Good books about music

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I'm going to Delaware for spring break to look at colleges, and it's going to be pretty boring. I'm making a run to Best Buy and Barnes and Noble's tomorrow to get stuff, and I was wondering if anyone knew of good books about music. We're going for fun to read here, since I need something that doesn't take too long to get into. I've already read Never Mind the Pollacks (which was great), and my closest Barnes and Noble's has Our Band Could be Your Life and that uncensored oral history of punk book that was on the OC three weeks ago.

WillSommer, Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Perfect Sound Forever
The Music's All That Matters
What Rock Is All About
Lipstick Traces
Just Kill Me
Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung
The Aesthetics of Rock

little ivan, Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:23 (fourteen years ago) link

Get the Lester Bangs books.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:23 (fourteen years ago) link

and Please Kill Me: The Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:24 (fourteen years ago) link

Please Kill Me was on the OC?

Please kill me.

Oh well. Read it anyway. It's amazing. And Our Band Could Be Your Life. If you're interested in criticism, check out Psychotic Reactions and Carbeurator Dung or anything by Lester Bangs or one or two Greil Marcus books (The Basement Tapes). I'd stay away from Camden Joy, contrary to popular opinion.

I need something that doesn't take too long to get into

But you're going to college, man! Just buy Adorno's Essays on Music and accept that the next 4+ years of your life are going to be like that mwahahaha...

poortheatre (poortheatre), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:26 (fourteen years ago) link

Dave Marsh, The Heart of Rock & Soul (his 1,001 most important singles of the rock era, in bite-size nuggets)

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:43 (fourteen years ago) link

Love Saves the Day and Can't Stop Won't Stop by Tim Lawrence and Jeff Chang, respectively.

I also enjoyed Last Night a DJ Saved My Life and there's the ever-classic Generation Ecstasy.

deej., Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:49 (fourteen years ago) link

conflict of interest, but whatever:
Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music
featuring Eno, Cage, Stockhausen, Merzbow, Reynolds, lots of other luminaries, and some jerk named Sherburne

philip sherburne (philip sherburne), Thursday, 17 March 2005 04:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll- Tosches
Faithfull: An Autobiography- Marianne Faithfull
Chronicles v.1- Dylan
Black Monk Time- Eddie Shaw
I, Tina- Tina Turner
Uptight: the VU story,
Transformer- Bockris
Planet Joe- Joe Cole

Elisa (Elisa), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:09 (fourteen years ago) link

John Cage's Silence is a great book about music and other things.

Mark (MarkR), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:15 (fourteen years ago) link

All of the above, and Sidney Bechet's autobio (blanking on the title, but he only wrote one); Miles by Miles Davis; Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock 'N' Roll (Kandia Crazy Horse, ed.)

don, Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:17 (fourteen years ago) link

Also, Robert Palmer (not the singer)'s Deep Blues, Christgau's 70s Consumer Guide (yeah you can look up all the Consumer Guide entries at, 'cept maybe the *most* recent, which are at, but unless you just love typing in Subjects and hitting Enter and know exactly what to look for, the book is a lot more fun). Also most anything by Peter Guralnick (although I woouldn't start with the Elvis stuff)(if you want to get strung out ona good sick Elvis book, try Evis Aron Presley, by Alanna Nash with the Memphis Mafia) Most anything by Frith, Toop; Charles Keil' Uran Blues; Tom T. Hall's The Storyteller's Nashville (one of the funniest books I've read re musos, and good serious stuff too); Nelson Goerge's Seduced: The Life And Times Of A One Hit Wonder; Pamela Des Barres' I'm With The Band; Ruth Brown's Miss Rhythm (an epic!)

don, Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:41 (fourteen years ago) link

Ahh yeah Rap Attack by Toop. Does Greg Tate have any books out there worth picking up?

deej., Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:45 (fourteen years ago) link

Does Greg Tate have any books out there worth picking up?

I had never heard of Tate until I saw him speak not long ago. He is a BAD. ASS. Does he still write for The Voice? I feel like I never see him in there. Does he have a blog?

poortheatre (poortheatre), Thursday, 17 March 2005 05:56 (fourteen years ago) link

He definitely still writes for the voice, unbelievable writer too, sort of a marxist approach to hip-hop these days (as SFJ pointed out) which seems to distance him from discussing how the music moves him but which does raise significant points regarding hip-hop and the way it is being used both positively and negatively; I got sort of nuts at him during the "great tate debate" when he criticized people for celebrating the 30th anniversary of hip-hop and while I don't share his lack of enthusiasm/engagement with the current music, I do think he's absolutely right about what hip-hop's significance is (paraphrasing, renders African-Americans "all but invisible" in a cultural sense) and that unfortunately the advancement of African-American cultural capital has not resulted in economic justice or any kind of justice, really.

