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 Beyonce. 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.
Roger Steffens is one of the world's leading Bob Marley experts. He toured with the Wailers in the 1970s and was closely acquainted with Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and the rest of the band members. Over several decades he has interviewed more than seventy-five friends, business managers, relatives and confidants--many speaking publicly for the first time. Forty years in the making, So Much Things to Say weaves this rich testimony into a definitive telling of the life of the reggae king--the full, inside account of how a boy from the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, became a cultural icon and inspiration to millions around the world.
The intimacy of the voices and the frankness of their revelations will astonish even longtime Marley fans. Readers see the intense bonds of teenage friendship among Peter, Bunny and Bob, the vibrant early sessions with the original Wailers (as witnessed by members Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Green) and the tumultuous relationships with Rita Marley and Cindy Breakspeare.
With unprecedented candor, these interviews tell dramatic, little-known stories, from the writing of some of Marley's most beloved songs to the Wailers' violent confrontation involving producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, Bob's intensive musical training with star singer Johnny Nash and the harrowing assassination attempt at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, which led to Marley's defiant performance two nights later with a bullet lodged in his arm.
Readers witness Marley's rise to international fame in London, his triumphant visit to Zimbabwe to sing for freedom fighters inspired by his anthems and the devastating moment of his collapse while jogging in New York's Central Park. Steffens masterfully conducts the story of Marley's last months, as Marley poignantly sings "Another One Bites the Dust" during the sound check before his final concert in Pittsburgh, followed by his tragic death at the age of thirty-six.
So Much Things to Say explores major controversies, examining who actually ordered the shooting attack on Hope Road, scrutinizing claims of CIA involvement and investigating why Marley's fatal cancer wasn't diagnosed sooner. Featuring Steffens's own candid photographs of Marley and his circle, this magisterial work preserves an invaluable, transformative slice of music history: the life of the legendary performer who brought reggae to the international stage.
The Show That Never Ends is the definitive story of the extraordinary rise and fall of progressive ("prog") rock. Epitomized by such classic, chart-topping bands as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, along with such successors as Rush, Marillion, Asia, Styx, and Porcupine Tree, prog sold hundreds of millions of records. It brought into the mainstream concept albums, spaced-out cover art, crazy time signatures, multitrack recording, and stagecraft so bombastic it was spoofed in the classic movie This Is Spinal Tap.
With a vast knowledge of what Rolling Stone has called "the deliciously decadent genre that the punks failed to kill," access to key people who made the music, and the passion of a true enthusiast, Washington Post national reporter David Weigel tells the story of prog in all its pomp, creativity, and excess.
Weigel explains exactly what was "progressive" about prog rock and how its complexity and experimentalism arose from such precursors as the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper. He traces prog's popularity from the massive success of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" and the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" in 1967. He reveals how prog's best-selling, epochal albums were made, including The Dark Side of the Moon, Thick as a Brick, and Tubular Bells. And he explores the rise of new instruments into the prog mix, such as the synthesizer, flute, mellotron, and--famously--the double-neck guitar.
The Show That Never Ends is filled with the candid reminiscences of prog's celebrated musicians. It also features memorable portraits of the vital contributions of producers, empresarios, and technicians such as Richard Branson, Brian Eno, Ahmet Ertegun, and Bob Moog.
Ultimately, Weigel defends prog from the enormous derision it has received for a generation, and he reveals the new critical respect and popularity it has achieved in its contemporary resurgence.
