If you enjoy listening to music, singing it, or creating it, October is your month! International or Universal Music Day is celebrated on October 1. If that’s not enough to dig out your collection of musical favorites, the entire month of October is dedicated to the celebration of Country Music as a beloved genre. There’s even “Hug a Drummer Day” celebrated on October 10th, which the percussionist in your life might appreciate. Music is one of the most universal ways to express ideas and emotions, making it an integral part of every culture around the world. It is a shared, common language that has the power to bring people together.
As you find ways to celebrate music this month, you may be interested in some of these “musical” books, including books about music genres, the music industry, musicians, and songwriting. The best music books can give you a new insight, inspire new conversations, and hopefully encourage you to give another listen. Music has evolved over the course of history into many different forms. Some of the most listened to genres of today, such as Rock, Country, and Classical, can be further divided into sub-genres such as country-pop, alternative rock, etc. A variety of music genres are included in the music book displays that are up this month at the Fairmount and Eastern branches. Here are a few to get you started:
In The Number Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music, the author, Tom Breihan, looks at twenty of Billboard Hot 100s number one songs and uncovers their historical context demonstrating how they played a pivotal role in changing pop music. Breihan includes some of the greatest pop artists of all time. But, just as important, he also includes some musicians who never hit the number one spot, but who are now legendary because of their whole body of work. Some reviewers have suggested to read this book while listening to the selected songs in order to achieve a more immersive experience. Pop culture and music lovers will appreciate this book, especially if they have watched the Billboard Hot 100 or have read the author’s Stereogum column called, what else? “The Number Ones”.
Declassified: a low-key guide to the high-strung world of classical music is authored by Arianna Warsaw-Fan Rauch, a Juilliard grad and world-class violinist and veteran of symphony halls and international concert tours. In the book, she expresses her lifelong love-hate relationship with classical music and musicians. There is such variety in the “classical music” genre, that spans centuries of composers, that she argues you can find enough diversity to encompass the gamut of emotions. The author covers the 7 main compositional periods, offering a breakdown of the instruments and their “personalities”. She invites her reader on a backstage tour of the industry to see what it is like to be a professional musician at conservatory auditions, competitions, and during grueling practice routines, ultimately making the case that classical music matters.
As a long-time writer in the country music industry – especially versed on the careers of women – Marissa R. Moss demonstrates her insider knowledge of the music scene in Nashville with her book, Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be. She writes about some of the most celebrated female artists, but brings into sharpest focus the three main subjects of her book, Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Mickey Guyton. These women are heroines in their own right and have carved out their own paths to success despite the huge obstacles of a “good ‘ol boy” mentality, sexism, and even racism in the country music industry. This book isn’t just for Country music fans, but also for those interested in seeing women singers, songwriters, producers, and executives, succeed in an industry where much is stacked against them.
Tony Brown’s “coffee table” book, Elvis, Strait, to Jesus: An Iconic Producer’s Journey with Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, and Gospel Music features exclusive photographs and stories about his more than 40-year career as one of Nashville’s leading producers and executives. The book is a photographic journey depicting how Brown rose to the top of the Nashville music industry to take his spot in country music history. It illuminates his rise to fame and his industry relationships; from pianist for Elvis Presley to the president of MCA Records in Nashville and producing over 100 country songs that hit #1 on the charts. The book showcases people who have played an important role in Brown’s career. A few of the many music artists included in the book show the diversity of music genres he was instrumental in creating: Lionel Richie, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Buffett, Barbra Streisand, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Lyle Lovett, and many more. The book is touted as a special tribute that no fan of music or artistic photography should be without.
If you are interested in other musical genres, several other books of interest are: Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld; Hip-Hop (and other things): a collection of questions asked, answered, illustrated; Anatomy of a Song: the oral history of 45 iconic hits that changed rock, R & B, and pop; Shine Bright: a very personal history of black women in pop; and Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs. These books and many others are on display during the month of October at both the Eastern and Fairmount branch libraries. You might also be interested in this DVD: Hip Hop the songs that shook America.
At the risk of sounding like a late night infomercial, I will further entice you to explore our collection with… “But, wait, there’s MORE!” At all three branches, you can check out a Common Chord or Quad City Symphony Orchestra Community Experience Pass to receive FREE entry to local music events. We even have a Jensen turntable and portable cassette player/recorder that you can check out at the Main branch to listen to some of your old vinyl or cassette recordings.
Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument. Checking out a ukulele at the Main branch is a great way to start. Whether you read, listen, attend an event, or make your own music – be sure to include music in your life during the month of October – and every month!