A Bookseller Recommends - Colin - Favorite Music Biographies

In this installment of A Bookseller Recommends, Colin recommends his favorite books on music & musicians. Also, check out Colin's current music projects Lifters and Personality Cult and an IndyWeek review of his solo work.

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic: Revised and Expanded Edition Cover Image
By Jessica Hopper, Samantha Irby (Foreword by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780374538996
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: MCD x FSG Originals - July 6th, 2021

Jessica Hopper is my favorite music writer and within minutes of cracking open this book you'll understand why. A deep-dive into all kinds of genres and artists, this book will remind you why you still listen.


Petty: The Biography Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250105196
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - October 25th, 2016

A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at one of the most talented songwriters of our time.


Coal Miner's Daughter Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781538701713
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: Grand Central Publishing - February 16th, 2021

An updated and expanded edition of the classic Loretta Lynn autobiography, go ahead and preorder this one, comes out in February 2021.


The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed Cover Image
By Shea Serrano, Ice-T (Foreword by), Arturo Torres (Illustrator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781419718182
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 13th, 2015

 I'm a huge fan of everything Shea Serrano does, and that all started with this collection of essays about the importance of rap music. Hilarious and insightful.


Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780316332255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - September 1st, 1995

Both of Peter Guralnick's Elvis books are incredible, this is the first. The story of an absolute legend, the King himself.


I, Tina: My Life Story Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061958809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - June 22nd, 2010

Anna Mae Bullock was born in Nutbush, TN, and would become one of the most iconic performers of all time. Her story is tragic and heartbreaking, but her strength and determination make this an ultimately uplifting autobiography.


Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780306825361
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: Da Capo Press - June 6th, 2017

My favorite music biography I've read, the story of Paul, Tommy, Bob and Chris - four Minneapolis kids who knew nothing as well as they knew how to self-destruct.


Part biography, part memoir, the story of massively-influential Texas troubadour Guy Clark, brilliantly written and beautifully told


Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780807009857
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: Beacon Press - January 15th, 2008

This wildly important book shines a light on a true rock-n-roll pioneer, and still so much more than that. Rosetta Tharpe couldn't be defined, couldn't be limited, an intriguing figure far ahead of her time.


Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781439190463
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: Free Press - November 2nd, 2010

Maybe the best jazz biography out there, Robin Kelley opts for the story of Monk the man, eschewing the stuff of legend. An outstanding and moving piece of writing.


Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781608194162
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: Bloomsbury USA - February 3rd, 2015

The rise and fall of Memphis's own Stax Records, reading this book feels like stepping into a time machine. Reading it feels like you're hanging out with some of the most talented people to ever play music. The history, the passion, the performances, this book captures it all.


Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780316013291
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days, supply chain issues may affect these times
Published: Back Bay Books - September 5th, 2006

Another Peter Guralnick book on the list, but this Sam Cooke biography is a must. The story of Sam Cooke is the story of America in the 50's and 60's and Guralnick does justice to the importance and genius of Sam Cooke.


Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780743406567
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 1st, 2002

The hilarious and poignant memoir of a heavy-metal loving kid in South Dakota. With tons of humurous asides and pop-culture critiques, Fargo Rock City is the story about how music can help you survive a place and a navigate a scene where you don't fit in.