Top Ten Music Biographies of 2015

Girl in a Band : A Memoir by Kim Gordon
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein
M Train by Patti Smith
Reckless: My Life as a Pretender by Chrissie Hyde
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me by Bernard Sumner
Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored by John Lydon
Words Without Music: A Memoir by Philip Glass
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone by Marky Ramone
Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014 by Richard Hell

There have been so many music biographies coming through the store lately that I couldn’t resist putting together a list some of the more interesting autobiographies that have come out this year. Some of these I’ve read, and some are still on my want list.

Girl in a Band : A Memoir – Kim Gordon
Who : founding member of Sonic Youth
What : a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll
Quote from the book : “Punk rock felt tongue-in-cheek, in air quotes screaming, ‘we’re playing at destroying corporate rock.’ No Wave music was, and is, more like ‘No, we’re really destroying rock.’ Its sheer freedom and blazing-ness made me think, I can do that.”

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir – Carrie Brownstein

Who : guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney
What : From a leader of feminist punk music at the dawn of the riot-grrrl era, a candid and deeply personal look at life in rock and roll.
Quote from the book : “It makes for an interesting performance, attempting to both find yourself and lose yourself onstage.”

M Train – Patti Smith
Who : musician, artist, and poet
What : Her personal meditations on her life. including polaroids taken by Smith
Quote from the book : ’Everything changes. Boy grown, father dead, daughter taller than me, weeping from a bad dream. Please stay forever, I say to the things that I know.’

Reckless: My Life as a Pretender – Chrissie Hyde
Who: front woman and songwriter of the Pretenders
What : a no-holds barred memoir
Quote from the book : ‘I regret half of this story and the other half is the sound you heard.’

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
Who : English musician, singer-songwriter
What : memoir on the ups and downs of his music career over the years
Quote from the book : “I had barely received a hint of encouragement from the world outside, but knew that there was a jealousy and malevolence to the pursuit of fame that would not allow you to get any older once the deal was struck.”

Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me – Bernard Sumner
Who : Founding member and guitarist of Joy Division and the lead singer of New Order
Quote from the book : ‘The noises I was making must have sounded pretty horrible. But I kept at it, because music had become the biggest thing in my life. I’d listened to it, I’d bought it, I’d watched people playing it, and now I was determined to make it myself’

Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored by John Lydon
Who : As Johnny Rotten, he was the lead singer of the Sex Pistols
Quote from the book : ‘Anger is the root core of why I write songs. Sometimes I barely think I’m in control of myself when I’m writing. If there’s such things as guardian angels out there – well mine’s a real bleeding’ piece of work.’

Words Without Music: A Memoir – Philip Glass

Who : A world-renowned composer of symphonies, operas, and film scores,
‘I don’t make music to go with the film, I write the music that is the film.’

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone – Marky Ramone
Who : the drummer of the punk rock band the Ramones
Quote from the book : ‘There was such a thing as the American Dream, and there was also the American nightmare. The nightmare was to spend your entire adult life doing hard labor in return for a few golden years and then get shortchanged.’

Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014 – Richard Hell
Who : Richard Hell may best be known as a punk icon, a founding member of seminal bands Television, the Heartbreakers, and The Voidoids, as well as an accomplished writer.
Quote from the book : ‘I saw some pieces were lengthy, some were angry, and many were thrilled or adoring : massive, pissed, love. So I had a possible title too.’