12/06/16 9:46am
Bruce Springsteen (GabboT/Wikimedia Commons); Nina Simone (By Kroon, Ron / Anefo/Wikimedia Commons); Brian Wilson (Takahiro Kyono/Wikimedia Commons); Johnny Marr (Jon Shard)

Bruce Springsteen (GabboT/Wikimedia Commons); Nina Simone (Kroon, Ron/Anefo/Wikimedia Commons); Brian Wilson (Takahiro Kyono/Wikimedia Commons); Johnny Marr (Jon Shard)

Maybe it’s the popularity of memoir, maybe it’s the passage of time, but the past few years have produced a bumper crop of books written by and about musicians. This year is no exception as several legends, including a Boss, a Beach Boy and a Smith, have released long-awaited memoirs. Even if you’re not into rockers dishing the dirt about drugs, sex, horrible band mates and other personal demons, there are some fine books on music history and criticism for the more cerebral-minded among us. There’s a little something for every serious fan of rock and roll, pop, soul and dance–it makes holiday shopping at your local book store almost too easy.

Born to Run
by Bruce Springsteen

What else needs to be said? It’s the Boss in his own words.This memoir, which runs over 500 pages, has been compared to Springsteen’s epic concerts—an incredibly detailed, earnest and satisfying affair that you never want to end.

Not Dead Yet
by Phil Collins

The self-deprecating title is a reference to Collins’ reemergence after a period of semi-retirement that had people questioning whether he gave up music for good. The accomplished Genesis drummer and popular solo act chronicles his amazing career and some of the rough patches he’s gone through. Collins even owns up to the infamous incident in which he faxed a divorce to his second wife.

Testimony
by Robbie Robertson

The driving force behind the Band through his songwriting, Robertson offers his take on being part of that iconic group, from their early years backing both Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, to their final hurrah with The Last Waltz in 1976. (more…)

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10/11/16 1:38pm

shockandawe-pb-c

Kate Bush. Prince. Madonna. Morrissey. Britney Spears. Lady Gaga. Adam Lambert. Beyoncé. They all, in varying degrees, owe their fame, success and fashion sensibility to glam rock.

Defined by a combination of camp, excess, satire and irony, glam, or glitter rock was just as revolutionary as punk or hip-hop.  If that made you raise your eyebrows, here are three reasons why: 1) glam rock, especially in the 70s, had a theatrical and bombastic quality that merged avant garde art and mainstream pop; 2) it pushed the theatricality of music forward, hinging on each artist’s ability to shock and mesmerize audiences through outrageous costumes, makeup and stage props; and 3) it challenged perceptions about sexuality and gender roles. (more…)

01/15/16 1:55pm
Photo by Mick Rock (David Chiu)

Photo by Mick Rock Photo of the photo: David Chiu

I will always remember where I was when I found out that David Bowie had died. It was around 3am on Monday morning and I woke up, recovering after working a grueling overnight shift. In an insomniac reflex, I checked my phone for messages and came across a friend’s Facebook post praising Bowie. I initially thought, ‘Oh, that’s sweet and thoughtful.’ But then my sleepy-eyed expression turned into shock and disbelief as I further scrolled down my news feed.

The passing of the Thin White Duke hit me harder than the death of any other artist I can remember. Just a few days earlier, Bowie had celebrated his 69th birthday and released his latest album Blackstar. Admittedly he kept a low profile in the last few years, but I assumed it was because he wanted to keep an air of mystery and surprise, qualities that have been the cornerstone of his career. Even to the end, he was an enigma. (more…)

09/17/15 10:37am
From l-r: Grace Jones (Steffmeister); Patti Smith (Michael Morel); Chrissie Hynde (Harmony Gerber); John Fogerty (marco annunziata) via Wikimedia Commons

From l-r: Grace Jones (Steffmeister); Patti Smith (Michael Morel); Chrissie Hynde (Harmony Gerber); John Fogerty (marco annunziata) via Wikimedia Commons

Grace Jones. Patti Smith. Chrissie Hyndes. John Fogerty. Carly Simon. Elvis Costello. If you fished names at random out of a hat filled with influential musicians you’d be hard pressed to come up with a more fascinating mix of performers, and they all have new memoirs out this fall. In fact, it’s an unusually fine crop of music books that we can look forward to over the next few months. In addition to all those memoirs there’s also a photography book with David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust as the subject (how is this just coming out now?), a book of Beatles lyrics, and an offbeat autobiography and cookbook from former Blake Baby, Freda Love Smith. The bottom line? If you’re a music-loving bookworm, this fall is your nirvana. (There are also some great music-themed panels at the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend.) (more…)

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