I'm mostly interested in reading a book of his since his prose is fairly magnificent.

deej., Thursday, 17 March 2005 06:23 (fourteen years ago) link

r. crumb draws the blues - r. crumb
country - nick tosches (his other books too of course, but this is my favorite)
rythm oil and the true adventures of the rolling stones by stanley booth
awopbopaloobop by nik cohn

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 17 March 2005 07:05 (fourteen years ago) link

Touching From A Distance
Bass Culture
Songs They Don't Play On The Radio
Revolution In The Head
Rotten: No Dogs, No Blacks , No Irish

wtin, Thursday, 17 March 2005 10:56 (fourteen years ago) link

"Wonderland Avenue" - Danny Sugerman - I can't stand The Doors but I loved this book. Also, "The Dirt", the Motley Crue book. Again, hate the band, but a cracking read.

bg, Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:25 (fourteen years ago) link

Tate's 1991 collection Flyboy in the Buttermilk is tremendous. His review/demolition of Bad ("I'm White! What's Wrong with Michael Jackson") is worth the price by itself, especially when he sez that the album's title "accurately describes its contents in standard English."

If you want a cracking funny read on hip-hop, though, pick up The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop by Peter Shapiro, which has just been updated and enlarged (it was a pocket-size the first time, now it's 8 x 10). Best line goes to the Bad Boy Records writeup, when he notes that Puff Daddy, having been responsible for 40% of all 1997's number ones, moved to the Hamptons "so he could live by the sea, just like his magic dragon namesake."

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:41 (fourteen years ago) link

actually, strike that "though," Toop can be funny and obviously so can Tate.

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Neil McCormick's "Killing Bono" was a quick, fun read.

John Fredland (jfredland), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:44 (fourteen years ago) link

"Wonderland Avenue" - Danny Sugerman - I can't stand The Doors but I loved this book. Also, "The Dirt", the Motley Crue book. Again, hate the band, but a cracking read.

Same here! (Of course there's also the Led Zep bio.)

nathalie barefoot in the head (stevie nixed), Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:46 (fourteen years ago) link

ooh, haven't read that led zep one. I just remembered a book called "Lost in Music" by Giles Smith, which was a hoot.

bg, Thursday, 17 March 2005 11:54 (fourteen years ago) link

chuck berry's autobiog

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 March 2005 12:26 (fourteen years ago) link

George Jones, I Lived To Tell It All
Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography

Next week on "The O.C.": Seth and Ryan get into a fatal disagreement over "James Taylor: Marked For Death," while Summer meets a new hottie who shares her disgust of Nick Hornby.

Keith C (kcraw916), Thursday, 17 March 2005 14:06 (fourteen years ago) link

Nelson George's previously mentioned Seduced is said to roman-a-clef of sorts (Russell Simmons, on back cover of early edition, earnestly denies that one of the characters is based on him--that's his whole blurb). Some wicked bits about the early days of hip-hop, and the music biz overall. The sequel, Urban Romance, spotlights a minor Seduced charactor, who writes for Billboard and the Voice. Haven't read it yet, but it's next. Tate's Everything But The Burden, about whites biting black music, is another I've heard good stuff about.

don, Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:09 (fourteen years ago) link

For a good time, read:

Dino by Nick Tosches (about Dean Martin; as deep as Catch a Fire by Timothy White, as entertaining as that Motley Crue book)

Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story, by Tony Scherman (oral history/autobiography of the New Orleans drummer; had me at "Louis Armstrong was a pimp"...)

We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk by Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen (better than Please Kill Me, kind of like L.A. punk itself)

Pete Scholtes, Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:30 (fourteen years ago) link

Here's TSOL frontman Jack Grisham in We Got the Neutron Bomb, before he announced his run for governor against Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (and Gary Coleman, etc.):

I was torturing this guy in the garage of my mom's house in this nice suburban neighborhood with my whole family inside eating Easter dinner... and I'd got this guy tied up in the rafter with a rope around his legs and I'm beating him with a two-by-four. I said, "Hang on a minute," and put the two-by-four down and walked into the house and kissed my aunt and said like, "Oh hi, how you doing?" I grabbed a deviled egg, told them I'd be back in a minute, and I went back out, grabbed the two-by-four, and kept workin' on the guy. I finally had to get out of Vicious Circle 'cause of the violence. There were constant stabbings and beatings and people cruising by my house at night, shooting up the neighborhood....

