- From the Vault
- Guest Entries
- Is This The New Face of Religion?
- Is This The New Face of Rock?
- Music and the Brain
- Musical Performance
- News Items
- Recommended Reading
- Rock and Theology Project
- Secular Liturgies
- Somatica Divina
- Theological Production
- Andy Edwards (12)
- Christian Scharen (15)
- Daniel White Hodge (12)
- David Dault (19)
- David Nantais (90)
- Gina Messina-Dysert (10)
- Henry Lowell Carrigan (2)
- Ian Fowles (1)
- Jeffrey Keuss (15)
- Jennifer Otter (9)
- Loye Ashton (2)
- Maeve Heaney (11)
- Mary McDonough (112)
- Michael Iafrate (78)
- Myles Werntz (1)
- Natalie Weaver (12)
- Rachel Bundang (4)
- Tom Beaudoin (867)
- Thank you very much! Good night!
- Post-R&T: What Other Resources Do You Recommend?
- Stories, Transcendence, and My Morning Jacket
- Retiring Rock and Theology
- Dreaming of a Dark Christmas
- Spiritually Significant Songs: Henry Carrigan, “Theme for an Imaginary Western” by Mountain on
- Rockers who “find Religion” on
- Marc Ford, Former Black Crowes Guitarist, Gives a Testimony on
- Rush’s Alex Lifeson on Religion: “a less and less sensible thing to think about” on
- Geddy Lee Responds to My Question About Spirituality and Music, or, On the Spiritual Benefits of Following a Band for a Long Time, Part 3 of 4 on
- Bruce Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball" Faith vs. Evangelical Certainty
- Geddy Lee, Jewish Atheist
- Hungry like the Wolf: What This Blog Is Doing Here
- Is it Weird to Pray for Rock Stars?
- My Sweet Lord: George Harrison, the Spiritual Beatle
- Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving, and... Songwriting?
- The Ark
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
To paraphrase the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, of the making of many year-end “best of” lists there is no end. Making year-end lists of best books is an exercise at once exciting and frustrating. Listing the best books of the year helps recall fondly those great books that revealed new information about an artist or his or her music or drives you to pick a again a book that you didn’t want to end the first time you read through it. Making such a list is also frustrating when you must choose the “top ten” from the hundreds of books published; you also hope that you haven’t overlooked a diamond in the rough along the way. Yet, making these year-end lists simply provides a springboard for conversations about favorite books, why they’re good, and why we’ve come to love them; we hope that such lists will also introduce readers to books they’ll want to pick up and read in the coming months.
2012 has been a banner year for music books covering all genres, and it’s been an especially rich year for music memoirs, which range from the good to the bad to the ugly. The following list features a few outstanding memoirs from rockers as well as a number of other books that provide new looks into familiar subject, or first-time looks into subjects long neglected.
1. Who I Am: A Memoir. Pete Townshend. HarperCollins, $32.50, 538 pages—If you read only one rock memoir, this should be it. With all the energy he brought to his manic windmilling and to smashing guitars on stage in his career with the Who, but with the brilliance of a poet wandering through a teenage wasteland, Townshend descends deeply into his life, mind, and work as he ponders the question in the book’s title. Yet, the details of Townshend’s life provide the merest background for his soulfully written and relentless self-reflection and introspection about life, love, music, family, and death.
2. A Natural Woman. Carole King. Little, Brown, $27.99, 488 pages—King is one of our greatest treasures, and she wrote “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ when she was only fifteen. Yet, King’s life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, and in this colorful memoir she weaves a tapestry that includes threads about her relationship with Gerry Goffin and their years as the top, go-to, songwriting duo in rock and roll, as well as her sometimes destructive relationships with her other husbands. Mesmerizing reading, King’s writing reveals why her songs continue to touch our hearts.
3. My Cross to Bear. Gregg Allman, with Alan Light. Morrow, $27.99, 400 pages—Allman lays bare his soul in this rambling and rambunctious, and fiercely honest, memoir of growing up with his brother, Duane, his life on the road, the illness that almost killed him, and his many loves.
4. Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippy Dream. Neil Young. Blue Rider Press, $30, 502 pages—Young says he feels like he’s massaging his soul when he makes music, and he makes some of his finest music in this lyrical masterpiece, massaging our souls by hitting just the right chords with his beautiful words.
