Diary of a POLL Star: what are your most/least favorite books by musos?

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Poll Closing Date: Thursday, 24 May 2018 00:00 (in 1 month)

Not just the latest as-told-to autumn leaves from classic and heavy white male rockers, although this incl. several---some of these people wrote more than one book, and feel free to mention those, also others not on this initial list.

Ian Hunter: Diary of a Rock Star
Billie Holiday and William Duffy: Lady Sings The Blues
John Lennon: in His Own Write
Tom T. Hall: The Storyteller's Nashville
Nick Cave: And The Ass Saw The Angel
Sidney Bechet: Treat It Gentle
Patti Smith: Early Work: 1970-1979
Jay-Z: Decoded
Charles Mingus: Beneath The Underdog
Viv Albertine: Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
Bob Dylan: Tarantula
Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe: Miles
Caetano Veloso: Tropical Truths
Philip Glass: Words Without Music
Pete Townshend: Horse's Neck
Nile Rodgers: Le Freak: An Upside Story of Family, Disco and Destiny
David Byrne: How Music Works


dow, Friday, 6 April 2018 17:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Carrie brownsteins book!

Droni Mitchell (Ross), Friday, 6 April 2018 17:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Slash: Slash

how's life, Friday, 6 April 2018 17:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

tarantula. speed freak spew never read better

flappy bird, Friday, 6 April 2018 17:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Damn, I meant to have Brownstein's book on here! Should have had more by women anyway--- also belatedly remembering Laurie Anderson's Nerve Bible Julie Coryell & Laura Friedman's Jazz-Rock Fusion: The People, The Music, Loretta Lynn's Coal Miner's Daughter, June Carter Cash's From the Heart ("I wanted to call it Out of My Mind.")

dow, Friday, 6 April 2018 17:33 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman

vermicious kid (Noodle Vague), Friday, 6 April 2018 17:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Haven't read the Pauline Oliveros collected but really want that. Cage's writing is v enjoyable too

vermicious kid (Noodle Vague), Friday, 6 April 2018 17:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

miles autobiography but i haven't really read the others

it's a hell of a read!

marcos, Friday, 6 April 2018 18:03 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i've read the miles book and byrne's "how music works", and "words without music" is on my shelf, still unread. i'd give it to miles over the other two. byrne's book was good but "some thoughts on music" would have been a better title

Karl Malone, Friday, 6 April 2018 18:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

'how music works' is easily my least favorite, and soured me considerably on the Talking Heads.

campreverb, Friday, 6 April 2018 19:58 (two weeks ago) Permalink

not sure if is should vote since I've only read miles' autobiography, but it is indeed a hell of a read

josh az (2011nostalgia), Friday, 6 April 2018 20:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

*if i

josh az (2011nostalgia), Friday, 6 April 2018 20:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i couldn't stand dean wareham's book

global tetrahedron, Friday, 6 April 2018 20:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Viv Albertine's book is amazing, so much more visceral and honest than just about any book i've read about growing up in Britain, fiction or otherwise.

piscesx, Friday, 6 April 2018 20:45 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Love the passage in brownsteins book where she points out the bullshit of older single men being rebels or iconoclasts and older women being spinsters. Don’t have the book on me so direct quote needed

Droni Mitchell (Ross), Friday, 6 April 2018 20:46 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Mingus & Albertine are my faves from this list, def voting for Albertine

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 6 April 2018 21:06 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Love Albertine’s book. Also I recently read Will Carruthers’ Playing the Bass With Three Left Hands, thought it was fantastic.

JoeStork, Friday, 6 April 2018 21:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Woody Guthrie - seeds of man

BrianB, Friday, 6 April 2018 22:07 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The author of Milestones claims that huge chunks of Miles plagiarize his work, kinda lol

brimstead, Friday, 6 April 2018 23:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I really liked How Music Works although it gets into some rather dull territory about 2/3rds of the way in.

loud horn beeping jazzsplaining arse (dog latin), Saturday, 7 April 2018 10:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Haven't read the Pauline Oliveros collected but really want that. Cage's writing is v enjoyable too

OTM on Cage.

