Magical Music Memoirs

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Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” While he’s biased given that he’s an award-winning novelist, there is plenty of truth to his words. As such, they are a perfect gift and if you happen to have a music lover who is a recipient, the idea of presenting them with a music memoir is even more of a win-win-win situation.

Another Day In the Life: My Life in Photos & Music (Genesis Publications) by Ringo Starr

A slight 184-page book, according to Starr, “This is a way of putting my life out there, because if I were to write a memoir, there’d be five volumes before I got to The Beatles. So I’m going at it this way, through photographs and quotes. And this is, I feel, a better way for me to do it.”

Blood: A Memoir (Da Capo) by Allison Moorer

The Grammy- and Academy Award-nominated singer-songwriter shares the horrific childhood experience she shares with older sister Shelby Lynn—how her father shot and killed their mother on the front lawn before turning the gun on himself when Moorer was only 14. Moorer juxtaposes her past and present in this haunting and lyrical memoir that touches on the meaning of inheritance, destiny, shame and trauma. She also shares how she was able to carve a safe place out of the world despite having to endure such a life-altering event. A foreword by sister Shelby further enhanced the vivid, haunting, intimate and life-affirming vibe that infuses this book.

Acid For the Children: A Memoir (Grand Central Publishing) by Flea

The Red Hot Chili Peppers founding member/bassist presents a coming-of-age story that uses hilarious anecdotes, poetical meditations and occasional flights of fantasy to deftly chronicle the experiences that forged him as an artist, musician and young man. In tracing his path from an Australian childhood to New York and finally Los Angeles, the quirky musician born Michael Balzary tells his story with a combination of naked vulnerability and Beat Generation-inspired enthusiasm that never makes this a boring read.

The Beautiful Ones (Century) by Prince with Dan Piepenbring

Started by Prince, the book was completed by Piepenbring, who was brought on to finish this project after the Purple One died on April 21, 2016. The book was cobbled together from Prince’s 30 pages of handwritten recollections, a reconstructed photo album consisting of pictures from his childhood up through his debut album along with other images, the artist’s handwritten first synopsis of the film Purple Rain and myriad illustrations, memorabilia and handwritten lyrics retrieved from the Paisley Park archives.

Face It: A Memoir (Dey Street Books by Debbie Harry

Plain spoken and mysterious, this autobiography shares Harry’s intriguing journey from a New Jersey childhood up through her early days in New York City. The Blondie vocalist shares the ups and downs of her band, all wrapped up in a delivery that is bathed in equal parts pathos, humor and bittersweet reflection. Most intriguing is a chapter devoted to numerous near-death experiences from birth to adulthood that are tinged with violence and harassment.

Hard To Handle: The Life and Death of The Black Crowes: A Memoir (Da Capo)—Steve Gorman with Steven Hyden

With brothers Chris and Rich Robinson reuniting The Black Crowes for a 2020 tour, this tome, written by the group’s third founding member, predated the resurrection of the group (which Gorman is not taking part in). Gorman’s insight as a friend and bandmate who often served as a referee between the oft-times warring siblings comes across brilliantly as he traces the journey the band endured through major artistic highs and internal chaos as the music industry was going through its last gasps as an environment that supported the idea of hard touring rock band making magic when they hit the stage. Gorman and Hyden’s humor, candor and honesty make this an exhilarating read topped off by the band’s interactions with the likes of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Aerosmith, Oasis and The Rolling Stones.

More Fun in the New World: The Unmaking and Legacy of L.A. Punk (Da Capo)—John Doe & Tom DeSavia

The continuation of Doe and DeSavia’s most excellent 2017 memoir Under the Big Black Sun, the duo continue exploring the L.A. punk rock movement. The focus is from the years 1982 to 1987, a time when punk was splintering into various sub-genres. The twosome also weaves in perspectives of numerous musicians including Henry Rollins, Fishbone, Billy Zoom, Mike Ness, Jane Weidlin, Keith Morris, Dave Alvin, Louis Pérez, Charlotte Caffey, Peter Case, Chip Kinman, Maria McKee and Jack Grisham. Renowned artist/illustrator Shepard Fairey, filmmaker Allison Anders, actor Tim Robbins, and pro-skater Tony Hawk each contribute chapters on punk’s indelible influence on the artistic spirit.

Me: Elton John Official Autobiography (MacMillan) by Elton John

In the event you’re looking to purge the fast-and-loose inaccuracies infusing the 2019 film Rocketman, John’s memoir does much to set the record straight in the course of 384 pages. Depression, suicide attempts, drug addiction and breakups are addressed as well as numerous anecdotes in which the likes of Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, George Michael and Gianni Versace pop up. Delivered with a warm and genial voice, Me is more about redemption and resilience than a quest for sympathy.

Time Is Tight: My Life, Note by Note (Little, Brown & Company) by Booker T. Jones

Multi-instrumentalist. Record producer. Songwriter. Arranger. Music icon. Jones is all this and more dating back to his origins as one of the architects of the Stax-Volt sound as the leader of Booker T. and the MGs, the iconic label’s house band. Jones delves deep in sharing his experiences working with a wide variety of artists including Sam and Dave, Santana, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and many more greats.

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