Having previously read Rob Sheffield’s debut Love is a Mixtape (Piatkus Books, 2010) I already had a feeling that I would like Talking to Girls About Duran Duran (Dutton, 2010). You see, Sheffield has what appears to be an effortless way of revealing himself without being over the top or boring. The quality of his writing is warm and endearing. In Love is a Mixtape he writes about the loss of his wife and whilst doing so offers the reader a raw piece of himself through not only his words but the words of the artists that feature on the series of mixtapes that accompany each chapter. I implore anyone to read that book and not be moved.
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran has less of the heartache featured in Sheffield’s debut yet it is no less special. Sheffiled takes you through key moments of his life and how the soundtrack to these moments has stayed with him and has resonated enough for him to associate the memories to the songs.
It would have been easy for Sheffield just to compile a silly list of songs i.e. the number one when he was born or his first slow dance (incidentally for me Karma Chameleon by Boy George was number one when I was born and I had my first slow dance to Never Ever by All Saints) but he goes deeper than that. These are songs that remind him of long hot summers in Spain or looking after this grandfather, or the girl he met whilst working as a garbage disposal man. His stories are gloriously charming, off the cuff and completely engaging.
For all intents and purposes, no matter how self indulgent it may seem, this book is an example of one man’s lifelong love affair with music. Sheffield just gets it. He gets how loving a silly little piece of music is such a wonderful thing, but ultimately how it can be a lonely thing, yet with the closing of each chapter that gap of loneliness seems to get a little smaller as you realise that there are other fans out there like you.
This is a glorious book that makes you examine the impact of music on your own life. And what makes it all the more compelling is that as you read it you feel Sheffield’s love of music drip off the each page. There is one downside. Much like most of my favourite songs, it ended far too soon.
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield is available now.
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