This is the fourth installment in David Hewitt’s guest blog series chronicling his legendary career working with some of the biggest names in music. Today, David recommends more good books about the music industry. If you missed his first book post, you can read it here.
Book Recommendations – Part Two
As I indicated in my previous post, I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about the music world – particularly memoirs by music-industry people. Listed below are some additional books I think are worth checking out.
A New America: How Music Reshaped the Culture and the Future of a Nation and Redefined My Life
By Tommy Mottola
Tommy did it all, from rocker, publisher, manager and finally the man who ran Sony Music Entertainment worldwide. You can’t make up stories like Tommy lived in real life. His love of Latin music had an impact on popular music worldwide through the artists that he guided to commercial success.
I had the good fortune to be exposed to Latin jazz early on and then enjoyed Latin artists that Tommy had us record: Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and Shakira. This book also fills in some of the history and struggles of Latin music in America.
Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life In Music
By Judy Collins
Crown Archetype, 2011
A well-written autobiography, documenting the evolution of folk music from the 1950s on. It is incredible how many lives she has affected in the music world. She was a major force in the careers of so many musicians: Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and Leonard Cohen. She was frank about her life-long alcoholism and how it almost killed her. Thankfully, she recovered and has stayed sober and resumed her career. I once worked with her when Phil Ramone was producing. I can confirm those blue eyes!
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
By Oliver Sacks
I recommend everything this brilliant polymath has ever written, but this tome explores human neurologic response to music. It’s both heartwarming and terrifying to read of his patients’ experiences.
The late author’s website says it so much better than I could, please check it out.
Now we get into some deep history:
Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by the Men Who Made It
By Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff
Dover, 1966 (originally published by Rinehart and Company, 1955)
Nat Hentoff just recently passed away at the age of 91. Both he and Nat Shapiro were of the age when jazz was coming into view of the average American public. Hentoff was a jazz critic and historian for such important publications as Down Beat, The Village Voice, The New Yorker and The New York Times. Look him up; he was an astounding character!
Published first in 1955, the authors managed to compile hundreds of interviews with the originators of jazz. This was written at a time when some of those musicians were still alive and able to contribute oral testimony of undocumented history. These stories go back to the beginning in the late 1800s. There are so many historical gems in here, it is a “must read” for any serious musician.
Bear: The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III
By Robert Greenfield
Thomas Dunne, 2016
Attention Dead Heads: I’m sure you all have heard of Bear or Owsley, but I doubt many of you will know the full story of this enigmatic character. Of course, this also concerns acid heads. Owsley played a pivotal role in the propagation and popularity of LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) in the glorious counterculture days of the late 1960s. Now, of course, I wouldn’t know anything about that…but I can tell you that, just in case, I didn’t drink anything that was around backstage at the Watkins Glen Summer Jam in 1973 where the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and the Band played to 600,000 fans. We were there with the Record Plant NY Remote Truck to record.
This well-written, well-researched book is a must read for rock history buffs!
Turn off the screen and read a book!
– David Hewitt