Best books about music are hard to find. Most of the times books can become quite dry if the authors aren’t musicians themself.
And even if they are, the reading experience might oftentimes be another self-projection. On the other hand, if a musicologist is writing a book, it can be very scientific, lacking in vigour and tempo.
Another problem is to find the best books about music for different genres. Classical music and Rock’n’Roll should be fine.
However, if you search for a book that explains the differences of Deep Darkspy, Deep Happy Hardcore, Deep Dance Pop it can be more difficult.
If you thought that was a crazy example then try to find a music book by a female author. Well, there you go. The severe underrepresentation of women in music and it’s industry aren’t fresh news anymore.
Without further ado, here are 4 best books about music!
Face It by Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry is an icon in herself. With her band Blondie she was a vital member of New York’s Punk scene as well as a global touring band.
In her memoirs Face It she paints the pictures of how it all began. What is more, she gives deep insight into the realities of female musicians.
From being raped at gunpoint to David Bowie flashing his privates to her. Who had hoped that it will be a tell-all biography could be a bit disappointed.
Debbie Harry is famous for her cool facade and attitude. In Face It she is not abandoning a habit of a lifetime.
But to be fair, why should she do that? Face It is a brilliant book about a brilliant woman. That’s it.
Best books about music and a Girl In A Band
Kim Gordon is another Rock hero that has written a biography about her life with music. As well as Debbie Harry she was the only women in her band – Sonic Youth.
One of the most striking differences between those two music legends is that Kim Gordon also always worked as a visual artist through her career.
In Girl In A Band, she gives colourful details about her upbringing and her time at Art University. For Gorden, music is more prolongation of visual art than that is has an end in itself.
The marriage to fellow bandmate Thurston Moore ended after 27 years – after he broke the silence about a four-year exmatrical affair. This could make the book a battleground for a lost marriage very easily.
However, Kim Gordon manages to stay above it with grace and self-respect. What is more, whenever Gordon writes about a fellow famous musician or band she merely gives a contemporary witness report. Never does she falls for Rock Romanticism or glorification.
Clothes, Music, Boys and best books about music – Viv Albertine
Another brilliant book about music is Viv Albertine’s autobiography ‘Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys‘.
We (*The Slits) were a gang and we absolutely believed in what we were doing and what we were changing for girls, and we believed in our music utterly. Otherwise, we could not have done it. We knew we were new, that we were a first, but it was a fight. Always.”*source, Viv Albertine
It has already sold more than 50,000 copies. In her book, Albertine writes a stunning description of England in the time leading up to the Punk revolution.
In comparison to most history writing, women were quite a part of this.
Viv Albertine has the talent to import you right into this feeling of closure, danger and rage that she felt and still feels sometimes.
She also takes care to depict her male Punk counterparts – ex-boyfriend Mick Jones (The Clash), Sex Pistol’s Jonny Rotten or Jonny Thunders – as they were, rather than the icons they’ve been made into in later times.
Best books about music aren’t so hard to find after all
There are so many best books about music. Of course, they don’t necessarily have to be written by women to be good.
However, it does not hurt highlighting female authors in a world where both music and literature are still traditionally associated with men.