The JamBase 2018 Music Book List

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As we officially enter the holiday season, now seems like a pertinent time to review some of the music books released in 2018. The collection of titles below is made up of books that were read this year by someone on Team JamBase or are near the top of one of our wish lists. Whether you’re looking for something to read over the holidays or for the perfect literary gift for a music fan, check out the set of 2018 music books we compiled below:

Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) — A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. — Jeff Tweedy

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy‘s addition of book author to his resume comes in the form of the deeply personal debut, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) — A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.. Tweedy writes openly and honestly about his life, detailing his childhood in Belleville, Illinois and the rise and ultimate demise of Uncle Tupelo. Tweedy’s relationship with two Jays – Uncle Tupelo’s Jay Farrar and Wilco’s Jay Bennett – feature prominently in the memoir. The biographical release also touches on Tweedy’s addiction to prescription drugs, his relationship with his wife Sue Miller Tweedy and sons Spencer Tweedy and Sammy Tweedy, his songwriting process, musical influences and more in the revealing look into the 51-year-old singer-songwriter’s mind.


Beastie Boys Book — Michael “Mike D” Diamond & Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz

Co-authors and surviving Beastie Boys band mates Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz attempt to share the history of the seminal hip-hop group through the essays contained within the 592-page memoir. Stories about their late band mate Adam “MCA” Yauch, growing up in New York City, early start as a hardcore band, connecting with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons and becoming one of the world’s most popular musical acts are told through essays written by Diamond and Horovitz, as well as Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson and Luc Sante. The audio edition of the Beastie Boys book may be the way to go if you’re thinking about picking this up. In addition to Mike D and Ad-Rock reading essays, for the audio edition they enlisted an impressive roster to also read portions of the book, including Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Exene Cervenka, Jarvis Cocker, Elvis Costello, Chuck D, Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell, Kim Gordon, LL Cool J, Spike Jonze, Talib Kweli, Rachel Maddow, Tim Meadows, Bette Midler, Mix Master Mike, Nas, Yoshimi O, Rosie Perez, Amy Poehler, John C. Reilly, Ian Rogers, Maya Rudolph, Rev Run, Luc Sante, Chloe Sevigny, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Wanda Sykes, Jeff Tweedy and others.


Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead’s Long, Strange Trip — Joel Selvin with Pamela Turley

The days between the Grateful Dead’s final concert at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9, 1995 and the return to the same stadium for Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years Of Grateful Dead finale on July 5, 2015 are the focus of the behind-the-scenes Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead’s Long, Strange Trip. Press materials labeled the book by music journalist Joel Selvin a “tell-all biography of the epic in-fighting of the Grateful Dead,” and Selvin details the relationships between the surviving “core four” members of the beloved psychedelic rock group – Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. While some of those details describe some of the characters in the book in less than kind ways, the legendary rock stars, their partners and others in the band’s orbit are presented as humans struggling to maintain decades-long relationships under the pressures of being popular professional working musicians.


All Gates Open: The Story of CAN — Irmin Schmidt & Rob Young

The history of influential German krautrock collective CAN is chronicled by author Rob Young and the band’s sole-surviving co-founder Irmin Schmidt in the two-part All Gates Open: The Story of CAN. Young opens with All Gates Open, a deeply researched of the biography of the band. He follows the musical development of Schmidt and CAN co-founder Holger Czukay who were both trained in Cologne by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen prior to forming CAN with Jaki Liebezeit and Michael Karoli in the late-1960s. Both of the group’s surviving vocalists Damo Suzuki and Malcolm Mooney contribute to the first half of the book, as do later members Reebop Kwaku Baah and Rosko Gee. The book’s second half, Can Kiosk, is a collage compiled by Schmidt constructed of diary entries, dream journals and oral history of the band with some of the musicians and artists the group influenced such as Bobby Gillespie, Geoff Barrow, Mark E. Smith, Daniel Miller, Wim Wenders and John Malkovich.


Into The Light — Jérôme Brunet

Documenting his 20-year career in as a professional photographer Jérôme Brunet presents a retrospective coffee table book of his work entitled Into The Light. Collecting Brunet’s concert photography and portraits of his favorite musicians, the book showcases images of such renowned artists as B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Slash, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, U2, The Who, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Steve Miller wrote the forward for Into The Light, which comes in standard and deluxe editions. The standard edition features over 150 color and black and white images and the deluxe edition comes autographed in a cloth covered slipcase with an exclusive signed and numbered 8×10″ print of one of Brunet’s most famous photos: B.B. King live at the Fox. [Signed copies are available via the book’s website]


Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book Of Bass — Geddy Lee

Coming out December 4 is Rush bassist Geddy Lee’s book dedicated to the instrument he loves. The 400+ page Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book Of Bass showcases Lee’s massive personal collection of over 250 bass instruments with photos by Richard Sibbald paired with Lee’s essays going deep into the history and advancements made over the years. Lee presents basses made by well-known manufacturers like Fender, Gibson/Epiphone, Rickenbacker, Höfner, Ampeg along with less-known luthiers from around the globe like Antonio Wandr Pioli, Dan Armstrong and Tony Zemaitis. Along with Lee’s deeply researched essays are interviews with fellow bass-aficionados John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Adam Clayton of U2, Robert Trujillo of Metallica, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco/Uncle Tupelo, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones, Les Claypool of Primus and Bob Daisley of Rainbow as well others such as longtime The Who guitar tech Alan Rogan.