The Beatles' influence--on their contemporaries, on our cultural consciousness, and on the music industry ever after--is difficult to overstate. We all have a favorite song from the band that made us want to fall in love, tune in, and follow our dreams. Arranged chronologically by the date of the song's release, these essays highlight both the Beatles' evolution as well as the span of generations their music affected. Whether they are Beatlemaniacs who grew up listening to the iconic albums on vinyl or new fans who stream their favorite songs on their phones, all of the contributors explore that poignant intersection between Beatles history and personal history. With contributions from twenty-nine authors and musicians--Roz Chast on "She Loves You," Jane Smiley on "I Want to Hold Your Hand," Rosanne Cash on "No Reply," Gerald Early on "I'm a Loser," Rick Moody on "The End," Maria Popova on "Yellow Submarine," David Duchovny on "Dear Prudence," Chuck Klosterman on "Helter Skelter," David Hajdu on "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)," and more--the breadth of the band's impact is clear. From musings on young love and family strife to explorations of racial boundaries and identity, these essays pay tribute to a band that ran the gamut of human experience in a way no musical group has done before or since. Timed for the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, this anthology captures the full spectrum of reasons fans still love the Fab Four after all these years. "In Their Lives is full of pleasant surprises."--New York Times
After he died in the backseat of a Cadillac at the age of twenty-nine, Hank Williams?a frail, flawed man who had become country music's most compelling and popular star?instantly morphed into its first tragic martyr. Having hit the heights in the postwar era with simple songs of heartache and star-crossed love, he would, with that outlaw swagger, become in death a template for the rock generation to follow. But unlike those other musical giants who never made thirty, no legacy endures quite like that of the "Hillbilly King."
Now presenting the first fully realized biography of Hiram King Williams in a generation, Mark Ribowsky vividly returns us to the world of country's origins, in this case 1920s Alabama, where Williams was born into the most trying of circumstances, which included a dictatorial mother, a henpecked father, and an agonizing spinal condition. Forced by his overbearing matriarch to do odd jobs--selling peanuts, shining shoes--young Hank soon found respite in street-corner blues man Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne, who showed him how to make a guitar sing. It wasn't long before young Hank found his way onto those nascent American radio airwaves, where his melodic voice and timely tunes slowly garnered a following. On that dusty path to early stardom, Hank was indefatigably supported by his overbearing mother, who would shepherd his band, the Driftin' Cowboys, to shows along backroads of the Jim Crow South. Yet it was a different woman who would supply Hank with the fuel he needed to explode out of the local spotlight: his sometimes wife, Audrey Mae Sheppard. As Ribowsky brilliantly evokes, their fiery relationship--as abusive as it was passionate--would inform nearly every song he ever wrote, and provide a template for country music for generations to follow.
In chronicling Hank's rise to stardom, Ribowsky also explores all those cautionary tales that have, until now, remained secreted beneath the grooves of his records. Drawing from new interviews, Ribowsky connects those seemingly eternal afternoons and nights spent choked in booze and desperation to the music that Williams would create. With remarkable nuance and insight, Ribowsky allows us to witness the man behind the tipped cowboy hat--the charismatic troubadour who hid the wounds of his domestic quarrels, relied on painkillers to get through the day, and was always teetering on the edge of tragedy, even when he saw the light.
Tracing the singular rise of a music legend from the street corners of the Depression-era South to the now-immortal stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and finally to a haunting, lonely end on New Year's Day 1953, Hank uncovers the real man beneath the myths, reintroducing us to an American original whose legacy, like a good night at the honkytonk, promises to carry on and on.
- Don't ever play yourself
- Secure the bag
- Respect the code
- Glorify your success
- Don't deny the heat
- Keep two rooms cooking at the same time
- Win, win, win no matter what
Ed Ward covers the first half of the history of rock & roll in this sweeping and definitive narrative--from the 1920s, when the music of rambling medicine shows mingled with the songs of vaudeville and minstrel acts to create the very early sounds of country and rhythm and blues, to the rise of the first independent record labels post-World War II, and concluding in December 1963, just as an immense change in the airwaves took hold and the Beatles prepared for their first American tour. The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 shines a light on the far corners of the genre to reveal the stories behind the hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.
In this first volume of a two-part series, Ward shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between. He covers the trajectories of the big name acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles, while also filling in gaps of knowledge and celebrating forgotten heroes such as the Burnette brothers, the "5" Royales, and Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips's assistant, who played an integral part in launching Elvis's career.
