Music books in this section include classical, jazz and blues, punk, and rock, with both general histories and biographies of particular performers. If you look closely you can guess who our favourite artists might be…
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Remain In Love
Remain in Love charts the rise and fall of Talking Heads, a band who combined the sensibility of artists with extraordinary songwriting vision. Another classic New York memoir in the vein of Patti Smith’s Just Kids, this book shares secrets and stories Talking Heads fans have been curious about for decades.
Levon is a penetrating, skillfully told tale of a music legend from Southern cotton fields to global limelight. In the Arkansas Delta, a young Levon witnessed "blues, country, and gospel hit in a head-on collision," as he put it. The result was rock 'n' roll. As a teenager, he joined the raucous Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, then helped merge a hard-driving electric sound with Bob Dylan's folk roots, and revolutionized American rock with the Band.
Friday On My Mind
Pop star, mentor and icon, George Young was one of the most important figures in Australian pop music history. Jeff Apter reveals the facts that helped build a music empire and cement Vanda & Young's place eternally into the "Australian songbook".
How to Make Gravy
Paul Kelly is a uniquely gifted storyteller. For thirty years he has written songs of uncommon directness about everything from love and land rights to cricket and cooking. 'Before Too Long', 'To Her Door', 'Leaps And Bounds', 'Don't Start Me Talking', 'Dumb Things', 'From Little Things Big Things Grow', 'How To Make Gravy' - his songs connect generations of listeners across the country. Now Kelly has written the memoir everyone hoped he would. How to Make Gravy mirrors the structure of his legendary A to Z shows, where he performs around a hundred of his songs alphabetically over four nights. Taking the lyrics of those songs as starting points in this book, he tells stories of his life - the highs and lows of performing, the art of songwriting, being on the road with the band, tales of his childhood, family, friends and fellow musicians.
Year of the Monkey
This haunting new memoir blends fact and fiction with poetic mastery. As Patti Smith heads toward a new decade in her life, she offers this balm to the reader- her wisdom, wit, gimlet eye, and a rugged hope of a better world as she writes of grief, disillusionment and ageing.
It's been said Janis Joplin was second only to Bob Dylan as the ‘creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation's mythology'. But how did a middle-class girl from Texas become a '60s countercultural icon? She almost signed up for a life as a domesticated, hang-the-curtains wife. But instead, during a second stint on the West Coast launched a career that would see her crowned the queen of rock and roll. What no one besides Holly George-Warren has captured in such intimate detail is the way Janis Joplin teetered between the powerful woman you hear in her songs and the little girl who just wanted to go home and feel emotionally safe there. The pain of that dichotomy fuelled her music - and ultimately killed her.
Don Walker’s songwriting has captured what it is to be Australian. From Cold Chisel to Catfish, Tex, Don & Charlie to his solo work, as well as many other writing collaborations, Walker’s words are poetic, moving and incisive. Including classics such as “Khe Sanh”, “Flame Trees”, “Cheap Wine” and “Harry was a Bad Bugger”, this collection reveals the breadth of Walker’s vision and the precision of his prose. These lyrics live on the page, with or without the memory of music.
Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain
Casting aside the common obsession with the angst and depression that seemingly drove Kurt Cobain, Serving the Servant is an exploration of his brilliance in rock and roll, his compassion, his ambition, and the legacy he wrought - one that has lasted decades longer than his career did. Nirvana's band manager Danny Goldberg explores what it is about Kurt Cobain that still resonates today, even with a generation who wasn’t alive until after Kurt’s death.
A Fabulous Creation
The unparalleled David Hepworth celebrates the reign and the return of the LP, how vinyl changed the music, the music industry and the way we listen.The era of the LP began in 1967, with 'Sgt Pepper', The Beatles didn't just collect together a bunch of songs, they Made An Album. Henceforth, everybody else wanted to Make An Album. It was a short but transformative time. Musicians became 'artists' and we, the people, patrons of the arts. The LP itself had been a mark of sophistication, a measure of wealth, an instrument of education, a poster saying things you dare not say yourself, a means of attracting the opposite sex, and, for many the single most desirable object in their lives.
I'll Be Your Mirror: The Collected Lyrics
Out of print for several years, a comprehensive volume of Lou Reed's lyrics, now updated in a new text design to include the lyrics from his final album with Metallica, Lulu. Through his many incarnations - from proto-punk to glam rocker to elder statesman of the avant garde Lou Reed's work has maintained an undeniable vividness and raw beauty, fuelled by precise character studies and rendered with an admirable shot of moral ambiguity. Containing a body of work that spans more than four decades and facsimile pages from late career lyrics, this is a monument to the literary qualities of an American original whose images and storytelling genius are now embedded in the counter-cultural narrative.
