Comin’ At Ya: Fall 2016 Music Books
While most of us are probably still lingering over our summer reading — or just now taking the first book off the stack that’s teetering precipitously on our night tables — it’s never too early to start thinking about new fall music books, and making lists of the ones we most want to read.
Every fall, a few really big memoirs are released. This upcoming season is no different, even though there are fewer big memoirs than in recent years.
Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is perhaps the most anticipated of the bunch, but two Beach Boys — Brian Wilson and Mike Love — tell their own tales of their lives inside and outside the group, with Love going first.
One of the most anticipated biographies of the fall, in the realm of roots music, is Tamara Saviano’s Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark. Part memoir and part biography, Saviano draws deeply on her relationship with Clark and his wife Susanna, weaving a stunning narrative and affectionately drawn portrait of his life and music.
Other notable titles include Lloyd Sachs’ T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit, Ed Ward’s The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963, Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs, Haruki Murakami’s Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, and Erin Duvall’s Country Music Hair.
Here’s a sampling of what’s to come in a few months, and a list to guide you as you start building more stacks of music books to read.
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen. S&S, $32.50 — “Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. I’ve tried to do this,” writes Springsteen. I hope he’ll deliver in this memoir, which is embargoed.
Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach, Mike Love and James S. Hirsch. Blue Rider, $28 — The first one on the beach with his story of the good and bad vibrations in his life in and after the Beach Boys.
Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic, Mark Blake. Backbeat Books, $34.99 — A tribute to Queen’s transcendent lead singer.
Die Young with Me: A Memoir, Rob Rufus. Touchstone, $25 — Rufus’ harrowing account of his battle against cancer and the ways that music helped him pull through.
The Zapple Diaries: The Rise and Fall of the Last Beatles Label, Barry Miles. Abrams Image, $24.95 — Miles, author of the authorized Paul McCartney biography, offers an insider’s account of the Beatles’ experimental record label.
The Rolling Stones All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track, Phillippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon. Black Dog & Leventhal, $50 — The title tells us everything we need to know.
Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983, Tim Lawrence. Duke University Press, $27.95 — Traces the rise and fall of the New York dance party scene.
Terminated for Reasons of Taste: Other Ways to Hear Essential and Inessential Music, Chuck Eddy. Duke University Press, $26.95 — Billboard senior editor Eddy looks at rock music from the vantage of the losers: “Rock ‘n’ roll history is written by the winners. Which stinks, because the losers have always played a big role in keeping rock interesting.”
Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture, Jace Clayton. FSG, $16 paper — The writer and artist DJ/rupture guides us on a world tour of music and technology.
Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap, Ben Westhoff. Hachette, $28 — The definitive history of West Coast hip-hop.
Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day, Joel Selvin. Dey Street, $27.99 — Acclaimed rock journalist Selvin provides a definitive account of the anti-Woodstock in exclusive never-before-revealed details of the December 1969 concert.
The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music’s Golden Age, Bill Dahl. University of Chicago, $35 — A rich illustrated history of the blues.
American Epic: When Music Gave America Her Voice, Elijah Wald and Bernard McMahon. Touchstone, $29.99 — The companion book to the PBS and BBC documentary series celebrating the pioneers and artists of American roots music.
Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, Jack Hamilton. Harvard $29.95 — Challenges the racial categories that distort standard histories or rock music.
Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music, Bill Anderson with Peter Cooper. University of Georgia, $29.95 — Acclaimed songwriter Anderson revises and expands his 1989 autobiography as he revisits the ups and downs of the past 20 years of his life.
Traveling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield, Todd Mayfield and Travis Atria. Chicago Review Press, $28.99 — A son’s story of his soul-stirring father, the guitarist who put led the Impressions and whose music played a crucial role in the civil rights movement.
I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir, Brian Wilson and Ben Greenman. Da Capo, $26.99 — Wilson has “had a whole lifetime” to take his memories in, and now he “had a whole book to put it out there.” 125,000 first printing.
T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit, Lloyd Sachs. University of Texas Press, $26.95 — Former No Depression senior editor Sachs offer the first detailed critical appreciations of one of Americana’s foremost artists and producers.
A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism, Paul Youngquist. University of Texas Press, $27.95 — A spirited introduction to the life and work of the underappreciated Sun Ra.
