We’ve written a few articles about grief soundtracks and music on WYG. But way back in the beginning, we were first inspired by Rolling Stone’s writer Rob Sheffield’s 2007 memoir, “Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss One Song at A Time.”
The book’s concept was simple, 22 chapters written around 22 mixtapes (for you young ones, mixtape = playlist). However, the content was not: grief, love, and a relationship that ended far too soon when his wife, Renee, unexpectedly died of a pulmonary embolism.
Rob is an avid mixtape listener, and he takes us back to the days when many of us created mixtapes for every mood and moment. For example, the “You Like Music, I Like Music, I Can Tell Were Going to Be Friends” mixtape, the Break-Up mixtape, mixtapes for dancing and doing the dishes, and mixtapes for falling asleep. Through his 22 tapes, he reveals his deep grief and incredible memories and how he and his wife’s shared love of music morphed into the music of their love, life, and loss.
Your Grief Mixtapes
When I was in high school, we used boom boxes and cassettes. I have vivid memories of the hours I spent combing through my music library to create the perfect playlist. And when I didn’t have that perfect song– listening to the radio and waiting to push record at just the right moment to capture it.
So I had to choose my songs wisely because I only had so much room, and OH THE FRUSTRATION when Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ got cut off because Side A ran out. Gone are the mixtape days, replaced now by streaming services, but the emotions behind a well-crafted playlist are still the same.
Like Sheffield says, “…there are all kinds of mixtapes. There is always a reason to make one.” Before someone important to you died, you may only have had reason to make “Pump It Up: Gym Mix Tape #1”; but now the occasions are endless.
Cheer Me Up Mix
Mix to Make Me Strong
I Feel Crappy Today Mix
I Want to Be Sad Mix
Remembering You Mix
The songs on these playlists are your grief soundtrack; perhaps some that you play over and over because they help you to remember and feel.
Have you created a grief soundtrack (or mixtape or playlist?)
We think you should. In the words of Peter Rollins, who put it far more eloquently than we could ever hope to,
“No matter how great a song is it cannot raise the dead, cure cancer or make your lost lover return. Music does not change the world you live in, reverse time, or change history. It does not promise snake oil solutions to life’s woes. But music is anything but impotent; indeed it can be experienced as one of the most potent forces in our universe. For music can assist us in changing the way that we interact with the world we live in. Great music can help us to affirm life, embrace it, face it and sublimate it. In other words, music can help sensitize us to, and celebrate, the life that we participate in.”
Looking for more about grief and music? We have tons of posts on that topic. Check out all of our grief and music posts, or some specific posts linked here:
We invite you to share your grief soundtrack with us, or at least a song or two. Leave a comment!
We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.