Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music By Michael Azerrad

This is when best of music book lists appear to help readers with holiday gift suggestions.

I read these best music book lists to see if my purchases appear on critics radar screens. These lists point out valuable music books I have missed and wish to add to my music library.

I have read several best of 2018 music book lists in the past two weeks. I keep returning to  The 2018 Music Book Gift Guide from Paste Magazine Top 10 list.

The first music book on Paste’s list is, “Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music” written by rock journalist, Michael Azerrad

Michael Azerrad uses Twitter to cultivate his readership, https://twitter.com/RockCriticLaw I follow him primarily to improve my music writing skills.  His book helps recognize and avoid music writer tropes which impact effective communication.

If you are a music journalist you will appreciate this book’s tongue in cheek approach. (I’m sorry was that a cliche’?)  The use of illustration and narration create a novel method of writer reinforcement.

The Oxford American‚Äôs 20th Annual Southern Music Issue

It’s almost here. The 20th Annual Southern Music Issue from Oxford American Magazine. I can’t wait to add the North Carolina edition to my collection.

I’d love to rent a custom RV and travel to the Southern states. The additional benefit of this publication are all the great tourist attractions featured inside. I have quite the itinerary planned ūüėČ

Details

The Oxford American presents its 20th annual Southern Music Issue, featuring more than 25 stories exploring the history and legacy of North Carolina music. Among the many notable contributors to this year’s Southern Music Issue are novelists Jonathan Lethem, Jill McCorkle, and Wiley Cash, and the beloved North Carolina musicians Rhiannon Giddens and Tift Merritt.

Tryon-native Nina Simone, one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, graces the cover in a portrait by Jim Blanchard; Simone is the subject of a feature essay about artistic influence and identity, written by poet Tiana Clark.

The issue comes with a 28-song sampler of recordings by North Carolinians sourced across nearly a century. The compilation highlights music from NC legends like Simone, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, James Taylor, and Elizabeth Cotten, plus a wide-ranging host of others. Accompanying the sampler are detailed liner notes and essays on the songs by Ron Rash, Laura Ballance, Randall Kenan, and others.

The issue, available for pre-order in their online store (link above), will mail to subscribers on November 6, and will be available on newsstands nationwide on November 20.

Why Vinyl Matters By Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

I discovered a journalism project that validates the joy vinyl music provides our listening experiences.

The coffee table book, Why Vinyl Matters is part history, part future forecasting, part nostalgia and all celebration. A collection of more than 25 interviews, all illustrated with photos, sidebars, quotes, album covers, outtakes and much more. This is the book for anyone who has ever gone to the store and bought music on vinyl.

The author of this enlightening research is Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. Dr. Bickerdike is a media and music academic, specializing in fandom, the cult of dead celebrity, pop culture, and music. She is the head of music journalism at The British and Irish Modern Music Institute.

I’m adding this “must own” vinyl book to my Birthday wish list ūüėČ

Vinyl

Why Vinyl Matters¬†is not just about waxing (HA!) nostalgic about the format; it is about the special and unique way that records bring us together in unexpected and magical ways.‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒJennifer Otter Bickerdike

 

 

Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall Of The Rock Stars – David Hepworth

I’ve come to respect how prolific and authoritative David Hepworth is as a¬†music journalist. I published a blog post last year about his earlier book,¬†1971: Never A Dull Moment.¬†A pivotal year in rock music.

His new book is titled, Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall Of The Rock Stars.

The latest book, ‚ÄúUncommon People,‚ÄĚ takes in the genre through a broader lens, 1955 to 1995, charting the rise and fall of the rock star as a species over that time.

An elegy to the age of the Rock Star, featuring Chuck Berry, Elvis, Madonna, Bowie, Prince, and more, uncommon people whose lives were transformed by rock and who, in turn, shaped our culture

The age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. Like the cowboy, the idea of the rock star lives on in our imaginations. What did we see in them? Swagger. Recklessness. Sexual charisma. Damn-the-torpedoes self-belief. A certain way of carrying themselves. Good hair. Interesting shoes. The talent we wished we had. What did we want of them? To be larger than life but also like us. To live out their songs. To stay young forever. No wonder many didn’t stay the course.

 

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe

I was recently listening to the Joni Mitchell box set,¬†The Studio Albums, 1968-1979,¬†tuning in to her jazz period with bassist Jaco Pastorius.¬†Specifically, the recordings,¬†Hejira, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, Mingus¬†and the live¬†concert double LP,¬†Shadows and Light which¬†represents¬†a¬†lucrative jazz interval.

This created a strong desire for me to dig deeper into Joni’s extensive muse. I wanted¬†to learn more what motivated her to transition from folk singer/songwriter to intricate jazz phrased poetry.

A new biography, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. provides many more revelations about that creative era.

Yaffe was granted extraordinary access to the famously standoffish Mitchell, as well as to many of her closest friends and collaborators, including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joan Baez, David Crosby, Judy Collins, and the late Leonard Cohen. Making the most of his proximity, he pulls off the feat that has eluded so many of his predecessors: He forges an intimacy with Mitchell on her own, uncompromising terms by truly listening to her, as closely and as generously as she’s always deserved.

This is a book I can’t wait to savor. I’m appreciative of David Yaffe sharing the artistic wealth.

Museum of Pop Culture – Pop Conference, April 20th-23rd, 2017

Wishing that I¬†had the money and time to travel to Seattle, Washington¬†this year for the Museum of Pop Culture, Pop Conference. My favorite music museum coupled with¬†the premier¬†music journalists conference! Voila ūüėČ

Pop Conference 2017 kicks off¬†with¬†Artist Interview: A Conversation with David Byrne.¬†This year‚Äôs conference theme is ‚ÄúSign O‚Äô the Times: Music and Politics‚ÄĚ and Byrne will discuss his critically acclaimed musical¬†Here Lies Love, which traces the non-violent restoration of democracy in the Philippines in 1986 and follows the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of the controversial First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.

I’m never quite sure what the event accomplishes, especially with this year’s theme,¬†exclusive of the fact it is one of the largest music journalism conclaves where opinions abound from writers profound.

I identify with this event as an amateur music journalist. I keep hoping when I get to retirement I can join this nucleus and have authored a music book. I have the Pop Conference speaker objective, esoteric as that may be, on my bucket list.

 

 

Nat Hentoff – Journalist Extraordinaire

The passing of Nat Hentoff on January 7th left a discernible void in music and free speech. I have been richly educated by his writing for many decades. The NY Times published an article about his life that I encourage you to read, Nat Hentoff, Journalist and Social Commentator, Dies at 91.

What struck me was this photograph of him at his craft. Notice the use of the typewriter in Nat Hentoff’s Greenwich Village apartment/office. I will make it a point to rent the David L. Lewis documentary,¬†The Pleasures of Being Out of Step¬†and watch it in his honor.

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David L. Lewis/First Run Features