First Hand Music Memoirs

I wake up in the morning make a pot of coffee and it’s time to work on songs.  I’m staring down several numbers that are missing big pieces.  Whoah boyeeeee.  Putting off getting to work on them can be an art form in itself.  This blog can be a good distraction but it’s writing so I can’t really do it in a half-assed way.  At this point, I have a piece on Chuck Berry and one on old field recordings that desperately need editing.  So I spin old records and download a lot of music.  I read a lot of books, blogs and magazines.

My comfort books are mostly fiction and literature, lots of old novels and stories.  I like 19th Century stuff a lot, but my no means exclusively.  Tolstoy and Isaac Bashevis Singer are my all-time favorite writers.  There’s a lesser-known 20th Century guy from Northern Ireland called Brian Moore whose novels I’ve read like a junkie.  Vonnegut always helps me out when I’m in a tough place.  I’ve recently gotten into some older works by V.S. Naipul.  My favorite one is called Miguel Street.  I’ve got a stack of cheap-o, sci-fi paperback collections from the 1950’s, that I read for pleasure.   I really like British poems by the Romantic poets.   I take a lot of comfort in stories by Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortazar too.  These days I’ve been digging some non fiction too.  I’ve been flipping out on the lectures of Joseph Campbell.  There’s also a brilliant psychologist called Marion Woodman whose work really floors me more than anything I’ve read in a long time.

I’ve wasted a joyous good deal of my time in life reading music history books, biographies and essays.  My all time favorite are music autobiographies and memoirs.  There’s nothing quite so relaxing and comforting to me.  Below you’ll find a list of some of my favorites.  These are just the autobiographies.  There are stacks of great biographies and writings on music that I love.  Maybe one day soon I’ll write about some of those too.  For now, I’ll just list the autobiographies I can remember.  Once again folks, it’s incomplete, directly from memory and in no particular order.  You won’t find Bound For Glory or Beneath The Underdog here because I never got through them.  They may be wonderful.  I’ll give them another shot.  Anyway, here are some real goodies.  I highly recommend them all.

…And please…drop me a line and tell me about which music autobiographies didn’t make my list.  I’d love to read all of your recommendations.

Lady Sings The Blues by Billy Holiday

All You Need is Ears by George Martin

Fleetwood by Mick Fleetwood

Chronicles  by Bob Dylan

I Put A Spell on You by Nina Simone

This Wheel’s on Fire by Levon Helm

Good Morning Blues by Count Basie as told to Albert Murray

Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong

Born Under a Hoo Doo Moon by Dr. John

They Can’t Hide Us Anymore by Richie Havens

Blues All Around Me by B.B. King

Man of Constant Sorrow by Ralph Stanley

Big Bill Blues by Big Bill Broonzy

Hound Dog by Leiber and Stoller

The Godfather of Soul by James Brown

Guitars, Bars and Motown Superstars by Dennis Coffey

I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne

Chuck Berry by Chuck Berry

I Me Mine by George Harrison

Me, The Mob and the Music by Tommy James

Miles by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe

Rage To Survive by Etta James

Brother Ray by Ray Charles

Just Kids by Patti Smith

To Be Loved by Berry Gordy

Willie by Wille Nelson

Stone Alone by Bill Wyman

I’ll throw in Groucho and Me by Groucho Marx, even though he’s not a musician.  I just love that book so much.  You might try his collected letters as well.

Oh…and I also read most of Keith Richards’ memoir in a hotel room somewhere.  It wasn’t my copy but I’m the only morning person in Rock and Roll so there’s always a couple of good hours of quiet reading time before the band gets up.

…Ok Milty, back to work!

About Milton

Milton is a Songwriter and musician from New York.
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4 Responses to First Hand Music Memoirs

  1. don westrich says:

    Not a musical memoir, but a great book: “Clapton’s Guitar : Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument” by Allen St. John. Wayne Henderson is a retired postal worker, bluegrass guitar master, and master luthier, who builds 2 guitars or so a year and has a backlog of orders of about a decade. The story chronicles a guitar he builds for Eric Clapton. Fascinating for anyone who plays., or reserve it at the library.

  2. lynda stanley says:

    I love to have lists of books to aspire to read, so thank you for so many great sounding suggestions! Here’s one that wasn’t on your list and that I loved: “Composed”, by Rosanne Cash. I’m a bit biased, since I love her(saw her very first show at the Bottom Line, way back when..), and she writes very much as she speaks–very centered and thoughtful. Fascinating family stuff..

    Incidentally, caught one of your shows recently and had bought your album “milton”, and just wanted to tell you how great it is; your show also inspired me to look up Jeff Eyrich (sp?!) since I’d seen him play with Lipbone, and I ended up buying some Dave’s True Story music– also wonderful. Hope to see you guys play again soon, and thanks again!

    • Milty Rose says:

      Never really listened to Roseanne’s stuff. A couple of guys that play with me play in her band now. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!
      Glad you enjoy my record and Jeff’s. Hope to see you again soon.

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