5 Music Books to Read (Vol. 1)
Books make us better and wiser. They make us lose ourselves for a few hours to only meet us at the end of the road with new options and perspectives.
In these uncertain times, where the only certain thing is to avoid the outside world as much as possible, there’s a chance you’ll indulge in some binge-reading.
Maybe you’ll dust off the books that have been sitting on your shelves for years. Maybe you’ll buy a new book online, impatiently waiting for it to distract your mind and carry you away. While you hop from Pride & Prejudice to Siddharta, why not reach out for a music book too? You know, just to double the fun.
If you don’t know where to start, here are 5 suggestions from yours truly.
Make sure you come back for more. We’ll be waiting for you. No pressure.
1- ‘STRANGER THAN KINDNESS’ by Nick Cave
Recommended by Paul Reynolds
Managing Director, MassiveMusic London
IN A NUTSHELL: A wonderful scrapbook of rarely seen photos and sketches.
WHAT THE AUTHOR SAYS: “What you see in this book lives in the intricate world constructed around the songs, and which the songs inhabit. It is the material that gives birth to and nourishes the official work.” ~Nick Cave
WHAT PAUL SAYS: The Stranger Than Kindness exhibition at the Royal Library in Copenhagen has been suspended due to Coronavirus, but alas all is not lost! The book traces Nick Cave’s transformation from a teenager mesmerised by a live punk band into an international artist, showing us the (very) raw material that shaped and helped create his songs. Take my money.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: To celebrate the creative process. To lose yourself in an inner journey of photographs, handwritten lyrics and original artwork.
2- ‘A VILLAGE LOST AND FOUND’ by Brian May and Elena Vidal
Recommended by Tom Allen
Creative Development Manager, MassiveMusic London
IN A NUTSHELL: A stereoscopic photography book on photographer T.R. Williams, written and curated by Brian May and Elena Vidal. The photos, all paired with a poem on the back of each of them, depict 1850s life in a village called Hinton Waldrist, giving an extraordinary insight into everyday life at the time.
WHAT THE AUTHOR SAYS: “It’s been a passion for a very long time – I obviously have too many passions in my life! Ever since I collected the 3D cards in Weetabix packets, from the age of 10, I have been enchanted by stereo images. It has been a great passion for most of my life, and I’ve always wondered why everybody isn’t as excited about it as I am!” ~Brian May
WHAT TOM SAYS: The most quintessentially atmospheric book I’ve ever read. Pour yourself a cup of tea, get yourself a plate of Hobnobs and enjoy.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: To indulge in something you didn’t know you could
obsess over and because it’s the perfect antidote to 21st century stress.
3- ‘SWITCHED ON POP: HOW POPULAR MUSIC WORKS, AND WHY IT MATTERS’ by Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan
Recommended by Charlotte Daniel
Brand & Marketing Manager, MassiveMusic Amsterdam
IN A NUTSHELL: Through close studies of 16 modern classics, musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding illuminate the essential musical concepts behind 2 decades of chart-topping songs. Each chapter investigates a different song and artist, revealing how a single melodic motif follows Taylor Swift through every genre that she samples, André 3000 uses metric manipulation to get listeners to shake it like a Polaroid picture or Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee create harmonic ambiguity in ‘Despacito’ that mirrors the patterns of global migration.
WHAT CHARLOTTE SAYS: The way Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding deconstruct pop songs is just brilliant. A witty, informative and accessible book based on the eponymous podcast, also highly recommended, especially to ‘those who prefer reading with their ears’.
WHAT THE AUTHOR SAYS: “Switched on Pop listeners shape the show every week by suggesting incredible episode ideas and recommending songs for us to break down. They’re also largely responsible for the book. As our audience grew, one request came through again and again—listeners wanted a definitive guide to the essential musical knowledge necessary to understand contemporary pop. We were shocked to find that of all of the books on the market, none really served this purpose. So, we wrote it.” ~Charlie Harding
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Because, whether you like it or not, pop music says a lot about us. Plus, you now have new fun facts for your family and friends.
4- ‘MY LIFE: IT'S A LONG STORY’ by Willie Nelson
Recommended by Elijah B. Torn
Creative Director, MassiveMusic New York
IN A NUTSHELL: The definitive autobiography of Willie Nelson.
WHAT THE AUTHOR SAYS: “This is the story of my life, told as clear as a Texas sky and in the same rhythm that I lived it. It’s a story of restlessness and the purity of the moment and living right. Of my childhood in Abbott, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest, from Nashville to Hawaii and all the way back again. Of selling vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias while hosting radio shows and writing song after song, hoping to strike gold. It’s a story of true love, wild times, best friends, and barrooms, with a musical sound track ripping right through it. My life gets lived on the road, at home, and on the road again, tried and true, and I’ve written it all down from my heart to yours.” ~Willie Nelson
WHAT ELIJAH SAYS: A rambling ride of a read about the phases and stages of the Red-headed Stranger’s life. An awesome reminder that legends take time to create and the only failure is not getting back up again.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Because it’s an easy and entertaining read. And you don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy it.
5- ‘STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST’ by Austin Kleon
Recommended by Tamon Fujimi
Director of Creative Development APAC, MassiveMusic Tokyo
IN A NUTSHELL: 10 things nobody ever told you about being creative. Creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto whose positive message, illustrations and exercises put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.
WHAT THE AUTHOR SAYS: “The purpose of this work is not to build a side hustle. It’s about being a human being, and there are just so many people out there right now that just need a little bit of affirmation.” ~Austin Kleon
WHAT TAMON SAYS: Not a music book per sé, but music and creativity go hand in hand. A modern how-to guide with great insights for the digital age.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: To have the confirmation that you don’t need to be a genius. As corny as it might sound, you simply have to be yourself.