The best music books of 2020 in Mondo Sonoro

The best music books of 2020 in Mondo Sonoro

Fighting the pandemic

We still do not have in our hands the solution to the pandemic that has turned our lives into nonsense, but there is no doubt that books – musical in this case – have made us much more bearable these months. Maybe people have stopped buying records, but it seems that the music book has become a succulent dish for fans, and not only for classical bands, but titles dedicated to all kinds of names and titles are published. genders. We just have to review our list and add a lot of books that have been left out of the selection. Autobiographies, oral histories, brainy studies on the legacy of some referential band, the other side of legends, analysis of entire movements, even compilations of indispensable lyrics. Of everything and more every day. Obviously the space rules and we have had to stay with ten works that stand out from the much that has been published throughout these pandemic months in our territory.

Suze Rotolo tells us about her experience with Bob Dylan; Jon Savage collects statements from a vast list of voices related to Joy Division; Vivien Goldman analyzes the weight of women in the birth and evolution of punk rock; Nikki Sixx it reveals its lowest moments and its addictions; David Ritz is accountable to Aretha Franklin after having signed his autobiography with her; Liz Phair reveals the other side of success and how difficult it continues to be to fit in; Charlie Louvin tells us that country was punk almost twenty years before punk was born; Mick Wall signs one more of his complete biographies, in this case of Hendrix; Will Ashon immerses us in the universe of the first Wu-Tang Clan and Caja Negra brings us a second volume of texts from Mark Fisher’s K-Punk. Although the truth is that that is not all. Because there have been other books that we cannot stop recommending and that are waiting for you in bookstores. From the great compilation of lyrics by Nick Cave published by Libros del Kultrum until the complete analysis of Ted Gioia, “The music. A subversive story “, in Turner Noema, going through “Hard To Handle. Life and death of The Black Crowes “ signed by Steve Gorman himself; the group autobiography of The Clash, reissued in Spain this year; a “Smash!” which focuses on the boom of punk rock during the nineties; “The year of the monkey” de Patti Smith; “Matters of vital interest. A forty-year friendship with Leonard Cohen “ by Eric Lerner o “The birth of noise” by Ian S. Port, a portrait of early rock’n’roll through the rivalry between Fender and Les Paul.
Joan S. Luna

1.- “A Freewheelin ‘Time. On the road with Bob Dylan ”by Suze Rotolo

Barlin Books

Arrives, for the first time in Castilian, one of those books that the followers of Bob Dylan expected like manna from heaven. The one written by Suze Rotolo, the woman who stayed with the singer for almost 4 years, between 1961 and 1964, and who tells us first-hand what the myth was like then, giving a never seen vision of Greenwich Village: that of someone who saw it slightly from outside. Eduardo Left

2.- “A scorching light, the sun and everything else” by Jon Savage

Reservoir Books

Jon Savage was the writer of the magnificent documentary about Joy Division. Over the years he has interviewed the living members of the group and very important figures in their orbit: Curtis’s widow, Tony Wilson … The critic has transcribed all those talks and, opting for the oral history format, reconstructs the intense puzzle that it was his short career. Oriol Rodríguez

3.- “Revenge of the punks. A Feminist History of Music ”by Vivien Goldman


Kim Gordon claimed it in one of his most iconic t-shirts, punk was invented by women and not England, a proclamation that reminds us on the lapel of “Revenge of the punks.” We are facing a fundamental and totally necessary book in which Vivien Goldman, one of the first women’s firms in the world of the music press, takes a feminist journey through the history of the genre. Oriol Rodríguez

4.- The heroin diaries. A Year in the Life of a Broken Rock Star ”by Nikki Sixx

the heroine diaries

Is pop

Combining texts, illustrations, photographs and scraps of unpublished letters, the work is built around two large pillars. On the one hand, the newspapers in which the leader of Mötley Crüe recounts the day-to-day life of a junkie with enough money to maintain such a voracious addiction. On the other, the journalist Ian Gittins weaves a network of statements (family, musicians, etc.) with which he forms a concise and meticulous portrait of the personality and origins of the musician. Juan P. Holguera

5.- “Aretha Franklin. Apology and martyrology of queen el soul ”by David Ritz

Kultrum books

Ritz does not hide that he is also an admirer of Aretha, but, always maintaining a respectful tone, now he has the opportunity to explore the weaknesses and the darker side of her character, along with her moments of triumph. Written with remarkable pulse, in the best tradition of American journalism, it tells us a story that deserved to be told. Jose Martinez Ros

6.- “Horror Stories” by Liz Phair

Liz Phair libro


This is an unusual, intuitive and stark autobiography, as surprising as some of the experiences of its author – always halfway between the conventional and the heterodox, the conservative and the disruptive, fluctuating between the indie and the mainstream, prey to a dislocation that, in the long run, ended up explaining its uniqueness – and destined to leave a lot of impression on the reader. Carlos Pérez de Ziriza

7.- “Satan is real. The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers ”by Charlie Louvin

Is pop

In 1959, Charles and Ira Louvin published the album that gives title to this book, a country classic beyond its peculiar cover. But it doesn’t matter if they know the album or were previously interested in the Louvin Brothers, because this book is an entertaining journey through the hidden side of rural America based on cotton fields, infidelities, alcohol and a constant pulse between roots and the need to fulfill a dream. Joan S. Luna

8.- “Life and death of Jimi Hendrix” by Mick Wall

Editorial Alliance

Taking advantage of his experience working for bands like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, The Damned or Dire Straits, Mick Wall got to know the world of show business from within to end up writing about Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, Motörhead., Metallica or Guns n ‘Roses. Now back to the fray with this addictive volume on Jimi Hendrix, which is also presented as the definitive work on the left-handed guitarist. Eduardo Left

9.- “Chamber music. On the Wu-Tang Clan (in 36 chambers) ”by Will Ashon

Today’s Topics / Kuldrum Books

Thirty-six mini essays to try to cover what is contained in the classic “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, the debut album of the New York hip-hop collective. In its pages there is rap, historiography, sociology of uprooting, jazz, marginalization of the first world, comparative literature and of course music criticism. As brainy and erudite as he is funny. Indispensable. Juan P. Holguera

10.- “K-Punk. Volume 2. Collected and Unpublished Writings (Music and Politics) ”by Mark Fisher

Black box

Although only half of this second compilation –of Fisher’s texts focuses on music –although we already know that in his universe music and politics were always mixed in a scholarly key–, the texts on Sleaford Mods, The Fall, gothic rock, pop art, Test Dept or his talk with Simon Reynolds more than justify the careful reading of these five hundred-odd pages. Marcos Arenas

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The best music books of 2020 in Mondo Sonoro