I did something pretty bad to somebody and they retaliated with guns. It was a big deal, I had to split to Alaska for a while, they cut the lines on my car, blew up my car... fuck...I don't wanna say who they were, but they weren't punks... boy, they were pissed off.

Pete Scholtes, Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:34 (fourteen years ago) link

'Long Time Gone' the David Crosby (auto)biog is definitely the best music book i have ever read. the way he led his life and some of the decisions he made are genuinely stupefying. equal parts genius and retard. extraordinary when set against the soundtrack of the music he was making.

i went on holiday with the Deborah Curtis book and the Nick Drake biography once. happy times, let me tell you.

Lee F# (fsharp), Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:53 (fourteen years ago) link

dino is so good that i've lent and lost TWO copies to (so-called) friends

if you ever find dave rimmer's "once upon a time in the east", abt berlin east and west b4 the fall of the wall, i utterly UTTERLY recommend it: tho it's only somewhat abt music - unlike his earlier (and also good) "like punk never happened"

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 17 March 2005 22:53 (fourteen years ago) link

I've just got "Lost in the Grooves" by the editors of Scram (the same peeps who did "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth"), a collection of reviews of culty, forgotten or neglected albums. Some very ILM choices in there: Jandek, Poster Children, Bridgette Fontaine etc. If only slsk was working properly...

Richard C (avoid80), Thursday, 17 March 2005 23:00 (fourteen years ago) link

I wrote a few entries for Lost In The Grooves (Boogie Down Productions, Schoolly D, Sonny Sharrock).

Joe Carducci's Rock and the Pop Narcotic is being reissued sometime this year.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Thursday, 17 March 2005 23:02 (fourteen years ago) link

and how could i forget, the funniest rock-related book ever: the life and times of little richard by charles white.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 17 March 2005 23:19 (fourteen years ago) link

xpost the David Crosby book has sections with different versions side by side, like the Synoptic Gospels: the Word according to St. David, his friends and ex-friends. But certainly not Gospel in the I-swung-naked-on-the-chandelier-but-now-I've-found-the-LORDuh (so send your dollars to my new friends today). He's got his regrets, but still the somae ornery critter ("Don't do crack, and also watch out for the CIA/Colobian Cartels, man," is more the POV)

don, Friday, 18 March 2005 00:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Bass Culture
Sadly retitled in America as The History of Jamaica's music or something like that, but it's excellent. The only disappointing aspect about it is that Lloyd Bradley doesn't cover any On-U-Sound releases in the book or even take them into account.

Quit glaring at Ian Riese-Moraine! He's mentally fraught! (Eastern Mantra), Friday, 18 March 2005 00:23 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm just finishing this, I like it, but it could have used a little bit more demographic and geographic background info on Jamaica and Kingston in particular.

JoB (JoB), Friday, 18 March 2005 01:32 (fourteen years ago) link

Nick Kent's "The Dark Stuff"
"Alt-Rock-o-Rama" (great on car trips!)
Brian Eno's "More Dark than Shark"
Motley Crue's "The Dirt" (well, not about music, per se)

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Friday, 18 March 2005 01:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Blissed Out is still my favorite Simon Reynolds book. Jon Savage's England's Dreaming (see recent thread on him); Chuck Eddy's Stairway To Hell and Accidental Evolution; a couple of good anthologies: ROck She Wrote and Trouble Girls.

don, Friday, 18 March 2005 06:37 (fourteen years ago) link

that book "Hip: A History" isn't strictly about music but it's also very good. I think the author's name is John Leland.

Ashandeej, Friday, 18 March 2005 06:41 (fourteen years ago) link

Audio Culture (edited cox / warner) seconded, and limiting myself to the books next to my desk (library's in the hallway)

Electronic and Experimental Music by Thom Holmes
also; Wireless Imagination (d kahn / g whitehead)
Paul Griffiths - A Concise History of Avant-Garde Music
Paul Griffiths - Modern Music And Beyond
Curtis Roads
William Duckworth : Talking Music
Cage: Silence / A Year From Monday
Cage / Feldman: Conversations
James Tenney : Meta / Hodos
Karlheinz Stockhausen - Stockhausen on Music (Compiled by R Maconie)
Sound By Artists (ed. Dan Lander)
Chris Cutler - File Under Popular
Attali - Noise
Russolo - The Art of Noises (get a hold of a copy any way you can)
Trevor Wishart - On Sonic Art
Douglas Kahn - Noise Water Meat

milton parker (Jon L), Friday, 18 March 2005 07:13 (fourteen years ago) link

milton, has "modern music and beyond" been updated at all?: when i first read it (= in like 1977), i remember thinking "waddya mean beyond"!! it stops in 1968 with a sad thud!!

