For a many, it’s simply not enough to just listen to the music created by our favorite artists. The urge to learn more about what makes Bruce Springsteen tick, how Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi overcame losing a finger, or where Judy Garland came from is a powerful one that enhances our own connections to them as people, and betters our understanding of the work. Sometimes that might mean scrolling through a Wikipedia page, but to get the fullest measure of an artist, it’s hard to beat the good ol’ fashioned book.
When it comes to music, the sheer amount of biographies, memories, oral histories, list-based tomes, and historical overviews is almost endless. A lot of what’s out there is good. A lot more isn’t. Recently, BBC Radio 6 put out a call on Twitter asking people to name some of their favorite books that, “Should be in every music lovers’ library?” Among those to respond was Ryan Adams, who came with a pretty heavy stack.
Off the bat, Adams seems to favor the artist memoir. Notable autobiographies that he highlighted included Springsteen’s Born To Run, Iommi’s Iron Man, Johnny Marr’s Set The Boy Free, Bob Dylan Chronicles: Volume One, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Keith Richards’ Life. He also threw a bone to some of his favorite artists, mentioning two books about KISS — KISS: Behind The Mask by David Leaf and Ken Sharp and KISS and Sell by C.K. Lendt — as well as A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton by Holly George-Warren and So Many Roads: The Life & Times Of The Grateful Dead by David Browne.
You check out Adams full list of recommendations through his tweets below.