best MUSIC books you've read?

they can be bios, autobios, or anything else about music.

3 that come to mind for me:
Walk This Way - Aerosmith
No One Here Gets Out Alive - Doors
Hammer of the Gods - Led Zeppelin

Chief’s Domain -

I just finished “Cash” by Johnny Cash. My favorite part is where he describes how life on the road has changed in the last 40 years: “Extra crispy at KFC. That’s it.”

Well, crap. I just packed up a good portion of my music books for the up-coming move. I remember really liking “Black Noise” by Tricia Rose. That’s a look at the culture of rap music. I used that book extensively when I wrote my senior honors thesis about racism in the music industry as it relates to rap music. I also used a book called “Anti-Rock” but I don’t remember who wrote it. That was about all the backlash against rock music over the past few decades.

“She’s a Rebel” by Gillian Gaar is a good look at the history of women in rock.

“Lords of Chaos” is rather sensationalistic but it’s an interesting look at the culture surrounding black metal. “Alternative Press” had a good article in their magazine a few years ago that tackled this topic also.

“Never got this hot in Brooklyn. This is like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot…I don’t know if I can stay here if it’s gonna be this hot.”
-Matthew Broderick in “Biloxi Blues”

Oh dear . . . where do I begin?

Just a few of the books I have around here and/or that come to mind off the top of my head:

“Music On My Mind: The Memoirs of An American Pianist” by Willie “The Lion” Smith. You might have to search a little bit for this one. A great book (only partly fiction :slight_smile: ) about a truly wonderful pianist of the stride era.

Any book of jazz criticism by Whitney Balliett.

“Beneath the Underdog” by Charles Mingus. More fictionalized than Willie’s book, but tremendous insight into one of our greatest composers and musicians.

“Early Jazz” by Gunther Schuller. Definitive textbook for history buffs, easily readable.

“The Definitive Biography of P.D.Q. Bach” by Professor Peter D. Schickele. No, it’s not from the presses of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. “History’s most justifiably neglected composer; a pimple on the face of music.”

“The Lords and New Creatures,” by Jim Morrison.

I’ll also list some textbooks/sourcebooks, if anybody’s interested.

your humble TubaDiva

Dear God, a book about a band/music sounds like the worlds worst idea. Books on tape maybe, but the concept of writing about a band is ironic. Music is meant to be listened to, not analyzed.

Someone - I believe it was Zappa - once said that “Writing about music is like dancing about arcitecture.”

As a published music critic, I like to think he was wrong about that… Still, here are a couple books I wish I wrote:

Psychotic Reactions and Carborator Dung
Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs was the best rock critic ever. Compiled here by friend and colleague Greil Marcus is a collection of some of his inspiring prose. Nobody writes like Lester anymore, mainly because you can’t interview an artist at 3AM and have it turn into a big pissing match of “Fuck You” “No, fuck YOU!” like he does with Lou Reed. Utterly inspiring. I read from it often, it is my Bible.

Stairway To Hell - The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe
Chuck Eddy

A metal fans worst nightmare, actually, but an all-around music fan’s delight. Eddy - in a style as irreverent as Bangs’ - lists 500 albums that he thinks every headbanger should love, and includes a Teena Marie album. In the Top 10. And that’s just the beginning. He can be sexist and crude, but hey - it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right? Great book.

Please Kill Me - The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain

Nothing but quotes from legends, losers and everyone in between chronicaling first person the scenes from Detroit’s Stooges and MC5 through the Bowery in NYC with stops in England, Cleveland and wherever punks congreated before it became a marketing angle. A must for anyone who ever pogo’ed.

Lords Of Chaos - The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground
Michael Moynihan & Didrik Soderlind

In Norway in the early '90s, a bunch of dudes decided that black metal was more than music to scare your parents with - it was a soundtrack to burning churches, killing friends, killing foes, and praising all things evil. This book is an excellent documentary of this scene that refuses to show glorification or any real judgement passing on it’s subjects. Instead, it just presents the story and let’s the reader decide.

The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal
Martin Popoff

Dude is a friend of mine, but he becamse one because I was really jealous he wrote this book before I could. 3,700 albums from Canadian female guitarist Lee Aaron to Texas boogie merchants ZZ Top, hitting all genres, sub-genres and pseudo-genres of metal, all reviewed in a pleasant manner that, like the music, is blunt, honest and pointedly on the mark (most of the time!).

The Business of Music
I’m With The Band - Confessions of a Groupie**

Brian O’Neill
CMC International Records

ICQ 35294890
AIM Scrabble1
Yahoo Messenger Brian_ONeill

A funny line, but Zappa was one of those Renaissance Man types, he could could do it all, so he kinda put the lie to that, didn’t he?

