Book Review: 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 “Book Review: On ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ by Lily Allen”

Book Review: ‘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 “Book Review: ‘Blues Legacies and Black Feminism’ by Angela Davis”

Book Review – ‘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 “Book Review – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl”

Book Review: 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 “Book Review: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’”

Books About Music Written By Women

‘Book Week Scotland’ might not mean a lot to many people beyond bonnie Caledonia but this campaign to promote reading gives me a nice excuse to write about the myriad connections between my two favourite things: books and music. My first post was about songs inspired by female writers and today I’m going to recommend some of my favourite books about music written by women.  Continue reading “Books About Music Written By Women”

Are Stories with Soundtracks the Future of Reading? 

Unlike most things in today’s fast moving world the written word remains resolutely still, existing always at the same silent volume. Many find reading relaxing because they can switch off and head into the silence of their mind. With the advent of the Internet reading a traditional book really is going off the grid, with no hyperlinks or flashing videos to distract from the narrative. Such comfort is why reading real books will never die. Our brains understand that total escape into an unreal world makes the real one bearable.  Continue reading “Are Stories with Soundtracks the Future of Reading? “

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