This month marks the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock, the American musical festival that brought together over half a million people in an attempt to promote peace, music, and love. Celebrate with these reads that highlight some of the greatest musical talents and the power of music to impact our lives.
Witness to the Revolution by Clara Bingham
The electrifying story of the turbulent year when the sixties ended and America teetered on the edge of revolution.
As the 1960s drew to a close, the United States was coming apart at the seams. From August 1969 to August 1970, the nation witnessed nine thousand protests and eighty-four acts of arson or bombings at schools across the country. It was the year of the My Lai massacre investigation, the Cambodia invasion, Woodstock, and the Moratorium to End the War. The American death toll in Vietnam was approaching fifty thousand, and the ascendant counterculture was challenging nearly every aspect of American society. Witness to the Revolution, Clara Bingham’s unique oral history of that tumultuous time, unveils anew that moment when America careened to the brink of a civil war at home, as it fought a long, futile war abroad.
Woven together from one hundred original interviews, Witness to the Revolution provides a firsthand narrative of that period of upheaval in the words of those closest to the action—the activists, organizers, radicals, and resisters who manned the barricades of what Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden called “the Great Refusal.”
“Especially for younger generations who didn’t live through it, Witness to the Revolution is a valuable and entertaining primer on a moment in American history the likes of which we may never see again.”—Bryan Burrough, The Wall Street Journal
Smithsonian Rock and Roll by Billy Bentley
In December 2015, the Smithsonian called on rock and roll lovers around the world to collect photos and stories of their favorite moments in music. Fans dug through attics, basements, closets, shoeboxes, digital cameras, and photo albums to post great rock shots to rockandroll.si.edu. From Woodstock to the Whisky a Go Go, from Lollapalooza to the 9:30 Club, and all the rockin’ places in between, fans overwhelmingly responded with their favorite rock and roll moments. Iconic artists ranging from the Who to Nirvana to Chuck Berry to the Jimi Hendrix and many more are celebrated here. There are early photographs of everyone from Run-D.M.C. to the Runaways, and contemporary shots of some of the biggest names in music, including Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and Metallica. Presented together, these photographs create a kaleidoscopic history of the artists, the musical styles, the venues, the concerts, and the fans. This is rock and roll as it has never been seen before.
“A candid compendium of musical history marked by the trapped-in-time moments [. . . ] The joy and devotion contained in the photos is as infectious as the music itself.”—Los Angeles Times
A Dream About Lightning Bugs by Ben Folds
From the genre-defying icon Ben Folds comes a memoir that is as nuanced, witty, and relatable as his cult-classic songs.
Ben Folds is a celebrated American singer-songwriter, beloved for songs such as “Brick,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” and “The Luckiest,” and is the former frontman of the alternative rock band Ben Folds Five. But Folds will be the first to tell you he’s an unconventional icon, more normcore than hardcore. Now, in his first book, Folds looks back at his life so far in a charming and wise chronicle of his artistic coming of age, infused with the wry observations of a natural storyteller.
In his inimitable voice, both relatable and thought-provoking, Folds digs deep into the life experiences that shaped him, imparting hard-earned wisdom about both art and life. Collectively, these stories embody the message Folds has been singing about for years: Smile like you’ve got nothing to prove, because it hurts to grow up, and life flies by in seconds.
“A Dream About Lightning Bugs reads like its author: intelligent, curious, unapologetically punk, and funny as hell.”—Sara Bareilles
Horror Stories by Liz Phair
From the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville comes a haunting memoir in stories in the tradition of Patti Smith’s M Train.
When Liz Phair shook things up with her musical debut, Exile in Guyville—making her as much a cultural figure as a feminist pioneer and rock star—her raw candor, uncompromising authenticity, and deft storytelling inspired a legion of critics, songwriters, musicians, and fans alike. Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair tells the story of her life and career in this haunting memoir that reveals the stubborn moments that have stayed with her.
Horror Stories is a literary accomplishment that reads like the confessions of a friend. It gathers up all our isolated shames, bringing us together in our shared imperfection, uncertainty, and cowardice, smashing the stigma on not being in control. But most important, as Horror Stories transforms these deeply personal moments into tales about every one of us, it also asks questions about how we cope with regret and culpability—how we break their spell, and leach them of their power over us.
