In last week’s column, I provided a sort of best music books of 2016 list. As I indicated then, I don’t see all the books that are published in a given year since I don’t hear from every publisher about new books. Some very good books, such as the McGarrigle Sisters’ Mountain City Girls: The McGarrigle Family Album (Random House Canada), never found a US distributor, and RHC would not send out a review copy; it was surely one of the most important books of last year, but I still haven’t had a chance to read it. Other publishers simply don’t yet have us on their radar, so we do not receive books or press releases about books from them. I continue to scour the alleys and byways for those smaller, independent publishers whose catalogs often contain interesting and worthy books. University presses continue to publish very good books in music history: the University of Georgia Press launched its Music of the American South series this year, for example, reprinting Paul Hemphill’s classic That Nashville Sound and publishing a new edition of Bill Anderson’s autobiography. West Virginia University Press will soon publish Charlie McCoy’s memoir, and appendix A of that book alone is worth the price of admission. Rowman & Littlfield is reinvigorating its Roots of American Music series and will publish Michael Scott Cain’s The Americana Revolution in March. There are other exciting books coming along after the first of the year, and I’ll devote a separate column soon to those titles.
In the meantime, I did leave out several very worthy titles from my list last week; so, this week’s column is kind of a Part Two of the “best music books” of 2016 list. I hope you’ll find a few titles from this list and from last week’s to put on your holiday reading list.
I am not sure how I left off Barney Hoskyns’ Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix & Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock (Da Capo). While his book adds to our lore about The Band, it’s best on folks like Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, and Happy Traum. Hoskyn's stunning book is a must-read for anyone interested in the famous and now too-often neglected musicians, like Karen Dalton and Maria Muldaur, who made some of the most memorable music in American history. It should be in the top 10 list.
A reader of last week’s column, Rick Jones, pointed out the absence of Ed Ward's Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero (Chicago Review Press) from the list, and I’m grateful for his mention of this newly revised and expanded edition of Ward’s 1983 book of the same title that was published in a limited edition.
Other titles to add to the list include:
Bob Boilen, Your Song Changed My Life: From Jimmy Page to St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson to Hozier, Thirty-Five Beloved Artists on Their Journey and the Music that Inspire It (Wm Morrow)
Lita Ford, Like a Runaway: A Memoir (Dey St.)
Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe, Really the Blues (NYRB books)—Reprinted this year with an introduction by Ben Ratliff.
Rashod Ollison, Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age through Vinyl (Beacon)
Rich Kienzle, The Grand Tour: The Life and Music of George Jones (Dey St.)
Dave Holmes, Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs (Crown Archetype)
Slim Jim Phantom, A Stray Cat Struts: My Life as a Rockabilly Rebel (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's)
Philip Norman, Paul McCartney: The Life. (Little, Brown)
Claudia Roth Pierpont, American Rhapsody: Writers, Musicians, Movie Stars, and One Great Building (FSG)
Andrew Schulman, Waking The Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing the Body, Mind, and Soul (Picador)
Tig Notaro, I'm Just A Person (Ecco)
Glenn Berger, Never Say No to A Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan, Sinatra, Jagger, and More … (Schaffner Press)
Shep Gordon, They Call Me Supermensch: My Amazing Adventures in Rock 'N' Roll, Hollywood, and Haute Cuisine (Ecco)
Corey Mead, Angelic Music: The Story of Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica (S&S)
Daniel Bergner, Sing For Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family (Lee Boudreaux Books/Little, Brown)
Dave Stewart, Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This: A Life in Music (New American Library)
Laurent Dubois, The Banjo: America's African Instrument (Harvard)
Paul Du Noyer, Conversations with McCartney (Overlook)
Richard Aquila, Let’s Rock!: How 1950s America Created Elvis and the Rock & Roll Craze (Rowman & Littlefield)