Musical books to give at Christmas | The North American Route | Culture


It is a long story. My life. Willie nelson (Neo Sounds)

One of the most anticipated translations for music lovers. Willie Nelson’s memoirs have always been a precious treasure that this year have arrived in Spanish from Neo Sounds, an independent publisher that produces such good titles. The autobiography of one of the greats of American music is an essential work to understand the character, a country hippie, a full-blown outlaw. But it is also important to see the evolution of a genre that cannot be tamed in this man’s boots. Full of juicy moments.

Townes Van Zandt. The eternity of a song (Silex)

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The music journalist Álvaro Alonso has already surprised everyone when he wrote an extremely interesting biography of Gene Clark and, right after, he wrote it of Hilario Camacho. Now, it is surpassed with this book, a fictionalized biography of Townes Van Zandt through his songs. A good exercise to know every detail of another American music outlaw who, unlike Willie Nelson, fell from grace due to his addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, he left a work of enormous value, becoming an artistic reference for later generations. He took risks and won heaven with his music.

History of rap. Culture, hip hop and combat music (Man Not Too Much)

The great surprise of the course has been this book published in the last breath of 2021. The music journalist Ricky Lavado has been able to hit the key to offer an important review of the history of rap from its origins to the present day, including its impact on the Spanish scene. It is a necessary book. It is used to put black on white in a transcendental and changing style since the 70s. Lavado immerses in a pleasant way in moments, scenes, key names and essential records. The hip hop guide that we needed in Spanish.

Who said everything is lost? Biography of a song (Turner)

Another very pleasant surprise in the publishing year. Can songs change the world? This is the story behind the hymns we keep singing. Part of the famous song I come to offer my heart scored by Fito Páez. A cultural essay that traces the compositions of Violeta Parra, Mercedes Sosa, Joan Manuel Serrat, Bob Dylan or The Beatles. It becomes a choral memory with a multitude of testimonies. One of those books that resonate once they have finished reading, confronted ideas and feelings.

Jeff Tweedy. How to compose a song (Against)

After the good reception that his memoirs had, Jeff Tweedy launches himself into a different book, a grateful format in which he provides tips and advice to understand a little more the mystery of music. Wilco’s leader guides us with aspects such as how to start a song or how to deal with the compositional block. I’d like to dedicate this hopeful little book to all the songs to come. Yours and mine, ”Tweedy writes. There are few creative acts as magical as composing a song and this short text helps you appreciate it.

Cursed Heroes (Efe Eme)

Another common journalistic signature is that of Eduardo Izquierdo, a collaborator of Mondosonoro, Route 66 and Efe Eme, magazine that publishes this book. The history of rock is dotted with great talents to whom success was elusive and Izquierdo pays tribute to them. Illustrious rock talents condemned by bad fortune or misfortune. A tour without absences and with a lot of love for the secondary, all those names that were made on the margins. Perfect to initiate many people in the musical universe.

Jonda’s footprint of the hero. An emotional route through the flamenco territories of the sur (Muddy Waters Books)

Work awarded with the Llanes Travel Award in 2012, the publishing house Muddy Waters reissues this little classic of travel literature but also musical. Montero Glez dives into the south with his characteristic rich prose and offers a multitude of tasty moments that illustrate the greatness of flamenco or the creators that accompanied that odyssey. Shining images everywhere loaded with sound evocations of the Spanish south. As he says in the prologue by Javier Rubial, invited for this reissue: “Searching for the duende is not just anything and, therefore, this book has been written. So you know how elusive it is ”.

Prefab Sprout: Life is a Miracle (Efe Eme)

Prolific and eclectic, Carlos Pérez de Ziriza returns to the fray with a biography of a group that is always vindicable. He approaches his career from different points: origins, influences, his legacy, examines his discography and lists his 50 best songs. An exercise with good work by Ziriza, which is faithful to the old-school journalistic trade. On this occasion, it is appreciated that, in addition, you investigate and value a band that has never been sufficiently recognized in Spain.

Stevie Van Zandt. Spells and rejections (Kultrum books)

Libros del Kultrum has already gained a good niche in the publishing world thanks to its exquisite catalog. This year, one of his big bets has been the memoirs of Stevie Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen’s right-hand man in the E Street Band. With his particular passionate and gritty style, Van Zandt (also known for being Silvio Dante’s character in the series The Sopranos) tells of his life as a misfit, but also his religious vocation for rock and roll. He is not even shy about bringing out the moves that led him to leave the E Street Band and separate from his comrade Springsteen.

The 100 best rock movies (Efe Eme)

The music journalist Xavier Valiño is already a classic with his books. Always accurate in his selections, now he starts to make a practical guide to combine music and image. Valiño selects one hundred essential rock fiction films and series. Some are worth it for their soundtrack, others for their plot, and still others for their cinematic language. With so much visual platform, this guide deserves to be close to the television or computer to go looking for the available titles and enjoy the seventh art combined with the art of music. A useful book.

The walking gaze (Pumpkin seeds)

Fresh out of the oven. Pursuing a wish that neither of them was probably aware of until it was formulated aloud, Ariel Rot and Alfredo Tobía made the backpack and embarked on an adventure that led them to travel our country for three years with the intention of «listening to it. ». We saw many of them, through La 2, in the program A country to listen to. Tobía was capturing with his camera the characters with whom they shared moments. This book collects 80 portraits of musicians that make up the Spanish geography.

Silhouettes and shadows. David Bowie (Silex)

The writer Juan J. Vicedo publishes his most personal and literary book. He had already offered samples of talent in his biographies of Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Kate Bush or Pulp. Five years after David Bowie’s goodbye, Vicedo’s poetic side makes its way into a different, very personal work, where it is convenient to meet the British chameleon artist, where many of his pages aspire to move.

Madrid was a party. La Movida and much more from A to Z (Dome Books)

Another twist to the Movida. Hundreds of books and articles have been written about this cultural time and hours and hours of radio and television have been broadcast. However, this distinctly Spanish countercultural movement is almost always limited to a handful of influential names, mainly focused on music, film and art. The writer and journalist Javier Menéndez Flores goes further and with this book he manages to offer a huge emotional map of such a varied and rich time. Data, curiosities and a lot of irony for a volume that does not disappoint and allows to improve a library.

My favorite things. Conversations with John Coltrane (Alpha Decay)

A very interesting little book that can be read in one sitting. Throughout his life, John Coltrane gave interviews to journalists, but it never became an activity that particularly interested him. He was reluctant to talk because, he assured, he was not sure that the words he said could express his thought as clearly as he did with his music. However, this little book that includes interviews with him contradicts him: he also expressed himself magnificently about music.

-Bonus track – The last drink. The true story of Prohibition (Penthouse)

I include this book because it is a real pass. The book is written by Daniel Okrent, a large American journalistic firm and responsible for good practices in The New York Times. Okrent reveals how prohibition was created, what life was like during Prohibition and how this political experiment, behind which the hatred of immigrants was hidden, came to an end. Not only do fascinating characters parade through the pages of this book, from gangsters like Al Capone or “Lucky” Luciano to extraordinary women like Mabel Willebrandt or Pauline Sabin, but Okrent shows us that Prohibition was key to the achievement of the female vote, the growth of large mafia organizations, the creation of income tax or the presence of women in bars. Why do I include it? Because he also dedicates many pages to explaining that Prohibition helped a lot to popularize jazz. Marvelous.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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