Dylan Goes Electric!

Dylan Goes Electric!Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties by Elijah Wald (Dey Street/ HarperCollins, July 2015)

LISTED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES‘ TOP TEN OF 2015 LIST

WINNER OF THE 2016 ASCAP VIRGIL THOMSON AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING MUSIC CRITICISM

WINNER OF THE AMERICAN MUSICOLOGICAL SOCIETY’S 2016 MUSIC IN AMERICAN CULTURE AWARD

In Dylan Goes Electric!, Elijah Wald explores the cultural, political and historical context of this seminal event that embodies the transformative decade that was the sixties. Wald delves deep into the folk revival, the rise of rock, and the tensions between traditional and groundbreaking music to provide new insights into Dylan’s artistic evolution, his special affinity to blues, his complex relationship to the folk establishment and his sometime mentor Pete Seeger, and the ways he reshaped popular music forever. Breaking new ground on a story we think we know, Dylan Goes Electric! is a thoughtful, sharp appraisal of the controversial event at Newport and a nuanced, provocative, analysis of why it matters.

“A great work of scholarship, brimming with insight – among the best music books I have ever read.” —John Harris, The Guardian

“Devastatingly smart analysis . . . Wald is a remarkably sharp and graceful writer, capable of drawing extraordinary connections between artists, genres, and cultural moments. There’s simply no one better when it comes to unpacking not just the mechanics of American music, but the mythology of American music.” — Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records

 

The Lost Treasures of R&B: A D Hunter Mystery by Nelson George

LostTreasures2 coverThe Lost Treasures of R&B: A D Hunter Mystery by Nelson George (Akashic Books 2015)

With gentrifying Brooklyn as the backdrop, D works to unravel various mysteries—both criminal and musical—while coming to terms with the failure of his security company and the ghosts of his childhood in “old Brooklyn.” Like its predecessors The Accidental Hunter and The Plot Against Hip HopThe Lost Treasures of R&B uses pop music as the backdrop for a noir-flavored big-city tale.

“This is a fine mystery and [protagonist] D Hunter is as world weary, yet steadfast, as Philip Marlowe, Spenser, Dave Robicheaux, or Easy Rawlins. A definite yes to purchase for both mystery and African American collections.”
Library Journal (Starred Review, Pick of the Month)

“Nelson George’s smooth security-guard-turned-detective, a.k.a. D, scours a demimonde as glamorous as Chandler’s Los Angeles . . . D Hunter is destined to become a classic.”
—Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club

 

Another Little Piece of My Heart


22529400Another Little Piece of My Heart by Richard Goldstein (Bloomsbury 2015)

In 1966, at the age of twenty-two, Richard Goldstein approached The Village Voice with a novel idea. “I want to be a rock critic,” he said. “What’s that?” the editor replied. It was a logical question, since rock criticism didn’t yet exist. In the weekly column he would produce for the Voice, Goldstein became the first person to write regularly in a major publication about rock as a serious art form. From his unique position in journalism, he saw and participated in the full arc of events that shaped culture and politics in the 1960s. He toured with Janis Joplin, spent a day at the Grateful Dead house in San Francisco, and dropped acid with Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. He was present for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the student uprising at Columbia, and the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention. He was challenged to a boxing match by Norman Mailer and took Susan Sontag to her first disco. Goldstein developed close relationships with several rock legends –– Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, to name two –– and their early deaths came as a wrenching shock, fueling his disillusionment as he watched the music he loved rapidly evolve from a communal rite to a vast industry and the sense of hope for radical social upheaval fade away. ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART is the intimate memoir of the writer as a young man with profound ambition. It is also a sweeping personal account of a decade that no one else could provide –– a deeply moving, unparalleled document of rock and revolution in America.

“A deeply felt and largely compelling portrait of an age that indelibly marked everyone who took part in it. Indispensable for understanding the culture of the sixties and the music that was at its heart.”

Kirkus (starred review)

Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man

GoingIntoCityHC cover finalGoing into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man by Robert Christgau (Dey Street/HarperCollins 2015)

One of our great essayists and music journalists, the Dean of American Rock Critics, leads a heady tour through his life and times in this atmospheric, visceral memoir—both a love letter to a New York long past and a tribute to the transformative power of art.

Lifelong New Yorker Robert Christgau has been writing about pop culture since he was twelve and getting paid for it since he was twenty-two, covering rock for Esquire in its heyday and personifying the music beat at The Village Voice for over three decades. Christgau listened to Alan Freed howl about rock and roll before Elvis, settled east of Manhattan’s Avenue B forty years before it was cool, wit-nessed Monterey and Woodstock and Chicago 1968 and the first abortion speakout. He caught Coltrane in the East Village, Muddy Waters in Chicago, Otis Redding at the Apollo, the Dead in the Haight, Janis Joplin at the Fillmore, the Clash in Leeds, Grandmaster Flash in Times Square, and every punk band you can think of at CBGB.

