Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter--Alyn Shipton: The first biography of this beloved and of late overlooked American singer-songwriter who was a favorite of The Beatles and whose musical range ran from show tunes to hard-driving rock. Nilsson died in 1994, more than a decade after issuing his last recordings. This book and a recent boxed set highlighting his long relationship with the RCA label offer all the reason you’ll need to discover or rediscover his work nearly 20 years after his early death.
The Beatles: All These Years--Mark Lewisohn: The first installment of a trilogy, this volume traces the lives of John, Paul, George and Ringo from their births to 1962, a critical year for the Fab Four. 2014 marks 50 years since the lads landed on American shores and Lewisohn’s painstaking research and excellent prose is perfect reading to prepare you to relive that historical moment all over again.
Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love & Karaoke--Rob Sheffield: Three years after being widowed, rock journalist Rob Sheffield finds himself ready to heal and to fall in love again. Karaoke is a backdrop to a story that is funny and poignant.
Yes Is The Answer (And Other Prog Rock Tales)—edited by Mark Weingarten and Tyson Cornell: Covering the classic era of progressive rock (think 1969-1974 or so) with tales of the classic bands (Genesis, Yes) and all the glory (capes, banks of keyboards), Yes Is The Answer is a beautifully-written volume that features contributions from Rick Moody, singer-songwriters Peter Case and Wesley Stace, and a host of others. You don’t have to love progressive music to love this book, you just need a heart.
Nothin’ To Lose: The Making of Kiss 1972-1975)—Ken Sharp, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley: If you grew up in the 1970s chances are KISS was somehow a part of that experience and this exhaustive account explains why. No one tries to explain the overlooked musical merits of the band or defend its antics; instead it’s just a detailed account of how four guys from New York became, for a few years, the hottest band in the land.