Books About Music

Hey folks, I thought It would be cool to have a thread where we recommend books about music that we've enjoyed reading, so I'll kick things off. . . .

A while back I got the book 'Things The Grandchildren Should Know' by Mark Oliver Everett (E from eels). He's been through some heavy stuff but it was a fascinating read. In fact it's given me a new appreciation for eels. I bought their first 3 albums back in the day and for some reason didn't keep up as there were so many other bands I was into. Since reading the book I've been trying to get my hands on everything they've done since. I'm now loving 'Daisies of the Galaxy' despite not being a huge fan when it came out. I've been playing 'Blinking Lights and Other Revelations' and 'Live at Town Hall' a lot. The book adds meaning to the songs - for example 'I Like Birds' is about E deciding to put up a birdfeeder in his garden to feel close to his Mum after she had passed away, as she used to enjoy feeding the birds. It's a very honest and heartwarming book which I'd recommend whether you're a fan of eels or not. If you're a lapsed fan like me, it might rekindle your affection for them!

I recently bought 'Last Shop Standing', a book about the sad demise of independant record shops in recent years, I got a signed copy but haven't read it yet. I also have 'Goodbye 20th Century - A Biography of Sonic Youth', the Morrissey autobiography, and haven't started them yet either (I buy more books than I have time to read yet am asking for recommendations!).

Peter Hook's book 'Unknown Pleasures' about his time in Joy Division is essential for fans of the band, again a fascinating read.

The series of short 33 & 1/3 books, written about 'classic' albums is a great idea. I've read the Spiderland and Wowee Zowee ones and have several I want to get.

Want to get the Sonic Youth book 'No Setlist; Pieces of a Sonic Life' by Jenn Benningfield but its out of print and impossible to find, and also the Kim Gordon book 'Girl in a Band'.


  • edited May 2015 Posts: 90

    Love that Eels autobiography, heartbreaking and uplifting. love for the slint 33/3 as well, a brilliant insight into an enigmatic band.

    Everyone on this forum should read Facing the other way:the story of 4ad by Martin Aston as there is a hefty bit about RHP and many many other great bands that were part of the label's glory years.

    Also Our band could be your life by Michael Azerrad - brilliant mini biographies of seminal 80s punk bands eg butthole surfers, replacements, mission of Burma etc.

    Others that stand out in my mind - Bob Dylan - Chronicles, Nick Kent - the dark stuff(big interviews from when NME was good), Simon Reynolds - rip it up and start again(post punk), Joe Boyd - white bicycles(60s British folk scene), Iain Johnston - Bad Seed (Nick Cave biog), Mark Yarm - Everybody loves our town(early Seattle grunge)
    Plus I really really really recommend Mötley Crüe The dark stuff, hilarious and (clinically) fascinating without the need to know their songs.

  • Posts: 217

    @elusive_pimpernel said:
    Plus I really really really recommend Mötley Crüe The dark stuff, hilarious and (clinically) fascinating without the need to know their songs.

    It's called 'The Dirt'. I haven't read it but I've heard that it's a fantastic book, a must read for every person in a rock band!

  • edited May 2015 Posts: 961

    Great idea this...I have Facing the Other Way and Things the Granchildren Should Know both excellent

    Bad Vibes Britpop and my part in its Downfall by Luke Haines a brilliantly curmudgeonly look at an era and a man removed from it all and still going strong in the music industry

    Talking of curmudgeons the King of them all is Mark E Smith and Renegade The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith is funny sarcastic and no holds barred scathing especially about ex members of The Fall and there have been one or two bus-loads of them

    Even though they are not music-related he is a musician so I would highly recommend the books of Richmond Fontaine's Willy Vlautin especially Lean on Pete

  • Posts: 24

    American Hit Radio: A History of Popular Singles from 1955 to the Present, by Thomas Ryan, Gorden Mack's adopted brother.

  • edited May 2015 Posts: 309

    @Thunderbolt Good idea, cheers. There are too many excellent music related books so hopefully we'll see a lot of book recommendations. I agree with @MrHanky re. Facing the other way, and with @elusive_pimpernel re. Rip it up and start again. Two excellent choices.

    A few of my personal favs are Heavier than Heaven(about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana), Metal Box(Story of PIL), No Irish, no blacks, no dogs(Johnny Rotten) and Siouxsie & the Banshees The Authorised Biography.

    A couple of other books I enjoyed were 31 Songs by Nick Hornby, and The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock which deals mainly with the first wave of 'gothic' bands like SATB, Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division.

  • Posts: 309

    Another book I enjoyed a lot and, imo, is essential reading for anyone who is interested in the fascinating stories behind the first ever bootleg, and the subsequent ones (mostly LP releases but CD and other formats are also featured) is The Great White Wonders by Clinton Heylin. It was also published under a different title - Bootleg! The Secret History of the other Recording Industry.

  • edited May 2015 Posts: 240

    Hellfire by Nick Tosches is my favorite music book. The story of Jerry Lee Lewis but written in a very unique way.

    I love The Dirt too. That book was so much fun to read. You can really fly through it.

    I thought Morrissey's autobiography was pretty bland and I had high hopes for it.

    @thunderbolt I loved Peter Hook's Unknown Pleasures book. It was a lot funnier than I expected it to be.

  • Posts: 120

    I just finished Facing the Other Way about a week ago and recommend it as well.

  • edited May 2015 Posts: 36

    Peter Hook's book on the Hacienda (How not to run a club) was astounding. If you liked Unknown Pleasures then check it out as it's even better in my opinion.
    Meet the Residents is a great read in light of the fact that there's not a lot else out there. Also: Wish the World Away (Eitzel and American Music Club), Goodbye 20th Century (Sonic Youth), Paradoxical Undressing (Kristin Hersh), See a little light (Bob Mould), Glamour Chase (Billy Mackenzie - awesome but tragic read), My Magpie eyes grow hungry for the prize (Creation Records), Tainted Life (Marc Almond), Head on/Reposessed (Julian Cope - Head On is just such a good read) and Black Postcards (Dean Wareham). I also loved The Dirt and Slash's book was worth a read as well.

    Edit Oh yeah, Bad Vibes (Luke Haines/Auteurs) - a glorious tale of career sabotage and paranoid.

  • Posts: 309

    Another book I enjoyed a lot but forgot to mention is The Creation Records Story. It was an essential read for me, as some of my favs like House of Love, JAMC and MBV were all signed to Creation Recs, plus the fact that I've always considered Creation and 4AD as the best 80's/90's labels.

  • Posts: 217

    @salvador_sanchez said:
    Hellfire by Nick Tosches is my favorite music book. The story of Jerry Lee Lewis but written in a very unique way.

    It's a wonderful read, but it's more than a book about music, Tosches is a remarkable novelist and the book really stands on its own as a great work of literature.

  • Posts: 15

    The 33 1/3 series is really great. I particularly enjoyed the Slint and Captain Beefheart books.

  • edited July 2015 Posts: 309

    Has anyone read Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby? It's quite funny reading about internet music forums and the intense devotion shown by Tucker Crowe's fans -a fictional singer who hasn't recorded any music at all for 25 years! But his record label has just released a stripped-down demo album of his best selling LP and his fans are going crazy!

    I think most of us will appreciate this book, considering we're all fanatics of a particular singer songwriter :)

  • Posts: 961

    Just got a copy of How Music Works by David Byrne so can't wait to read that....

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