On Sale October 8th, 2019
The Beautiful Ones by Prince
The brilliant coming-of-age-and-into-superstardom story of one of the greatest artists of all time, in his own words—featuring never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks and lyric sheets, and the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death.
Prince was a musical genius, one of the most beloved, accomplished, and acclaimed musicians of our time. He was a startlingly original visionary with an imagination deep enough to whip up whole worlds, from the sexy, gritty funk paradise of “Uptown” to the mythical landscape of Purple Rain to the psychedelia of “Paisley Park.” But his most ambitious creative act was turning Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minnesota, into Prince, one of the greatest pop stars of any era.
The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince—a first-person account of a kid absorbing the world around him and then creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and fame that would come to define him. The book is told in four parts. The first is the memoir Prince was writing before his tragic death, pages that bring us into his childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us through Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album was released, via an evocative scrapbook of writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that go up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain—the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, where he retells the autobiography of the first three parts as a heroic journey.
On Sale October 29th, 2019
WHAM!, George Michael and Me by Andrew Ridgeley
For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley—one half of one of the most famous bands in the world—tells the inside story of Wham!, his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early eighties.
In 1975 Andrew took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. The duo found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end. And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
Andrew’s memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. It’s a unique and one-and-only time to remember that era, that band, and those boys.
On Sale October 8th, 2019
A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston by Robyn Crawford
Robyn Crawford and Whitney Houston were inseparable friends and collaborators. This is the poignant inside story of their life together.
Whitney Houston is as big a superstar as the music business has ever known. She exploded on the scene in 1985 with her debut album and spent the next two decades dominating the charts and capturing the hearts of fans around the world. One person was there by her side through it all.
With warmth, candor, and an impressive recall of detail, Robyn gives readers insight into Whitney’s life and career. She traces the years from when she and Whitney first met as teenagers in the 1980s to the recording of Whitney’s first album and the infinite success that followed. From countless sold-out world tours to her epic rendition of the US national anthem to the set of The Bodyguard, her tempestuous marriage, and the birth of her only child, Robyn was there.
Deeply personal and heartfelt, A Song for You is the vital, honest, and previously untold story that provides an understanding of the complex life of Whitney Houston. Finally, the person who knew her best sets the record straight.
On Sale November 12, 2019
Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith
From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year.
Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs–including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s words, “Anything is possible: after all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.” For Smith–inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing–the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.
Riveting, elegant, often humorous, illustrated by Smith’s signature Polaroids, Year of the Monkey is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times.
On Sale September 24, 2019
Interviews With Some of the Late Greats:
Billie Holiday: The Last Interview by Billie Holiday; Introduction by Khanya Mtshali
The first-ever collection of interviews with the tortured but groundbreaking singer Billie Holiday, part of Melville House’s beloved Last Interview series.
Legendary singer Billie Holiday comes alive in this first-ever collection of interviews from throughout her career. Included is her last interview, given from her deathbed in a New York City hospital, where police were standing by ready to arrest her for a parole violation should she recover. Also included: The transcript of an interrogation by a US Customs official questioning about whether she’d violated her parole by using drugs on a foreign tour.
But the book is more than a look at just the famously tragic side of her life. In other conversations, drawn from music magazines, late-night radio programs, and newspapers across the US and Canada, she discusses her childhood, musicians who influenced her, her friendship — and falling out — with the influential sax player Lester Young, why she chose the gardenia as her symbol, why she quit Count Basie’s band, her substance abuse problems, writing songs and whether she wrote her own memoir, and more.
In frank and open conversations, Billie Holiday proves herself far more articulate, aware, intelligent, and even heroic than the way she’s often portrayed. This collection is an essential volume for all who have been moved by her music.
Prince: The Last Interview by Prince; Introduction by Hanif Abdurraqib
A collection of the very first, the very last, and the very best interviews conducted with Prince over his nearly 40 year career.
There is perhaps no musician who has had as much influence on the sound of contemporary American music than Prince. His pioneering compositions brought a variety of musical genres into a singular funky and virtuosic sound. In this remarkable collection, and with his signature mix of seduction and demur, the late visionary reflects on his artistry, identity, and the sacrifices and soul-searching it took to stay true to himself. An Introduction by Hanif Abdurraqib offers astute, contemporary perspective and brilliantly contextualizes the collected interviews.