Any obsessive music fan cannot be satiated by music alone. There's an underlying desire to know the people and the stories behind the music. I know I certainly have a thirst for knowledge about producers, studios, subgenres, sub-subgenres, album release dates, tour bus fights, and intraband romances.
To this end, here is a collection of 18 of my favorite behind-the-scenes books about music by both legendary figures and young writers. Some are new and some are old, but they all played a part in helping me write my own book (This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music) and will continue to be sources of inspiration.
1. Brian Eno: His Music and the Vertical Color of Sound by Eric Tamm
2. The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music by Nick Kent
3. I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
4. The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross
5. Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock 'n' Roll by Peter Guralnick
6. Big Star: The Short Life, Painful Death, and Unexpected Resurrection of the Kings of Power Pop by Rob Jovanovic
7. The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby — The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age by Mark Prendergast
8. Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made-for-TV Band by Eric Lefcowitz
9. David Bowie's Low by Hugo Wilcken
10. Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978 – 1984 by Simon Reynolds
11. The Recording Angel: Music, Records, and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa, 2nd Edition by Evan Eisenberg
12. Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music by Mark Baumgarten
13. Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge by Mark Yarm
14. Extraordinary Records by Giorgio Moroder
15. The Velvet Underground: New York Art by Johan Kugelberg
16. And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey by Studs Terkel
17. Cash by Johnny Cash
18. A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt by Robert Earl Hardy
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Adam Brent Houghtaling is an editor, writer, musician, and digital consultant living in Brooklyn, New York.
Books mentioned in this post
Adam Brent Houghtaling is the author of This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music