5 New Music Books to Watch Out For

Horror Stories: A Memoir by Liz Phair (8 Oct 2019)
horror stories
From the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville comes a haunting memoir in stories in the tradition of Patti Smith’s M Train

When Liz Phair was just starting out in the Wicker Park, Chicago, music scene in the early 1990s, she mostly encountered a**holes–mostly men, who didn’t respect her and were determined not to see her fail, exactly, because they didn’t care enough about her to wish failure on her–they just wanted her to get out of their space, to disappear. “Girly Sound” was the name of the cassettes she used to pass around in those days, and in 1993 those songs became the landmark album Exile in Guyville, which turned Phair, at twenty-five, into a foul-mouthed feminist icon.

Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair tells the story of her life and career in a memoir about the moments that have haunted her most. Horror is in the eye of the beholder. For Phair, horror is what stays with you–the often unrecognized, universal experiences of daily pain, shame, and fear that make up our common humanity. In Phair’s case it means the dangers of falling for “the perfect guy,” and the disaster that awaits her; the memory of a stranger passed out on a bathroom floor amid a crowd of girls, forcing her to consider our responsibilities to one another, and the gnawing regret of being a bystander; and the profound sense of emptiness she experienced on the set of her first celebrity photoshoot.

Horror Stories reads like the confessions of a friend, a book that gathers up all of our isolated shames, bringing us together in our shared imperfection, our uncertainty and our cowardice, smashing the stigma of not being in control. But most importantly, Horror Stories is a memoir that asks questions of how we feel about the things that have happened to us, how we cope with regret and culpability, and how we break the spell of those things, leeching them of their power over us. This memoir is an immersive experience, taking readers inside the most intimate moments of Phair’s life. Her fearless prose, wit, and uncompromising honesty transform those deeply personal moments into tales about each and every one of us–that will appeal to both the serious fan and the serious reader.

Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice, edited by Mary Guibert and David Browne (15 Oct 2019)
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In 1994, an artist named Jeff Buckley released ‘Grace’, his debut album. Hailed immediately by the likes of Bono, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, as a singer, guitarist, and writer of a generation.

Throughout his life, Buckley obsessively kept journals chronicling his goals, inspirations, aspirations, and creative struggles. His diaries amount to one of the most insightful life chronicles any musical artist has ever left behind. Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice will mark the first-ever publication of Buckley’s account of his journey through his handwritten diaries and lyrics. Combined with reproductions of other memorabilia, including letters, notes, and unpublished lyrics – the book will take readers deep inside Buckley’s creative mind and personal life.

For those who grew up listening to Jeff’s music and for those who are just discovering it, Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice will be an intimate portrait of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century in his own extremely vibrant words and never seen before lyrics.

A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston (5 Nov 2019)
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Robyn Crawford and Whitney Houston were inseparable friends and collaborators. This is the poignant inside story of their life together.

Whitney Houston is as big a superstar as the music business has ever known. She exploded on the scene in 1985 with her debut album and spent the next two decades dominating the charts and capturing the hearts of fans around the world. One person was there by her side through it all.

Since Whitney’s death in 2012, that trusted and loyal friend, Robyn Crawford, has stayed out of the limelight and held the great joys, wild adventures, and hard truths of her life with Whitney close to her heart. In A Song for You, Robyn breaks her silence to share the moving and often complicated story of her life and relationship with Whitney.

With warmth, candor, and an impressive recall of detail, Robyn gives readers insight into Whitney’s life and career. She traces the years from when she and Whitney first met as teenagers in the 1980s to the recording of Whitney’s first album and the infinite success that followed. From countless sold-out world tours to her epic rendition of the US national anthem to the set of The Bodyguard, her tempestuous marriage, and the birth of her only child, Robyn was there.

Deeply personal and heartfelt, A Song for You is the vital, honest, and previously untold story that provides an understanding of the complex life of Whitney Houston. Finally, the person who knew her best sets the record straight.

Bowie’s Books: The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life by John O’Connell (14 Nov 2019)
bowie's books
‘What is your idea of perfect happiness?’
‘Reading.’

‘What is the quality you most like in a man?’
‘The ability to return books.’

Three years before he died, David Bowie made a list of the one hundred books that had transformed his life – a list that formed something akin to an autobiography. From Madame Bovary to A Clockwork Orange, the Iliad to the Beano, these were the publications that had fuelled his creativity and shaped who he was.

In Bowie’s Books, John O’Connell explores this list in the form of one hundred short essays, each offering a perspective on the man, performer and creator that is Bowie, his work as an artist and the era that he lived in.

Bowie’s Books is much more than a list of books you should read in your lifetime: it is a unique insight into one of the greatest minds of our times, and an indispensable part of the legacy that Bowie left behind.

The Beautiful Ones by Prince (29 Oct 2019)
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From Prince himself comes the brilliant coming-of-age-and-into-superstardom story of one of the greatest artists of all time―featuring never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks and lyric sheets, and the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death.

Prince was a musical genius, one of the most talented, beloved, accomplished, popular, and acclaimed musicians in pop history. But he wasn’t only a musician―he was also a startlingly original visionary with an imagination deep enough to whip up whole worlds, from the sexy, gritty funk paradise of his early records to the mythical landscape of Purple Rain to the psychedelia of Paisley Park. But his greatest creative act was turning Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minnesota, into Prince, the greatest pop star of his era.

The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince―a first-person account of a kid absorbing the world around him and then creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and fame that would come to define him. The book is told in four parts. The first is composed of the memoir he was writing before his tragic death, pages that brings us into Prince’s childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us into Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album released, through a scrapbook of Prince’s writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that take us up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain―the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, as he retells the autobiography we’ve seen in the first three parts as a heroic journey.

The book is framed by editor Dan Piepenbring’s riveting and moving introduction about his short but profound collaboration with Prince in his final days―a time when Prince was thinking deeply about how to reveal more of himself and his ideas to the world, while retaining the mystery and mystique he’d so carefully cultivated―and annotations that provide context to each of the book’s images.

This work is not just a tribute to Prince, but an original and energizing literary work, full of Prince’s ideas and vision, his voice and image, his undying gift to the world.

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