Buff Jeckley (Tom D.), Saturday, 7 April 2018 12:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Wanna read this, got me interested in Canada of 50s-60s, though prob most about him x Dylan, as indicated below:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/on-the-road-with-dylan-1478900285
By
WESLEY STACE
Updated Nov. 11, 2016 6:08 p.m. ET
Robbie Robertson, the lead guitarist and main songwriter of the Band, is in the unenviable position of never having been much of a singer. (He posits asthma as a factor.) Luckily, the Band was blessed with three of the greatest vocalists of the rock era (Rick Danko,Richard Manuel and Levon Helm), who were able to give his beautiful melodies and lyrics their fullest possible emotional expression. In “Testimony,” however, the “voice” is not in question. Robust, wry, gritty and wise to the vicissitudes of a career in rock ’n’ roll, it is just what the reader wants, marred only occasionally by stiff dialogue.
TESTIMONY
By Robbie Robertson
Opening with a train ride, Mr. Robertson captures the rhythm of rock’s mystery train, even its final lurch into the terminal. In this memoir named for a song from his solo debut, Mr. Robertson bears witness to his life in music, from his precocious success in Ronnie Hawkins’s “raging rockabilly” Hawks to that band’s historic involvement in Bob Dylan’s mid-1960s “explosive electric sacrilege”; the subsequent retreat to Woodstock, N.Y., for the “loose as a goose” sessions with Mr. Dylan that became known as “The Basement Tapes” to the group’s rebranding as the Band, whose career climaxed, as this book wisely does, with “The Last Waltz,” a 1976 concert in San Francisco that was filmed by Martin Waltz,” a 1976 concert in San Francisco that was filmed by Martin Scorsese.
“Testimony” comes 23 years after drummer Levon Helm’s memoir “This Wheel’s on Fire,” notable partly for its extremely negative portrayal of Mr. Robertson. Of that book, Mr. Dylan enthused: “You’ve got to read this!” The blurbs here are by Mr. Scorsese and David Geffen, neatly delineating the great divide in the Band. But after the deaths of Manuel (suicide, 1986), Danko (heart failure, 1999) and Helm (throat cancer, 2012)—which triumvirate he often pits himself against in his memoir—Robertson is one of the two men left standing (along with keyboardist Garth Hudson). His may be the last word.
The haphazardly collaborative nature of the Band’s work, and the natural disinclination of most of the members to deal with business, led to arguments over songwriting credits, a feud that
Helm took to the grave. Resentments had long simmered: The film “The Last Waltz” seemed contrived to put Mr. Robertson center-stage, as the genius Mr. Scorsese clearly believed him to be, yet he was the only member of the Band who actually wanted that Waltz to be the Last. His Band-mates were happy to play on, and this was by no means the final Band concert, though it was the last to feature Mr. Robertson. If you saw a later incarnation of the group, you heard precisely what you would have wanted to hear: the singers singing their beloved songbook accompanied by a great rhythm section. If anything, one later felt the lack of Manuel more than of Mr. Robertson.
Half-Jewish, half-Mohawk, Jaime Royal Robertson was brought up on the streets of Toronto and on the Six Nations Indian Reserve, where he was “introduced to serious storytelling. . . . The oral history, the legends, the fables, and the great holy mystery of life.” The reader might suppress a groan, but add to the mix a steel-trap memory and a muddled childhood—featuring two fathers, numerous gangsters, alcoholism and some diamond smuggling—and you have the makings of a Dickensian bildungsroman.
“Testimony” next becomes a bible of road lore, a lurid coming-of-age story that veers wildly between the sweet and the brutal and a how-not-to guide to running a band. The Hawks, formed at the whim of Arkansawyer Ronnie Hawkins, who enjoyed regular residencies in Toronto, take off on the road, and the craziness of these early days is presented in brilliant Technicolor, with Helm cast as blood brother and Hawkins as amoral Virgil. A 16-year-old Mr. Robertson, too young to frequent any of the joints he’s playing, descends into an underworld of torched nightclubs (the arsonists thoughtfully remove Leon Russell’s band’s equipment before they light the match), bitten-off nipples (word to the wise: Don’t “taste her milkshake” while traversing bumpy terrain in the back seat of a car) and a vast choice of artificial stimulation.
As for Mr. Dylan, a key attraction, the book offers a refreshing account all the better for starting no earlier than the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone,” to which Mr. Robertson was escorted by producer John Hammond Jr. in 1965. Here is by far the fullest first-person account of the early electric tours of Mr. Dylan, not to mention an astonishing tale of a “passed out sitting up” Mr. Dylan, “deliriously exhausted” after the final date of the emotionally and physically exhausting 1966 tour, whom Robbie and Mr. Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, try to revive him in a bathtub (returning once to find him submerged) while four Beatles await an audience in the adjacent hotel room. The account of Mr. Dylan’s 1966 motorcycle accident is refreshingly lucid, as is that of the subsequent making of “The Basement Tapes,” as the Band improvises around Bob’s “vibing vocables.”
The Nobel Prize winner himself will probably not opine on Mr. Robertson’s livelier claims, among which is that he clothed Mr. Dylan (the classic ’66 houndstooth tweed: “Bob didn’t seem like much of a suit guy, but Lou [the designer] was on top of his game”); suggested the iconoclastic cover design of “Blonde on Blonde”; gave Mr. Dylan’s song “Obviously Five Believers” its title, adding that witty adverb—both positively (4th Street) and absolutely (Sweet Marie) something Mr. Dylan might have come up with himself; finished the editing of Mr. Dylan’s film “Eat the Document”; taught the neophyte rocker how to stretch guitar strings to keep them in tune; and saved Mr. Dylan from his musical self (by refusing to clutter the sparse perfection of “John Wesley Harding” with the requested overdubs). And of course he is responsible for creating the circumstances, and ambience, that brought the “The Basement Tapes” into existence. I am not suggesting that these claims aren’t true, merely that the abundance of them becomes slightly comical.
Occasionally one has the impression that Mr. Robertson is tiptoeing around awkward issues, always to the detriment of the book: Helm’s 1993 account of the various delegations sent in to get Mr. Dylan onstage at “The Last Waltz” is agonizing (the singer didn’t like it assumed that he had given his consent to being filmed, fearing a conflict with a forthcoming movie of his own, “Renaldo and Clara,” shot the previous year). But Mr. Robertson barely scratches the surface, preferring to deal with the technical problems involved in creating the movie.
Mr. Robertson’s writing about music, either from inside looking out or simply from the point of view of an audience member at a Bo Diddley or Velvet Underground concert, can be beautiful, as when, in the closing pages, he pays full tribute to each Band member and their role within the overall sound, repeating, as if in litany, “God only made one of those.” Here “Testimony” becomes a testimonial, and the effect is redemptive. Generosity suits him, and whatever the truth, “Testimony” is a graceful epitaph.​
—Mr. Stace is an author and musician who has also recorded under the name John Wesley Harding.