Love for Sale: Pop Music in America, David Hadju. FSG, $27 — The Nation‘s music critic offers his personal and idiosyncratic history of pop music.
Dreaming the Beatles: A Love Story of One Band and the World, Robert J. Sheffield. Dey Street $24.99 — Rolling Stone columnist looks at The Beatles and explores what they mean today and why they still matter.
More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction, Kodwo Eshun. Verso $19.95 paper — New edition of the classic work on the music of Afrofuturism.
Pickers and Poets: The Ruthlessly Poetic Singer-Songwriters of Texas, Craig Clifford, Joe Nick Patoski, Craig Hillis. Texas A&M University Press, $29.95 — Explores the poetic quality of songs by Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and other Texas singer-songwriters.
New York Rock: From the Rise of The Velvet Underground to the Fall of CBGB, Steven Blush. St. Martin’s, Griffin $21.99 paper — The definitive history of this key period in rock and roll.
Taylor Swift: This is Our Song, Tyler Conroy. S&S, $28 — To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Swift’s first record, Swift’s fans have put together this lavishly illustrated scrapbook, but it also includes essays, interviews, and album reviews from respected journalists from Ann Powers to Sasha Frere-Jones.
Capricorn Rising: Conversations in Southern Rock, Michael Buffalo Smith. Mercer, $24 paper — A collection of interviews with many of the stars, producers, and associates of Capricorn Records — the premier Southern rock record label of the 1970s.
The Sick Bag Song, Nick Cave, Andrea Joyce. Canongate Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $21 — Cave chronicles his 2014 22-city American tour with the Bad Seeds in a memoir that he started writing on airline sickness bags.
Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs, Albert Murray, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Paul Devlin. Library of America, $45 — Marks the great jazz critic and essayist’s 100th birthday in the most complete collection of his nonfiction yet published.
Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark. Tamara Saviano. Texas A&M University Press, $29.95 — The definitive biography of Guy Clark.
The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers between Music and Technology, Thomas Dolby. Flatiron, $27.99–Thomas Dolby’s story, from “Science” to EMI regime changes to inventing the musical ringtone, via his Silicon Valley company Beatnik, and beyond.
Just Getting Started, Tony Bennett. Harper, $27.99 — Bennett looks back on his life and career and gives a tribute to the people who’ve influenced and shaped his career. 100,000 first printing.
Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams, Mark Ribowsky Norton/Liveright, $29.95 — Ribowsky’s portrait of the father of country music that promises to uncover the real man behind the myths.
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, Haruki Murakami. Knopf, $26.95 — Personal and intimate conversation between the acclaimed novelist and his close friend, the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963, Ed Ward. Flatiron Books, $35 — Ward, the rock and roll historian for NPR’s Fresh Air, offers a sweeping cultural history of rock’s deepest roots.
Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B, and Pop, Marc Myers. Grove $26 — Based on his Wall Street Journal column, “Anatomy of a Song,” Myers’ collection tells the stories behind the songs that have shaped music history, including Keith Richards’ “Street Fighting Man,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time,” and Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.”
The Martin Archives: A Scrapbook of Treasures from the World’s Foremost Acoustic Guitar Maker, Jim Washburn. Hal Leonard, $45 — A unique look inside C.F. Martin’s reign as America’s oldest and most revered guitar maker viewed through a selection of images, correspondence, and artifacts.
Country Music Hair, Erin Duvall. Harper Design, $16.99 — An illustrated tour of some of country’s most memorable mullets, bob, beehives, and bouffants.
Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes: Jim Walsh on Music from Minneapolis to the Outer Limits, Jim Walsh. University of Minnesota, $22.95 — A collection of Twin Cities’ journalist Walsh’s reviews, essays, and interviews.
More Songwriters on Songwriting, Paul Zollo. Da Capo, $22.99 paper — A new collection of interviews with more than 40 groundbreaking songwriters, published on the 25th anniversary of the original volume.
Testimony: A Memoir, Robbie Robertson. Knopf Canada (currently without a US distributor and available for order on Amazon Canada)–The Band’s legendary guitarist and consummate storyteller weaves a spellbinding narrative about his life and music.
The History of Rock in Fifty Guitars, Bruce Wexler. The History Press, $24.95 paper — This richly illustrated book traces the development of the guitar and the artists, from Bill Haley to Jimi Hendrix, who made it famous in their music over seven decades.