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The Reading Room

Writing about writing about music.

Henry writes about music and music books for ND, The Bluegrass Situation, Country Standard Time, Publishers Weekly, and more.

The Reading Room

Writing about writing about music.

Henry writes about music and music books for ND, The Bluegrass Situation, Country Standard Time, Publishers Weekly, and more.

The Reading Room's Best Books of 2015

Nice list.  Several that I've not read that I will!

Nice to see industry analyses here, especially the Seabrook and Witt books.  Provides a great context for the musical content we love.

One I'd suggest should be here is at the other end of the spectrum, a very personal and anecdotal book about the lives of important musicians.  Mountain City Girls by Anna and Jane McGarrigle is a wonderful memoir, mainly about the early life of sisters Kate, Anna and Jane McGarrigle.  It really illuminates the "ordinary", but eccentric, sides of life that gave rise to the wonderful music of Kate and Anna.  So often we see biographies of performers that START with their art, and work backwards.  What we have here is the life of the artists, which sets the stage for the art. 

There is very little about the music of Kate and Anna, directly, but hints of what could (and we hope, will) be a wonderful sequel focusing on the music and the influence that the duo had on the world of folk.

Beautifully written by the two older sisters, there is no question that we miss the input of the late Kate; but she's illuminated by the perspectives of her sisters, and we can understand much more about her with the triangulation they provide. What we have here is a family team (Jane managed the duo for much of their professional life), each member with her own idiosyncratic contribution to a wonderful body of work.

Thanks for the suggestion, Ron. It will be a great book; it's available only in Canada right now, the publisher/author is seeking a distributor in the US. I'll certainly write about this book when it arrives.