I’m sure you’ve felt the strain of mounting tensions and division among people this year, but as the year comes to a close, it might be nice to kick back and relax with some books about music, because if there’s one thing that can bring people together, it’s a connection over musical interests.
1. Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in and Age of Musical Plenty by Ben Ratliff
This is a good choice to start the list because it can give you an idea of the breadth of music genres. There are so many choices when it comes to music that it can be hard to come to a decision about what playlist to put on, but Ratliff delivers such a thorough examination of music that you’ll be enticed to sample everything, and learn to appreciate it all.
2. Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk by John Doe and Tom DeSavia
In this book, you can find a collection of stories and essays told straight from some of the most forefront contributors to the L.A. punk rock scene of the 70s and 80s.
3. Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America by Jesse Jarnow
This scrupulously researched book sweeps across a psychedelic American landscape ripe with LSD, Deadheads, and tie-dye.
4. Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century by Simon Reynolds
A far cry from the harsh scene of punk, Shock and Awe explores the glitzy world of glam rock. Reynolds traces the genre back to its roots from the 60s, and follows it up to its prevalence in contemporary artists like Lady Gaga.
5. Madonnaland: And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom by Alina Simone
Simone offers a unique perspective on this pop idol who already has countless works written about her. This book uses Madonna‘s hometown, Bay City, Michigan, as a lens to explore this music icon’s musical legacy.
6. Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin
This first full-length biography of Paul Simon takes readers on a journey through the rough and tumble life of one of America’s litigious rock stars.
7. Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr
Although this biography is not about a very notable rock group, it does explore the fascinating ways in which tension and drug addictions can cause a band to fall apart.
8. Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader by Greg Tate
Flyboy 2, a companion to Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America, is not so much a book about music as it is a collection of Tate’s influential critiques about Black music, art, literature, film, and politics.
9. Jazz: The Iconic Images of Ted Williams by Ted Williams
For something a little different, try this book of photographs that captures the mood and atmosphere of the jazz scene in the 20th century. The book is commentated by Williams himself, and jazz historians and journalists to make it a complete and satisfying overview of the genre.
10. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge by Martin Hawkins
Hawkins crafts a biographical feat here, piecing together only a small smattering of information left after the death of this Blues sensation.
Connecting over music can be a great way to bridge any gaps in communication or differences in opinion. What genre or musician could you brush up on to help spark conversation with someone in your life?
YouTube Channel: TEDx Talks
Featured image via Graphic Stock
h/t Rolling Stone