Jul 032013

Rock reading.

Rock reading.

Hopefully, it’s rapidly approaching that time of the year when you will be able to sit down with a glass of something cool and refreshing, and open up a good book.

You may not choose Simon Reynold’s Retromania, but last week’s NY Times Summer Reading Book Review contained synopses of three possible contenders. Do any of these appeal to you?

  • The Stone Roses, War and Peace. By Simon Spence. Read the cautionary tale of the number one contender for the “Band Who Blew It”!
  • I Would Die 4 U, Why Prince Became an Icon. By Toure. Based on a series of lectures presented at Harvard, including “Prince’s Rosebud.”
  • Yes Is The Answer And Other Prog Rock Tales. Edited by Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell. A series of recollections by people in the know. Rick Moody shares that Carl Palmer “dabbled in funk,” and other interesting bits and pieces.

What will you be reading this summer? Any recommendations for fellow rockophiles?


  33 Responses to “2013 Summer Reading”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    Dunno about rock books, but I will be reading “Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons” and a biography of the creator of the world’s greatest non-SCTV television program, “The Sandbaggers.”

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    The summer is when I read all the books I was given at Christmas…I have to recall what they all were but I’m typically reading novels/fiction rather than rockcentric writing. I’m always open to the good rock read, but none of these three really tempt me. I mean, I liked the Stone Roses, but a whole book about the Great Collapse? Prince – like him, but the recent test run of the “semi-autobiographical” Purple Rain didn’t entice me to read more about the Man, The Legend. I have to admit having the most interest in the Prog Rock book, but maybe that’s because of the shorter submissions: if I get bored, I can move on to the next one. And because I always liked Yes.

    But if there are rock memoirs, criticism or review out there that are
    MUST READS, even if I’m a few years behind, I’d be interested to know more about them.

  3. I have not yet browsed the latest NY Times book review section. It’s sitting on my kitchen table. I hope to get to it tonight and let you know if anything catches my eye.

    I’ve been saying this for 15 years, but I’m getting real sick of rock reads. They so rarely focus on the creation of the music. I am way past caring about who a favorite musician screwed (literally or figuratively). I really don’t care about which musician the writer of a biography wishes he or she had screwed. (This applies to just about all artist biographies, the worst of which was a biography I tried reading on Orson Welles, written from the biographer’s unique perspective of “He would have made for a great gay man…had he been gay.”)

    I’m in the final 25 pages of an excruciating Paul McCartney biography that’s been sitting in one of our bathrooms since Christmas. (That’s a lot of dumps, to put it indelicately.) Paul’s marriage to Heather Mills has finally come to a crash. Every time the writer refers to the leaked divorce documents alleging Paul’s frequent instances of physical abuse of this woman the writer follows it up with a “she had it coming to her” line, sometimes stated as plainly as that and other times delivered through increasingly damming evidence of Heather’s pornographic modeling and prostitution past. He even refers to “office jokes” about her lost limb. An already terrible biography has devolved into the most misogynistic thing I can remember reading.

    Simply put, this summer, DO NOT READ Fab!

  4. Like Ladymiss, I tend to mainly read fiction. I think the only music book I plan on reading this summer is the late Scott Miller’s “Music: What Happened?” Also, I own Peter Guarlnick’s two Elvis bios, which have been on my to-read list for years, shamefully. I’m hoping to get to those this year or next.

  5. Ah yes, I meant to pick up that Miller book. Thanks for the reminder.

    I love Guralnick’s Elvis bios!

  6. diskojoe

    I’m almost finished w/a book from former WB Records executive Stan Cornyn called Explosive which came about about 10 yrs. ago & which I found in a used book store. It’s mostly about how WB grew as a record company w/a lot of stories about people like Mo Ostin, the Ergten brothers, David Geffin, et al than the artists themselves. I just picked up Paulo Hewitt’s bio of Oasis @ the same store for $2 yesterday.

    I also enjoyed Guralnick’s Elvis bios, but my fave rave book of his is Sweet Soul Music.

  7. bostonhistorian

    I just finished Neil Young’s “Waging Heavy Peace”. One’s enjoyment of it will be contingent upon one’s tolerance of non-linear story telling. Most interesting music related nugget? Young wrote “Ohio” in an afternoon after seeing a picture of the Kent State shooting in Time magazine, the band recorded it the next day, and a week later it was on the radio.

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    For a music-centered good read, may I suggest one of the following, if you haven’t read either already:

    – Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad”: interconnected characters in 1980’s SF and the local punk music scene.

    – Jonathan Lethem’s “Fortress of Solitude.” References to Superman, crime and growing up with music in NY and Berkeley from the 1970s to 1990s.

    If you have suggestions, I would love them!

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    Does he mention his interest in model trains? We just missed him on one of his visits to a local art supply store to pick up materials for one of his projects.

  10. ladymisskirroyale

    Noted, in bold, with underline.

  11. Does he ever! If memory serves the book begins with a chapter on model trains. The breakdown of content is, roughly, as follows:
    – Pono (his digital music player device): 32%
    – Cars (including vans), both vintage and his special electric car that looks like a vintage car: 28%
    – Model trains: 22%
    – His family (including his artist daughter): 10%
    – Music: 8%

    Despite those percentages I ended up charmed enough by Young’s rambling hippie remembrances and projections into the future.