i think the attali book is lousy at book length—it's a good short polemic idea bulked out to a contradictory nonsense schema—and wireless imagination is patchy (which is a pity, cz it's a great idea for an essay collection)

mark s (mark s), Friday, 18 March 2005 09:11 (fourteen years ago) link

really good things I've read over the last few months were adorno's bk on mahler and morton feldman's 'give my regards to 8th street' essay comp.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 18 March 2005 09:55 (fourteen years ago) link

weird, I stopped reading Neutron Bomb halfway through--bored me for some reason, though the stories weren't in themselves boring. hmmm. (though it may be because I've never been all that into L.A. punk and like NYC punk way more.)

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Friday, 18 March 2005 10:27 (fourteen years ago) link

"Bass Culture" seconded - terminally readable, even if you don't much care about the stuff (which I do); as much of a cultural history as anything else. There's a certain integrity to his (not total, by any means, but pronounced) dismissal of Dancehall (and I do sometimes hear, say, Bounty Killer a bit differently now that I've read about the jamaican warlords and can't just pretend it's all fun "hey let's pretend we're Al Pacino" wackyness), but I do sorta wish he had just stopped when "his" age was over.

The Elvis Guralnick books - again, you don't have to care about the subject matter to enjoy them (personally, I was so-so on Elvis before readin' 'em, am now an unabashed fan), and the second one is one hell of a car wreck: the descent starts like twenty pages into it, and by the end of the book you can't even feel sorry for the guy anymore, you just wonder why he hasn't kicked the bucket already.

"Where Did Our Love Go?" by Nelson George has some nice anecdotes, and is probably the best book on Motown around, tho to be frank I didn't learn all that much from it.

"The Heart Of Rock & Soul" seconded, and throw in the "New Book Of Rock Lists" too, if only for the sheer joy of reading the sentence "Tragedy The Intelligent Hoodlum Lists..." over and over again (not that book of rock jokes, tho, that was awful.) And also "Fortunate Son: The Best Of Dave Marsh", great stuff on Elvis, Muddy Waters, latino rock, etc.

I remember reading Maryiln Manson's "The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell" in my early teens and being surprised by how good it was (I'd always loathed the guy's music.) Dunno if it holds up.

"Sweet Soul Music", hell yeah.

I've read the entirety of Christgau's consumer guide online, and there's some great, great stuff there. So the books are recommended, too.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Friday, 18 March 2005 11:12 (fourteen years ago) link

Brother Ray by Ray Charles with David Ritz is fantastic and amazingly blunt and candid.

shookout (shookout), Friday, 18 March 2005 11:14 (fourteen years ago) link

'Joe Carducci's Rock and the Pop Narcotic is being reissued sometime this year.'

yay I've been wanting to read that one for a while!

adding to my prev post here leroi jones 'blues people' which I just finished this morning: most gd bks on music accept that they aren't just abt notes and chords.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 18 March 2005 12:53 (fourteen years ago) link

i think the attali book is lousy at book length"

You mean it's not long enough? I loved the book. Should re-read it...

I also loved the Lexicon Devil (bio on Darby Crash) though it's certainly not essential...

nathalie barefoot in the head (stevie nixed), Friday, 18 March 2005 12:54 (fourteen years ago) link

All my obvious suggestions are covered here, so let me just say: even if you're a die-hard, passionate, blacked-out-yr-own-teeth Joe Strummer/Clash fan, AVOID AT ALL COSTS the pile of dung known as "Let Fury Have the Hour: the Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer." The superficial "analysis," the copious mistakes (London Calling wasn't recorded in New York, dumbshit!), the TYPOS (?!?)'s a massacree!

Jason Toon, Friday, 18 March 2005 16:41 (fourteen years ago) link

African Rhythm and African Sensibility by John Miller Chernoff

the ONLY thing wrong with JMC's line is that he somewhat slightly seems to accept the assumption that the social dimension—the "dance"—isn’t also always part of all music in the West (though he does this in the context of getting ppl to see/hear/look for the fuller sense of the meaning of music): taking his insights abt Africa (Ghana, to be more accurate) and applying them everywhere else is revelatory

Most of it is a charming telling of him learning African drumming in Ghana

mark s (mark s), Friday, 18 March 2005 18:23 (fourteen years ago) link

The only two lengthy reads on Led Zep - Stephen Davis' Hammer of the Gods and roadie Richard Cole's 'Stairway to Heaven,' are both pulpy and full of dirt and invented mythology. Not to say I don't recommend them though.