For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, Ward spins story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, introducing us along the way to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre and had a hand in creating the music we all know and love today.
Since 1963, The Rolling Stones have been recording and touring, selling more than 200 million records worldwide. While much is known about this iconic group, few books provide a comprehensive history of their time in the studio. In The Rolling Stones All the Songs, authors Margotin and Guesdon describe the origin of their 340 released songs, details from the recording studio, what instruments were used, and behind-the-scenes stories of the great artists who contributed to their tracks.
Organized chronologically by album, this massive, 704-page hardcover begins with their 1963 eponymous debut album recorded over five days at the Regent Studio in London; through their collaboration with legendary producer Jimmy Miller in the ground-breaking albums from 1968 to 1973; to their later work with Don Was, who has produced every album since Voodoo Lounge. Packed with more than 500 photos, All the Songs is also filled with stories fans treasure, such as how the mobile studio they pioneered was featured in Deep Purple's classic song "Smoke on the Water" or how Keith Richards used a cassette recording of an acoustic guitar to get the unique riff on "Street Fighting Man."
A riveting look at the transformative year in the lives and careers of the legendary group whose groundbreaking legacy would forever change music and popular culture.
They started off as hysteria-inducing pop stars playing to audiences of screaming teenage fans and ended up as musical sages considered responsible for ushering in a new era.
The year that changed everything for the Beatles was 1966--the year of their last concert and their first album, Revolver, that was created to be listened to rather than performed. This was the year the Beatles risked their popularity by retiring from live performances, recording songs that explored alternative states of consciousness, experimenting with avant-garde ideas, and speaking their minds on issues of politics, war, and religion. It was the year their records were burned in America after John's explosive claim that the group was "more popular than Jesus," the year they were hounded out of the Philippines for "snubbing" its First Lady, the year John met Yoko Ono, and the year Paul conceived the idea for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
On the fiftieth anniversary of this seminal year, music journalist and Beatles expert Steve Turner slows down the action to investigate in detail the enormous changes that took place in the Beatles' lives and work during 1966. He looks at the historical events that had an impact on the group, the music they made that in turn profoundly affected the culture around them, and the vision that allowed four young men from Liverpool to transform popular music and serve as pioneers for artists from Coldplay to David Bowie, Jay-Z to U2.
By talking to those close to the group and by drawing on his past interviews with key figures such as George Martin, Timothy Leary, and Ravi Shankar--and the Beatles themselves--Turner gives us the compelling, definitive account of the twelve months that contained everything the Beatles had been and anticipated everything they would still become.
A personal, idiosyncratic history of popular music that also may well be definitive, from the revered music critic
From the age of song sheets in the late nineteenth-century to the contemporary era of digital streaming, pop music has been our most influential laboratory for social and aesthetic experimentation, changing the world three minutes at a time.
In Love for Sale, David Hajdu--one of the most respected critics and music historians of our time--draws on a lifetime of listening, playing, and writing about music to show how pop has done much more than peddle fantasies of love and sex to teenagers. From vaudeville singer Eva Tanguay, the "I Don't Care Girl" who upended Victorian conceptions of feminine propriety to become one of the biggest stars of her day to the scandal of Blondie playing disco at CBGB, Hajdu presents an incisive and idiosyncratic history of a form that has repeatedly upset social and cultural expectations.
Exhaustively researched and rich with fresh insights, Love for Sale is unbound by the usual tropes of pop music history. Hajdu, for instance, gives a star turn to Bessie Smith and the "blues queens" of the 1920s, who brought wildly transgressive sexuality to American audience decades before rock and roll. And there is Jimmie Rodgers, a former blackface minstrel performer, who created country music from the songs of rural white and blacks . . . entwined with the sound of the Swiss yodel. And then there are today's practitioners of Electronic Dance Music, who Hajdu celebrates for carrying the pop revolution to heretofore unimaginable frontiers. At every turn, Hajdu surprises and challenges readers to think about our most familiar art in unexpected ways.
