Brain Pickings

Cassette From My Ex: The Book


Time travel, puppy love and the universal relatability of musical self-expression.

I’ve been a longtime admirer of Cassette From My Ex — a lovely, lovely mixtape revivalist project that brings back musical gems from the past, along with the charming personal stories behind them, through hundreds of digitized, streamable soundtracks to first loves. So imagine my excitement over Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves — the marvelous book based on the blog. (Beginning to see a wonderful pattern here with favorite blogs becoming books…)

And while the iPod era may have its many pocketable advantages, there’s still something to be said for the lost charm of crafting these sonic love messages, blending the art of musicology curation — always a winner around here — with the intimacy of a letter. Speaking of curation, that’s perhaps what makes the book most impressive — book culls such intimate stories of mixtape masterpieces from 60 noted writers and musicians, including The Magnetic Fields’ Claudia Gonson, This American Life’s Starlee Kine, Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd, and even Rob Sheffied, the godfather of the mixtape genre.

I was an Asian guy with long hair who was into Heavy Metal; she was a Latvian dancer who liked to chain-smoke Camels.” ~ FJ

Long ago, in a city I will not name, I loved a woman, and she punished me for it.” ~ BG

Extraordinarily relatable, Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves will move, inspire and delight literally everyone. Because we all have our stories of being young and in love and desperately trying to capture in music that intangible butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling. These stories shaped much of our relationship with music as a tool of emotion and self-expression — and this book is fascinating anthology of such stories, a beautiful intersection of musicology, anthropology and pure human experience.

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