5 Music Books to Watch Out For

When Broadway Went To Hollywood by Ethan Mordden (1 Jan 2017)

The Wizard of Oz, Gigi, Top Hat, High Society – some of the most popular movie musicals ever made were written by Broadway songwriters. The Sound of Music, Chicago, West Side Story, The Music Man, Grease – some of the other most popular movie musicals were adaptations of Broadway shows.

From the very first talkies to the present, Broadway’s composers and lyricists have given much of their best work to the movies – but with varying results. In the 1930s, Rodgers and Hart’s Love Me Tonight, with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald at their sexiest, is a masterpiece of fairytale sophistication. But Hallelujah, I’m a Bum, an Al Jolson vehicle about tramps in Central Park, is one of the outstanding flops, partly because Rodgers and Hart wrote it as a kind of opera that is spoken instead of sung.

Or take the big films based on Broadway shows in the 1960s. After The Sound of Music, Hollywood sought to fill the screen with lots of scenery, lots of drama, and lots of Julie Andrews. But Camelot and Hello, Dolly! had too much scenery, Paint Your Wagon was the hippie musical, and Song of Norway was simply loony. Even Julie Andrews couldn’t save the Broadway bio film called Star!, all about the adventures of Gertrude Lawrence. Who?

As historians have begun to consider the movie musical along with the stage musical, Ethan Mordden explores just how influential such writers as Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and Stephen Sondheim have been when they moved from Broadway to Hollywood. Are the welcomed? Do they get to experiment, using the freedom of the camera to expand the very geography of song? Or do movie producers resent that New York sophistication? Broadway excels in the bittersweet “Send in the Clowns.” But Hollywood wants it simple: “White Christmas.”

With his usual combination of scholarship and wicked wit, Ethan Mordden tantalizes us with anecdotes and fresh observations. He discusses many unusual titles as well – Viennese Nights, The Boys From Syracuse, Anything Goes, with Ethel Merman preserving her classic stage part as Reno Sweeney, the swinging evangelist. The first of its kind, this book is made for the moviegoer and theatre buff alike.

Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams by Mark Ribowsky (6 Jan 2017)
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.

Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats and Drugs by Martin Torgoff (10 Jan 2017)
Bop Apocalypse, a narrative history from master storyteller Martin Torgoff, details the rise of early drug culture in America by weaving together the disparate elements that formed this new segment of the American fabric. Channeling his decades of writing experience, Torgoff connects the birth of jazz in New Orleans, the first drug laws, Louis Armstrong, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, swing, Lester Young, Billie Holliday, the Savoy Ballroom, Reefer Madness, Charlie Parker, the birth of bebop, the rise of the Beat Generation, and the launch of heroin in Harlem. Having spent a lifetime immersed in the overlapping worlds of music and drugs, Torgoff reveals material that has never been disclosed before.Bop Apocalypse is a truly fresh contribution to the understanding of jazz, race, and drug culture.

How to Make it in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician by Ari Herstand (12 Jan 2017)
Forget everything you think you know about the odds of “making it” in the music industry. Today, odds mean nothing and success is not about lucky breaks. It’s about conquering social media, mastering the art of merchandising and simply working harder and being smarter than everyone else. We are living in the midst of an industry renaissance, one that has left the record companies desperately struggling to maintain their prominence, as a subculture of dedicated, DIY (do-it-yourself) musicians have taken over. These days talent is a given and success has to be earned. In 2008, Ari Herstand boldly turned in his green Starbucks apron to his manager, determined to make a living off his craft as a singer/songwriter. Almost a decade later, he has become a founding member of the new DIY movement and a self-sustaining musician, all without the help of a major label. Now, drawing from years of experience, Herstand has written the definitive guide for other like-minded artists, the ones who want to forge their own path and not follow the traditional markers of success, like record sales, hits on the radio or the amount of your label advance. Incredibly comprehensive and brutally honest throughout, How to Make It in the New Music Business covers every facet of the “new” business, including how to: * Build a grass-roots fan base-and understand the modern fan * Book a profitable tour, and tips for playing live, such as opening vs. headlining etiquette, and putting on a memorable show * Become popular on YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud * Get songs placed in film and television * Earn royalties you didn’t know existed and reach your crowdfunding goals Musicians will not only be introduced to all the tools available today but will be shown how to effectively leverage them to actually make money. More important, they will develop the mindset to be aware of new advancements both online and in the real world and always stay in tune with a constantly evolving landscape. There has never been a better time to be an independent musician. Today, fans can communicate with their idols by simply picking up their phones, artists are able to produce studio-worthy content from their basement and albums are funded not by “record men” but by generous, engaged supporters. As result, How to Make It in the New Music Business is a must-have guide for anyone hoping to navigate the increasingly complex yet advantageous landscape that is the modern music industry.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’Roll Underworld by Keiron Pim (26 Jan 2017)

