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Next Week in Music | May 1-7 • New Books

Springsteen, Alice, Pharrell, Connie, Abba, Buffy and more artists inside the covers.


Springsteen’s Nebraska, Cooper’s craziness, Pharrell’s phrases, Converse’s universe, Abba’s awesomeness, Buffy’s bio and more are headed for your bookshelf. Read all about ’em:


Deliver Me From Nowhere: The Making of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska
By Warren Zanes

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Without Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen might not be who he is today. The natural followup to his hugely successful album The River should have been the hit-packed Born in The U.S.A. But instead, in 1982, he came out with an album consisting of a series of dark songs he had recorded by himself, for himself. More than 40 years later, Nebraska is arguably Springsteen’s most important record — the lasting clue to understanding not just his career as an artist and the vision behind it, but also the man himself. Nebraska is rough and unfinished, recorded on cassette tape with a simple four-track recorder by Springsteen, alone in his bedroom, just as the digital future was announcing itself. And yet Springsteen now considers it his best album. Nebraska expressed a turmoil that was reflective of the mood of the country, but it was also a symptom of trouble in the artist’s life, the beginnings of a mental breakdown that Springsteen would only talk about openly decades after the album’s release. Warren Zanes spoke to many people involved with making Nebraska, including Springsteen. He also interviewed more than a dozen celebrated artists and musical insiders, from Rosanne Cash to Steven Van Zandt, about their reactions to the album. Zanes interweaves these conversations with inquiries into the myriad cultural touchpoints, including Terrence Malick’s Badlands and the short stories of Flannery O’Conner, that influenced Springsteen as he was writing the album’s haunting songs. The result is a textured and revelatory account of not only a crucial moment in the career of an icon but also a record that upended all expectations and predicted a home-recording revolution.”

Living and Touring with Alice Cooper and Other Stories
By Michael Allen

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s the era of peace and love. The mid-’60s. Mike, a typical college freshman attended classes and hung out in the Student Union with musicians Glen, Vince and Dennis. He had the one thing they lacked in their quest for fame: A vehicle to haul them and their equipment. They made him an offer to be their first roadie. This is the story of Alice Cooper, the group that nearly never was, and Mike’s adventures with them as they overcame all odds and grew from a cover band to a super group. Mike Allen — nicknamed Amp Boy by Vince — and the group lived and travelled together on the exhilarating, sometimes punishing road to the top. Their shared experiences molded them into a family. Together they had wild and fun experiences, and hung out with Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and other famous and soon to be famous rock stars. They found love, had all too-frequent police encounters, and discovered theatrical talents that would define them and shock the world. These are stories of friendship and family, hardship and near disaster, failure and success, laughter and pain, the mundane to the ridiculous — living the rock ’n’ roll life. Included are close to 100 photographs, nearly 70 unpublished, from the early years of the group as they evolved from The Earwigs, The Spiders, The Nazz and finally to Alice Cooper.”

To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse
By Howard Fishman

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This is the mesmerizing story of an enigmatic life. When musician and New Yorker contributor Howard Fishman first heard Connie Converse’s voice on a recording, he was convinced she could not be real. Her recordings were too good not to know, and too out of place for the 1950s to make sense — a singer who seemed to bridge the gap between traditional Americana (country, blues, folk, jazz, and gospel), the Great American Songbook, and the singer-songwriter movement that exploded a decade later with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. And then there was the bizarre legend about Converse that had become the prevailing narrative of her life: That in 1974, at the age of fifty, she simply drove off one day and was never heard from again. Could this have been true? Who was Converse, really? Supported by a dozen years of research, travel to everywhere she lived, and hundreds of extensive interviews, Fishman approaches her story as both a fan and a journalist, and expertly weaves a narrative of her life and music, and of how it has come to speak to him as both an artist and a person. Ultimately, he places her in the canon as a significant outsider artist, a missing link between a now old-fashioned kind of American music and the reflective, complex, arresting music that transformed the 1960s and music forever. But this is also a story of deeply secretive New England traditions, of a woman who fiercely strove for independence and success when the odds were against her; a story that includes suicide, mental illness, statistics, siblings, oil paintings, acoustic guitars, cross-country road trips, 1950s Greenwich Village, an America marching into the Cold War, questions about sexuality, and visionary, forward thinking about race, class, and conflict. It’s a story and subject that is by turn hopeful, inspiring, melancholy, and chilling.”