Today, Billie Holiday is an icon - an artist whose voice has weathered countless shifts in public taste, and whose impact on contemporary music is unquestionable. But when eighteen-year-old Billie Holiday stepped into Columbia studios in November of 1933 to record 'Riffin' the Scotch' and 'Your Mother's Son-in-Law', no one could predict the sensation that was about to emerge; marking the beginning of what is arguably the most remarkable and important career in twentieth-century popular music. Drawing on revelatory new material, including unpublished memoirs and interviews, Billie Holiday is the first account to consider the singer as an artist, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, and her legacy.
Kim Gordon: Girl in a Band
In Girl in a Band Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth and role model for a generation of women, tells her story. She writes frankly about her route from girl to woman and pioneering icon within the music and art scene of New York City in the 1980s and 90s as well as marriage, motherhood, and independence. Filled with the sights and sounds of a changing world and a remarkable life, Girl in a Band is a moving, evocative chronicle of an extraordinary artist.
The Beatles From A to Z
A legendary record producer and performer takes readers on an alphabetical journey of insights into the music of the Beatles and individual reminiscences of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.The Beatles from A to Zed grows out of Asher's popular radio program "From Me to You" on SiriusXM’s The Beatles Channel, where he shares memories and insights about the Fab Four and their music. Here he weaves his reflections into a whimsical alphabetical journey that focuses not only on songs whose titles start with each letter, but also on recurrent themes in the Beatles’ music, the instruments they played, the innovations they pioneered, the artists who influenced them, the key people in their lives, and the cultural events of the time.
Words Without Music
Rapturous in its ability to depict the creative process, Words Without Music allows readers to experience that sublime moment of creative fusion when life merges with art. Biography lovers will be inspired by the story of a precocious Baltimore boy, the son of a music-shop owner, who entered college at age fifteen, before traveling to Paris to study under the legendary Nadia Boulanger; Glass devotees will be fascinated by the stories behind Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, among so many other works. Whether recalling his experiences working at Bethlehem Steel, traveling in India, driving a cab in 1970s New York, or his professional collaborations with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Robert Wilson, Doris Lessing, and Martin Scorsese, Words Without Music affirms the power of music to change the world.
America's Mistress: Eartha Kitt, Her Life and Times
Eartha Kitt was a skinny, mixed-race woman, who seduced fifties white America into thinking that she was, in the words of Orson Welles, 'the most exciting woman in the world'. She could count Marilyn Monroe, T.S. Eliot, Prince Philip and Albert Einstein among her friends and admirers, and was almost able to forget she had once been a poor black girl from the Deep South. But her new persona was also a prison from which she found it impossible to escape. John L. Williams' moving and unsettling biography shows a star adrift in a bewildering new America torn apart by the Civil Rights movement. Shunned by many of her former friends, shocked by her country's insidious racism, and with a perilously fragile sense of her own identity, Eartha Kitt would pay the price that came from trying to be America's mistress.
Bound for Glory
Bound For Glory is the funny, cynical and earthy autobiography of Woody Guthrie, the father of American folk music. He tells of his childhood running wild in an Oklahoma oil-boom town, the tragedies that struck his family and of his life on the open road during the Great Depression - hell-raising and brawling in boxcars, all the while singing to raise a dime for his next meal. But above all, this is a song for an America Woody saw from the lonesome highway, as he travel led from one end of the country to the other with guitar in hand and the songs that made him a legend drifting out over the Dust Bowl.
Sweet Soul Music
A gripping narrative that captures the tumult and liberating energy of a nation in transition, Sweet Soul Music is an intimate portrait of the legendary performers - Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, James Brown, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Al Green among them - who merged gospel and rhythm and blues to create Southern soul music. Through rare interviews and with unique insight, Peter Guralnick tells the definitive story of the songs that inspired a generation and forever changed the sound of American music.
Robert Palmer was the New York Times first full-time rock writer and chief pop critic (1976-1988) and has been a contributing editor at Rolling Stone since the early seventies. He has taught courses in American music at Yale, Carnegie-Mellon, Bowdoin, the University of Mississippi, and Brooklyn College, where he was the first senior research fellow of the Institute for Studies in American Music to teach and write a musicological monograph on rock and roll. He is the author of Deep Blues and other books, and served as writer and music director for two award-winning documentary films, The World According to John Coltrane and Deep Blues.
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