Listed in Oprah’s O Magazine December 2015 Top Ten Reading List

“To read Going Into the City is to spend hours in the company of a completely sui generis critical mind, one that’s not only encyclopedically knowledgeable about mid-to-late 20th-century pop culture but capable of lapidary prose, astute insight, and savage wit.” — Slate

“An intellectual autobiography that beautifully captures what it feels like when a cultural experience trapdoors you into a new life.” — Grantland

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

Billie HolidayBillie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth by John Szwed (Viking 2015)
Published in celebration of Holiday’s centenary, the first biography to focus on the singer’s extraordinary musical talent. Drawing on a vast amount of new material that has surfaced in the last decade, critically acclaimed jazz writer John Szwed considers how her life inflected her art, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a number of her signature songs, and her legacy. WINNER OF THE 2016 JJA JAZZ AWARDS PRIZE FOR BEST JAZZ BOOK OF THE YEAR

Revelatory. . . Szwed’s book is one of the most briskly revealing pieces of jazz biography that I’ve read.”

Richard Brody, The New Yorker
[Szwed] offers a portrait of Lady Day as artist and mythmaker rather than tragic victim . . . . As with the best of Holiday’s music, this elegant and perceptive study is restrained, nuanced, and masterfully carried out.”
—Kirkus (starred review)

Let’s Go Crazy

Prince

Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain (Atria Books 2015)

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Purple Rain, the hugely successful film and soundtrack album by the Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Prince.  A fictionalized version of Prince’s own life story, the film would make over $80 million at the box office; the album sold over a million copies in its first week and blasted to Number One on the charts, where it would remain for six months and eventually sell over 20 million copies worldwide.  The work won Grammys and an Oscar, and permanently altered the rules and definitions for rock, funk, and pop music, and its impact and influence have never waned.

 

“Thoughtful and illuminating… [Mr. Light] is a fine companion for this journey through one song’s changing fortunes.”  –The New York Times

 

 

I Only Read It For The Cartoons

Richard_Gehr-I-Only-Read-It-For-The-CartoonsI Only Read It for the Cartoons : The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists by Richard Gehr (New Harvest 2014)

Available for the first time to The New Yorker’s one million-plus readers: a volume dedicated to the individual careers of the magazine’s cartoon superstars.

Widely considered to be the pantheon of single-panel cartooning, The New Yorker cartoonists’ styles are richly varied, and their personal stories are surprising. For example, did you know that Arnie Levin is a seventy-three-year-old former Beatnik painter with a handlebar mustache and a back decorated by Japan’s foremost tattoo artists?

Gehr’s book features fascinating biographical profiles of such artists as Gahan Wilson, Sam Gross, Roz Chast, Lee Lorenz, and Edward Koren. Along with a dozen such profiles, Gehr provides a brief history of The New Yorker cartoon itself, touching on the lives and work of earlier illustrating wits, including Charles Addams, James Thurber, and William Steig.

“Gehr is sure to delight any New Yorker fan with this look at the pantheon of cartoonists… the book, brimming with New Yorker history and the idiosyncrasies of its contributors, is successful at what it sets out to do—provide a first-of-its-kind paean to some of the magazine’s most consistently popular contributors.” —Publishers Weekly

 

The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style

Nelson_George-Hippest-Trip-In-AmericaThe Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style by Nelson George (Morrow 2014)

Soul Train ran in syndication on American television from 1971 to 2006. That’s thirty-five years of “love, peace and soul” that left an undeniable mark on the American collective culture. Primarily using the voices of the people who appeared on the program, Nelson George tells the story of this dance show’s impact, the stories behind memorable appearances by Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, as well as white stars Elton John and David Bowie, and many others. George interviews many of the celebrated Soul Train dancers as well, and talks to those who worked with Don Cornelius, the show’s late visionary creator. This book tells the story of the innovative, culturally influential program that featured one-of-a-kind superstar performances, outrageous fashions, hip dances, and the iconic Soul Train dance line.

“The definitive book on ‘Soul Train’” — New York Times Book Review

“George’s in-depth look at a revered TV show is one of those rare music-centric books that will transcend its subject’s core fan base. Even those with just a casual interest in Soul Train will be happy to take this trip.”  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Pieces Of A Man

Marcus_Baram. Gil_Scott_Heron-Pieces-Of-A-Man Gil Scott Heron: Pieces Of A Man by Marcus Baram (St. Martin’s Press 2014)

THE MESSENGER is the first biography of the late Gil Scott-Heron, a musical legend, considered to be the godfather of hip-hop for his pioneering style of rapping poetry over jazz-funk beats in the early ‘70s. His lyrics touched on politics, racism, mass media and relationships with poignant honesty and a sarcastic edge. By refusing to compromise his music, his lyrics or his attitude, he always remained the great outsider – exalted by his devoted fans yet overlooked by the mainstream. Though his influence has been pervasive and his life story tracked the ups and downs of the black experience in America over the last six decades, Gil Scott-Heron’s full story has never been told.

“ Controversial and enigmatic, the tragic trajectory of Scott-Heron’s life and career is expertly examined in this testament to one of the last great radical artists.” –Kirkus 

Naked And Marooned

Ed-Stafford Naked and Marooned, Published by Sarah Lazin Books

Naked And Marooned: One Man. One Island by Ed Stafford (Plume 2014)

After his stint as the first person to walk the length of the Amazon, British adventurer Ed Stafford set himself a new challenge: spend sixty days alone and without clothing or tools on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. Dropped on an island with nothing but video cameras, Stafford’s first priorities were to secure a form of covering to prevent sunburn and ensure he had access to a fresh water supply. His recordings were turned into a successful series for The Discovery Channel. NAKED AND MAROONED is an account of how he survived and the emotional and psychological tolls of the experiment.

Praise for Walking The Amazon:

“Totally, completely, and utterly mad.” ––Michael Palin, author and actor