Favorite Rock Music Books

Poetry, fiction, truth, and words on a page.

Moderator: michael

Post Reply
User avatar
Piano Mouth
Posts: 682
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:39 pm

Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by Piano Mouth »

Hey guys, just curious, what are some of your favorite books on rock and roll music? I like "Our Band Could Be Your Life" and "Confusion is Next" about Sonic Youth.

User avatar
joseghast
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:32 am
Location: North London
Contact:

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by joseghast »

I haven't re-read this in a million years, but thinking about it now it may be my favourite book on rock'n'roll. It's Peter Guralnick's Feel Like Going Home. I really loved the interviews.

User avatar
walto
Posts: 4738
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 7:58 pm
Location: Boston area

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by walto »

I enjoyed Drumbo's "Mommie Dearest" book about Beefheart. https://www.amazon.com/Beefheart-Throug ... 0956121217
"Freedom of thought and speech without available means of gaining information and methods of sound analysis, are empty. Protection and security are meaningless until there is something positive worth protecting." E.W. Hall

User avatar
negative potential
Posts: 701
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:45 am

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by negative potential »

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs

How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald

User avatar
joseghast
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:32 am
Location: North London
Contact:

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by joseghast »

negative potential wrote:Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
Yeah! I haven't read this one yet but it's definitely on the list.
negative potential wrote:How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald
Now this looks really interesting. I just had a quick read through the author's webpage and the way he writes about the music seems spot on to me.

This has also reminded me of a book that is probably the best music biography I've read: Really the Blues by Mezz Mezzrow. Although it's not strictly a Rock book, I think the attitude is there (and the drugs, and prison).

User avatar
Captain Hate
Posts: 6547
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 6:05 pm

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by Captain Hate »

Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues - Elijah Wald
Without hyperbole I've really got nothing

User avatar
negative potential
Posts: 701
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:45 am

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by negative potential »

Wald is just awesome in general; I also second Escaping the Delta.

The great thing about the pop music history is that he steps back from the usual approach of trying to construct heroic lineages of artistic geniuses and instead tries to focus on _what most people were actually playing and listening to_ at the time, which is really enlightening.

User avatar
Steve Minkin
Posts: 1677
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:11 pm
Location: Healdsburg, California
Contact:

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by Steve Minkin »

Liner notes sometimes provide the most insightful and detailed information you'll get for a particular artist or group. They're kind of product specific, but some record labels take extra care with their notes. Bear Family Records is consistently excellent, Razor and Tie and Rhino are usually good.

User avatar
joseghast
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:32 am
Location: North London
Contact:

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by joseghast »

negative potential wrote:Wald is just awesome in general; I also second Escaping the Delta.

The great thing about the pop music history is that he steps back from the usual approach of trying to construct heroic lineages of artistic geniuses and instead tries to focus on _what most people were actually playing and listening to_ at the time, which is really enlightening.
This is what interested me the most about the book when I read through the author's webpage. There's a copy on the mail, I can't wait for this one!!

It also reminds me of a polemic that happened in Spain around 4 years ago, where one of the main journalists that covered the indie music scene wrote a book denouncing the bands and the hipster culture that grew with them as part of a cultural domination that was not reflecting the real taste of the people. There are a lot of problems with that book, but since I've lived through the times he discusses, I imagine there's analogies to be made in the way the press decides to report on certain artists/records/concerts and not others that might actually be more popular. It's been a while since I read the book but he does tell stories about being told by newspaper editors that "no one is interested" in an article about a particular roma artist but the concert is better attended than a lot of the indie ones.

User avatar
negative potential
Posts: 701
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:45 am

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by negative potential »

Have you started the Wald yet? I've been dipping back into sections randomly recently while listening to music in the evenings.

One aspect that I find refreshing is how at pains he is to stress continuity in shifting popular tastes, debunking the mythology of music critics that popular music is a series of "revolutions" overthrowing a previous musical ancien regime. He already does this in the sections on the 20s and 30s, stressing that audiences of the time didn't make hard and fast distinctions between "sweet" and "hot" bands, and that the elevation of the latter to the status of "jazz" is primarily an act of critical sifting.

But where this point really bears fruit is in the chapter on rock n roll, where he points out that at the time, rock n roll wasn't perceived as overthrowing what came before it, but rather being in continuity with it. The fact that the Count Basie orchestra was the house band for Alan Freed's Rock n Roll Party tv show is a nice bit of trivia.

I think one point where Wald is misunderstood by his detractors is the notion that he's arguing for an abandonment of critical evaluation; when in reality he's arguing that the task of a historian is different from the task of a critic, and far too often in the history of popular music(s), the histories have been written by critics.

User avatar
joseghast
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 8:32 am
Location: North London
Contact:

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by joseghast »

Yeah! I've been reading it for a while now, and finding it fascinating. I do agree with your points about the "revolutions" in music and he does extensively make a point in differentiating between the labour of the critic and the historian as you say.

There's quite a nice interview with him here and here where he reiterates that (just in case someone else is interested).

It's been quite interesting in may respects and I've found quite a couple paralellisms with my own experience and my dad's narrative of how music was perceived in the rural Galicia where he grew up and how is perceived now. It's kind of a similar theme: there used to be groups that played music on the festivities for the general enjoyment of the parish. These groups would be composed by amateurs that would play a selection of popular songs (from traditional music from the area to pieces from south america). These groups professionalized and scaled up (that's the stuff that I experienced myself) up to a point that nowadays it's more of a show than anything else, so people don't go so much to dance but to see.

I wasn't expecting to find that kind of paralelism at all. What a surprise.

Lao Tsu Ben
Posts: 484
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:21 am

Re: Favorite Rock Music Books

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Has anyone read Rock and the Pop Narcotic by Joe Carducci? If so, any thoughts?

Return to “I Hate Books”