If you follow music bloggers, you've probably seen this quote many times:
Whoever said it - my money's on Elvis Costello - the idea seems to be that the magic of music is just not capturable by words in print. Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped journalists, critics, novelists, and about a bajillion music bloggers from giving it the old college try.
Among the many books I'm selling this summer that will be published this fall, there are some really interesting looking music books from three different publishers: The University of North Carolina Press, W.W. Norton, and the Speck Press imprint of Fulcrum Publishing.
Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
by William Ferris
UNC Press | 9780807833254 | $35 | Nov 2009
Folklorist and blues fan Bill Ferris spent years traveling around Mississippi during the 1960s and 1970s, capturing the voices and performances of the blues musicians he saw on film and on audio. Some of his recordings were released in a short documentary in 1975 that shared a title with this new book. Now, Ferris has put together a definitive record of his research, with transcribed interviews, photographs of the musicians and the people around them, and a dualdisc CD/DVD with excerpts from his original recordings. From blues superstars like B.B. King and Willie Dixon to inmates at Parchman Prison, this book brings a crucial chapter of the blues back to life on the page.
All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music From the Streets of New York, 1927-77
by Tony Fletcher
W. W. Norton | 9780393334838 | $18.95 | Oct 2009
This book covers a lot of ground - looking specifically at the music scenes that were born and thrived on the streets of New York City: bebop, Latin music, the folk revival, glitter, disco, punk and hip hop. Fletcher also covers some of the crucial historical developments that led these neighborhoods and their residents to become so influential. A fun read, an incisive look back, written by a huge fan of the music world.
The Birth (and Death) of the Cool
by Ted Gioia
Speck Press / Fulcrum (Consortium) | 9781933108315 | $25 | Nov 2009
Ted Gioia has published so many other books that are specifically about genres of music (The History of Jazz, Delta Blues, West Coast Jazz, etc.) that I'm hoping you'll cut me a little slack. This book is actually a bit of a pop culture rant masquerading as a history of The Cool (cue the Miles on the turntable). A highly entertaining & readable rant, but still. Here's a choice summary from the publisher:
"...Gioia shows why cool is not a timeless concept and how it has begun to lose meaning and fade into history. Gioia deftly argues that what became iconic in the 1950s with Miles Davis, James Dean, and others has been manipulated, stretched, and pushed to a breaking point—not just in our media, entertainment, and fashion industries, but also by corporations, political leaders, and social institutions."
DISCLAIMER: This post features books from publisher(s) that I represent BUT the point of this blog is to talk about books that I think you should know about, so just take it as a given that in the back of my mind, it has been my secret plan all along to make you want to buy them.