Musical Books

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WhitebicyclesHello and welcome, Musical Books is a blog article about exactly what it says! However don't be fooled if you think you have to really like music to get a good read here. I will also be reviewing riveting good reads that are not absolutely note for note about music.

I'm starting with one of my favourites: Joe Boyd's White Bicycles - Making Music in the 60s.

This is a memoir of music producer Joe Boyd whose career began as a tour manager to Muddy waters and The Reverend Gary Davies during the blues revival in England in the mid sixties. Although Boyd is an American the book has the feel of being written by an Englishman. His love of English folk music is probably responsible for this. He was pivotal in furthering the careers of Sandy Denny, the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake.

There are so many fascinating anecdotes about musicians from Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd to Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. Not only is it interesting from a musical point of view but also as a window into the political and cultural changes of the western world since the 1960's to the present day. There is also a cd of the same name available with all of the artists he produced. Check it out it's a great mix of sounds.

Just Kids by Patti SmithI've just put this one down, Just Kids by Patti Smith.

This is an enchanting account of her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. They were "just kids" living in New York as aspiring artists. Smith and Mapplethorpe were there when The Velvet Underground were gigging and Andy Warhol's Factory was at full tilt.

It's beautifully written and emanates the innocence and awe that accompanies newly explored worlds of art and music.

I also learned about Sam Wagstaff from this book. He was a very important Art Curator who promoted Minimalism and photography as a fine art. (It led me to check out this Documentary : Black White + Gray. Very interesting)


Hi.The best music biograpy I ever read was about the life and times of Janis Joplin :

'Scars of Sweet Paradise' by Alice Echols. 

Below is a review From and I agree with every word of it. There seems to be only 2 copies available in the libraries so I advise you to grab hold of one if you are interested.

This review is from: Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin (Hardcover)

I would recommend this book not only to Janis Joplin's fans, but also to whoever wishes to know more about the 60's and the counterculture movement based around California and the San Francisco Bay. This is the real strenght of this book - it is yes, about the tragic life of Janis Joplin, but it also gives an essential insight on the social, cultural and political context of that time. If you are after a superficial catalogue of events in the life and experiences of one of the most celebrated women artists of the 60's, or simply a "sex,drugs and rock and roll" chronicle, then this book is not for you. If you want a gripping account of a short and tragic life excellently put into context and written in a sensitive and non - judgemental way, then you 'll love this book. Definitely one of the best biographies I have ever come across.

Hi Maureenmel, thanks for posting, this one sounds like it's a good one!

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