Five Music Books To Self-Isolate Yourself With…

You have stocked up, having flung a greedy arm against the nose of a grasping pensioner at the supermarket to get that final roll of toilet paper.

You have enough tinned carrots and potatoes to last several months despite never having actually eaten tinned vegetables since you were at school, and you are now frantically scouring the internet for recipes that will allow you to use up your own body weight of dried pasta and spam from the mountain you have hoarded.

The seven hundred bars of chocolate you bought for the next six months have already halved in number in just three days, but hey, there’s always Amazon.

Congratulations. You can now safely self-isolate.

The next question is what to do with your time, assuming you haven’t already caught the virus (in which case your time may be taken up with being unwell).

The answer is here: five music-themed books to provide comfort and inspiration while you fend off people trying to break in to your house to steal your stockpile of snickers bars.

1. Broken Greek by Pete Paphides

Released earlier this month, Broken Greek tells the story of the author, whose parents emigrated from Cyprus in the early seventies and ran a fish and chip shop. It describes in Proustian detail how he came to terms with life in the U.K. through the music he heard on the radio. It is funny, moving and hugely enjoyable: perhaps the first such book to treat music by The Jam and Dexy’s as equally seriously / critically as The Wombles and The Barron Knights. Paphides eventually became a writer for Melody Maker and The Times, where he probably didn’t write very often about the Wombles. Melody Maker’s loss is your gain.

2. Dreaming The Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and The Whole World by Rob Sheffield

Originally published in 2017, this is a terrific series of often funny, controversial but always engaging chapters and thoughts about The Beatles. It looks at The Beatles as they are now, still in people’s thoughts, still influencing bands and artists, and as something that kept happening, despite the fact they split up fifty years ago.

3. Everybody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco by Daryl Easlea

Revised and updated from the original 2004 edition, this is a comprehensive and entertaining look at a now much-loved band that has benefited from a long overdue reassessment, partly thanks to the initial release of this book. The book seeks to contextualise Chic in their time, while assessing the history of the Disco movement, and succeeds in bringing a fascinating history to life.

4. Vinyl Countdown by Graham Sharpe

“Vinyl’s making a comeback, isn’t it?” says a man to the author of this book, Graham Sharpe, who has probably visited more record shops in the U.K. than any other person.

“It never went away” replies Graham.

This book is a love letter to record collecting and the record shops that feed the addictions of those who have fallen under the spell of vinyl.

5. Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz

A beautifully presented history of The Beastie boys as stuffed to the gills with photos as it is with brilliant anecdotes. By taking an unflinching, critical look at themselves in their own words and through the mouths of the people around them, Mike D and Ad-Rock (AKA the authors of this book) have told their story – and that of their late band-mate Adam “MCA” Yauch, in a touching and personal way that you feel couldn’t ever be improved upon.

Can you recommend a great music book to self-isolate with? If so, tell me what you are reading in the comments section below…


12 responses to “Five Music Books To Self-Isolate Yourself With…”

  1. Simon Wright Avatar

    “How To Write About Music” edited by Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan (Bloomsbury Academic 2015).

    After writing about rock’n’roll for over 20 years I thought it would be good idea how to find out how to do it properly. This is a fascinating if lengthy book from the people behind the excellent 33 1/3 series. The suggestions are illustrated by best-case examples from established authors and at the end of every chapter there is a series of optional exercises. The final chapter is on how to send a book proposal for the 33 1/3 series. With some extra time to myself on the horizon I am tempted to do exactly that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Ah, yes, have seen this in the library – it looked very interesting. Good suggestion!


  2. Spoilt Victorian Child Avatar
    Spoilt Victorian Child

    Brix Smith’s The Rise The Fall and The Rise and Patti Smith’s Just Kids made me teary several times. Candid, funny and heartbreaking,both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Yes, Just Kids is wonderful. Will check out Brick Smith’s book.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. GDT Avatar

    Music: What Happened? by Scott Miller, with the caveat that you have access to a lot of music because it will make you desperate to find songs and listen with new ears. During a time of dread and boredom, it’s comforting to me at least to get caught up in so many great things about music, especially the feelings it evokes, not to mention the tragic lost possibilities of the Lola banjo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul Kerr Avatar

    Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys is one of my favourite books by a rock musician while Sylvie Simmons’ Leonard Cohen biography is essential reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Ah, yes, I enjoyed Viv’s book. I haven’t read Sylvie Simmons’ Cohen bio though, so thank you for the tip!


  5. Dave Ashworth Avatar

    I’ve just started on A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock and the 1970s by Mike Barnes. I was a teenager through most of the 70s and progressive rock was huge amongst middle-class art students, dole bludgers and dope smokers, me included. This book treats prog seriously rather than wearing the usual “guilty pleasure” smirk almost every rock bloke article has displayed since punk.

    I read Yeah Yeah Yeah: the Story of Pop by Bob Stanley when it came out. I would have happily isolated myself for days and read the whole thing in one go if not for the irritation of having to make a living. It’s a brilliant book.

    Two short reads I also really enjoyed: Wichita Lineman by Dylan Jones, and Simple Dreams by Linda Ronstadt.

    Cheers, Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      I did enjoy Bob Stanley’s book – if you search the site you will find playlists to go with it. Must read it again. I’ll check out the Mike Barnes book you mention. Cheers!


  6. Michael P Avatar
    Michael P

    Thanks will check some of these out. All the Peter Hook JD / New Order books are worth a read, I love the way he describes his band mates and the mess of the Hacenda , very funny. Chrissie Hyndes biography was really good too. I really enjoyed Elton John’s book, although not a big fan. Perhaps the best books I’ve read lately was Playing the Bass With Three Left Hands by Will Carruthers who was in Spacemen 3 and early Spiritualized, great read really well written and very funny too in parts, took me back to the late 80’s indie scene before Brit Pop changed things forever. Am reading a Bill Drummond from the KLF book at the moment and that’s great too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Ooh, yes, that Will Carruthers book got good reviews. Will check it out.


  7. Thom Hickey Avatar

    They’ll all go on my list!

    Regards Thom


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