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great books about music

Now and then someon heres recommands a book about music.
You know, a number of sheets of paper, parchment, etc. with writing or printing on them, fastened together along one edge, usually between protective covers ?
For those who still use these strange devices (naw I'm kiddin' of course), I 'd like to open this thread because I'm a huge book consumer (my wife is a bookseller, which makes things easy)especially books about music (but also crime, scifi and "serious" literature)and always fishing for recommadations.

Usually when I want to discover a new style, I read a book about it.
2007 was the year of the rock/pop come back, and in 2008 I'd like to explore rap and reggae as well, so I read "Can't Stop Won't Stop" by jeff Chang, and it's an excellent book (John will agree I know)

Re: great books about music

The only really interesting music book I've read so far, which you could probably have guessed, is Bob Dylan's Chronicles. I love reading as well, but I haven't really read a lot of good books about music, so I'll be sure to keep an eye on this topic as well.

Re: great books about music

I second Chronicles. Dylan is an absolutely masterful writer. The book is organized much like the new film I'm Not There, which, come to think of it, is probably no accident (although Todd Haynes' movie doesn't cover quite the same eras that Bob's book does).

I don't have an extensive shelf of books on rock, but besides Chronicles, I can recommend:

Michael Azerrad; Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991.
My favorite music book. Chapters on eleven bands from Black Flag to Minor Threat to the Replacements to Sonic Youth.

Jonathan Gould; The Beatles, Britain, and America.
If you'd like to learn the history of the Beatles and the cultural contexts they worked in, this book should be your first stop. If you already know all that stuff, you still need this book for the amazingly erudite and sensitive analyses of almost every original song the Fab Four released on record (the author is a professional musician). Essential.

Greil Marcus; Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century.
Marcus is the kind of critic who disappears up his own bum sometimes, but this is a very clever look at the Sex Pistols in a tradition of cultural refusal. (His Double Trouble is a guilty pleasure which explains why Bill Clinton was Elvis Presley. Or something.)

James Miller; Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll 1947-1977.
Miller yearns a little bit too much for lost Eden, but this is a solid anecdotal rock history of the years it covers.

Re: great books about music

Sorry; the actual title of Gould's book is

Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America.

Ask for it by name.

Re: great books about music

Hey Nicolas:

For quick reads about music I would strongly suggest finding a copy of books from the 33 1/3rd series


They're pocket-sized reflections on a single album. Each one is by a different author, and they are each done in a very different style. You might think these are just long-form reviews, but each is written from a different perspective. Some are historical, analytical, and even one I read (Meat is Murder) is a work of fiction that incorporates the power of the album.

Given that 3 in your top 100 list that you haven't heard are covered by this series (Loveless, Stone Roses, and Daydream Nation) it might be worth checking out. I haven't read any of those 3, though.

Has anybody else read these books?

Re: great books about music

I've read a couple. The one on Bowie's Low is very good. The one on Pet Sounds...not so much.

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I read Meat is Murder because someone gave it to me as a gift. I still haven't heard the album.

I also read In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, which is very good if you would like some light shed on Jeff Magnum and the mysteries surrounding the band and that records development.

OK Computer is pretty good too. Kind of a cold academic approach to appreciating the album, but maybe appropriate for that record.

Re: great books about music

Salut nicolas,

although I try, and once in a while do buy a music book, I'm not much of a reader in paper form. The internet is the usual source for me to read reviews and find out about new stuff. I got a few books, nothing outrageous though, about R.E.M., Bob Marley, The Beatles and hhmm ... Vivaldi

Jonah's wiki link is quite interesting. I never read Meat Is Murder, but have that vinyl album. Excellent album to 'vegetate', even for non-vegetarians like me.

Re: great books about music

Our Band Could Be Your Life is also my all time favourite music book. I'm a big fan of several of the groups profiled, but the book is so brilliantly written and the bands so diverse that I think most music fans would find it compelling reading.
Also great are:

Lester Bangs-Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
Ian MacDonald-Revolution in the Head:The Beatles' records and the 60s.

Re: great books about music

-Anything by Chuck Klosterman: Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Killing Yourself To Live, Fargo Rock City (Although his books are more stories about his life which revolve around music...either way it's really entertaining)
-Any of the Lester Bangs collections
-Can't Stop Won't Stop
-Rolling Stone Interviews
-Beatles Anthology
-Milk It: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the ’90s

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If anybody here hasn't read Hi Fidelity its perfect for this crowd. Lots of lists and insight into music fandom. He's got another book about music that I haven't gotten to yet.

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Jonah – thank you for the suggestion.

Among the several items I picked up last night at Chapters, one of them was the 33 1/3 book on Nick Drake’s – PINK MOON. I’m halfway through it and it’s a compelling read.

…when we listen to Pink Moon, it is impossible not to feel death , huge and looming, inevitable and infinite, close and closer. Flipping off all the lights, propping open a creaky old window, and listening to Pink Moon is just about as close as anyone can get to Nick Drake now.”

Now I’m inclined to start collecting the entire series...

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Just wondering if anybody here's read 'Words And Music' by Paul Morley. I was flicking through it in the shop tuther day, and it looked absolutely compelling. Seems extremely unconventional and possibly quite a 'difficult' read, but I think I'm gonna go and buy it. Anyone know what I'm on about?