A Look Ahead to the Best Music Reads of Fall
Summer might be a time when the rest of the world slows down and tries to catch up with itself, but not the publishing world. Since April and May, publishers have been releasing their fall 2018 catalogs, whose pages are chock full of big books — in size (the Bill Monroe biography, for example, weighs in at almost 700 pages) and in sales expectations. While this year’s fall crop of music books doesn’t contain the blockbusters of years past —unless Stephen Still does somehow miraculously completes that memoir he’s been working on for at least four years now and his publisher rushes it out — there are plenty of great books coming between August and February (the publishing world’s “fall” books season) for us to wish that fall would hurry up and get here.
Here are the highlights, in no particular order (and this list is based on what publishers report to me and so is in no way exhaustive); happy reading!
Jessica Hopper, Night Moves (Texas, Sept.) — Music critic Hopper (The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic) delivers a vivid memoir of her obsession with Chicago and the music clubs and scenes there that shaped her as a music writer.
Tom Ewing, Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man (Illinois, Sept.) — Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Ewing, who played with Monroe for ten years (1981-1991), offers a detailed, decade-by-decade, almost moment-by-moment chronicle of the Father of Bluegrass. Because of its thoroughness, it will be the standard biography.
Robert Christgau, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017 (Duke, Oct.) — You either love Christgau or you don’t, but his cantankerous, affectionate, cut-to-the chase reviews and essays over the past 50 years have defined music journalism, and this collection offers an opportunity to re-read the best of the self-proclaimed Dean of American Rock Critics.
Robin Green, The Only Girl: My Life and Times on the Masthead of Rolling Stone (Little, Brown, Aug.) — Green applied to Rolling Stone thinking she’d be part of the magazine’s clerical staff; however, she ended up writing stories for the magazine in the early 1970s, and in this memoir she dishes the inside scoop on what it was like being the only woman writing for the Stone at the time.
Nate Chinen, Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (Pantheon, Aug.) — In one of the top ten music books of the year, New York Times jazz critic Chinen offers a tour-de-force of the evolution of jazz as it moves toward unexpected composites and convergences.
Tina Turner, My Love Story: A Memoir (Atria, Oct.) — The legendary Turner chronicles her life from her childhood in Tennessee to her life in music, sharing deeply personal stories about her abuse and her illnesses.
Jorma Kaukonen, Been So Long: My Life and Music (St. Martin’s, Aug.) — The stellar guitarist for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna narrates the wild tales of San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s but also provides a generous glimpse into his music and his growth and continued development as a musician.
Jeff Tweedy, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) (Dutton, Nov.) — Uncle Tupelo and Wilco member shares stories of his growing up in rural Illinois, his rise to fame, and facets of his creative process.
Eric Lerner, Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen (Da Capo, Oct.) — After Leonard Cohen died, there were bound to be several books about him, and Lerner, who first met Cohen in a zendo, shares a different perspective on the singer, beginning with the time they shared a house together and moving through various stages of life, including marriages and divorces.
Harold F. Eggers Jr. and L.E. McCullough, My Life with Townes Van Zandt: Music, Genus, and Rage (Backbeat Oct.) — Van Zandt’s manager Eggers offers his own take on life on the road in the studio with Van Zandt.
Dorothy Carvello, Anything for a Hit: An A&R Woman’s Story of Surviving the Music Industry (Chicago Review Press Sept.) — The first female A&R executive at Atlantic Records shares her stories of her rise in the business and of working with Madonna and Michael Jackson and other artists.
Flea, Acid for the Children: A Memoir (Grand Central, Sept.) — The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist shares the story of his life. Expectations are high for this one since the publisher has announced a 400,000-copy first printing.
Roger Daltrey, Untitled (Holt, Oct.) — Who’s next to tell his story of the Who? Daltrey gives us the lowdown — and the book comes on the heels of his summer tour — on his life and his music.
Philip Norman, Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton (Little, Brown, Nov.) — Norman (Shout!) chronicles Clapton’s life and music from the Yardbirds and Cream through his solo career.
Alan Light, Johnny Cash: The Life and Legacy of the Man in Black (Smithsonian, Oct.) — Of the making of many books about Johnny Cash there is no end, and Light provides his look by focusing on notes and lyric sheets held by the Cash family.
John Carter Cash, The Cash and Carter Family Cookbook (Thomas Nelson, Sept.) — And if you want to cook and eat like the Carters and the Cashes, here are the recipes.
Kenney Jones, Let the Good Times Roll: My Life in the World’s Greatest Rock Bands (St. Martin’s, Sept.) — The drummer for the Faces and the Who shares his behind-the-scenes looks at music scenes from the British Invasion of the 1960s up through the excesses of the 1980s.
Doug Seegers, with Steve Eubanks, Going Down to the River: A Homeless Musician, an Unforgettable Song, and the Miraculous Encounter That Changed a Life (Nelson, Sept.) — A few years ago, Seegers was the darling at the Americana Festival in Nashville because of his story of his journey from homelessness to hit musician. He shares these stories in his new memoir.
John Lingan, Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of a Mountaintop Honky-Tonk (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July) — In an eloquent tale of Winchester, Virginia, journalist Lingan tells a vivid story of DJ Jim McCoy and the honky-tonk where hometown girl Patsy Cline got her start and the rise and fall of music and a mountain town.
Rosanne Cash and Dan Rizzie, Bird on a Blade (Texas, Oct.) — Releasing at the same time as her new album, She Remembers Everything, Cash’s book offers 50 pairings of lines from her songs with images from her friend Rizzie to create an inspirational mosaic.
Booker T. Jones, Untitled (Little, Brown, TBA) — The legendary leader of the Stax house band, Booker T. & the MGs, Jones tells the story of his life and music.