It occurs to me I’ve been taking it easy on you guys since my return. Listening to the few songs posted here each week is fine if you want to live life as a metaphorical 90-pound weakling getting sand kicked in your face, but if you wish to build yourself up into a lean, mean music machine you’ve got to go full Rocky on this situation. I want to see you guys with a six-pack…on your brain! (Left brain — 2 + 2! Right brain — picture a yak!) If you truly desire to attain hardcore geek cred and destroy poseur hipsters with the facts at your fingertips, you’ve got to work hard for the money! So hard for it, honey.
That’s right, my motley crew. You’ve got to read and read and read some more. You’ve got to make your eyeballs sweat. Take a page from John “Don’t Call Me Cougar” Mellencamp and make it hurt so good.
To get you started, here’s a random selection, including biographies, autobiographies, histories, and criticism. I believe all are in print. Bios are easy to find online, but used book stores are the best place to look for hundreds of wonderful in and out of print tomes you would otherwise never have found. Don’t worry, there won’t be a test — only loving encouragement. Now drop and give me 50…pages.
Exploding:The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group by Stan Cornyn The history of Warner Bros. Records, related with wit and verve by one of its longest lasting employees who worked himself up from the art department to an executive suite.
Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 by Simon Reynolds A definitive examination this oft-overlooked period of music — from the seeds of punk, such dark and lovely flowers grew.
Bob Dylan: A Biography by Anthony Scaduto First published in the early 70s, Scaduto’s book is still the best place to read about Dylan’s early years.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn A day by day account of the group inside Abbey Road studios as they record each and every song. Probably not for beginners, but invaluable for the serious fan.
Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal edited by Jon Wiederhorn & Katherine Turman The alpha and omega of metal as told by those who loved it and lived it.
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom by Nik Cohn One of the young guns of rock writing during the late 60s and early 70s, Cohn published this classic about the golden age of rock & roll over 40 years ago. It remains a must-read.
Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs Another of the first wave of rock writers, Bangs couldn’t stand artifice and prized passion above all else. This is a collection of his one of a kind articles and reviews for Rolling Stone, Creem, and others.