Adult Non-fiction, Book reviews and recommendations

Aoife’s To Read Music Books List

Hello again from Aoife in Newbridge library.

As I love music and books, here is a post which combines the two. These four books are all ones I hope to get stuck into at some point this year. 

Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen


In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs (“Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “The Rising,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

– This one has been on my to-be-read shelf a little longer than I’d hoped! I have read many interviews that Springsteen has given, and he comes across as very down-to-earth. I enjoy his music, so I have a good feeling I will enjoy this.  Available on BorrowBox as an ebook, or through the library catalogue to request.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon


During his lifetime Zevon never quite achieved the recognition he deserved, but he did build up a huge cult following and critical acclaim for his songwriting from some of the biggest names in the music industry. When he was diagnosed with cancer he asked his estranged wife Crystal Zevon to take notes for a ‘no-hold-barred’ oral biography and insight into the Los Angeles music scene at the top of it’s game. Revealing and unreservedly honest, the hardback earned much critical acclaim. This work features an introduction by Bruce Springsteen and afterword by Carl Hiassen. 

– This is the book I have put off the longest of the four! Warren Zevon was a musician who remains largely underrated, with an offbeat, somewhat black sense of humour (check out the lyrics to “Excitable Boy” and “Basketcase”). A contemporary of Bruce Springsteen, Zevon was also capable of slower songs such as the beautiful “Keep Me In Your Heart”, featured on his final album, 2003’s The Wind. Available through the library catalogue to request

Rory Gallagher: The Man Behind The Guitar by Julian Vignoles


Rory Gallagher is regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He was a dazzling showman, an accomplished songwriter, and a champion of blues music.

His career began in an Irish showband at age fifteen, before forming Taste, one of the great Irish bands. He went on to achieve even greater success as a solo artist in the 1970s. After his success peaked, Gallagher’s later life was troubled, ending in disillusionment and early death. He remains a legend, with musicians like the Edge, Johnny Marr and Joe Bonamassa among the legions of fans who still revere him.

Drawing on extensive interviews, Julian Vignoles casts new light on the familial, musical and other influences that inspired Gallagher, and on the complex personality that drove his career. Crucially, Vignoles shows how many of Gallagher’s songs speak eloquently – and poignantly – about the person who penned them. Meticulously researched, this portrait is the insightful biography that Rory Gallagher deserves.

– there are very few books written solely about Rory. This is one of them.  Having previously read two books about him (one really good, the other not so much), I am curious to give this one a shot.  Available through the library catalogue to request.

Led Zeppelin FAQ by George Case


In this exhaustive and insightful reference text, rock writer and cultural critic George Case details the key names, dates, figures, and features of one of the biggest and most mythologized rock-and-roll groups of all time: Led Zeppelin. Here, finally, are the answers to the puzzles that have haunted fans for over four decades – puzzles such as the meaning of Led Zep’s enigmatic album covers; the truth about leader Jimmy Page’s involvement with the occult; a breakdown of the sometimes murky roots of their greatest songs; firm data on their musical instruments, live performances, and studio productions; and sordid specifics of the band’s infamously debauched private lives.

But here, too, is a deeply reflective analysis of why Led Zeppelin’s music has endured as long as it has, and of how Led Zeppelin’s mystique has only grown in the years since their official disbanding. Placing the group in the context of their time and place, Case scrupulously compares and contrasts their achievements with those of their influences, rivals, and followers. Led Zeppelin FAQ is not only an indispensable listener’s companion to a classic rock act, but a considered history of rock and roll as a business, an art form, and a worldwide social phenomenon.

– I have listened to Led Zeppelin’s music since I was a teenager (yeah I know – I really was born in the wrong decade!). This book is my most recently acquired of the four. Just when I thought I had read almost everything about Zeppelin, this book caught my attention. Am I looking forward to reading this? You bet I am!  Available through the library catalogue to request.

We hope you enjoyed this list. Remember under the Government’s Keep Well Campaign – Switching off and being creative or learning something new, getting back to nature, and finding ways to relax can help our general wellbeing. For more information check out our blog posts here and here or take a look at the Kildare County Council’s Keep Well page for the latest activities to help you Keep Well.

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