And I hope someone someday undertakes a lengthy Sabbath bio.

57 7th (calstars), Friday, 18 March 2005 19:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Thanks for the 4AD history headsup, I had no idea this existed! The writing annoyed me very occasionally, especially when committing classic music-crit sins such as propagating stock phrases inappropriately (no, the video for "Dig for Fire" cannot have been "prohibitively expensive"; if it were, it would not have existed), but the research, scope, depth and detail are astonishing, and the enthusiasm both of author and quoted subjects has set me on an extended retro bender on Spotify here. (Damn, how insanely solid is the 1986 chapter of the catalogue?)

anatol_merklich, Thursday, 28 February 2019 22:31 (ten months ago) link

Ha, I found Donald Fagan's Eminent Hipsters at Dollar Tree! What the fuck, it was a buck, it's short so I bought it. I do see music books there from time to time - especially memoirs, so check the shelves.

Twee.TV (I M Losted), Wednesday, 13 March 2019 21:34 (ten months ago) link

three months pass...

bumped the Blonde on Blonde thread for this but Daryl Sanders' That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound is really good if you're into books that exhaustively detail every hour of the recording of an album.

Just came on to ask about that--was thinking about buying it. Great cover and title.

clemenza, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 01:32 (six months ago) link

Mark Stryker’s Jazz From Detroit is an excellent overview. Tons of profiles of brilliant players from the 50s to the present, and lots of recommended albums. It’s amazing how many jazz legends came out of Detroit to make it in NYC or LA or elsewhere.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 02:33 (six months ago) link

how many pages does he give to tribe ?

budo jeru, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 05:37 (six months ago) link

or Strata in general...

henry s, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 08:37 (six months ago) link

Hope Dennis Coffey's in there (will check thx)!

dow, Friday, 12 July 2019 18:23 (six months ago) link

Detroit is where the very underage Sheila Jordan heard Bird live, a life-changing experience duh:

dow, Friday, 12 July 2019 18:27 (six months ago) link

Re Strata and all that, there's an entire section - roughly 30 pages - called Taking Control: Self-Determination in the 1960s and '70s, which includes the Detroit Artists Workshop, the Detroit Creative Musicians Association, Focus Novii, the Contemporary Jazz Quintet and the Strata Corporation.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Friday, 12 July 2019 18:45 (six months ago) link

Like that Sheila Jordan book, although I never know exactly who to recommend it to.

Vini C. Riley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 12 July 2019 19:38 (six months ago) link

xp thanks, will check that out

budo jeru, Saturday, 13 July 2019 00:26 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

well, this looks intriguing

I have found the greatest index ever compiled

— Sharon Su (@doodlyroses) September 4, 2019

"This is all from Lexicon of Musical Invective by Nicolas Slonimsky and it’s literally a book of dunks on all your faves"

a passing spacecadet, Thursday, 5 September 2019 19:41 (four months ago) link

"Gallery of Harmonized Abortions"

Yes, I think that's what I like about Debussy

Josefa, Friday, 6 September 2019 04:17 (four months ago) link

Pere Ubu the Scrapbook.
Collects the press stuff on the band from forming to 1982 when they split the first major time.
Has a several page band history and the lyrics to all lps and singles from the time.
Hadn't realised there were no outtakes for first couple of lps. Or that's what it says here. Modern Dance they recorded until they had 36 minutes down. Odd you'd think there'd be at least some part flues or something.
Anyway great to have in the absence of a dedicated biography.

The Henry Cow biography is due out today though some outlets have the 27th. So can't comment on quality yet though it has been reviewed well.

Stevolende, Friday, 6 September 2019 07:29 (four months ago) link

Good people, I'm looking for a recommendation. What are the best books on the Velvet Underground? Thanks in advance for any help proffered.

Doran, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 15:22 (four months ago) link

Uptight was the big one originally buit it's come out in several versions since and I'm not sure if you still get all the photos that were in the original release. Original version has them looking pretty iconic.

White Light White Heat the Velvet Underground day by day which i think was by Richie Unterberger but may be unavailable.

Notes From The Velvet Underground which i think was an expensive exhibition related book at the time.

Velvet Underground A Walk on the Wild Side by Jim Derogatis which i think has quite a few of the images from that Notes book.

From The Velvets to The Voidoids Clinton Heytlin starts with some oral history of teh band then goes on elsewhere.
I think Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil does similar,.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 15:30 (four months ago) link


Doran, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 16:02 (four months ago) link

two months pass...