dow, Sunday, 8 April 2018 19:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Aaron Copland's 'What To Listen For in Music' is a great read.

MaresNest, Sunday, 8 April 2018 19:51 (two weeks ago) Permalink

More Canadians, any suggestions?
I greatly enjoyed the very Neilian space-tyme jam groove jam of NY's Waging Heavy Peace: catch the waves of his notions, however foggy, yet unfolding from childhood on, back and forth through the decades, and you'll be okay with his kind of continuity on the page, a worthy experiment (says his neurologist told him to lay off the weed, after fifty-odd years, so felt the need for new pastime, alongside the music and movie-tinkering of course).
Also, I need to re-read L.Cohen's books, been so long---somewhere was the recounting of his going backstage to meet the Velvet Underground---he hadn't released anything yet---said he was already feeling unsure, especially after seeing their intimidatingly accomplished presentation---but Reed was like, "No, you wrote Beautiful Losers, man!"

dow, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 18:46 (one week ago) Permalink

I liked Dean Wareham's book -- one of my favorites before the post-Life trend .

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 11 April 2018 18:48 (one week ago) Permalink

What is the post-Life trend? Sounds spooky/worth catching up with.

dow, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 19:04 (one week ago) Permalink

a 1976 concert in San Francisco that was filmed by Martin Waltz

lmao i blanked out for a second at this typo and thought "huh, so that's where the name 'the last waltz' came from"

marcos, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 19:25 (one week ago) Permalink

not a muso exactly but Joe Boyd’s White Bicycles would be a good addition to this list

sciatica, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 19:41 (one week ago) Permalink

Ah actually laughed out loud for a sec remembering that Ah read And The Ass Saw The Angel, the whole thing, all the way to the end, lol

Euchrid Eucrow (sciatica), Wednesday, 11 April 2018 19:50 (one week ago) Permalink

Haven't read it, please describe.
xpost Oh yeah, books by producers, engineers, managers, agents, roadies, transcriptionists (Elton John transcribed Beatles demos) publishers, songwriters, incl. ghosts and collaborators (incl. ones who had to go to court for credit and/or royalties), moguls (incl. mini- and wannabee)

dow, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 19:56 (one week ago) Permalink

Boyd is a great raconteur, funny and knows how to use an anecdote. I’m sure you know his history, at least in outline—it’s the best version of that you could imagine imo. I think you’d enjoy it dow

Euchrid Eucrow (sciatica), Wednesday, 11 April 2018 22:45 (one week ago) Permalink

not a muso exactly but Joe Boyd’s White Bicycles would be a good addition to this list


Yes, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

brimstead, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 22:55 (one week ago) Permalink

Has Dave Davies' autobio been mentioned? That one is a lot of fun. Lots of good Kinks stuff plus Dave talks about his ESP powers.

brimstead, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 22:57 (one week ago) Permalink

out of this list, prob in his own write, tho i think i enjoyed spaniard in the works even more way back when i read those books. i read chuck berry's book a long time ago and remember it being pretty awesome. have also been meaning to get viv albertine's book forever.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 11 April 2018 22:57 (one week ago) Permalink

And Mick Fleetwood's autobio is a blast.

brimstead, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 22:58 (one week ago) Permalink

Decoded is a blast.

