New & Notable Books on Music

new and notable books on music

If you enjoy reading about great music just as much as listening to it, here are some new & notable books that you can check out with your Livingston Library card. (Descriptions provided by the publishers) Bridge & Tunnel Boys: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and the Metropolitan Sound of the American Century by Jim Cullen Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen are among the most well-known and beloved figures in American popular music in the past half-century. The two, friends over many decades, have often been compared. But in this study, cultural historian Jim Cullen systematically traces the uncanny parallels in their lives. Here are two people who were born in the same year-one east of New York City on Long Island, the other west of New York City in suburban New Jersey. Both signed to the same record label. Both released early albums on that label that were hailed yet underperformed in record stores. Both had breakout records in the late seventies, and both ascended to empyrean heights in the mid-eighties. Both married models (and divorced them). And both remained icons well into the 21st century, lionized for their live shows. But there’s more here than a set of striking coincidences: Joel and Springsteen are also products of a distinctive New York metropolitan sound-whose hallmark is racial and ethnic integration-that cohered around 1900 and of which both are modern exemplars. Their careers are case studies in how a popular art form unfolded at the tail end of the American century-decades of uncertainty and revival, doubt and hope. My Name is Barbra by Barbra Streisand Barbra Streisand is by any account a living legend, a woman who in a career spanning six decades has excelled in every area of entertainment. She is among the handful of EGOT winners (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and has one of the greatest and most recognizable voices in the history of popular music. She has been nominated for a Grammy 46 times, and with Yentl she became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major motion picture. In My Name Is Barbra, she tells her own story about her life and extraordinary career, from growing up in Brooklyn to her first star-making appearances in New York nightclubs to her breakout performance in Funny Girl (musical and film) to the long string of successes in every medium in the years that followed. The book is, like Barbra herself, frank, funny, opinionated, and charming. She recounts her early struggles to become an actress, eventually turning to singing to earn a living; the recording of some of her acclaimed albums; the years of effort involved in making Yentl; her direction of The Prince of Tides; her friendships with figures ranging from Marlon Brando to Madeleine Albright; her political advocacy; and the fulfillment she’s found in her marriage to James Brolin. No entertainer’s memoir has been more anticipated than Barbra Streisand’s, and this engrossing and delightful book will be eagerly welcomed by her millions of fans. Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song by Judith Tick Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) possessed one of the twentieth century’s most astonishing voices. In this first major biography since Fitzgerald’s death, historian Judith Tick offers a sublime portrait of this ambitious risk-taker whose exceptional musical spontaneity made her a transformational artist. Becoming Ella Fitzgerald clears up long-enduring mysteries. Archival research and in-depth family interviews shed new light on the singer’s difficult childhood in Yonkers, New York, the tragic death of her mother, and the year she spent in a girls’ reformatory school-where she sang in its renowned choir and dreamed of being a dancer. Rarely seen profiles from the Black press offer precious glimpses of Fitzgerald’s tense experiences of racial discrimination and her struggles with constricting models of Black and white femininity at midcentury. Tick’s compelling narrative depicts Fitzgerald’s complicated career in fresh and original detail, upending the traditional view that segregates vocal jazz from the genre’s mainstream. As she navigated the shifting tides between jazz and pop, she used her originality to pioneer modernist vocal jazz. Interpreting long-lost setlists, reviews from both white and Black newspapers, and newly released footage and recordings, the book explores how Ella’s transcendence as an improvisor produced onstage performances every bit as significant as her historic recorded oeuvre. Quartet: How Four Women Changed the Musical World by Leah Broad The lives, loves, adventures and trailblazing careers of four extraordinary women from a stunning debut biographer. Leah Broad’s magnificent group biography resurrects the forgotten voices–Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Dorothy Howell and Dorren Carwithen–recounting lives of rebellion, heartbreak and ambition, and celebrating their musical masterpieces. Loaded: The Life (and Afterlife) of the Velvet Underground by Dylan Jones Drawing on contributions from remaining members, contemporaneous musicians, critics, filmmakers, and the generation of artists who emerged in their wake, this definitive oral history celebrates not only the impact of The Velvet Underground but their legacy, which burns brighter than ever in the 21st century. Rebellion always starts somewhere, and in the music world of the transgressive teen-whether it be the 1960s or the 2020s-The Velvet Underground represents ground zero. Crystallizing the idea of the bohemian, urban, narcissistic art school gang around a psychedelic rock and roll band-a stylistic idea that evolved in the rarefied environs of Andy Warhol’s Factory-The Velvets were the first major American rock group with a mixed gender line-up. They never smiled in photographs, wore sunglasses indoors, and invented the archetype that would be copied by everyone from Sid Vicious to Bobby Gillespie. They were avant-garde nihilists, writing about drug abuse, prostitution, paranoia, and sado-masochistic sex at a time when the rest of the world was singing about peace and love. In that sense they invented punk and then some. It could even be argued that they invented modern New York. Drawing on interviews and material relating to all major players, from Lou Reed, John Cale, Mo Tucker, Andy Warhol, Jon Savage, Nico, David Bowie, Mary Harron, and many more, award-winning journalist Dylan Jones breaks down the band’s whirlwind of subversion and, in a