10 Books That Every Music Lover Should Read

Mar 19  / Thursday

PSA: This self-quarantine does not need to be a waste of time. If you can, use this time to work on yourself, rather than stress about the things that you can't change. Turn the news off, put down your phone, and catch up on some reading.

1. Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young

This book tells the story behind Neil Young's legendary career and his iconic, beloved songs. Young reflects upon his life—from his Canadian childhood, to his part in the sixties rock explosion with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, through his later career with Crazy Horse and numerous private challenges. 

“I think I will have to use my time wisely and keep my thoughts straight if I am to succeed and deliver the cargo I so carefully have carried thus far to the outer reaches.”—Neil Young, from Waging Heavy Peace

2. The Beautiful Ones by Prince

The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince. From Prince himself comes the brilliant coming-of-age-and-into-superstardom story of one of the greatest artists of all time featuring never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks, and lyric sheets, and the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death.

3. My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman is honest in this tell-all memoir in which he details how he overcame tragedies in his life, like the death of his brother, Duane. The significance of his contributions to Southern blues-rock cannot be overlooked, and neither should his story. It's a truly epic tale of life on the road in one of rock’s most legendary bands.

4. Testimony by Robbie Robertson

In this captivating memoir, readers can take a personal journey with one of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time. Robbie Robertson’s experience in the music industry goes back to playing guitar with Ronnie “The Hawk” Hawkins as a young teenager and going on to become a founding member of The Band. Read about his experiences of being booed in front of thousands across the world when playing in Bob Dylan’s first electric band, or about the organization and production of history's most famous farewell concert, brought to life in Martin Scorsese's great movie The Last Waltz

5. Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead by Phil Lesh

Phil Lesh does a fantastic job chronicling how the Dead's signature sound began, radiated, and exploded. A must-read for Deadheads, Lesh's incredible attention to detail leaves the reader satisfied yet hungry for more. It's an intimate look on Lesh's life focusing on the birth and evolution of the Grateful Dead and his relationship with the band members, especially Jerry Garcia. Pro Tip: Listen to the audiobook which is narrated by Phil Lesh himself.

6. Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is the only artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times, demonstrating the significance of his illustrious career. After reading his autobiography, you’ll hear directly from Clapton himself about his experiences with groups like Cream and Derek & the Dominos, how he overcame the deaths of friends and family, and how he acquired the nickname “Slowhand.” It's a powerfully written story.

7. Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye by David Ritz

There’s no doubt that Marvin Gaye was a musical genius ahead of his time, but not many know of the life experiences that made him the musical icon he has become. His influence has left an indelible mark on the music of all genres. This is a must-read for any fan of Motown, R&B, and soul music.

8. Life by Keith Richards 

The highly entertaining autobiography of Keith Richards, guitarist, songwriter, singer, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Die-hard Stones fans will enjoy reading about Richards' passion for the music. After all, it's in his DNA.  Let the wild man of rock 'n' roll take you on a rambunctious ride.

9. Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

Patti Smith's Year of the Monkey is a deep and reflective memoir in which her dreams and reality are strikingly woven into a patchwork quilt of one life-changing year. After a three-night run of shows at San Francisco's iconic Fillmore, Smith finds herself roaming the coast of Santa Cruz on New Year’s Day in 2016, about to begin a year of solitary voyaging. 

10. How Music Works by David Byrne

This fascinating book from the creative force behind Talking Heads is insightful, informative, and intelligent. Byrne's book is a celebration of the power of music in which he discusses the early days of the recording industry, types of music venues, the concept of creativity, and so much more. It's a great read to get lost in!