  12. BigSteve

    I just started Read and Burn: A Book About Wire. Wilson Neate wrote the 33 1/3 book about Pink Flag, and I liked that.

    And I’m looking forward to Pete Townshend’s memoir.

  13. bostonhistorian

    Switch the Pono and the music and I’d say you’re dead on. But I think he does us a favor by not trying to explain too much about writing music. It just seems to flow from him, so what’s there for him to tell? I wonder if any other artist has as many shelved complete albums as he does? I ended up liking him a lot more than I thought I would.

  14. BigSteve

    Yes, I thought the coolest thing about the book was its wandering structure. It seemed to be an accurate reflection of how his mind (and career) works.

  15. Pete’s been a big music hero of mine forever, Neil Young I’ve come to really, really love only the last twenty years. And after reading both books recently I found the Pete book a slog (and quite disturbing; I’ll never again enjoy “A Quick One” near as much) and finished Neil’s book in a few days. Yeah, I wish he’d devoted about fifty of the Pono pages to Old Black, but I still enjoyed “Waging” more, For What It’s Worth (But nowhere near as much as “Shakey”).


  16. ladymisskirroyale

    I’ve found those 33 1/3 books to be so hit-or-miss; BigSteve, would you recommend the one on Wire? “Read and Burn” also sounds interesting to me. I’ll be interested in your review. Would you write a book review on it?

  17. 2000 Man

    I never seem to keep up on music books anymore because I can just go buy old ones at Half Price Books cheap. There seems to be a lot of old ones I haven’t read, too! But the other day I picked up Kill Your Idols, that Jim DeRogatis edited. It has generally hilarious reviews on the internet from people really upset that anyone actually might not like their favorite album (actually, not LOVE their favorite album). So far I’ve enjoyed it, but then I usually like DeRogatis’ projects. I’ve only read up to the Exile on Main St. review, so who knows? I may join that group of complainers after my favorite album gets panned!

  18. I got a copy of Heroes and Villains for $2 a few years ago. That’s going to be my beach book.

  19. Loved that book and have passed it on to another music lover. My fave part was the “draw a picture of this music” reaction to “OK Computer” from a bunch of ten year olds. Enjoy


  20. Just a few days ago I was pining for that book. Haven’t read it since the mid-80s. Would be interesting nearly 30yrs later and now that I know more about all the players and the family machinations. I remember back then I didn’t even understand or care what the hell the Honeys had to do with anything!


  21. As a long holiday weekend kicks off I’m putting this post from last month back onto The Main Stage. I don’t know about you, but this is when I first get a chance to dig in on my summer reading.

    Richard Hell’s autobiography, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, is off to a GREAT start. The guy can actually write. He’s barely touched on music to the point where I am (senior year in high school, just as he and new friend Tom Miller ditch school for a hitchhike to Florida), but the themes that would emerge in his public life are being drawn out from his childhood tales. I’m looking forward to getting some insight into heroes from that age who’ve given and gotten little up-close press: Tom Verlaine (nee Miller), Robert Quine, etc. Thank you, machinery, for the gift!

  22. 2000 Man

    I think the Prog book sounds best, too. Because I like Yes, and because it sounds like Carl Palmer “dabbling” in funk is like Lou Reed “dabbling” in heroin or something.

    I read Kill Your Idols my last week off. It’s all short essays about albums considered “classics” skewered by a newer era of critics. It’s pretty good (I didn’t even put a hit out on the guy that panned Exile on Main St.), and Jim DeRogatis got some decent writers to work on it. And you can just skip essays about Eagles albums and stuff. But it’s all negative, so a few essays at a time is more than enough.

  23. 2000 Man

    Haha! I thought this seemed really familiar!

  24. That is a GREAT book — I love the Denny Wilson stories in it.

  25. Tracey Thorn’s book “Bedsit Disco Queen” looks interesting.
    I’m planning on downloading it this weekend.


  26. bostonhistorian

    That’s on my list too.

  27. H. Munster

    Guralnick’s books on Elvis are the best bios of any sort I’ve read other than Robert Caro’s series on LBJ. And I’m not a fan of Elvis’ music.

  28. cliff sovinsanity

    I’m finishing up Retromania and am happy to report that the bile in my throat has settled.
    Next up is Love Goes To Buildings On Fire by Will Hermes. Judging by the cover, I’m probably going to love it.

  29. Ah, glad to hear that, Cliff! If nothing else, “Retromania” keeps one thinking long after the book is finished.

    “Love Goes…Fire” is a lot of fun, especially if you lived in the NYC area at the time. Even so, though all that stuff was going on under my 14-year old nose, Hermes unearths a ton of entertaining stories. One of my favorites is how Chic’s “Freak Out” was originally “Fuck Off”.

    I myself am gonna check out some Nick Tosches.

  30. Here, here! Part 2 of Elvis choked me up.

  31. diskojoe

    Since my last post, I finished reading that Stan Corwyn book, found, bought & read that Bob & Ray bio that HVB mentioned (thanks, HVB!) & re-read Sweet Soul Music, which I still enjoyed. My next music book will be Comrade Rockstar, about Dean Reed, a frind of the Everly Brothers who ended up being a star in the Eastern Bloc & died under mysterious circumstances.

  32. cliff sovinsanity

    Tosches bio of Dean Martin is highly recommended.

  33. I agree. That Dean Martin book was excellent.

    I liked “Love Goes…” a lot as well.

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