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Blender’s Top Music Books

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Now see, this is why I can’t get shit done. A topic gets my attention and then I’m off down some rabbit hole of esoterica, piling up books to study on topics like whale baleen or the meaning of Celtic knots or something. I blame my parents who, for my entire childhood, refused to answer questions.

Somewhere along the line, my folks purchased a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica that sat on a bookshelf in the hallway. If I went to my mom and asked “which came first, cowboys or vikings,” she would tell me to go look it up. If I went to my dad and asked if kidney beans really came from the organ in our abdomens, he would point me to the encyclopedia and tell me to get on the research. I suppose it was a great way for teaching a youngster, but it also instilled in me an obsessive need for autodidaction (is that a word?).

Anyway, so here’s something else to add to my reading list. The October issue of Blender magazine lists their picks for the top 40 greatest rock and roll books. Some well-known classics made the list, such as Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Stephen Davis’s Hammer of the Gods, Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta, and Neil Strauss’s The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band all made the list.

And the folks at Blender even surprised me by including some fiction. Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity is an obvious and deserving choice, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Great Jones Street by Don DeLillo on there.

But the kicker is that several books on the list have now wormed their way into my research obsession so I’m going to have to sift through them now. Chuck Eddy’s Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe appeals to my inner-headbanger since Blender says the “real dark power lies in Eddy’s drive-time drill-sergeant prose, which turns record-store dorkspeak into hot-wired poetry.” That’s an intriguing description, plus extra credit for several complicated hyphen moves.

Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye has actually been on my list for some time now, as has Nick Tosches’s Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams. Both of those books got rave mentions in the list so now they’ve been bumped up into my more immediate reading vicinity. Plus, there are about five more titles clamoring for my attention.

And the list is full of other great music book choices. So pick up a copy today and dive into them with me.