The lives of musical greats continue to fascinate us, and this fall once again features biographies and memoirs of key players, from the producer credited with inventing rock ’n’ roll to a woman at the forefront of feminist rock.
The story of how the Internet brought the imperious music business to its knees has never been told more succinctly and readably than it is here. Beginning his narrative in 1995, when the compact disc format reigned, Stephen Witt focuses on the transformative importance of four primary figures.
The day the music died wasn’t when Buddy Holly went down in that now infamous plane crash; the music stopped flowing on December 10, 1967, when Otis Redding died in a plane crash in the icy waters of a Wisconsin lake. During his short career, Redding built the reputation of a small Southern studio, Stax, generating a funky and distinct sound whose energy fueled the music of Rufus and Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. and the MGs, and Sam and Dave, among others.
Kim Gordon’s memoir, Girl in a Band, begins and ends with two seminal gigs, the final Sonic Youth concert in 2011 that also marked the end of her marriage to front man Thurston Moore and last year’s induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when Gordon was invited to sing with the remaining members of Nirvana. These experiences, each cathartic in their own way and each described in Gordon’s carefully crafted but emotionally frank language, set the tone for this remarkable book, one that is passionate without self-pity, revealing but not gossipy and never smug. Gordon’s honesty provides a remarkable window into a personality often regarded as the Queen of Cool but who here shows herself to be as sensitive as she is fearless.
This fall, music keeps playing around in our heads thanks to a crop of books by and about some of rock's most elusive artists, as well as its most treasured songs.
As host of “The Thistle & Shamrock” on National Public Radio (NPR), Fiona Ritchie has bewitched many a listener with carefully curated playlists of traditional Celtic tunes, stories of her native Scotland, and, of course, that accent—mellifluous with a bit of a burr. No one is better qualified to take stock of Scots-Irish music than the NPR host, and in Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, she does just that.
Twenty years after he recorded “The Letter” at the age of 16—a song that became a mega-hit for the Memphis-based Box Tops—Alex Chilton mused: “I guess my life has been a series of flukes in the record business. The first thing I ever did was the biggest record I’ll ever have." Alex Chilton’s powerful musical legacy shaped bands as diverse as R.E.M. and the dB’s, yet his remarkable life story has never been the subject of a biography—until now. In A Man Called Destruction, music critic Holly George-Warren (The Road to Woodstock) vividly narrates Chilton’s rise to early fame.
African Americans have been struggling for independence, equality and respect from the moment they were brought to the New World in chains. As that struggle continues today, it’s instructive to look back on our turbulent history to learn from the past and hopefully improve on the future. The five books featured here can help us to do just that, examining historical themes that serve as milestones on the journey of progress.
Hitting the shelves this fall are several new biographies and autobiographies of rock, country and jazz stars that reveal never-before-heard refrains of personal anguish, as well as triumph.In 1969, Crosby, Stills & Nash emerged as a supergroup, showcasing sweet harmonies and tight arrangements. One year later, Neil Young joined the band, and the quartet rocketed to superstardom on the...
Whether through letters, lyrics or rare photos, a number of this season’s books capture the magic of the music we love so much.Acclaimed Beatles biographer Hunter Davies has gathered, for the first time, all of John Lennon’s correspondence in a groundbreaking collection. The John Lennon Letters, published on what would have been Lennon’s 72nd birthday, includes almost 300...