Top 5: Music edition

John Saeger

Hello! I’m John Saeger; I love writing about pop-culture. I also enjoy reading about it. Despite having worked in two bookstores, I am strictly a non-fiction reader. These are five music books that have made me appreciate the backstories and artistry of a handful of special musicians.

This Is A Call: The Life and Times Of Dave Grohl by Paul Brannigan

Dave Grohl is the perfect biography subject. Not only has he experienced incredible success, but he also has a lot to say.

In This Is A Call, Grohl chats with Paul Brannigan about being a young punk rocker and Nirvana’s drummer. He also details the formation of the Foo Fighters and their growth as a band.

A must-read for Foo Fighters fans, this colorful biography explores some of the most popular rock music from the last three decades.

Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes  

John Saeger bookstackDespite reaching incredible levels of fame, there are many aspects of Tom Petty’s life that were obscure until Zanes’ comprehensive biography.

Details surrounding his divorce and heroin addiction created salacious book reviews. The biography’s true value lies in Zanes’ discussion with the musicians in Petty’s life. Surrounding the band are Hall of Famers that include Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne.

So many music biographies are romantic fanboy accounts. That is not the case with this book, which is not always sunshine and roses. Zanes published an article in Rolling Stone that indicated this approach came from Petty, who wanted a transparent biography.

Mo’ Metta Blues: The World According To Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman

This is one of my favorite vacation reads. I tend to lean towards the rock/indie genres, so reading about the rise of The Roots was an educational experience.

In his memoir, Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson writes about the growth of hip-hop and his love of music. Being from Philadelphia, I also enjoyed reading about Questlove’s experiences growing up in the City of Brotherly Love.

One chapter recalls his rush to leave the studio while recording the group’s signature hit, “Seed 2.0.” There is even an unforgettable story about Prince ice skating.

Pink Floyd Their Mortal Remains by Victoria Broackes and Anna Landreth Strong

Few bands have incorporated visual components into their music as famously as Pink Floyd. This exquisite coffee table book is the perfect literary companion to the band’s legacy.

The compressive book covers albums from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn to Endless River. The book is more than a linear history. Their Moral Remains also has a collection of essays. Hundreds of amazing photographs complement these words, depicting a band that the book acknowledges “forever changed the look and feel of rock and roll shows.”

The Beatles Lyrics edited By Hunter Davies

Speaking of changing rock and roll, I would be remiss to not include a book on The Beatles. There are countless books on the Fab Four. This one bridges the band’s words with a visual history.

The Beatles Lyrics contains photos of drafts of 100-plus songs. These photos reveal the chaotic nature of songwriting. Some drafts were made on stationary and envelopes. Some reveal unused lyrics. Other sheets are marked with stains and splotches. Despite these blemishes, The Beatles Lyrics is a great way to connect with the lyrics that transformed music.

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