Music Book Club November: ‘Every Night is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ by Wanda Jackson

The subtitle to Wanda Jackson’s engaging memoir signals an important conflict at the heart of her career: she started as a country singer but found herself serendipitously transported to the world of rock and roll, firstly thanks to her boyfriend Elvis and more recently due to the dedicated fandom of the rockabilly scene. Yet she never left country music behind and you can tell as you read her life story that in her heart she wishes for more recognition from the genre she began singing in. Continue reading “Music Book Club November: ‘Every Night is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ by Wanda Jackson”

Music Book Club September: On ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ by Lily Allen

I had planned on discussing another book this month but then I happened to start reading ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ by Lily Allen and after finishing it in one sitting I knew I had to write about this blisteringly brilliant biography. In the introduction Lily explains the reasons behind her decision to write her story. I am writing this because writing is what I do, it’s both my living and the way I live, the way I make sense of things, the way I try to learn my lessons. Biography becomes another way to express her art, her truth. Women in music need a voice like Lily’s to be heard, someone who has been through the intense scrutiny of fame and survived. Continue reading “Music Book Club September: On ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ by Lily Allen”

Music Book Club August: ‘Blues Legacies and Black Feminism’ by Angela Davis

In her work ‘Blues Legacies and Black Feminism’ Angela Davis states her aim is to discover what we can learn from three pioneers of blues music: Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. She wants to look beyond biography to investigate how their work reflected feminist attitudes and helped shaped black consciousness. The work is academic in tone and purpose, a rightfully serious but also personally passionate account of the significance of these often overlooked artists and their legacies. By placing their music in a wider sociocultural context, Davis gives these women the respect and acclaim they so richly deserve. Continue reading “Music Book Club August: ‘Blues Legacies and Black Feminism’ by Angela Davis”

Music Book Club July – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Earlier this year when I was in the music section of the book shop I was disappointed to see only one book written by a woman. That spurred me on to starting this monthly book club, so I thought it would only be fitting then to review the one book which I saw on the shelf. From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl is not just the story of her son’s rise to fame but also an interesting and thought provoking project where she interviews and writes about the mothers of musicians such as Miranda Lambert, Haim, Michael Stipe and Kelly Clarkson. Continue reading “Music Book Club July – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl”

Music Book Club: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’

In 1965 aged just 20 Linda Ronstadt left behind her Arizona home and headed off to Los Angeles in the hope of becoming a success on the folk music scene. The night she left her father took gave her a gift of a Martin acoustic guitar and told her what his Mexican father had once said to him: “Ahora que tienes guitarra, nunca tendras hambre” (Now you own a guitar you will never go hungry). Those words would prove true. Ronstadt’s long and illustrious career is explored in Simple Dreams, her excellent self-penned memoir which takes us from the deserts of her childhood, to her chart success and beyond. Continue reading “Music Book Club: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’”

Music Book Club: ‘Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe’ by Gayle F. Wald

Before I started reading ‘Shout, Sister, Shout’ I’m ashamed to admit that I knew almost nothing about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, except that she was important, influential but ultimately overlooked by music history. In this biography Gayle F. Wald, a professor at George Washington University, explores her subject in an academic but accessible style. Such respect and consideration of this remarkable woman and her music career has been long overdue. Continue reading “Music Book Club: ‘Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe’ by Gayle F. Wald”

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