Get Up Offa That Thing: Crime Fiction Inspired By The Songs Of James Brown
By Gary Phillips

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:James Brown impacted a generation of fans and musicians who came after him — from David Bowie to Janelle Monae to Usher, just to name three. In the tradition then of other music-themed anthologies such as Murder-A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired By The Music Of The Go-Go’s and The Great Filling Station Holdup: Crime Fiction Inspired By The Songs Of Jimmy Buffett, this all-original set of 14 stories follows in that stead. The writers were told not to offer literal interpretations of songs by Mr. Brown, but to use a title or lyric — be it the edginess behind King Heroin and The Payback or the fun in Make It Funky — as a prompt, a starting point for a story. The collection features six-time Bram Stoker Award winner Lisa Morton; Anthony, Barry and Macavity Award winner James Ziskin; Jim Fusilli, former rock and pop critic for the Wall Street Journal; and Doom Patrol staff writer and comics creator Ezra Claytan Daniels. Other contributors include Shamus Award winner Gar Anthony Haywood; Mysti Berry; five-time Derringer and Golden Derringer Award winner John M. Floyd; Lise McClendon, writer of the Bennett Sisters mysteries; critic and writer Michael Gonzales; novelist and Miami Vice showrunner and writer-producer on Hill Street Blues Robert Ward; Fabrice Sapolsky, creator of Intertwined and Marvel ComicsSpider-Man Noir; filmmaker Jeff Carroll; crime novelist Katy Munger; and hardboiled novelist and co-producer on Snowfall, Gary Phillips.”

I Thought I Heard You Speak: Women at Factory Records
By Audrey Golden

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Factory Records has become the stuff of legend. The histories of the label have been told from many perspectives, from visual catalogues and memoirs to exhibitions. Yet no in-depth history has ever been told from the perspectives of the women who were integral to Factory’s cultural significance. The untold history of Factory Records is one of women’s work at nearly every turn: recording music, playing live gigs, running the label behind the scenes, managing and promoting bands, designing record sleeves, making films and music videos, pioneering sound technology, DJing, and running one of the most chaotic clubs on the planet, The Haçienda. Told entirely in their voices and featuring contributions from Gillian Gilbert, Gina Birch, Cath Carroll, Penny Henry and over 50 more interviewees, I Thought I Heard You Speak is an oral history that reveals the true cultural reach of the label and its staying power in the 21st century.”

Abba: Thank You For The Music
By Charles Ginger

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “They say the winner takes it all, and when it came to fame, fortune and writing their name into the annals of pop music, Abba certainly did. But just how did four young Scandinavian singers join forces to become the biggest-selling pop band in history? From their early days as budding artists to winning Eurovision, storming the global charts and bringing Australia to a hysterical halt, this is the history of arguably the most iconic pop act the world has ever seen. With in-depth analysis of all nine studio albums, accounts from their tours and a look at how the band managed to keep turning out the smash hits even as their private lives collapsed, prepare to dive into a world of glitzy gear, record-breaking songs and blockbuster movies. Oh, and there’s the fishy agreement that made it all possible. I hope you enjoy the journey. I do, I do, I do, I do, I do… ”

By Pharrell Williams & Larry Warsh

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Rising to global fame with his hit single Happy, Pharrell Williams has influenced every corner of music, from cowriting and producing the monumental track Alright with Kendrick Lamar to composing music for the Academy Award–winning film Hidden Figures. But his work also extends to fashion, design, and the visual arts, and he has collaborated with leading artists and designers, including Takashi Murakami, Daniel Arsham and Comme des Garçons. Gathered from interviews and other sources, this compelling and provocative collection of quotations offers new insights into the personality and creative process of one of today’s most exciting and intriguing artists. Select quotations from the book: Self-awareness is a muscle that needs exercise. It needs a regimen; You’ve got to continue to reinvent yourself today, all the while thinking about tomorrow; Music is the key, the skeleton key that’s opened every door for me; There is no humanity without education. There is no education without demand; The only way to make life better for yourself, the only true and lasting way, is to make life better for others.”