5. The John Lennon Letters. John Lennon. Little, Brown, $29.99, 400 pages—For many music fans, the day John Lennon died was the day that rock and roll died. A prolific and ingenious writer, his lyrics, along with the songs he co-wrote with Paul McCartney, propelled the Beatles to the rock stratosphere and continued to attract devoted fans during the decade between the Beatles’ breakup and his untimely death. Lennon’s creative genius also animated his private life, and acclaimed Beatles biographer Hunter Davies has gathered, for the first time, all of Lennon’s letters and postcards. In this groundbreaking collection, published on what would have been Lennon’s seventy-second birthday, Davies includes almost three hundred letters, notes, doodles, as well as handwritten Beatles set lists, personal grocery lists, and lyrics to never-recorded songs.
6. A Woman Like Me. Bettye LaVette, with David Ritz. Blue Rider Press/Penguin, $26.95, 272 pages—Unflinchingly honest, LaVette, with writer David Ritz, shares the searing story of her struggle to gain recognition for her tremendous talent—praised by her friends Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and others along the way—and the many, many obstacles along the way that kept her from stardom. Energetic and frank, LaVette’s unforgettable memoir shines the light on one of our brightest stars.
7. Bruce. Peter Ames Carlin. Touchstone, $28, 480 pages—Carlin gives The Boss the definitive treatment here, and this is by far the best of the many books about Springsteen, capturing his many moods, his desire to retain his privacy but his secret craving for superstardom, and, above all, his consummate musicianship and his deep passion for pleasing audiences with rollicking, energetic shows.
8. Punk: An Aesthetic. Edited by punk experts Johan Kugelberg and Jon Savage, with essays by William Gibson, Linder Sterling, and Gee Vaucher. Rizzoli, $55—This heavily illustrated chronicle traces the evolution, realization, and legacy of the punk aesthetic, from the marginal cultural catalysts behind the movement through the musicians and artists who flourished in its prime.
9. Calling Me Home: Gram Parsons and the Roots of Country Rock. Bob Kealing. University Press of Florida, $27.50, 256 pages—Kealing rehearses Parson’s familiar story, but he draws upon dozens of new interviews with Parsons’ family, friends, and fellow musicians, as well as previously unseen letters and photographs provided by his Parsons’ family and the celebrated photographer Ted Polumbaum to offer a compulsively readable and intimate portrait of a young man who found himself at the cusp of the music that became known as country-rock.
10. I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. Sylvie Simmons. Ecco, $27.99, 576 pages—In this vibrant and enthusiastic chronicle of Cohen’s life and work, Simmons reminds us that Leonard Cohen never went away but simply kept writing and writing the poetry and songs for which he has become so loved. Cohen emerges from this definitive biography as a sensitive artist, intensely serious about his work, whose reverence for the word and deep love and respect of his audiences continues “to dissolve all the boundaries between word and song, between the song and the truth, and the truth and himself, his heart and its aching.”
Other notable titles:
Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio. Carol Miller. Ecco, $26.99
Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. Cyndi Lauper. Atria, $26.
Rod: The Autobiography. Rod Stewart. Crown Archetype, $27.
Kicking and Dreaming: The Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll. Ann and Nancy Wilson. IT Books/HarperCollins, $27.99.
In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran. John Taylor. Dutton, $27.95.
Will Oldham on Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Edited by Alan Licht. Norton, $16.95.
Coal to Diamonds. Beth Ditto. Spiegel and Grau, $22.
Mick Jagger. Philip Norman. Ecco, $34.95.
Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World’s Greatest Rock Band. Barney Hoskyns. Wiley, $35.
My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chord from 70 Legendary Musicians. Julia Crowe. ECW Press, $19.95.
Mary Wells: The Tumultous Life of Motown’s First Superstar. Peter Benjaminson. Chicago Review Press, $26.95.
How Music Works. David Byrne. McSweeney’s, $32.
The Rolling Stones 50. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood. Hyperion, $60.
Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World. Alistair Lawrence. (Bloomsbury USA, $75).
Treasures of the Who. Chris Welch. Backbeat, $45.
Neil Young: The Definitive History. Mike Evans. Sterling, $29.95.
Rock Chronicles: Every Legend, Every Line-Up, Every Look. Edited by David Roberts. Firefly, $29.95.
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown. RJ Smith. Gotham Books, $27.50.
Beginning to See the Light: Sex, Hope, and Rock and Roll. Ellen Willis. University of Minnesota Press, $25, paperback—Last year, the University of Minnesota Press collected for the first time the late, great Willis’ “Rock, Etc.” columns from the New Yorker, where she was the magazine’s first popular music critic, in Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, $22.95.. Last year’s collection brought Willis’ trenchant voice back to life, resurrecting the words of one of rock music’s greatest critics. This year the Press also published Willis’ No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays, $25.
Conversations with Greil Marcus. Greil Marcus. Edited by Joe Bonomo. University of Mississippi Press, $40.
More Room in a Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carly Simon. Stephen Davis. Gotham Books, $27.50.
No Comments »
No comments yet.