Still have too many books I haven’t read, but reviving this thread to take a look at more I want

curmudgeon, Monday, 2 December 2019 16:39 (one month ago) link

Wondering about that collection of Lou Reed interviews book- My Week Beats your Year , that Pat Thomas edited, and Mike Heath gathered.

curmudgeon, Monday, 2 December 2019 16:43 (one month ago) link

Already mentioned but the Celine Dion 33 1/3 book. The themes extend beyond music really

DT, Monday, 2 December 2019 19:14 (one month ago) link

really impressed by Liz Phair's memoir so far. no false advertising here with the title (Horror Stories), thus far it's basically just a compendium of awful things she's done or witnessed or been a part of in some way. as she stresses herself at the beginning, it's the kind of book that could really have been written by anyone, we've all Been Through Some Shit in other words. not much so far to do with being an indie-rock queen or anything like that.

Evans on Hammond (evol j), Monday, 2 December 2019 19:42 (one month ago) link

I am quite extensively quoted in that Celine Dion book, from a series of reports I wrote on Eurovision.

mike t-diva, Monday, 2 December 2019 19:43 (one month ago) link

that collection of Lou Reed interviews book- My Week Beats your Year

this seems like a thing I should read

Οὖτις, Monday, 2 December 2019 19:44 (one month ago) link

xp - re: Liz Phair
Yeah, I thought it was alright. The only essential chapter as far as being read by an audience was the one where she talks about working with Ryan Adams. The other chapters, eh. Not essential, "could be written by anyone" otm

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 2 December 2019 19:45 (one month ago) link

Also she talks about her body A LOT

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 2 December 2019 19:46 (one month ago) link

Honeyboy Edwards's autobiography, The World Don't Owe Me Nothing. Lively transcription of his tale-telling, which is prodigious and credible.

Briania, Monday, 2 December 2019 22:26 (one month ago) link

I want this stupid Butthole Surfers coffee table book so bad

Maresn3st, Monday, 2 December 2019 23:12 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

any good recent books in the country /bluegrass space?

flopson, Tuesday, 17 December 2019 21:21 (one month ago) link

doesn’t have to be too recent. for my stepdad, who LOVED the louvain bros one i got rec’d on this thread a few years back

flopson, Tuesday, 17 December 2019 21:26 (one month ago) link

i highly, highly recommend Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton, New Orleans Creole and "Inventor of Jazz", by Alan Lomax, first published in 1950.

tbh i have only a mild interest in the music which holds the story together, the origins of jazz as it grew from blues and ragtime. but morton is a masterful storyteller and clearly a genius, and led one of the most interesting lives that i have ever come to know. most of the book's chapters consist of him telling his own story to lomax in a series of recordings for the library of congress in the late 1930s, at a time when morton's life was in shambles. other chapters are filled with brief recollections from others, along with some very good "interludes" by lomax which help to provide a historical context to morton's tale. he's a great writer. here is lomax's description of those interview/recording sessions with morton:

Morton was very polite and kind to me. Although Creole folklore and the street-songs of New Orleans were not in the forefront of his mind, he obligingly recalled them. He performed blues that reminded him unpleasantly of environments where the lice had crawled along his collar. Protesting that the blues were "lowdown, illiterate" music, he nevertheless moaned the blues by the hour, ladling down the cheap whiskey I could afford to buy, warming up his dusty vocal chords and discovering in himself a singing style as rich as Louis Armstrong's. He recreated the piano styles of ivory wizards a generation dead, recreations which turned out to match the exact sound of the old piano rolls. To every query his responses were so instant and so vivid with time and place and who was there and what they said that I knew Jelly was seeing it in fancy if not in actual recollection. Forgotten by almost everyone, shut out of the palace he had planned and built, this tired old Creole brought to life again, singlehanded and by sheer energy, the golden period of New Orleans jazz.

morton's tale starts in new orleans in the late 1890s but quickly takes him all around the united states (and i mean ALL around - it is insane) as he brings new orleans jazz to new audiences. he is boastful about his role as a jazz pioneer but also has the goods to back it up. he was the first person to formalize the new language of jazz and set it down to paper, and owns the first composing credits in the genre. then he traveled the country with countless bands in the 1920s. he made a ton of money but perpetually spent it all, living extravagantly, with a trunk stuffed with 150 suits and socks that cost $5 a pair (in early 20th century dollars). he talked constantly and made sure that everyone knew that he was the best pianist alive.