Why Beethoven: A Phenomenon in One Hundred Pieces
By Norman Lebrecht

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Without Beethoven, music as we know it wouldn’t exist. By examining 100 of his compositions, a portrait emerges of the man behind the music. Author Norman Lebrecht has immersed himself in the rich catalogue of Beethoven recordings and presents a unique picture of the man through his music. He selects the best recordings of 100 key pieces, showing the composer as we’ve never seen him before. Unruly, offensive, and hopeless in so much of his life, yet driven to a fault and devoted to his art, conquering deafness to pen masterpieces. Lebrecht has been grappling with this icon at the heart of music for his entire life. Who was the irascible, unpredictable, warped genius who stretched what music could do to the breaking point? In this unique examination, Lebrecht attempts to understand the power of this man through his compositions, the history of who has performed them, and what it has meant to successive generations of audiences. In turn a detective story (we learn who Elise of Fur Elise is for the first time) and a confession, Why Beethoven aims to rise to the challenge of how to encompass the relentless energy of this singular genius. With a narrative that mirrors the wayward sequence of his compositions, Beethoven emerges as a cornerstone of the world as we know it.”

Scream Therapy: A Punk Journey Through Mental Health
By Jason Schreurs

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Picture this: Someone is screaming at you for 45 minutes straight as loud as they can. For most people, it would be the stuff of nightmares. For author Jason Schreurs and members of the punk rock community, it’s therapy. Scream Therapy: A Punk Journey Through Mental Health follows the transformational journeys of Schreurs and the other punks he learns from, revealing the healing power of a misunderstood and underestimated music community. In the book, Schreurs and other punks come to a life-changing realization — punk rock helped them at their lowest points and never left their sides. Coping with childhood sexual abuse and an undiagnosed mental health condition, Schreurs discovers punk rock as a youth and becomes part of its tight-knit scene. When a psychiatrist blindsides him with a bipolar diagnosis in his mid-40s, Schreurs embarks on a mental health discovery mission. In Scream Therapy, musicians, advocates, activists, and fans present the punk subculture as a catalyst for mental health-— a place where it’s OK to not be OK. Schreurs’ attitude and conviction pogo-dance off the page as he and others in the book claw through their worst days, seek stability, and support each other to live better lives, all to the soundtrack of pissed-off music — in the best way possible. And Scream Therapy asks a crucial question. If punk rock can provide such therapy, why aren’t more people screaming?”

Meet Buffy Sainte-Marie
By Elizabeth MacLeod & Mike Deas

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Buffy Sainte-Marie is not exactly sure where or when she was born, but it was likely the Piapot Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Sask. As a baby she was adopted out to a white family in the United States. But nothing would stop Buffy from connecting to her roots and sharing the power and the beauty of her heritage with the world. As a musician, Buffy’s songs have inspired three generations of fans, garnering international acclaim and many awards. She’s a peace activist, an advocate for Indigenous-focused education, and a tireless supporter of Indigenous rights. After an incredible career lasting more than 60 years, Buffy’s music and message are as uplifting and important today as they ever were. Now is the right time to introduce young readers to this fascinating change-maker, with this accessible, engaging book. The Scholastic Canada Biography series is an award-winning collection of titles focused on fascinating people who have shaped Canada’s past and present. Written by acclaimed non-fiction author Elizabeth MacLeod, each book also features comics-inspired illustrations by Mike Deas, which appeal to today’s readers and help bring the story to life.”

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