his favorite songs because of their association with his wife during happier moments.
The book, at his core, is about love and music, particularly how when two music geeks get together, those two things often times intersect to form the tightest of bonds.
Reading a book like this, given what we do here at the Mixtape, was a curious experience since so often we examine the outer world instead of our internal world of emotions. I mean, blathering about our daily troubles and foibles is cringe-inducing don't you think? We still shudder at the things we used to post on our Livejournal with just unbridled, angsty abandon because we have feelings and we wanted the world to know how much we felt those feeeeeeeelings. *SHAKE MY HEAD*
So in honor of Sheffield's book, we've put together a mixtape charting a relationship from our own crazy existence.
First up, The Sundays and their tune "Summertime."
We met in the summer because our true model for how all relationships should be was heavily influenced by VH-1's non-stop playing of Grease during our formative years. We're owning that. Anyway, we met during the summertime, doing what we do best which is gallivanting all around the downtown area of La Crosse.
Next up, Dinah Washington takes on "If I Were a Bell" from Guys and Dolls.
There is nothing quite like the initial joyful rush of a relationship. The newness of everything is sort of its own drug that should be captured, rolled and used for medicinal purposes. Nothing quite captures that as well as this song as we think back to the beginnings of this particular relationship. There is no real rhyme or reason for chemistry; it is an entity with its own sort of autonomy. It appears, it lives, and it vanishes most often at its own will and discretion, leaving us mere mortals bewitched, bothered and bewildered by it all.
But as relationships usually do, we fought and argued.
Is there anything MORE annoying than when somebody says they think you're cute when you're mad? Let's see how cute I look when I'm busting the windows out your car.
Just kidding. I would never do that because a) didn't form a moral compass by watching hours of Ricki Lake and b) have no upper body strength to speak of.
Anyway, there is a moment when the fighting and arguing over the small stuff becomes a fight for the relationship to stay afloat. You scream, you yell, you walk away to your corners because you have to breathe before you take another verbal swing. All the things that you once adored about each other are now becoming the chief complaints: the way you are very protective becomes to mean overbearing, my sarcasm has become sullenness, etc. Round and round you go in the ring, jabbing left and right in a boxing match where there is no referee but the love you once had for each other.
And then it's over.
And you simply wonder:
And after the hurt is away, you simply say that for the time being:
So there you have it. Our relationship in song. And if you don't like this mixtape, you can put a comment on it.