a recurring theme is of morton running into trouble in some town and hopping a train to a new city, a new state, with people who had never heard of him, and then proceeding to blow the socks off of everyone. and then, parallel to these musical proceedings, also embarking on a quest to be the best pool player in the world as well, scamming others, playing left-handed against other sharks who were unfamiliar with him until the bets ran high before switching to his right hand to clean them out (then, often, getting confronted by near-mythical angry violent men who would steal his money and prompt him to high-tail it to the next town on the line). it's really hard to believe that all of this happened to the same person, but recollections by his contemporaries verify most of his story, and lomax is there to provide gentle, sympathetic corrections to the parts of his tale that get a little too tall.

one very interesting aspect of his life is that he didn't seem to recognize the role that racial discrimination played in his life, in ways both large and small. he was a light-skinned Creole who was hated by many of his peers with darker skin because of the way that he benefited from straddling the white and black worlds. at the same time, of course, the white world was fleecing him at every turn, even though he didn't seem to attribute that to racism. in the same way, even though the white men who were developing the modern music industry systematically stole his songs and copyrights and made fortunes, he seems to attribute that to individual actors and the hoodoo/voodoo curses laid upon him. lomax's "interludes" provide a very useful complement to his story, for this reason, as he makes it vividly clear what really went down, even if morton didn't see it himself.

anyway, i may be giving too much away. what a great book! has anyone else read it? i was very surprised that it hasn't been mentioned in this thread before.

But guess what? Nobody gives a toot!😂 (Karl Malone), Thursday, 26 December 2019 23:43 (one month ago) link


i def want to read it now. thx karl!!

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 27 December 2019 00:43 (one month ago) link

Thanks for reading through that! I was hoping to convince at least one person to give it a shot. :)

But guess what? Nobody gives a toot!😂 (Karl Malone), Friday, 27 December 2019 00:55 (one month ago) link

It's every bit as good as Karl says.

I think Lomax, in spite of his gentle fact-checking, was a fairly gullible audience, but this was a "print the legend" situation if there ever was one.

Surely Morton knew he'd been a victim of racial discrimination and had his own reasons for editing most of those experiences out of the tall tales he was spinning for Lomax (who was, however good his intentions, one more white man taking advantage of him). I think Morton loved the improbable idea of his name ringing out as the sole inventor of jazz, and he knew it was only fitting that the person capable of such genius had been an effortlessly gifted and stylish rambler who'd gone everywhere, dazzled everyone, and moved on over and over again. If this account wasn't exactly the factual history Lomax had hoped to excavate, he was still captivated by it, and Morton had a good time entertaining them both. It's a bravura performance that gets quite raw at times (as when he describes those threats of violence).

Something called the The Complete Congress Recordings is on Spotify, and there are also big chunks of the Lomax tapes up on YouTube; it's pretty cool to hear some of those stories in Morton's own voice and unexpurgated language.

Brad C., Friday, 27 December 2019 01:59 (one month ago) link

I was intrigued by this one, which I spotted in the bookstore last week:
Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste by Nolan Gasser

Has anyone read it? Apparently it's written by the Pandora/Music Genome project guy.

enochroot, Friday, 27 December 2019 12:36 (one month ago) link

I picked up the new bookon Garage Rock 5 years ahead of my time by Seth Bovey which I'm a coupe of chapters into and seems to be an ok overview so far. THink I've come across one thing I majorly disagreed with so far and I think reviews I'd read had some issues with it. BUt thought I'd pick it up since I like the genre even if it has accumulated a somewhat sheeplike audience in places.
Always think its a great launching spot for further musical investigation rather than being great to try to recreate everything in some search for a highly pseudo authenticity. I thought one thing the garage process replaced was the idea of authenticity as it recontextualises influences into the players home environment.

Also got Defying Gravity jordan's story the book about JOrdan the shop assistant in Westwood/Mclaren's shops so likely to cover Bowie fandom and early punk. BUt so far I'veonly gotteninto her childhood.

Got lucky with the new US zine Maggot Brain which is on its first edition and turned up in Rough Trade between a couple of visits on Thursday last week. I'd asked about it in the early afternoon and te assistant wasn't aware of it. When I went back for the Paul Morley/Kevin Cummings interview it had arrived and the sae assistant came up to me with it.

Picked up another copy of Memphis 68 cos I mislaid the earlier copy I bought last year. GOt a book by Mark Kermode on his musical experiences which was also in the 2 for £5 in FOPP.
Also MIke Heron's book on his 60s/ISb and earlier experiences which was in the same deal.