Masterly and impassioned, authoritative and at times deeply personal, Love for Sale is a book of critical history informed by its writer's own unique history as a besotted fan and lifelong student of pop.
A Washington Post Notable Book A Publishers Weekly Book of the Year As seen on CBS This Morning, NPR's Fresh Air, and People Magazine A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Nonfiction Pick of September
The New York Times bestseller about a young black man's journey from violence and despair to the threshold of stardom. "A beautiful tribute to the power of good teachers."--Terry Gross, Fresh Air
"One of the most inspiring stories I've come across in a long time."--Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review Ryan Speedo Green had a tough upbringing in southeastern Virginia: his family lived in a trailer park and later a bullet-riddled house across the street from drug dealers. His father was absent; his mother was volatile and abusive. At the age of twelve, Ryan was sent to Virginia's juvenile facility of last resort. He was placed in solitary confinement. He was uncontrollable, uncontainable, with little hope for the future. In 2011, at the age of twenty-four, Ryan won a nationwide competition hosted by New York's Metropolitan Opera, beating out 1,200 other talented singers. Today, he is a rising star performing major roles at the Met and Europe's most prestigious opera houses. SING FOR YOUR LIFE chronicles Ryan's suspenseful, racially charged and artistically intricate journey from solitary confinement to stardom. Daniel Bergner takes readers on Ryan's path toward redemption, introducing us to a cast of memorable characters--including the two teachers from his childhood who redirect his rage into music, and his long-lost father who finally reappears to hear Ryan sing. Bergner illuminates all that it takes--technically, creatively--to find and foster the beauty of the human voice. And Sing for Your Life sheds unique light on the enduring and complex realities of race in America.
Mike Love tells the story of his legendary, raucous, and ultimately triumphant five-decade career as the front man of The Beach Boys, the most popular American band in history -- timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of "Good Vibrations."
As a founding member of The Beach Boys, Mike Love has spent an extraordinary fifty-five years, and counting, as the group's lead singer and one of its principal lyricists. The Beach Boys, from their California roots to their international fame, are a unique American story -- one of overnight success and age-defying longevity; of musical genius and reckless self-destruction; of spirituality, betrayal, and forgiveness -- and Love is the only band member to be part of it each and every step. His own story has never been fully told, of how a sheet-metal apprentice became the quintessential front man for America's most successful rock band, singing in more than 5,600 concerts in 26 countries.
Love describes the stories behind his lyrics for pop classics such as "Good Vibrations," "California Girls," "Surfin' USA," and "Kokomo," while providing vivid portraits of the turbulent lives of his three gifted cousins, Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson. His partnership with Brian has few equals in American pop music, though Mike has carved out a legacy of his own -- he co-wrote the lyrics to eleven of the twelve original Beach Boy songs that were top 10 hits while providing the lead vocals on ten of them. The band's unprecedented durability also provides a glimpse into America's changing cultural mores over the past half century, while Love himself has experienced both the diabolical and the divine -- from Charles Manson's "family" threatening his life to Maharishi instilling it with peace. A husband, a father, and an avid environmentalist, Love has written a book that is as rich and layered as the Beach Boy harmonies themselves."
A monumental, revealing narrative history about the legendary group of artists at the forefront of West Coast hip-hop: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur.
Amid rising gang violence, the crack epidemic, and police brutality, a group of unlikely voices cut through the chaos of late 1980s Los Angeles: N.W.A. Led by a drug dealer, a glammed-up producer, and a high school kid, N.W.A gave voice to disenfranchised African Americans across the country. And they quickly redefined pop culture across the world. Their names remain as popular as ever--Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Dre soon joined forces with Suge Knight to create the combustible Death Row Records, which in turn transformed Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur into superstars.
