Recommended Reading: Books on Music – Your Choices

Well. I wasn’t expecting this when I asked you to suggest any books on music I might have missed! When I compiled my original list, I thought I might get maybe half a dozen folk recommending their favourite music texts, if I were lucky – instead, I was sent suggestions by nearly forty different people. Indeed, at one stage last night, the tweets were coming in so fast that I couldn’t keep up with them all and make a note of all the book titles you were sending my way at the same time! My apologies if I didn’t reply then – but I did see and note down all of them, and all of them are here (apart from one or two that I couldn’t find any info for).

And there are some great books here. Some I had actually read and shamefully forgotten about (Joe Boyd’s White Bicycles and Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me for a start), some classics which I really should have read but haven’t (such as Ian Hunter’s Diary of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star), and some I’ve never heard of but will definitely be tracking down as soon as I can (like Mark E. Smith’s autobiography, which sounds terrifying!). But they’ve all been recommended by people whose taste and opinions I respect – and therefore I happily recommend them to everyone else…

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone whose contributions made this list possible. I’d thank all 37 of you individually, but we’d be here all night and this post would be even longer than it already is. You know who you are.

This list has, like the original, been divided into three sections for ease of perusal. Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs contains exactly that – books written by or about a band, artist or music industry insider. Scenes, Eras and Places lists volumes covering specific times, locations and musical movements that have had an important impact in some way. Finally, Collected Writings covers more general texts, and compilations of music journalism and other writings. Each section is listed in alphabetical order by the author’s surname and the date given is that of first publication where known, unless otherwise stated.

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Recommended Reading: Books on Music

I’m often asked what books I would recommend to someone wanting to delve deeper into the history of the various popular music scenes of the past fifty years or so. That’s an interesting question, as there are so many fascinating volumes out there (and a fair few blatant cash-ins too, which really aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on). Rummaging through my own now-sizeable collection of music books inspired me to put together this list  – that and being a total listoholic, as regular readers will know!

When it comes down to it, I’m not necessarily saying these are the ‘best’ books on music ever because that’s such a subjective definition – I’ve chosen these books because I have read and enjoyed them all, and because I think they would be of interest to those music fans wanting to learn more about the music they know and the music they don’t. Most of them will be easy enough to find – your local library or bookshop should stock many of these titles – but you may have to track down one or two online. They’re worth the effort though…

The list has been divided into three sections for ease of perusal. Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs contains exactly that – books written by or about a band, artist or music industry insider. Scenes, Eras and Places lists volumes covering specific times, locations and musical movements that have had an important impact in some way. Finally, Collected Writings covers more general texts, and compilations of music journalism and other writings. Each section is listed in alphabetical order by the author’s surname and the date given is that of first publication, where known.

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National Poetry Day 2014

Today is National Poetry Day, so (just like last year) I decided to share a poem with you. As this year’s theme is Remember, I’ve gone for one of the first poems I learned by heart as a child – and still remember with pleasure…

Cargoes

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

John Masefield (1878-1967) was Poet Laureate for thirty seven years between 1930 and 1967, and is also well-known for his classic childrens’ books The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights – amongst a huge amount of other writings over his long life, both prose and poetry.

I was introduced to ‘Cargoes’ as a precocious poetry-reading child by my late mother and immediately fell in love with the tongue-twisting phrases and vivid, intriguing imagery. This is a poem to be learned, read aloud and remembered…

Thank you Toppermost!

After last month’s excellent series of guest posts on Another Kind Of Mind, it was suddenly my turn to be writing something for someone else – indeed, the nice chaps over at the very excellent Toppermost interactive music website kindly asked me to put together a playlist and an article on the solo albums of Bob Mould (ex-Hüsker Dü and Sugar), one of my favourite musicians.

So, naturally, I jumped at the chance – and you can read the finished article at Toppermost here.

And as a taster, here’s one of my favourite tracks from the Bob Mould Toppermost playlist. Turn it up loud and enjoy!

