Books On Music
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 23:09
Sometimes, just listening to an album isn’t enough to grasp the full concept or understand the entire story. That’s when music-based literature comes into play. Here are 10 of my favorite books on music, in no particular order:
1. “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Works of a Legendary Rock Critic: Rock’n’Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock’n’Roll” by Lester Bangs
A collection of essays, articles and drug-induced ramblings by Lester Bangs, arguably the greatest rock critic in American history.
2. “Love is a Mixtape” by Rob Sheffield
Though it isn’t what you’d consider a musical lexicon, “Love” is the heart-wrenching, true story of Sheffield and his late wife, Renee.
3. “Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota” by Chuck Klosterman
SPIN writer Chuck Klosterman’s shameless declaration of love for hair metal.
4. “How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music” by Elijah Wald
The title is a tease—the Beatles don’t even make an appearance until the last chapter. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this novel is an articulate, all-inclusive, pre-Beatle timeline (Note: heavy emphasis on ragtime and jazz).
5. “Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music” by Ellen Willis
Willis, the first pop music critic for The New Yorker, changed the way music is rated to this day. Instead of listening for sound and structure, she viewed each piece through an aggressively political eye. A must-read? Her essay on why Cat Steven’s “Wild World” is more sexist than the Rolling Stone’s “Under My Thumb.”
6. “Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music” by Greg Kot
A nonpartisan look at the rise of digital media, and an eye-opener for anyone that’s dabbled in illegal downloading.
7. “Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991” by Michael Azerrad
What happened between the first wave of punk and Nirvana’s “Nevermind?” Azerrad is ready and willing to catch you up on what you missed.
8. “Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010” by Greil Marcus
A collection of every Greil Marcus piece that so much as mentions Dylan’s name.