Ben Westhoff explores how this group of artists shifted the balance of hip-hop from New York to Los Angeles. He shows how N.W.A.'s shocking success lead to rivalries between members, record labels, and eventually a war between East Coast and West Coast factions. In the process, hip-hop burst into mainstream America at a time of immense social change, and became the most dominant musical movement of the last thirty years. At gangsta rap's peak, two of its biggest names--Tupac and Biggie Smalls--were murdered, leaving the surviving artists to forge peace before the genre annihilated itself.
Featuring extensive investigative reporting, interviews with the principal players, and dozens of never-before-told stories, Original Gangstas is a groundbreaking addition to the history of popular music.
Award-winning songwriter Linda Thompson breaks her silence, sharing the extraordinary story of her life, career, and epic romances with two of the most celebrated, yet enigmatic, modern American superstars--Elvis Presley and Bruce Jenner.
For the last forty years, award-winning songwriter Linda Thompson has quietly led one of the most remarkable lives in show business. The longtime live-in love of Elvis Presley, Linda first emerged into the limelight during the 1970s when the former beauty pageant queen caught the eye of the King. Their chance late-night encounter at a movie theater was the stuff of legend, and it marked the beginning of a whirlwind that would stretch across decades, leading to a marriage with Bruce Jenner, motherhood, and more drama than she ever could have imagined.
Now for the first time, Linda opens up about it all, telling the full story of her life, loves, and everything in between. From her humble beginnings in Memphis to her nearly five year relationship with Elvis, she offers an intimate window into their life together, describing how their Southern roots fueled and sustained Graceland's greatest romance. Going inside their wild stories and tender moments, she paints a portrait of life with the King, as raucous as it is refreshing. But despite the joy they shared, life with Elvis also had darkness, and her account also presents an unsparing look at Elvis's twin demons--drug abuse and infidelity--forces he battled throughout their time together that would eventually end their relationship just eight months before his untimely death.
It was in the difficult aftermath of Elvis's death that Linda found what she believed was her true home: the arms of Olympic gold medal-winner Bruce Jenner. Detailing her marriage to Bruce, Linda reveals the apparently perfect life that they built with their two young sons--Brandon and Brody--before Bruce changed everything with a secret he'd been carrying his entire life, a secret that Linda herself kept for nearly thirty years, a secret that Bruce's transition to Caitlyn Jenner has finally laid bare for the world. Providing a candid look inside one of the most challenging moments of her life, Linda uncovers the struggles she went through as a woman and a mother, coming to terms with the reality of Bruce's identity and resolving to embrace him completely no matter what, even as it meant they could no longer be together,
And yet, despite her marriage unraveling, her search for love was not over, eventually leading her to the legendary music producer and musician David Foster, a relationship that lasted for 19 tumultuous years, resulting in a bond that spurred her songwriting career to new heights but also tested her like never before. Filled with compelling and poignant stories and 16 pages of photographs, A Little Thing Called Life lovingly recounts Linda's incredible journey through the years, bringing unparalleled insight into three legendary figures.
In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s.
In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock--the day that shattered the Sixties' promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from the film Gimme Shelter, the whole story has remained buried in varied accounts, rumor, and myth--until now.
Altamont explores rock's darkest day, a fiasco that began well before the climactic death of Meredith Hunter and continued beyond that infamous December night. Joel Selvin probes every aspect of the show--from the Stones' hastily planned tour preceding the concert to the bad acid that swept through the audience to other deaths that also occurred that evening--to capture the full scope of the tragedy and its aftermath. He also provides an in-depth look at the Grateful Dead's role in the events leading to Altamont, examining the band's behind-the-scenes presence in both arranging the show and hiring the Hells Angels as security.
The product of twenty years of exhaustive research and dozens of interviews with many key players, including medical staff, Hells Angels members, the stage crew, and the musicians who were there, and featuring sixteen pages of color photos, Altamont is the ultimate account of the final event in rock's formative and most turbulent decade.