Weird Words of the Day: Part Two

Back in May of last year, I posted on the subject of strange words for unusual concepts. That provoked a lot of interesting responses from you all, so I (perhaps a little belatedly!) decided it was time to dig out a few more weird and wonderful words to define for you. Some of these lexicographical oddities may be more familiar than others, but they all refer to strangely familiar ideas and experiences you might be surprised to know there is even a word for!

Grawlix:

Well, I’ll be @*&%ed, so that’s what a grawlix is! And indeed, that sentence contains an excellent example of exactly what a grawlix is – the use of a string of random punctuation marks to indicate swearing, more usually seen in comic book speech bubbles. Created as what was, quite frankly, a bit of a private joke by the American cartoonist Mort Walker in the 1960s, the use of the word grawlix to indicate such a concept has come to take on a validity and a life of its own. By the early 1980s, Walker had written The Lexicon of Comicana, which defined both grawlix and a number of other rather excellent words for common comic book concepts including squeans (the squiggles round a character’s head indicating drunkenness or dizziness), solrads (lines indicating the brightness of the sun or a light) and briffits (the cloud of dust left behind when a character dashes away at speed). Walker’s book is still in print and has become a key text for anyone studying the art of the cartoonist.

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September Update

Much to report, but I’m going to start by sending a huge thank you to Rick, Fi, Ian and Rose for their brilliant 5th birthday guest posts – and an equally huge thank you to everyone who read those posts and responded on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments here. A fantastic way to celebrate five years of Another Kind Of Mind!

If you missed any of the birthday posts, you can find all four of them here:

Guest Post: Music just isn’t that important these days…

Guest Post: Why do we love music?

Guest Post: Music or Lyrics?

Guest Post: Mental Illness – Stigma and Why We Choose To Stay Silent

I have lots planned for the next few months, including more in my World War One series of posts, a bit of the usual general randomness you’ve all come to expect round these parts, some dramatic and destructive 17th century history, and my recommendations for building a library of books about music.

And, on the subject of music, I have also been busy adding loads of new Debut Albums Top 50s to the List of Lists over at the Top Fifty Albums Lists blog. Please get in touch with me if you too have compiled a Debut Albums list and haven’t sent it my way yet!

As well as all this, my offline life is about to get busier again and I may not be around quite as much in the near future – I’ll be beginning a part-time MA course with the Open University in October (but don’t worry, it won’t stop me blogging…!).

Thank you again for all your recent input and responses – and here’s to another five years of Another Kind Of Mind.

claire x

PS: Despite the fact it’s only September (how did that happen anyway?), I’ll soon be turning my mind to my now-traditional Christmas posts. I’m not sure yet as to which seasonal topics I’ll be covering this year, so if you have any bright ideas or suggestions, please get in touch – it would be great to crowdsource a few Christmassy posts for this festive season!

Guest Post: Mental Illness – Stigma and Why We Choose To Stay Silent

With today’s final birthday guest post, we’re changing tack a little. When I asked Rose to write something about the stigma associated with mental illness, I thought it would be an interesting insight into a subject that is close to both our hearts – but with the recent suicide of the comedian Robin Williams and the public and media response to this tragic event, the topic has taken on a whole new significance. This is an honest and thoughtful post, and I freely admit that I strongly identify with a lot of what is said here. I am sure that this post will also strike a chord with others.

Rose blogs at the excellent roseversusblackdog about her experiences of and ongoing recovery from mental health issues. Even if you have no personal experience of mental illness (and especially if you do), her blog is definitely a recommended read.

August 11th 2014 – I woke up at 3am suffering from an anxiety attack and decided to have a quick browse on Twitter to distract myself. One tweet caught my eye – I saw the words “Robin Williams dead at 63 – Suspected Suicide”.

Tweet after tweet. Overwhelming sadness.

“Get help!” “Tell someone” “You can get better”.