Seriously, it’s been my observation that behind every example of music criticism there’s generally a musician (or wannabe) lurking. (See ref. Dan Morgenstern, Phil Schaap, Gary Giddings . . .and not to forget, the old music thief himself, Leonard Feather.)Them’s that can’t do take potshots at them’s that can.

your humble TubaDiva
“Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.”–Charlie Parker

PS GREAT books, Satan. You truly ARE the Dark Side. :slight_smile:

Two of Us, by some Giuliani guy. Puts some Beatles myths to rest. There’s even some new material.
Minstrels in the Gallery. Strictly the story of a band that “fell between two stools”, folk and rock. Does not even give details on Ian Andersson. I think he never went to college.
What’s with the album.Are they tring to be hip or what?Really tells you where they are @.

Quickly, alert the nation’s conservatories and tell them to dispense with all their music theory and analysis classes. . .

Anyway, some of the better ones I’ve read include:

The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn

Get Back by Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt

Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton, by Diane Wood Middlebrook. (Tipton was a jazz pianist and vocalist who lived nearly her entire adult life as a man. A fascinating story.)

Hey, Tuba, how goes the bass playing? Making any progress?

“Playing in the Band” – The definitive story of the Dead.

“Hammer of the Gods” – TDSO Zep

“No One Gets Out of Here Alive” – TDSO Mr. Mojo Risin’.

In that order.

Hey, Tuba, how goes the bass playing?

Not to take this off topic but for just a mo . . .

Had a bit of a setback. I’ve discovered I need more physical therapy. I’m still having troubles getting my hands and arms to do what I need them to when I need them to; not getting 100% response when I reach out to do stuff. Not sure if this is a temporary thing or just a further manifestation of the original nerve entrapment and/or tendon damage (I still have a lot of scar tissue wrapped around the tendons, you can feel the adhesions), but I’m optimistic that this will pass and I will persevere.

Hurts like a mother sometimes too, more than just the usual everyday level of pain; that’s nature’s way of saying “back off,” I guess.

My sister-in-law is a massage therapist and she works with both physical therapists and personal trainers; I’m considering asking her for a consultation between all three fields here to find some treatment/exercise program that’s going to get me over this hump.

(For those that might not know my story, I have carpal tunnel in both hands, tendinitis in both arms, both chronic situations. Usually I get along okay as long as I don’t do anything, it’s when I try to extend myself at all that bad things start happening. And no, surgery’s not an option in my case.)

I’ve GOT to get better; I just discovered that Carol Kaye, one of the greatest bass players of all time and a personal hero to me, gives private lessons. Don’t want to disgrace myself when I can scrape it together enough to get a lesson from her. . . :slight_smile:

Everything cool with you, Phil? Sure hope so. I still think we all need to put a SD band together and jam sometime. But that’s another topic . . .

your humble TubaDiva
(4 flats, no waiting)

“Caught in the Crossfire” about Stevie Ray Vaughan

“A Day in the Life” about Beatles

“The Phisher’s Almanac” about Phish

“No One Here Gets Out Alive” about the Doors

“Hammer of the Gods” about Led Zeppelin

“Five Against One” about Pearl Jam

Tuba, sorry to hear about the ongoing problems. That has GOT to be tough. Best wishes that everything works out, though.

Carol is one of my fave raves, too. Not only for the work she did with the Beach Boys and with the Wrecking Crew, but all the work she did when Motown moved recording operations from Detroit to L.A. I mean, is there a better groove around than Stevie’s “I Was Made To Love Her”? I think not!

There are lots of good music books, but for anyone who wants to know what it’s really like to be in a band, check these 2 books out:

Get In the Van - Henry Rollins: This is a collection of his daily journal while he was the lead singer for Black Flag in the early/mid 80’s. If you ever wonder why this guy seems so messed up, the reasons are all here. It almost makes you wonder why anyone would want to be in a band.

The Cheese Chronicles - Tommy Womack: This guy played guitar in a band called Government Cheese in the 80’s. There’s a band like them in every town, big locally but can’t seem to break out no matter how hard they try. He gives a really funny, down to earth account of what it’s like to be that band. So good it makes me forget Rollins book and want to go back on another 2 month tour playing for 30 people and sleeping at highway rest stops.

Maybe not…

Hey Tuba, I feel your pain. I know its not as bad as what you’ve got, but a few months ago I chipped a bone in my left middle finger, and there are certain chords that are painful for me to play, and bending strings with that finger is all but impossible now.

If you know any of XTCs music, then “Song Stories” makes good reading. The band members talk about each song and album.

Karl Haas’ Inside Music is a good introduction to classical music. I don’t know if it’s still in print; I got my copy at a used bookstore.

The Cat In The Hat

I love fiction about rock and roll. The best I’ve heard are “The Ground Beneath her Feet” by Rushdie (actually, it’s about way more than rock and roll, but. . . .) and “Goodbye Without Leaving” I can’t remember who wrote it, but it was this great novel about a woman who was the former backup singer for this Mo-Town-esque performer. It’s so wonderful!!

Catinthehat: Fun stuff on classical by David Barber, such as “If it aint Baroque…”, Bach Beethoven and the boys etc.
Very light, $14 paperbacks.

If you really want to know about the Beatles, read The Love You Make by Peter Brown and somebody. He was part of their crew, so he has more insight into them as people than a research biographer would have. He recreates a lot of conversation, with phonetically correct Liverpudlian.

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green