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December 14, 2005

2005 Largehearted Music Books

This year, in between reading for my 52 Books, 52 Weeks and Book Notes projects, I found the time to read several music books. Ranging from collections of social criticism to band biographies to history, these books entertained and educated. Continuum's 33 1/3 series continues to be a favorite, I read four of their releases this year (and will make it five when I pick up the Neutral Milk Hotel book). My music reading was determined by gifts and publishers this year, with some amazingly good books coming my way. I can recommend each of these books...

Armed Forces, by Franklin Bruno: America's hippest philosophy professor took time from his teaching (and creating Nothing Painted Blue's first album in seemingly forever) to write a 33 1/3 book about my favorite Elvis Costello album.

Belle and Sebastian: Just a Modern Rock Story, by Paul Whitelaw: With much interaction from the band, Whitelaw has written the essential biography of Belle & Sebastian.

But Is It Garbage: On Rock and Trash, by Steven L. Hamelman: Hamelman examines the analogy between rock and trash (essentially rock music as disposable culture).

Goin' Back to Memphis: Conversations with the Blues, edited by Fred J. Hay: Learn about the origins of the Memphis blues in this excellent collection of interviews.

Guided by Voices: A Brief History : Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll, by James Greer: The first biography of Guided By Voices is a must-read for fans of the band, others may see it as biased (Greer played bass at one time in the band and is a friend of GBV frontman Bob Pollard).

Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words, by Jay Rubin: Rubin explores the Japanese author's musical influences, as well as the use of music in his works.

I Hope You All Are Happy Now, by Nick Zinner: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist surprises with this collection of photographs from the road. far from a vanity project, Zinner shows remarkable talent behind the camera.

I'll Take You There: Pop Music and the Urge for Transcendence, by Bill Friskics-Warren: I'll Take You There connects popular music and spirituality, using Marvin Gay, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails and others as examples.

iPod, Therefore I Am: Thinking Inside the White Box, by Dylan Jones: A combination history of the iPod, personal love letter to music, and iPod user guide.

Jesus Sound Explosion, by Mark Curtis Anderson: The memoir of a boy growing up in a fundamentalist home learning te ways of the world through popular music. A funny, heartfelt, and eye-opening book that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Kick Out the Jams, by Don McLeese: Another 33 1/3 release, this chronicles the MC5 release.

Low, by Hugo Wilcken: David Bowie's Low is the topic of this 33 1/3 book.

Murmur, by J. Niimi: My favorite book of Continuum's 33 1/3 series so far (and I'm not much of a fan of the album). Niimi manages to capture the album in the context of the period perfectly.

Saint Morrissey: A Portrait of This Charming Man by an Alarming Fan, by Mark Simpson: Mark Simpson loves Morrissey, and the book is an eternal lovefest with the Moz. Luckily, I share Simpson's passion, and thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Singing Cowboys and Musical Mountaineers: Southern Culture and the Roots of Country Music, by Bill C. Malone: Bill C. malone painstakingly unearths the roots (pun intended) of country music, and the history lesson is well-taught.

Smile When You Call Me a Hillbilly: Country Music's Struggle for Respectability, 1939-1954, by Jeffrey J. Lange: Lange meticulously chronicles the early years of country music and its move from rural listeners to a mainstream audience.

Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City, by Paul Morley: Paul Morley is one of pop music's greatest lovers and historians, and he shares both his love and the history of the genre in this book.

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