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Musical Memoirs

Updated: May 19

Reading and listening to music are two of my favorite activities, so when they join together, it makes things much more exciting. I love learning about the people behind the music that I hold so close to my heart, and these past two years I've spent a lot of time reading their memoirs. Hopefully these small reviews will give you some insight on what to read next if you're a music & book lover like me!

Horror Stories: A Memoir (Liz Phair)

A firecracker of an artist and a writer, Liz Phair brought much more to the table than what people believe her to be. Her voice came in strong, but remained honest and transparent with her experiences personally and in the music industry. My favorite piece of this book was how right off the bat, she chooses to tell a story in which she screwed up and held onto that mistake with her for the rest of her life. It was a beautiful and attention grabbing way to begin a memoir. (Finished 7/11/23)

You’d Be Paranoid Too If Everyone Was Out To Get You (Awsten Knight)

If you need a laugh and a good story, Awsten Knight has got your back. Lead singer of the pop-punk band Waterparks invites you into his head and recounts his experiences as a mischievous adolescent. While keeping his sense of humor, he manages to explain his life in a way that the reader feels they understand him a little better. Whether it be telling ghost stories or geeking out over My Chemical Romance, Awsten keeps it real. (Finished 5/24/23)

The Half Of It (Madison Beer)

There is so much more to Madison Beer than you think there is. Known mostly for her pretty face, Madison has been in the spotlight since a very young age, but was initially discovered for her singing abilities. She has pursued that throughout the years and still is. She explains the trauma of trying to get people to take her music seriously and being used in an industry that she knew nothing about. It's such a small glimpse of the dirty side of the music industry, but so insightful to what it can be like for a young pop musician. An excellent reminder to never judge people based solely on what you see on the internet. (Finished 5/13/23)

Just Kids (Patti Smith)

Patti Smith was born to be an artist in so many mediums, you can tell simply through her storytelling abilities in Just Kids. It’s not often a book, let alone a memoir, has me tearing up at the end. This one absolutely did. A recounting of her early years, Patti takes us through many relationships, art forms, and hardships in these pages. I find myself feeling a bit jealous of her early life even though a lot of it was not so pretty, but certain parts stirred a deep envy within me. That just shows the kind of life she lived then (and is still living now!) Honest and straightforward, this book places you to exactly the time and place that Patti was in. (Finished 4/7/23)

Crying In H Mart (Michelle Zauner)

Michelle Zauner, otherwise known as Japanese Breakfast, had me both tearing up and craving some of her mother’s food. I feel especially connected to this author and artist because she was born and raised in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon. It felt like I was in on a little secret when she talked about somewhere local I knew of or had been to. Her love for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was something I also deeply related to! Examining primarily her relationship with her mother, Michelle reflects on their love language of food and how growing up with her was both traumatic and heartwarming at the same time. (Finished 3/30/23)

Acid For The Children (Flea)

If you love music, the 80s, and crazy stories, Flea’s memoir Acid For The Children is covering all the bases. Naturally, I had to buy this since I’m a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea gave plenty of backstory to how he came into playing bass in the first place and how he ended teaming up with RHCP co-founder Anthony Kiedis. Beyond that, Flea explains his many experiences in a broken but loving family, the early influence of jazz in his life, and all the formative relationships that helped him get where he is today. (Finished 2/12/23)

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (Dave Grohl)

Dave Grohl has lived a lot of life, from being in two massive bands to simply raising children and a family. If you didn't know, Dave was the drummer in Nirvana until their lead singer, Kurt Cobain, died in 1994. He details a lot of his struggle with that and also how he came to be part of the band in the first place, and how Kurt's death influenced him to start the Foo Fighters. A beautifully written piece by a rock 'n roll legend complete with pictures and fun snippets about his childhood and favorite bands. (Finished 5/3/22)

Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in NYC 2001-2011 (Lizzy Goodman)

While this is not a memoir, it's my favorite music history of all time (or formally called an oral history). If you know me, you know my love for all things Meet Me in the Bathroom, from the book to the movie to Lizzy Goodman herself. This book is comprised of interviews with all kinds of bands from the years 2001-2011, some names you may recognize from my site being The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, and so many more. Like an insane amount more. So many bands... I found this to be a great way to learn about those bands from their own words and experiences. Lizzy Goodman did an excellent job collecting all of this information, probably because she was right there with these bands when the music exploded all over New York. It's a pretty long book, but surely worth the read. (Finished 6/15/22)

The World is Going To Love This: Up From The Basement With The Strokes (Gordon Raphael)

You might remember my previous review of this one, I hold it very close to my heart because it's a lot of the reason The Music Box began the way it did. Gordon was my very first interview, something I still can't wrap my head around to this day. Here's a bit of the review I wrote last year: Gordon has a way of explaining his life experiences that makes the reader feel open to mistakes, to see that something good always comes out of the rough patches. He had many losses, but even more gains throughout the story. It felt like a really wise uncle telling you about his wild days on the town, while simoultaneously teaching you a lesson about love and life, and how to stay afloat in a place like New York. That state was bustling with an upcoming wave of incredible talent, much of which Gordon discovered or encountered, including The Strokes. (Finished 10/9/22)

Next on the Bookshelf:

Girl in a Band (Kim Gordon)

Year of the Monkey (Patti Smith)

Scar Tissue (Anthony Kiedis)

Boys in the Trees (Carly Simon)

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil)

Where Are Your Boys Tonight? The Oral History of Emo's Mainstream Explosion 1999-2008 (Chris Payne)

Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge (Mark Yarm)


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