David Litvinoff was one of the great mythic characters of ‘60s London.

Flitting between the worlds of music, art and crime, he exerted a hidden influence that helped create the Krays twins’ legend, connected the Rolling Stones with London’s dark side, shaped the plot of classic film Performance – and saw him immortalised in a portrait by Lucian Freud.

Litvinoff’s determination to live without trace means that his life has always eluded biographers, until now. Intent on unravelling the enigma of Litvinoff, Keiron Pim conducted 100 interviews over five years, speaking to Eric Clapton and Marianne Faithfull, James Fox and ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser. The result is an extraordinary feat of research that traces a rogue’s progress amongst aristocrats, gangsters and rock stars.

Brilliant Book Titles #30

You all know I love subtitles, but this is hands-down my favourite subtitle of a book ever (and the book itself is great!)

exile in guyville

Here’s the diary of a man who in mid-life found himself uprooted and dumped into West Hollywood, an unfamiliar place not exactly known for stability. White explores his neighborhood ? “queens: 6 percent; cranky 70-year-old Russians who give you the evil eye when you walk past: 2 percent; blonde girls with big, round, hard fakeys who think Jennifer Anniston just got lucky: 10 percent; miscellaneous cool kids, hustlers, and actual crazy people: 5 percent.”

White gets gigs as a freelance writer, goes to the grocery store where his Russian neighbors ask him questions because they think he’s from the old country; and encounters Sara Gilbert at the Laundromat, Leonard Maltin at the movies, and Ben Affleck driving a Rolls-Royce so ridiculously conspicuous he might as well be driving Chitty-Chitty, Bang-Bang.

What began as weekly diaries emailed to out-of-state family and friends evolved into a blog called “Dave White Knows” and in 2003 became a monthly column in Instinct called “Exile in Guyville.” Alyson Books now presents White’s blogs in expanded form with loads of new material that will be even more irritating to the Instinct readers who didn’t like his column. “They requested more fashion and skin-care features in its place, which makes me kind of proud.”

Dave White is a freelance journalist specializing in music. His reviews and features have been seen in E! Online, IFILM, LA Weekly, Dallas Observer, Instinct, The Advocate, Glue, Cybersocket, Total Movie,Unzipped, and Frontiers. White lives in West Hollywood with his boyfriend, the Morocco Mole, and is locally esteemed as the “King of Pancakes.”

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #8

An occasional series of blog posts whenever something takes my fancy.

This came across my path this morning. Looks right up my street!


shock value

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

1970s Hollywood often brings to mind directors such as Scorsese, Spielberg and Coppola. But the decade was also horror’s ‘golden age’, producing classics like Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween by directors who would achieve massive success. Since then, horror has been a prominent part of popular culture.

Brilliant Book Titles #7

An occasional series of blog posts whenever something takes my fancy.

I love the seemingly innocuous title (that is far from it!).


full service

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Scotty Bowers, a dashing young ex-Marine exuding sex appeal, arrived in Hollywood in 1946 and quickly caught the attention of many of the town’s stars. Working out of a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard, Bowers soon became the go-to guy for anyone looking for a bespoke sexual partner; no matter how outlandish the tastes, Scotty could find someone for everyone…

In his thirty years ‘tricking’ and arranging tricks for LA’s rich and famous, Bowers went to bed with thousands of people and engineered sexual liaisons of all flavours for countless more.

Full Service is the ultimate guilty pleasure, revealing for the first time the shadow lives of the people who created popular culture, told by the man who was so central to fulfilling their desires.