John Cale's autobio is good. loaded with pictures and ephemera as well

brimstead, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 23:01 (one week ago) Permalink

Straight Life: The Story Of Art Pepper is a great read. Captures his voice and tells a hard life, without flinching.

by the light of the burning Citroën, Wednesday, 11 April 2018 23:49 (one week ago) Permalink

David Lee Roth's Crazy From The Heat

Out of these choices it's Mingus for sure.

EZ Snappin, Thursday, 12 April 2018 00:55 (one week ago) Permalink

Oh yes, still need to read Chuck Berry and Art Pepper for sure. Here's another mention of xpost Will C., incl. in a Stevolende post from What Books Have You Purchased Lately? on ILB:

Dizzy Gillespie To Be Or Not To Bop
Autobiography of teh great jazz trumpeter. I read a version of this back in the mid 80s. Only realised on looking at when thsi copy came from yesterday that it was only a few years after it was published. thought it was older.
Has some interesting insight into some things including the Islamic renaming of various jazz players in the 40s to get around Jim crow laws.

Will Carruthers playing The Bass with 3 Left Hands
THe memoir of Spacemen 3/Spiritualised bassist's time in those bands. Quite good so far. Seems to be intent to get himself messed up on drugs though i think he does keep the audience sympathetic.
I think I need to pick up physical copies of the Spacemen 3 studio lps.

Brix Smith Start The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise
Mark E Smith's ex autobiography I heard the bits about somebody from californian privilege getting used to Manchester getting by hood are quite amusing.

dow, Thursday, 12 April 2018 16:27 (one week ago) Permalink

Ian Hunter's Diary of a Rock Star was excerpted somewhere in the 70s, think it was Creem. Pretty low-key, as I recall---he's on the road, Mott producer Bowie's hanging out backstage, "not eating again, I see. David Bowie is the only rock star I know who suffers regularly from malnutrition. "
Followed by Reflections of a Rock Star; i haven't Come across any of that.

dow, Saturday, 14 April 2018 20:27 (one week ago) Permalink

yuck, "come across" sounds bad too after that.

dow, Saturday, 14 April 2018 20:29 (one week ago) Permalink

I've only just started "In Search of a Concrete Music" by Pierre Schaeffer but it's great so far. I suppose he's not a musician though.

(Henry) Green container bin with face (Tom D.), Wednesday, 18 April 2018 17:40 (four days ago) Permalink

voted Diary Of A Rock Star, out of the ones I've read here. remarkable for being so early in its mission of deflation, dispensing entirely with a curtain of stardom: Hunter details plainly, in charming casual prose, the unremarkable minutiae of being a touring band. Filling days with staring out of bus windows, having to make meal calls, visiting music shops in new towns because you don't know anyone there or anything else to do. but! if you enjoy travel and also income, it still sounds great. and Hunter might be bored and homesick, but he never expects sympathy; these are just downsides of a good job that he's proud to have.

chilis=lyrics...hypocrits (sic), Wednesday, 18 April 2018 18:38 (four days ago) Permalink

Yes, that's what I hoped it might be like, given that xpost CREEM excerpt, thanks! Will have to get.
Speaking of books by other cogs in the starmaking machinery, Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography is amazing; I had no idea their catalog was so deep & wide, incl. co-writes with other office wizards---and they did some production, like Stealer's Wheel, and a Peggy Lee concept album, Leiber having read a Thomas Mann story and written "Is That All There Is?", a seemingly flukey hit given the go-go 60s, as relatable then as any other era, re sensory overload-withdrawal-habituation etc---also ran the Red Bird label, which gave us some Girl Group classics, but sold it to partner George Goldner, who "had the musical taste of a 14-year-old girl"---true gold in that tyme!---sold it to him for a dollar, to get away from his/their goodfella partners, whom he had brought aboard because of his gambling debts, still accruing---but it was okay, they mainly just wanted to keep writing.
(Oh yeah, and they did *not* write "Hound Dog" the way Elvis did it---involvement with Elvis and the Colonel was quite a recurring trip over the years.)

dow, Friday, 20 April 2018 19:27 (two days ago) Permalink


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