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Book Review: Mix Tape Jane Sanderson

I whizzed through this over the weekend and really enjoyed it, it reminded me of how music can connect us, lift our spirits and remind us of people and times in our lives.

Daniel and Alison meet as teenagers and bond and fall in love through music. He’s the first first boy to make her a mix tape. Fast forward 30 years, they’ve lost touch he’s a music journalist in Edinburgh, she’s a writer in Adelaide. That is until Dan slides into her DMs with a song. She’s immediately a teenager again, free, dancing and remembering the excitement of first, young love. 

Over the coming weeks and months this is how they communicate, no words needed just links to music they love from the past and present, sent across continents and time zones, starting a new mix tape.

Jane Sanderson effortlessly flits between 1979 and 2012 throughout the book so we see how Dan and Alison were as teenagers, what went wrong and where their separate lives have taken them. At the centre of it is the question of whether or not their love really is in the past, is a second chance worth a gamble? 

What this book isn’t, is overly sentimental. We’re given a healthy dose of reality throughout what could have easily turned into a pleasant jaunt into nostalgia. I’m not going to give any spoilers away about what happens but it’s a touching tale, it’s funny and it’s got a belting soundtrack that includes the Queen, Dusty Springfield with ‘I close my eyes and count to ten’ – I do like a sixties diva. 

Now I’m a sucker for novel where music is just as important as the characters, I adored High Fidelity and The Stories We Could Tell, it’s probably why I was drawn to this. Like we find with Dan and Alison in this book, music can instantly transport us to another time and place, it’s probably why so many of us are doing 30-day music challenges on social media.

Reading this book has sparked me to make a new play list if some of my all-time favourites, it’s eclectic and random to say the least but I don’t care J

The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset

I first came across this song in 1997, Cathy Dennis had done a cover version that appeared on Now 36 disc 2 and at 12 I loved it – then I found the original and have kept it on my list ever since. I used to have habit of singing it in my head if I was scared, nervous or anxious. If you’re singing “and I don’t feel afraid” you can start to believe it.

Kate Bush Wuthering Heights 

Granted there are better Kate Bush songs, I accept she’s an acquired taste, I have that acquired taste. I remember seeing an old episode of Top of the Pops 2 as a kid, I think it was Christmas time, I was enchanted buy this woman doing a mad dance, in a field, in a red dress signing about a dude called Heathcliffe (I hadn’t come across the Bronte’s at that point). As I’ve grown up, I’ve become a Kate Bush devotee, I dressed up as her in that video for my 80s themed 30th, I broke the rules the it came out in 1978, I also nearly broke a bone attempting to do a crab, I love Kate Bush because she walks completely to her own beat. She doesn’t follow rules, she didn’t tour for Christ knows how long, she does what she enjoys – we could all do with being a bit more Kate. This song introduced me to the woman who doesn’t care what others think and that’s why it’s there.

Let Loose – Crazy For You 

Don’t come at me on this one, we all need a bit of cheesy pop in our lives. Let Loose were my first boyband – it was a short-lived affair, there was an album, I only remember two songs off it. In the summer of 1994, I was OBSESSED with this song, I made my mum play it on repeat to and from school, as a serious journalist I’ve made my co-presenter play it during an all-night election show. It still never fails to make me smile and always makes me reach for the volume switch.

Kings Of Leon – California Waiting

Quite simply it reminds me of summer, standing in field somewhere, cider in hand with my closest friends watching a gig or festival set. What I would give for a festival at this moment in time, I had thought my days of not washing, portaloos, mud and tents were way behind me – I’d be there in a heartbeat and gladly take the week-long hangover.

The Cure – Close To Me 

I’ve got this one as I write and I’m doing a chair dance, shuffling my shoulders and bobbing my head along in time to the music. I have no idea how I got into The Cure but I could listen to them for hours. They played a headline slot at the last festival I went to in 2012, it’ll go down as the longest set in history and I had back ache at the end of it but it was definitely a bucket list moment – despite the lack of Love Cats.

Pink Floyd – Wish You Here

So many contenders for a Pink Floyd entry, it came to a toss-up between this and brain damage. This won, it’s simple, it’s mournful, I think it’s beautiful – no more words needed.

Maximo Park – Going Missing

I started uni in the early noughties and at the same time started spaffing cash of gigs and festivals, it was worth every single penny, there was a huge indie following at that time – I also spent a few nights at the legendary Fab café in Leeds buying all the Space Raider crisps and dancing my little heart out (RIP Fab Café). Anyway among this I discovered Maximo Park who, quite frankly, are one of the most energetic bands I’ve ever seen life – seriously how Paul Smith can jump that high remains a mystery to me. A Certain Trigger is one of my favourite anthems, their gig at Leeds Uni one of the best, I barely needed to move, the floor did that for me. What a night.

Fleetwood Mac – Songbird 

“And the Songbirds keep singing like they know score” 3 minutes and 20 second of peace. Again, I love the simplicity and how understated this is, Christie McVie’s voice is beautiful, the sentiment is beautiful.

Take That – Pray

Until the age of twenty I sang the complete wrong lyrics to this, loudly. I’d spent my life thinking it was “All I do is ‘shine’ and pray”, on reflection “All I do each night is pray” makes much more sense, I still choose to sing my own words. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Take That they remind me of my youth and my Mum and this is my favourite.

Foo Fighters – Everlong 

One of my aims in life is to somehow manage to go for a pint with Dave Grohl, not sure how I’m ever going to achieve this. I’ve seen the Foo Fighters play so many different versions of this song, the best is when it’s broken down to an acoustic version before they go hell for leather at the end. I got engaged to this song, twice, to the same man, the first time didn’t count, there was no ring, we didn’t even live in the same county ha, ha, ha. A few years later, he did it properly at Milton Keynes bowl, before we headed off on a European road trip. I thought he’d been on edge all day, when the Foos closed with this song and a ring appeared it all made sense. Two years later I walked down the aisle to it (since realised Monica and Chandler had it in their wedding of Friends). I have so many happy memories connected to this song, it’s so special, I love it.

So there’s ten off my Mix Tap, there’s many, many, many more worthy of a place – what would go on yours? 

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radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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