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 By Jessica Hopper, Samantha Irby (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Jessica Hopper, Samantha Irby (Foreword by)
$21.00
ISBN: 9780374538996
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Warren Zanes Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250105196
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Loretta Lynn, George Vescey Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781538701713
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Shea Serrano, Ice-T (Foreword by), Arturo Torres (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Shea Serrano, Ice-T (Foreword by), Arturo Torres (Illustrator)
$25.99
ISBN: 9781419718182
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Image - 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 By Peter Guralnick Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780316332255
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Tina Turner, Kurt Loder Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061958809
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Bob Mehr Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9780306825361
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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.


Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark (John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music, sponsored by the Center for Texas Music History, Texas State University) By Tamara Saviano Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781623494544
Availability: Out of Print - we are not able to supply this book
Published: Texas A&M University Press - October 31st, 2016

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 By Gayle Wald Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780807009857
Availability: Usually Available in 5-9 Days
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 By Robin D. G. Kelley Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9781439190463
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Robert Gordon Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9781608194162
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Peter Guralnick Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780316013291
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 By Chuck Klosterman Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780743406567
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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.