It’s a great time of year to lie around in a hammock and take in a good book. Here are five great summer reads for music fans!
People who don’t follow classic country music likely aren’t familiar with the Louvin Brothers. But, to give you an idea of how big they were in the 1950s, they once toured with Elvis Presley … and Elvis was the one opening for them!
While there are a few funny stories in this book, most of it is quite dark. In the opening chapter, Charlie Louvin recalls a memory from his childhood: watching his father beat his brother Ira to the point of unconsciousness while his mother screamed “Please don’t kill him!” in the background. And it doesn’t get much brighter from there. Satan is Real is a tragic story filled with alcoholism, domestic violence, and loss. However, even if you’re not a country music fan, this book is well worth reading for two reasons.
First, it is a fascinating look at how the music industry worked in the 1940s and ’50s, from the way bands toured to the record label business to the importance of radio. Second, Satan Is Real deals with a part of the United States that is often overlooked in literature: the Louvin Brothers grew up in Appalachia, one of the poorest parts of the country, and this plays a big part in their story. Purchase on Amazon.
Laura Jane Grace’s autobiography is riveting from start to finish. Readers quickly fall in love with her brutal honesty and wit as she takes you through her journey from a teenager playing folk punk songs on the streets to a rock star being courted by major record labels.
She covers all the ups and downs of her career with Against Me!, as well as her experience with gender dysphoria and eventually coming out as trans to her friends, bandmates, and the whole world. This is one of the best rock memoirs of the past ten years, and a must read for Against Me! fans. Purchase on Amazon.
Hanif Abdurraqib is one of the best music writers of our generation. In this collection of essays, he writes about his personal interaction with a variety of musical genres, from pop-punk to hip hop and everything in between. He has a gift for contextualizing music while weaving in parts of his personal experience.
His pointed and thoughtful writing provokes emotion in readers the same way music does. They Can’t Kill Us… will make you want to revisit albums you haven’t heard in a while, as the book will present them in a whole new light. I recommend reading this book slowly, taking the time to think and process after each essay. There’s a lot to digest in these pages. Purchase on Amazon
A close friend of Aaron Weiss, Paul Matthew Harrison shares stories and conversations with the mewithoutYou frontman. If you’re not a mewithoutYou fan, you will be by the end of this book. It is a look into the life of one of the most fascinating people in alternative music while also examining issues like mental health, materialism, and friendship.
To get the most out of this book, listen to mewithoutYou’s discography as you read the chapters about each album. You might pick out things you never noticed before as you listen. Purchase on Amazon.
This book features a collection of transcribed interviews from Tom Mullen’s podcast, Washed Up Emo. It is an excellent documentation of the genre, focusing on the ‘’90s and early 2000s era. Bands interviewed include The Promise Ring, American Football, Dashboard Confessional, The Get Up Kids, Mineral, and many others. This is a great time to read Volume I, because it will be reprinted soon, and because Mullen will soon be releasing the follow up: Anthology of Emo Volume 2. Purchase here.