Badass Music Books to Take to the Beach
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you want to know the inside story on Lemmy and Shirley Manson.
By Seth Ferranti
Everyone loves music. It’s a universal thing that brings people together. And many of us music lovers (my musical tastes run the gamut, from Garbage to Motörhead to the Grateful Dead) also love books about music. But how many David Bowie or Prince or Michael Jackson biographies can you read? Here are four new books, comprising four decades — from the ’60s to the ’90s — about three bands that were trendsetters in their genres and one about an era, the “Summer of Love,” which spawned musical greats like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Shirley Manson, Garbage’s frontwoman, never really thought of the alternative rock darlings as a big band. It was only when the band started putting together their new autobiography that she realized how big they really were. “In the last year I’ve realized what we’ve managed to carve out for ourselves,” Manson tells OZY. “I’d much rather have a longer, quieter career than a short, loud one.” The book is big, a heavy coffee table–type with exclusive photos, set lists and stories from the band. What began as Butch Vig’s (Nirvana’s producer) side project to a globe-trotting band, Garbage’s story in all its glory — and not so glorious moments — is laid out for all their fans to see.
Motörhead is known as the bad boys of rock ’n’ roll who went to extremes when it came to drugs and drink, incapable of scheduling a practice but still touring the world and putting out classic albums. Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers: The Rise of Motörhead immortalizes the classic-era Motörhead lineup: Lemmy, Animal and Fast Eddie. “They didn’t change music but created this legend of Motörhead,” author Martin Popoff tells OZY. “This force slashed its way though the new wave of British heavy metal — a notorious band — a fusion of punk and metal.” Covering the band from 1977 to 1982, Popoff’s tale gives fuel to the legend and solidifies Lemmy’s place in the chronicles of heavy metal lore.
I wanted to burn into readers’ brains an understanding of what each song meant to the Grateful Dead as a band.
Peter Conners, author and counterculture expert
On May 8, 1977, the Grateful Dead played a show at Cornell University in Barton Hall that many deadheads claim was the band’s best show ever. In Cornell ’77: The Music, the Myth, and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall, counterculture expert Peter Conners explores the concert though numerous interviews, crafting an account of the show that’s lived on through tape recordings that the Library of Congress inducted into the National Recording Registry. “I listened over and over to individual songs, focusing intensely on one song at a time, with the goal of being able to exhale their essence back onto the page.” Conners tells OZY. “I wanted to burn into readers’ brains an understanding of what each song meant to the Grateful Dead as a band, and also what made the Cornell ’77 version unique.”
With interviews from Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary and Gil Scott-Heron, music executive Danny Goldberg’s In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea reveals the origins of the most psychedelic, rock ’n’ roll, spiritual and political period in music to date. From Charles Manson to Martin Luther King Jr., the “Summer of Love” to Black Power, Muhammad Ali to LSD tabs flooding America, Goldberg goes through it all. “It’s a history, and 90 percent is based on research, interviews and what was grand history like Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco rock groups and Ken Kesey introducing psychedelics to the world,” Goldberg tells OZY. Equal parts social and music history, the book delves into anecdotes from Goldberg’s own life to give it a personal, almost memoirlike feel.
- Seth Ferranti Contact Seth Ferranti