Understandable messages from concerned well-wishers some who were probably worried about their own friends and family.

I also thought a lot about the exhortations to “speak up” and “tell someone”.

I would like to explain why this is such courageous act and why given the possible consequences, we should have understanding and compassion for people who wish to stay silent.

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Guest Post: Music or Lyrics?

For today’s birthday guest post, musician and blogger Ian Lipthorpe has decided to examine a subject I am sure many of us will have an opinion on – when you listen to a song, what is more important, the music or the lyrics? And why? I have to admit I go with both, depending on the song, but you may disagree with me – or with Ian. Have your say in the comments below!

If you’d like to read more, Ian blogs about music over at Harmony Corruption. He also curated the unofficial Manic Street Preachers Top 50 site New Chart Riot and you can hear some of his music (under the name Beneath Utopia) on Soundcloud.

In the world of modern music the majority of songs we listen to contain lyrics in one form or another. So it got me thinking, how much importance do we put on lyrics in songs compared to the music? Do we listen to the music first and the lyrics second, if at all? Do the lyrics make a difference as to how much we like a song? Does anyone like a song because of the lyrics but aren’t especially keen on the music?

There are obviously varying degrees of all of the above, but the subject does intrigue me. You see, I’m a music man through and through. I know the lyrics, I sing the lyrics, but to paraphrase Nirvana on ‘In Bloom’, I don’t necessarily think about what it means. Even stranger, you might think, given my well-known Manics tendencies. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the capacity to read them and understand what they mean, I just generally don’t bother (shame on you, you cry!).

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Guest Post: Why do we love music?

Thank you very much to Fi for this thought-provoking birthday guest post on a subject that many of us probably haven’t ever contemplated much – but perhaps we should. Can you trace where your love of or taste in music comes from? Why is music important to you? How has your taste in music changed over time? Plenty of food for thought here, please feel free to share your opinions and views in the comments!

If you’d like to read more, Fi also blogs over at Music vs. The World, where she reviews new and unsigned music, and compiles excellent and eclectic Twitter-sourced themed playlists.

Why are we drawn to music? We hear a song, we either like or dislike it, and we make a choice to make it a part of our collection or never listen to it again. That’s it, right? Well, I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. We just don’t tend to stop and think about it all that often.

SCIENCE

There is, of course, a well-studied science behind people and reactions to sounds – we know that many parts of the brain are activated when listening to music. The temporal lobe recognises and processes sound frequencies, and analyses information from music – pitch, speed and volume. The cerebrum recalls lyrics and stimulates memories associated with certain songs. The cerebellum affects movement, which can be rhythmic in response to music. The limbic system is the part of the brain that produces the emotional reaction to music.

I have a question. If it’s all down to science, why doesn’t everyone like the same kind of music? Why are some people completely averse to the same sounds that another group of people can’t get enough of?

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Guest Post: Music just isn’t that important these days…

Regular readers will know that I’m celebrating Another Kind Of Mind’s fifth birthday at the moment by hearing from a number of my favourite bloggers and tweeters. Today’s birthday guest post comes from Rick J Leach, who is the author of Turn Left At The Womble: How a 48 year old Dad survived his first time at Glastonbury and Totally Shuffled: A Year of Listening to Music on a Broken iPod. He also blogs about music over at Turn Left At The Womble and is ever interesting on Twitter. He’s chosen to write about a subject that is very close to this old music geek’s heart (in fact, I may well write a reply post to this at some point). What do you think? Do you agree with him? Feel free to comment…

Is it just me?

Am I getting too old?

Is there something (not) going on?

Music just doesn’t seem significant these days.

I am writing this from the perspective of a 50 year-old music fan and as someone for whom music has played (and still continues to play) a significant part in my life since I was probably 10 or 11 years old. I can’t imagine life without music. I can’t imagine not listening to any and all genres of music and not being excited about what may be coming up, just around the corner. (Although more of that in a bit).

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