Shake It Up

9781598535310

Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay-Z
edited by Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar

(Library of America)

THE ESSENTIAL PLAYLIST OF GREAT WRITING ABOUT THE MUSIC THAT ROCKED AMERICA 

Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar’s Shake It Up invites the reader into the tumult and excitement of the rock revolution through fifty landmark pieces by a supergroup of writers on rock in all its variety, from heavy metal to disco, punk to hip-hop. Stanley Booth describes a recording session with Otis Redding; Ellen Willis traces the meteoric career of Janis Joplin; Ellen Sander recalls the chaotic world of Led Zeppelin on tour; Nick Tosches etches a portrait of the young Jerry Lee Lewis; Eve Babitz remembers Jim Morrison. Alongside are Lenny Kaye on acapella and Greg Tate on hip-hop, Vince Aletti on disco and Gerald Early on Motown; Robert Christgau on Prince, Nelson George on Marvin Gaye, Luc Sante on Bob Dylan, Hilton Als on Michael Jackson, Anthony DeCurtis on the Rolling Stones, Kelefa Sanneh on Jay Z. The story this anthology tells is a ongoing one: “it’s too early,” editors Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar note, “for canon formation in a field so marvelously volatile—a volatility that mirrors, still, that of pop music itself, which remains smokestack lightning. The writing here attempts to catch some in a bottle.”

Continue reading

I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone

51eA7agi2sL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone
by Jim Dickinson
(University of Mississippi Press)

I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone chronicles Jim Dickinson’s extraordinary life in the Memphis music scene of the fifties and sixties and how he went on to play with and produce a rich array of artists, including Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Arlo Guthrie, and Albert King. With verve and wit, Dickinson (1941–2009) describes his trip to Blind Lemon’s grave on the Texas flatlands as a college student and how that encounter inspired his return to Memphis. Back home, he looked up Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, began staging plays, cofounded what would become the annual Memphis Blues Festival, and started recording.

The blues, Elvis, and early rock ’n’ roll compelled Dickinson to reject racial barriers and spurred his contributions to the Memphis music and experimental art scene. He explains how the family yardman, WDIA, Dewey Phillips, Furry Lewis, Will Shade, and Howlin’ Wolf shaped him and recounts how he went on to learn his craft at Sun, Ardent, American, Muscle Shoals, and Criteria studios from master producers Sam Phillips, John Fry, Chips Moman, and Jerry Wexler.

Dickinson is a member of the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame and an inaugural inductee of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Engineering and Production from the Americana Music Association, a Brass Note on the Beale Street Walk of Fame in Memphis, and a Heritage Marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. This memoir recounts a love affair with Memphis, the blues, and rock ’n’ roll through Dickinson’s captivating blend of intelligence, humor, and candor.

Jim Dickinson (1941–2009) worked with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Alex Chilton, the Replacements, and T-Model Ford, among others. His sons, Luther and Cody, are the founding members of the North Mississippi Allstars.

Good Booty

51+QZwjS1NL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music

by Ann Powers

Dey Street Books

In this sweeping history of popular music in the United States, NPR’s acclaimed music critic examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America’s primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from nineteenth-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-twentieth century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today’s web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans, and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism—not merely sex, but love, bodily freedom, and liberating joy—became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America’s anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth, and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect—a magnum opus over two decades in the making—Powers offers new insights into our nation psyche and our soul.

Continue reading

There’s Always Room for Chocolate

index

The pure fun of classic American chocolate treats. The Chocolate Room has become a place of pilgrimage for chocolate lovers from near and far, thanks to its simple mission: to create treats that bring back those original childhood memories of the pure joy of chocolate. Its chefs have a knack for reconstructing a classic American recipe in ways that improve on the original. Their showstopping Chocolate Layer Cake, for instance, is the cake all other chocolate cakes dream of being; it’s made with a blackout pudding filling, three different kinds of chocolate, and a custardy ganache frosting. The book is filled with similar new twists that express the slightly irreverent and creatively whimsical spirit for which Brooklyn has become known: Chocolate Caramel Matzo, Chocolate Cuatro Leches Cake, and Chocolate Stout Gingerbread. Recipes reveal the secret tips behind signature favorites in every category from cakes and puddings to pies and cookies. Confections are geared to be achievable in the home: S’mores bars, Rocky Road mounds, and Cookie Chip Chocolates. The book also features informative primers on important techniques—including tempering chocolate, whipping cream and eggs, and assembling a cake. There’s Always Room for Chocolate is set to become the new essential cookbook for all things chocolate.

