This is a sort of follow-up to the author's 2007 release, Love is a Mix Tape. Though you didn't need to read that one to truly appreciate this one, it may have helped. Here the Rolling Stone contributing editor picks 25 songs from the 1980s as touchstones for his own coming of age. Of course there is a song by D2 - "All She Wants Is"
- as well as odes from David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Lita Ford, and The Replacements. Though you don't need to know every song listed here, it probably helps and would certainly increase the pleasure level of the read.
Here is the premise of the book as stated in the author's introduction:
"If you ever step into the Wayback Machine and zip to the 1980s, you will have some interesting conversations, even thugh nobody will believe a word you say. You can tell people the twentieth century will end without a nuclear war. The Soviet Union will dissolve, the Berlin Wall will come down, and people will start using these things called "Ringtones" that make their pants randomly sing "Eye of the Tiger." America will elect a black president who spent his college days listening to the B-52s.
It's an intriguing and funny concept, but it doesn't have a whole lot to do with the subsequent 274 pages. Sheffield uses his 25 songs as his Wayback Machine to be sure, but the distance between what the song says, what he thinks it says and what it says to him is pretty vast. In fact, it's almost as if he could have chosen 25 different songs and written the same book.
"But there's one claim nobody will believe: Duran Duran are still famous."
This is more about Sheffield's life than it is about Sheffield's life as a reflection of the music. The author is a smart and witty writer, but this comes off just a bit too quippy and inside. He seems to see and read more into a song than anyone else ever has, and he may be right
- but it still makes the rest of us seem like we're missing something, and nobody wants to feel that. The book should include and not exclude.
Still, if you're an '80s brat, this is quirky enough to appeal. Chuck Klosterman has the market cornered on this type of pop culture writing and though he can sometimes numb you with specious logic, he gets it more times than he doesn't.