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The best books for your music lover

They’ve been hooking you up with playlists all year. Put one of these books under their tree this Christmas.

‘How Music Works’

By David Byrne

Talking Heads frontman David Byrne spends the bulk of his writing exploring, not explaining, music. To juggle his personal and professional commitments, the tone leaps between memoir, history lesson, advice column and philosophical exegesis. This format makes for a lively argument, complete with arty flourishes (the page numbers, you’ll notice, are backward).



‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road’

By Willie Nelson

If one day someone really rolls up Willie Nelson’s corpse and smokes it, it will probably taste

like whiskey, denim and an old, battered guitar. This memoir is as rambling as you’d expect, with details of the highwayman’s life blown out in disorienting fragments stitched together in no discernible order. Scattered but vivid, it is an earnest account of a cloudy life on the road.



‘Women Make Noise: Girls Bands from Motown to Modern’

Edited by Julia Downes


This collection of essays by journalists, fans, musicians and industry people celebrates the under-recognized history of all-girl rock bands. Beginning with groups like the Supremes and the Ronettes, the scope extends to the present day, covering punk rockers such as the Slits and the experimental pop music of Björk.



‘The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret’

By Kent Hartman


Studio musicians are a humble lot. While stars steal the glory, these poor souls rarely get more than a nod in the liner notes. This book documents the group of Los Angeles session musicians who, in the 1960s, created some of the decade’s best music. You can hear the “Wrecking Crew,” the name given to the dozens of players by drummer Hal Blaine, on albums by the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, and others.





‘Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me’

By R. Kelly


Equal parts genius, joker and sex-fiend, R. Kelly is a complicated man. Even though he tries to isolate these three components of his being, they inevitably spill into each other, ultimately making Kelly the compelling pop star that he is. This hilariously titled memoir is a bizarre ride through Kelly’s crazy life, from Chicago’s South Side to the penthouse to the courtroom to the set of his insane “Trapped In The Closet.”