Hitting The Books
  • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2007

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We all need to read more. Our brains are turning to mush. With that said, here's a quick run-down of some of our favorite music-related books.

Revolutions on Canvas: Rich Balling, former trombonist for ska-punk group Rx Bandits, is the editor of this poetry/prose series. There are two Canvas volumes, both of which feature narratives and assorted poetic musings from a slew of indie band members. The list of contributors tends to skew toward the indie realm, and the writings often look like discarded lyrics from the bands’ B-sides. Still, Balling manages to elicit some good stuff from a number of writers, and omnipresent headline-grabber Pete Wentz even contributes a surprisingly solid account of loveless love-making in Vol. 2. Middle-school teachers could use this stuff to inspire their students to read poetry, but they should censor the selections beforehand.

High Fidelity: Every record collector should own this book. Actually, nevermind – every human being should own this book. Nick Hornby’s tale of love and audiophilia has been adapted by both Hollywood and Broadway, but it’s still strongest in its original form. The writing is solid, the jokes are funny, the characters are authentic, and the music references are apt and well-placed. It takes a true music fan to write fiction this believable, and Horby must’ve bled himself silly to give such life to such a book.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band: The members of Motley Crue team up with New York Times music writer Neill Strauss to catalogue their past debaucheries, from Nikki Sixx’s rising from the dead (after a supposedly fatal overdose) to the band’s mid-‘80s tour with Ozzy Osbourne. Each band member contributes separate entries that are entirely too well-written to be the work of former drunk addicts, so we suspect Neill Strauss rewrote a lot of this material. Still, it feels awesomely voyeuristic to read about this band’s glammy heyday, regardless of whether or not you like the music.

So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful Of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer's Life: As the drummer for '90s semi-stars Semisonic, Jacob Slichter knows a thing or two about the music business. Rock & Roll Star tells the story of Semisonic's career, from their roots in Minnesota to their brief fling with fame (ultimately launched by the hit "Closing Time"... and ultimately killed by the absence of a follow-up hit). Slichter's book benefits from the fact that his band couldn't sustain a chart-topping career, since his bittersweet tone and "to hell with it" attitude exposes the payola-obsessed business in clear, simple terms.


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