100 Things Phish Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die — Andy P. Smith & Jason Gershuny

Prior JamBase contributors and longtime Phish fans Andy P. Smith and Jason Gershuny set out to catalog must-do activities for fellow passionate fans of the band. Relix Magazine Editor-in-Chief Mike Greenhaus wrote the foreword to the 352-page book that collects insights from many of Phish’s fans, including JamBase’s own Scott Bernstein. The authors detail each of Phish’s studio albums and some of the most memorable concerts the band has played since forming in the early-1980s. The book also breaks down the personalities from both within Phish and their crew, as well as some of the folks in the surrounding community. Some of the 100 topics covered are “Phish Destroys America & The Island Tour,” “Meet The Phans,” “Side Projects,” “Weaving & Teasing,” “Stroll Down Shakedown Street” and “Madison Square Garden.”


Creative Quest — Questlove

The Roots drummer and de facto Tonight Show bandleader Questlove is proving to be just as skillful with words as he is with drumsticks. For his fourth book, Questlove investigates the creative process for what breeds success. It mostly centers on advice Questlove has received from mentors and peers such as George Clinton, D’Angelo, David Byrne and Björk. The drummer not only covers what helps creativity, but what can hurt it, such as balancing marketability with critical acclaim and finding the right types of mentors. The audio edition features guest readings by Fred Armisen, Tariq Trotter, Dion Flynn, Robin Thede, “Suga” Steve Mandel, Norm MacDonald, Ludo Lefebvre and Molly Kelly and includes original music by Questlove and The Roots.


Thanks a Lot Mr Kibblewhite: My Story — Roger Daltrey

“It’s taken me three years to unpack the events of my life, to remember who did what when and why, to separate the myths from the reality, to unravel what really happened at the Holiday Inn on Keith Moon’s 21st birthday,” stated The Who frontman Roger Daltrey in press materials for his autobiography Thanks a Lot Mr Kibblewhite: My Story. There’s plenty of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll within the stories collected by the 74-year-old vocalist. There are plenty of escapades with the aforementioned Moon and fellow late former band mate John Entwistle, as well as his ongoing relationship with Pete Townshend. The titular Mr. Kibblewhite was the headmaster at Daltrey’s South London school who expelled the then-15-year-old Roger, unknowingly putting him on a path to rock ‘n’ roll stardom.


Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times — John Perry Barlow

Co-writing many beloved Grateful Dead songs – “Cassidy,” “Throwing Stones,” “Black-Throated Wind,” “The Music Never Stopped,” to name a few — with his friend since adolescence, guitarist Bob Weir, is just one the many aspects of the life of John Perry Barlow explored in his posthumous memoir, Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times. Barlow’s remarkable journey through life (he passed away in February at age 70) is explored from his childhood on a ranch in Wyoming to becoming a pioneer in advocating for online and digital civil rights as a co-founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation. Co-authored with Robert Greenfield, Barlow’s biography includes running Dick Cheney’s first campaign for Congress, as well as teaching John F. Kennedy Jr. to fly. Other aspects of Barlow’s ever interesting tale includes having coined the phrase “cyberspace” as it relates to the internet and spending time at Andy Warhol’s Factory, along with plenty of other “crazy times” that the modern-day renaissance man lived through.


Been So Long: My Life and Music — Jorma Kaukonen

Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen takes a stab at recalling the many events that influenced his life since being born in 1940. Part of his childhood was spent living in Pakistan and the Philippines due to his father’s career in the U.S. State Department. Later settling in Washington D.C., it was there he met future Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady. Jorma chronicles his move to the Bay Area in the early-1960s and subsequently establishing himself as a prime player in the burgeoning psychedelic rock scene. Cameos by the Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Grace Slick and many other icons of the era appear throughout the revealing autobiography.


Wasn’t That a Time: The Weavers, the Blacklist, and the Battle for the Soul of America — Jesse Jarnow

Journalist Jesse Jarnow set his sights on the influential folk group The Weavers for his latest historical book. The author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America and Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock once again did extensive primary source research to write Wasn’t That a Time. The time in the title is the rise of folk music in the 1950s that coincided with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare that led to McCarthyism and the ostracizing of American citizens identified as socialists. The Weavers members Pete Seeger and Lee Hays were forced to testify before McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities after being labeled communists by an undercover FBI informant. The entire band was blacklisted from the entertainment industry forcing the group to break up in 1952. Jarnow relied on “previously unseen journals and letters, unreleased recordings, once-secret government documents, and other archival research,” to illustrate this controversial era of American politics and culture.