Naomi Josepher and Jon Payson founded The Chocolate Room, a sophisticated dessert café and retail shop. The couple operates two locations in Brooklyn that have become destinations for chocolate lovers from all over the world.

“…Full of exciting, delectable-sounding recipes, one more tempting than the next.”
—Kane County Chronicle


Georgia Freedman
, a contributing editor at Saveur, also writes for the Wall Street Journal, AfarImbibeGilt Taste, and Art of Eating.

Snatched: From Drug-Queen to Informer to Hostage–A Harrowing True Story

9781250031778

Raised an aristocrat in Colombia and educated in European schools, Pilar transfixes everyone with her charm and her guile. She also falls for dangerous men and finds herself drawn into the highest levels of the cocaine trade.

After two failed marriages and a harrowing escape from the drug life, she settles down to a quiet existence in Florida with her children–until her second husband tries to cut short his prison term by giving her name over to members of a new task force being formed by the DEA. They induce Pilar, now a middle-aged woman, to infiltrate the Cali cartel as the head of a vast money laundering sting.

Named “Operation Princess,” the scheme leads to the seizure of tens of millions of dollars, along with some $500 million worth of cocaine and the exposure of hundreds of high-level traffickers, becoming one of the most daring and successful stings in DEA history.

But Pilar plays her part too well. Her success as a money launderer gets her kidnapped and then ransomed by a band of guerrillas in South America–and the US government refuses to negotiate. It’s left to her low-level handlers in the DEA to get her back, before it’s too late and her kidnappers discover they have a federal agent in their clutches.

Snatched is the electric tale, by the New York Times bestselling author of Blow, Bruce Porter, that tells the true story of a woman caught between two worlds, with her life dangling in the balance.

“Fascinating look at the international drug trade. . . . In Porter’s hands, Pilar’s story will easily hook readers from start to finish; the book reads like an action-packed movie script.” - Publishers Weekly

“An engaging, improbable true-crime tale that underscores the grandiose futility of the drug war.” - Kirkus Reviews

“This amazing true story could have been written for the big screen. . . . the narrative races along like a film script. . . . this entertaining and sad story of a woman doing what she has to in order to protect her family will satisfy fans of BlowDonnie Brasco, and true crime stories.” - Library Journal

Bruce Porter is a former writer for Newsweek and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School who has written for the Washington PostNew York Times Magazine, Playboy, and Rolling Stone, as well as dozens of other magazines and newspapers. His first book, Blow, was a bestselling New York Times Notable Book and was made into a major motion picture. Bruce lives in New York City.

Blondie: Parallel Lines (33 1/3)

415QlKuJNnL._SX364_BO1,204,203,200_

Blondie’s Parallel Lines mixed punk, disco and radio-friendly FM rock with nostalgic influences from 1960s pop and girl group hits. This 1978 album kept one foot planted firmly in the past while remaining quite forward-looking, an impulse that can be heard in its electronic dance music hit “Heart of Glass.” Bubblegum music maven Mike Chapman produced Parallel Lines, which was the first massive hit by a group from the CBGB punk underworld.By embracing the diversity of New York City’s varied music scenes, Blondie embodied many of the tensions that played out at the time between fans of disco, punk, pop and mainstream rock.

Debbie Harry’s campy glamor and sassy snarl shook up the rock ‘n’ roll boy’s club during a growing backlash against the women’s and gay liberation movements, which helped fuel the “disco sucks” battle cry in the late 1970s. Despite disco’s roots in a queer, black and Latino underground scene that began in downtown New York, punk is usually celebrated by critics and scholars as the quintessential subculture. This book challenges the conventional wisdom that dismissed disco as fluffy prefab schlock while also recuperating punk’s unhip pop influences, revealing how these two genres were more closely connected than most people assume. Even Blondie’s album title, Parallel Lines, evokes the parallel development of punk and disco–along with their eventual crossover into the mainstream.

