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Old 07-10-2020, 07:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Books By Famous Musicians

Not sure, but I suspect that this is a relatively small sub-genre of books. Of course there's a huge quantity of books on music theory, music history, biographies of musicians, etc, etc, but I hope the topic of this thread is more manageable. Off the top of my head I can only think of a handful of famous musicians who have had the time, discipline or inspiration to write a book, but I am prepared to be surprised:

Brian Wilson: Wouldn't It Be Nice
John French: Beefheart Through the Eyes of Magic
Leonard Cohen: Beautiful Losers
Bob Dylan: Tarantula (which generated this huge thread: https://www.musicbanter.com/media/60...tarantula.html)
Bob Dylan: Chronicles
John Lennon: In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works (frequently published in one volume)
Gerald Moore: Am I too loud?
Eric Clapton: The Autobiography
Posh Spice: Learning To Fly

So this is an invitation to expand that list, and talk about the books by famous musicians that you've read, would recommend, or have just heard of and wondered about.
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Old 07-10-2020, 08:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 07-10-2020, 08:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Derek Bailey - Improvisation
A great look into the way improvisation was and is prevalent in lots of diverse musical styles.

Chris Cutler - File Under Popular
A collection of essays about mostly experimental music and and its political and societal aspects. Some good stuff there and lots of bands that one should check out.
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Old 07-10-2020, 08:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've only read two books by musicians: the memoirs of Keith Richards and Carrie Brownstein
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Old 07-10-2020, 09:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Bob Dylan: Chronicles
Boring af
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Old 07-10-2020, 10:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Can't really go wrong with any of John Cage's books. So far I've read For the Birds and Silence: Lectures and Writings and both were brilliant.

Harry Partch's Genesis of a Music is a pretty enlightening look at microtonality, equal temperament, and music education but it is a damn chewy read that I'd only recommend for those willing to put a lot of effort into it. It was tough for me, at least.

Deathconsciousness is a booklet that accompanies the album of the same name by Have a Nice Life. Daniel Barrett of HANL repeated this concept with the self-titled debut from his project Giles Corey. I've yet to read either.

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Derek Bailey - Improvisation
A great look into the way improvisation was and is prevalent in lots of diverse musical styles.
I read this recently and predictably loved it. He gets pretty snarky about non-improvisers at the end.
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Old 07-10-2020, 12:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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What about Violent J's Behind The Paint?

He talks about how he used to throw bricks at prostitutes and the time he sexually assaulted Sheryl Crow at the final Woodstock.
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Old 07-11-2020, 09:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Boring af
I wonder if you arrived at this conclusion after going through the same reactions as me:
i) Relief that it wasn't Tarantula vol II
ii) Surprise at how accessible and unpretentious Bob's writing was
iii) Disappointment at how little it ultimately revealed about the great man
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Harry Partch's Genesis of a Music is a pretty enlightening look at microtonality, equal temperament, and music education but it is a damn chewy read that I'd only recommend for those willing to put a lot of effort into it. It was tough for me, at least.
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What about Violent J's Behind The Paint?
He talks about how he used to throw bricks at prostitutes and the time he sexually assaulted Sheryl Crow at the final Woodstock.
I guess I'll forever be a dillitante about music because Violent J's book sounds so much more interesting than Harry Partch's.
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I'd forgotten that Keith Richards wrote a book, Marie. Thanks for the reminder. His book falls into what is probably the biggest category of musicians' books: Memoirs and autobiogs. And if your journals get published posthumously, does that count as writing a book? If so, Kurt Cobain deserves a mention here too.

To judge from grindy and Frownland's reading, the next category could be Musical Analysis and Manifestos, with a last category of Other. I don't know how big the "Other" category might be, but it includes a fair amount of self-indulgent material that probably doesn't appeal much today. That certainly describes Cohen's Beautiful Losers, which I once attempted to read - and here are two samples from books by J Lennon and J Morrison, whose books at least share the great virtue of brevity:

...
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Old 07-11-2020, 09:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Disappointment at how little it ultimately revealed about the great man
That was really the crux of it.
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Waited outside in line at the base mall (px) to buy this back when it came out. Read it and realized it wasn't for listeners like me. More for people who literally don't understand some lyrics and have to be "decoded" for others who don't get it. It had photos in it and made it fun to read.
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