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Listening With Your Eyes And Reading With Your Ears

July 9, 2010 by Reader's Connection

Courtesy of Ellen Flexman–librarian at the East 38th Street Branch–here´s a list of books about music. The comments are Ellen´s, as are the suggested musical accompaniments for the books.

I´ll Sleep When I´m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon

 
I´ll Sleep When I´m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon

When Warren Zevon was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he did a brave thing. He asked his ex-wife Crystal to compile a warts-and-all oral history of his life. She talked to band mates, family members, ex-girlfriends, and Warren himself to get a complete picture of the man who brought us Werewolves of London. After reading this, you may not like the man, but you’ll sure love the genius.

What to listen to while you’re reading this: Excitable Boy and The Wind

 

 

 

 

 

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon—And the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller
Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon—And the Journey of a Generation

Three different women, three different styles, three vastly different backgrounds. But together they raised the visibility and respect for women songwriters and singers. What they did share was refusal to compromise they talent, and the ability to take whatever was thrown at them and turn it into a work of art. 

TapestryClouds in My Coffee
What to listen to while you’re reading this: Tapestry (Carole), Ladies of the Canyon (Joni), and Clouds in My Coffee (Carly)

 

 

 

The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece
The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece by Eric Siblin
This book is actually three books in one. It’s the story of Bach and how he came to compose the suites, it’s the story of how Pablo Casals found and revived the suites in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it’s the story of the suites themselves—their power, their beauty, and how they’ve gone from forgotten to some of the most beloved pieces of music ever written.

The Cello SuitesWhat to listen to while you’re reading this: The Cello Suites, played by Pablo Casals of course!

 

 

 

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth CenturyClassical music is a lot like math. It’s possible to enjoy the history and significance of it without knowing all the technical parts. The author of this book puts twentieth century classical music into context with history and with other musical styles. Can you enjoy Debussy without knowing he was influenced by jazz? Does the Threepenny Opera make more sense if you know about Germany before Hitler? Probably not. But knowing how historical events influence music (and vice versa) can give a reader a much deeper sense of understanding how we got from Mahler to Nixon in China.

Satie’s piano worksWhat to listen to while you’re reading this: Perhaps start with Eric Satie’s piano works, move on to Aaron Copland’s Rodeo and end with a little Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

 

 

Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout
Pops: A Life of Louis ArmstrongIf you watched Ken Burns’ Jazz, you probably know all the highlights: how young Louis Armstrong was arrested as a child for shooting a gun, how he learned to play coronet at the Waif’s Home, how he became a big star playing for King Oliver. This book gives that and so much more. Louis (pronounced Lou-IS, not Lou-IE, please) was an extraordinary man dedicated to his art who saw himself as an entertainer first, jazz musician second, and who stayed true to that even when the next generation of musicians dismissed him as a has-been.

Louis Armstrong from Ken Burns’ JazzWhat to listen to while you’re reading: for a good sample of Armstrong over the years, try Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings , Louis Armstrong from Ken Burns’ Jazz, and Louis Armstrong Vol. 6: St. Louis Blues.

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