“An interesting thesis well made in this enjoyable addition to the 33 1/3 series.” – International Times

“A neat snapshot of a time of revolution, reinvention and experimentation … [This book is] every bit as appetising as the album itself, and an astute, erudite examination of one of the greatest albums of all time.” – Record Collector

“It’s a rare treat when an author busts out a tightly researched agenda that totally flips your perspective on a record, a band, a scene, a genre, and an entire artistic era. Kembrew McLeod provides such a treat with this gloriously revisionist history, positing that Blondie and the core of the New York punk scene’s early bands and aesthetics were a product of a wildly vital gay underground theater scene that flourished from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.” – Charles Aaron, MTV News

“There’s a little book I’ve been devouring on the subway this past week or two: Blondie’s Parallel Lines by Kembrew McLeod. It has had me tracing and re-tracing connections all over the place, re-examining my own assumptions about my own evolving musical tastes and cultural assumptions from the time of my first transistor radio … Refreshing.” – One Flew East

Kembrew McLeod is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. He has published and produced several books and documentaries about music and popular culture, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Slate, Salon, SPIN, MOJO and Rolling Stone. Kembrew’s documentary Copyright Criminalsaired on PBS’s Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens series, his 2007 book Freedom of Expression® received an American Library Association book award, and his 2014 book Pranksters received a “Best of the Best Books You Should Know About” designation from the American Association of University Presses. He recently was awarded a National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship to support his next book, The Pop Underground: Downtown New York in the Sixties and Seventies, From Warhol to Blondie, which builds on research done for his book on Blondie’s Parallel Lines in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series. He is based in Iowa City.

The American Slave Coast

9781613748206

WINNER OF A 2016 AMERICAN BOOK AWARD

The American Slave Coast tells the horrific, far-reaching story of how the slavery business made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as “breeding women” essential to the expansion of the nation. Amercan slaves were not only labor, but merchandise and collateral all at once. In a land without silver, gold, or trustworthy paper money, their children and their children’s children into perpetuity were human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit, paying interest to slaveowners in the form of newborns. The collision course of Virginia, the “mother of slavery,” versus South Carolina, the great slave importer, supplied part of the drama of the Constitutional Convention and climaxed in the debacle of the Confederacy. Thomas Jefferson’s prohibition of the African slave trade as of 1808 was not a humanitarian action but instead protected his slave-breeding Virginia constituents—more slave ships came to New Orleans from the East Coast of the United States than from Africa.The American Slave Coast is an alternative political, cultural, and economic history of the United States that shows how the slavery business set the agenda of the colonies and the nation, presenting even the most familiar historical figures and events in a revealing new light.

Critical Praise

“A massive story of impressive research…” —Kirkus

“Riveting and revolting.” —AlterNet.

“The three-hundred-year story has rarely, if ever, been told so fully or so well.“—David Waldstreicher, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, author of Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification

“The Sublettes offer an economic history and theory of slavery that is blunt in its assessment, unassailable in its argument and accessible to a general reader.” —The Guardian

Ned Sublette is the author of Cuba and Its MusicThe World that Made New Orleans, and The Year Before the FloodConstance Sublette published, as Constance Ash, the novels The HorsegirlThe Stalking Horse, and The Stallion Queen, and edited an anthology of science fiction. They live in New York City.

Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One

Pivot_JKF.indd
A REFINERY29 BEST BOOK OF 2016

ON THE J.P. MORGAN #NEXTLIST2017

Careers are not linear, predictable ladders any longer; they are fluid trajectories. No matter our age, life stage, bank account balance, or seniority, we are all being asked to navigate career changes much more frequently than in years past. The average employee tenure in America is just four to five years, and even those roles change dramatically within that time. Our economy now demands that we create businesses and careers based on creativity, growth, and impact. In this dynamic world of work, the only move that matters is your next one.

Drawing from her own experience and those of other successful pivoters, Jenny Blake has created a four-stage process that teaches anyone how to seamlessly and continually:

  • Double-down on existing strengths, interests, and experiences
  • Find new opportunities and identify skills to develop without falling prey to analysis-paralysis and compare-and-despair
  • Run small experiments to determine next steps
  • Take smart risks to launch with confidence in a new direction

This book is for anyone searching for an answer to the question, “What’s next?”

Whether you have hit a plateau in your perfect-on-paper job, are considering taking on a new role in your current job, are thinking about starting your own business, or you want to move into a new industry altogether, one thing remains clear: your career success depends on your ability to determine your next best move.

