Review- Top 10 e-Books and e-Audiobooks About Music

The Auckland Libraries eBook and eAudiobook collection has grown massively over the last couple of years, so I thought it'd be a great time to collect together some of the best titles to read or listen to on your device. I've tried to be as wide-ranging as possible so hopefully there's something to suit all tastes.If you need more information on how to access these titles, see our eBooks and eAudiobooks section.

Top 10 Music e-Books

Blue Smoke book cover. Blue Smoke: The lost dawn of New Zealand popular music 1918-1964
by Chris Bourke

This book is filled with wonderful photographs and tales from the early years of local music. The richness of its coverage saw it win the NZ Post Book of the Year Award in 2011.

by Everett True

A biography of Nirvana written by the music journalist who introduced Kurt to Courtney. Prior to this, True had already written for NME, Melody Maker, and Vox so he brings some writing power to the piece as well. As a result, this book provides a unique insight into the band and it's sudden end.

How to listen to pop music
by Nick Bollinger

Listener readers will already know Bollinger as their long-standing music critic. He's also been a gigging musician since the early 70s and hence has a love of music that comes through on every page of this book. It's part memoir and part meditation on how to get the most out of popular music.

Everyone loves you when you’re dead
by Neil Strauss

This is a wild set of tales from experienced music journalist, Neil Strauss. Over the course of the book, he makes Lady Gaga cry, is kidnapped by Courtney Love, and has a long drinking session with Bruce Springsteen. Strauss takes a high octane approach to his writing, as readers of his Motley Crue biography (The Dirt) will already know.
(Also available in a print version).

The Fallen
by Dave Simpson

Even if you only have a passing interest in The Fall, then you'll probably find this book entertaining. The author tracks down over forty different musicians (and non-musicians!) who've been in-and-out of the band since their inception in the late seventies. Even the most minor members seem to have surprising tale to tell - such as the manager of the Chemical Brothers who was convinced backstage at the Reading Festival to take the place of the band's missing drummer for their set!

How The Beatles rocked the Kremlin
by Leslie Woodhead

The Beatles music slipped into the USSR in the midst of the cold war and proved that there was an exciting culture to be discovered on the other side of the Iron Curtain. This book provides an interesting angle on why The Beatles were important and adds another aspect to their legacy.

How music works. How music works
by David Byrne

Byrne was the lead singer of quirky rock group, Talking Heads. Yet he's spent the last decade exploring more experimental territory with production guru, Brian Eno, and young indie starlet, St Vincent. His unusual explorations give him a great perspective to write about why humans are so attracted to melody and rhythm. An intriguing read for musicians and music lovers alike.

The importance of music to girls
by Lavinia Greenlaw

This book focuses more on Greenlaw's private journey, rather than making any attempt at music criticism or provide comment on the wider scene. However, her gradual drift from 60s rock to disco to punk does provide a window on how music can influence a person's life and her poetic style of writing adds some heft to the narrative.

Dylan goes electric
by Elijah Wald

The moment that Dylan broke from being simply a folk hero and began experimenting with rock influences is always portrayed as a turning point in his career. This focuses in on this crucial change and brings to life the shock and outrage that it invoked at the time. If the copy linked above happens to be unavailable, then another copy is available from our other eBook service.

by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is known for his 'lad-lit' novels about guys coming to terms with the pressures of adulthood, with his most famous novels being About a boy and High Fidelity. However, Hornby is also a music critic for the New Yorker and here he uses as discussion of his favourite songs to wax lyrical on the meaning of music and why some songs retain an important place in our lives, even after we've long since quit listening to them.

Top 10 Music eAudiobooks

Who I am.
Who I Am
by Pete Townshend

The Who were leaders of the Mod movement in the late 60s and went on to kick-start hard rock with the heavy-hitting recording of their Live at Leeds concert. The key songwriter in the group was Pete Townshend and it turns out he's a great writer too, so now you can hear the true story from the horse's mouth. We also have this title as an eBook.

Loretta Lynn: Coal miner's daughter
by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey

Loretta Lynn grew up in the backwoods of Kentucky, cut off from modern life but learning country music from its source. She didn't ride in an automobile until she was twelve years old but within a decade she would be well on her way to becoming a music legend. It's a great story, with Lynn's voice strongly brough to life by actress, Sissy Spacek!

Scar tissue.
by Anthony Kiedis

Red Hot Chili Peppers were one of the biggest rock bands of the 90s, but their career was almost derailed by their heavy drug use. Kiedis is very open about his life as a rock star addict and it's great to get a first-person account of the band's rise to success (90s rock fans might also enjoy Steve Adler's personal account of being a founding member of Guns'n'Roses and how it put his life at risk!).

Scar tissue.
Waging heavy peace
by Neil Young

This autobiography is fairly wide-ranging and gives you a real sense of the man behind the music. If you're a fan, then you can't go past this book so I don't really need to say any more but as a bonus, the audiobook is read by Keith Carradine (Frank in Robert Altman's Nashville, Wild Bill Hickok in the HBO series Deadwood and FBI agent Frank Lundy in Dexter).

There goes gravity: A life in rock and roll
by Lisa Robinson

This book is written by legendary music journalist, Lisa Robinson. She shares stories of going on tour with The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, as well as living in New York during the rise of the CBGBs acts (The Ramones, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, etc). She was also a friend of Michael Jackson and gives an interesting insider view of his early career before going on to more recent artists like Eminem and Jay Z.

Face the music
by Paul Stanley

If you want to know the true story of Kiss, then this is the book to read (and it's read by the author!). If you are a real fan, you may even want to read a book of life philosophy by lead singer, Gene Simmons - Sex money kiss (once again, read by the author!).

Me and a guy named Elvis
by Jerry Schilling

The author knew Elvis from when the pair were just teenagers right through to the very end, so this story gives you an inside view that you'll find nowhere else.

A man called Cash
by Stever Turner

This is an authorized biography of Johnny Cash so it's authoritative and indepth.

When I left home
by Buddy Guy

One of the greatest blues guitarist of all time tells the story of his life.

Strange beautiful music
by Joe Satriani

If complicated guitar noodling is your thing then this is the eAudiobook for you. It's not only Satriani's autobiography, but also features excerpts of his most popular songs so that you can hear each song as he describes how it came about!

And finally!,  The Rock Documentaries series
(by various authors)

These are short eAudiobooks that focus on the careers of some legends of rock - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. They're made up mostly of audio clips of interviews and the story they tell is far from comprehensive, but is a fun window into the life of the artist in question.

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