Stevolende, Friday, 27 December 2019 12:55 (one month ago) link

How is Maggot Brain? I was thinking of getting a subscription, but havent had a chance to leaf through one in the wild

warn me about a lurking rake (One Eye Open), Friday, 27 December 2019 15:26 (one month ago) link

Seems ok still haven't really read much of it put it in the wrong pile in my old bedroom so have been reading other stuff.
Neglected to mention the new Ugly Things had turned up in Rough Trade before my first trip Thursday last week so have spent more 6ime with that.
& I am reminded of Motorboooty and Grade Royale by what I have seen so far as well as a few other retro looking things.
Think it's worthwhile so hope it continues. Dunno how I'm going to get hold of more issues though . May be safer to get somebody in ireland to stock it anyway.

Stevolende, Friday, 27 December 2019 20:58 (one month ago) link

Is there a good book out there about Willie Nelson or am I best off just reading his memoir?

Evans on Hammond (evol j), Friday, 27 December 2019 21:20 (one month ago) link

With musicians you gotta read the memoir AND the biography.

everything, Friday, 27 December 2019 23:31 (one month ago) link

He's written books (or at least they have the grain and aroma of his words and music and oh yeah voice), and materializes memorably in xpost Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, and Country Jazz (handsome trade pb w good pix, Routledge, 2003), by Rick Kienzle and Michael Streissguth's Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville, but you might start with daughter Susie Nelson's Heart Worn Memories, which, despite its title, has a lot of spark and rueful humor, often at her own expense (in the church where she's about to marry Mr. Wrong, Willie observes that there's probably a back door to the joint). No scandal-mongering, but she lifts the lid of the Nelson Tennessee family complex, and cogently contextualizes, distinguishes the path of her short-lived brother Billy. Also good stuff about music (Dad climbs into the tent on her teen bedroom floor, smokes a joint with her while they listen to Hendrix).

dow, Saturday, 28 December 2019 04:58 (four weeks ago) link

Anyone read Tricky's autobiography yet?

Maresn3st, Saturday, 28 December 2019 12:42 (four weeks ago) link

No want to get it though.
Was looking at it in foyles yesterday.
Saw they had the Debbie Harry and Flea memoirs at half rrp if anybody needs them.
Think I will see what Waterstones has at post xmas cut price later this afternoon.

Stevolende, Saturday, 28 December 2019 13:01 (four weeks ago) link

Oh yeah Foyles had signed copies of the Tricky.
My Defying Gravity is signed too which I hadn't noticed when I was looking at what I assume was the same copy on the shelf this time last week.

Stevolende, Saturday, 28 December 2019 13:04 (four weeks ago) link

Waterstones has the new prince book on half price as well as the 2 I mentioned from Foyles.

Stevolende, Saturday, 28 December 2019 18:36 (four weeks ago) link

Enjoyed the Jeff Tweedy book

rizzx, Saturday, 28 December 2019 19:09 (four weeks ago) link

I think Joe Nick Patoski’s book on Willie Nelson is supposed to be good.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 29 December 2019 00:38 (four weeks ago) link

Agree about the Tweedy book. He has a great way with a story.

I've waited years for a Todd Rundgren memoir, and it finally came out last year. The Individualist. He's also a good storyteller, very efficient with the written word, and it has plenty of the wry aphorisms you'd expect. But it has been poorly (i.e. not) edited, typos flying off the page everywhere. Looks like it came right out of his computer, first draft and autocorrected. (The Monkeys?!) Good read but frustrating as well.

henry s, Sunday, 29 December 2019 00:56 (four weeks ago) link

I just got reminded that there is a book on Italian Prog and has been for the last few years. ItalianProg by Augusto Croce.
There is a Look Inside feature on Amazon that looks good.
But that's all I've seen on it. I have also seen mention that the translation is a bit rough and clunky etc.
Anybody got it and had a better chance to look at it?

Stevolende, Friday, 10 January 2020 11:50 (two weeks ago) link

the translation is a bit rough and clunky etc.

no it's actually like that in the original. author was really keen to capture the essence of the music in writing

budo jeru, Friday, 10 January 2020 16:03 (two weeks ago) link

I'd also be interested in finding out how good the Vernon Joynson book on punk/postpone etc etc is.
Just got the one by him on Latin America and Canada at the time of psych and prog . Somehow missed hearing it was around though did get the one released a few months earlier which was initially an expansion on part of the same book. Covered Asia the antipodes and Africa.
Got the book slightly used for a pretty decent price.

Stevolende, Friday, 10 January 2020 16:55 (two weeks ago) link

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