If change is the only constant, let’s get better at it.

Jenny Blake is a career and business strategist and international speaker who helps people smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout and create sustainable careers they love. She left her job in career development at Google in 2011 after five and a half years at the company to launch her first book, Life After College, and has since run her own consulting business in New York City.

Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo and the Music that Made Zimbabwe

static1.squarespace

Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country’s anticolonial struggle and cultural identity. Mapfumo was born in 1945 in what was then the British colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The trajectory of his career—from early performances of rock ‘n’ roll tunes to later creating a new genre based on traditional Zimbabwean music, including the sacred mbira, and African and Western pop—is a metaphor for Zimbabwe’s evolution from colony to independent nation. Lion Songs is an authoritative biography of Mapfumo that narrates the life and career of this creative, complex, and iconic figure.

Banning Eyre ties the arc of Mapfumo’s career to the history of Zimbabwe. The genre Mapfumo created in the 1970s called chimurenga, or “struggle” music, challenged the Rhodesian government—which banned his music and jailed him—and became important to Zimbabwe achieving independence in 1980. In the 1980s and 1990s Mapfumo’s international profile grew along with his opposition to Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship. Mugabe had been a hero of the revolution, but Mapfumo’s criticism of his regime led authorities and loyalists to turn on the singer with threats and intimidation. Beginning in 2000, Mapfumo and key band and family members left Zimbabwe. Many of them, including Mapfumo, now reside in Eugene, Oregon.
A labor of love, Lion Songs is the product of a twenty-five-year friendship and professional relationship between Eyre and Mapfumo that demonstrates Mapfumo’s musical and political importance to his nation, its freedom struggle, and its culture.
WINNER OF THE KWABENA NKETIA BOOK PRIZEBanning Eyre is a freelance writer and guitarist and the senior editor and producer of the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. He is the author of In Griot Time: An American Guitarist in MaliPlaying With Fire: Fear and Self-Censorship in Zimbabwean Music, and Guitar Atlas: Africa, and the coauthor of AFROPOP! An Illustrated Guide to Contemporary African Music. Eyre is a contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and his writing has been published in BillboardGuitar Player, Salon.com, the Boston PhoenixCMJOptionFolk RootsGlobal Rhythm, and other publications. He has also performed and recorded with Thomas Mapfumo.

What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography

511X3eW8EiLWhat Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography by Alan Light (Crown/Archetype, 2016) 

Inspired by the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, an intimate and vivid look at the legendary life of Nina Simone, the classically trained pianist who evolved into a chart-topping chanteuse and committed civil rights activist. 
 
From music journalist and former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative, and least understood artists of our time. Drawn from a trove of rare archival footage, audio recordings and interviews (including Simone’s remarkable private diaries), this nuanced examination of Nina Simone’s life highlights her musical inventiveness and unwavering quest for equality, while laying bare the personal demons that plagued her from the time of her Jim Crow childhood in North Carolina to her self-imposed exile in Liberia and Paris later in life.

Harnessing the singular voice of Miss Simone herself and incorporating candid reflections from those who knew her best, including her only daughter, Light brings us face to face with a legend, examining the very public persona and very private struggles of one of our greatest artists.

“[Nina Simone’s] willingness to speak her mind shines out of every page of Alan Light’s biography.”
The Times (UK)

“A probing account of Simone’s inner struggles…Far from detracting from her civil rights heroism, it makes that achievement all the more astonishing.”
The New York Review of Books

“Simone was a genius. Her triumphs and troubles share the stage in Light’s pitch-perfect biography, What Happened, Miss Simone?.”
Elle

Alan Light has been one of America’s leading music journalists for the past twenty years. He was a senior writer at Rolling Stone, founding music editor and editor-in-chief of Vibe, and editor-in-chief of Spin magazine. Light has appeared as a music and culture expert on numerous television and radio programs, and is currently the director of programming for Live from the Artists Den, a concert series on PBS. He has been a contributor to the New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, and Mother Jones and has won two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for his work.

Light is the author of The Skills to Pay the Bills, an oral history of the Beastie Boys; The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”; and cowriter of the New York Times bestselling memoir by Gregg Allman, My Cross to Bear, and Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain.