1. Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever Will Hermes From New York City punk to the wealth of ethnic sounds that permeated popular culture, Hermes covers them all in this fast-paced and thoughtful book, issued in paperback in 2011. Thorough and intelligent, this is an absolute must-read for music lovers.
2. Telegraph Avenue––Michael Chabon A work of fiction written with passion and imagination from one of American literature’s wonder boys, Telegraph Avenue has a built-in soundtrack but also features plenty of riffs and squonks and a prose solo from Chabon that is as almost as magical as John Coltrane tearing the roof off the Village Vanguard.
3. The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll––Preston Lauterbach One of the most interesting chapters in American history gets a thoughtful and thorough examination from journalist Lauterbach. The Wall Street Journal hailed this as “[A] valentine to a lost world,” a description that’s hard to beat.
4. Shut Up and Give Me the Mic: A Twisted Memoir––Dee Snider A surprisingly candid page-turner from the Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. This volume takes us from his early days as a wannabe rock star to the moment when his band started to fall apart. You don’t need to be a fan of Twisted Sister’s music to appreciate Snider’s story––which is especially inspiring and with a special twist: his story is absent lurid tales of drug and alcohol abuse.
5. Who I Am––Pete Townshend The man who wrote anthems such as “My Generation” and “Can’t Explain” finally releases his memoir with the usual suspects––sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll––and a frank discussion of his own character and personal failings.
Honorable mention: Waging Heavy Peace––Neil Young In the spirit of Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Young eschews straight autobiography for off-the-cuff storytelling that is frequently reminiscent of his firebrand guitar playing.