from, Creative Commons Zero license

Music is a universal language. Wherever one may find themselves in the world, they will find that music is a tongue in which all humans speak. There is something beautiful about that fact that a song can be heard by millions of people, yet it can mean something different to each one. This reminds us that no matter how diverse we are, everyone, at the core, shares similar life experiences.

Books do something similar. When we read, we enter a world that feels completely unique to us. Yet, chances are that the story we’re reading is one that has been experienced by many before us, and will be experienced by many after. Stories bind us as a human race, which is why books, as well as music, are incredibly important.

In an effort to combine these two creative mediums, the Midlothian library has set up a book display centered on the stories inspired by music. To experience music in a new way, read about the creators, musicians, producers, writers, and fans behind some of music’s biggest names. You might be surprised about how much time, energy, thought, and talent has gone into the familiar songs that have become the soundtrack to our lives.


Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt
Midlothian ML420.R8753 A3 2013


“In this memoir, iconic singer Linda Ronstadt weaves together a captivating story of her origins in Tucson, Arizona, and her rise to stardom in the Southern California music scene of the 1960s and ’70s. Born into a musical family, Linda’s childhood was filled with everything from Hank Williams to Gilbert and Sullivan, Mexican folk music to jazz and opera. Her artistic curiosity blossomed early, and she and her siblings began performing their own music for anyone who would listen. Now, twelve Grammy Awards later, Ronstadt tells the story of her wide-ranging and utterly unique musical journey. In Simple Dreams, Ronstadt reveals the eclectic and fascinating journey that led to her long-lasting success. And she describes it all in a voice as beautiful as the one that sang ‘Heart Like a Wheel’—longing, graceful, and authentic.”


The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh, and Wailer by Colin Grant
Chester and Midlothian ML385 .G78 2011


“Over one dramatic decade, a trio of Trenchtown crooners swapped their 1960s Brylcreem hairdos and two-tone suits for 1970s battle fatigues and dreadlocks to become the Wailers—one of the most influential groups in popular music. Colin Grant presents a lively history of this remarkable band from their upbringing in the brutal slums of Kingston to their first recordings and then international superstardom. With energetic prose and stunning, original research, Grant argues that these reggae stars offered three models for black men in the second half of the twentieth century: accommodate and succeed (Marley), fight and die (Tosh), or retreat and live (Livingston). Grant meets with Rastafarian elders, Obeah men (witch doctors), and other folk authorities as he attempts to unravel the mysteries of Jamaica’s famously impenetrable culture. Much more than a top-flight music biography, The Natural Mystics offers a sophisticated understanding of Jamaican politics, heritage, race, and religion—a portrait of a seminal group during a period of exuberant cultural evolution.”


Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald
Midlothian ML420.D98 W34 2015


“In Dylan Goes Electric!, Elijah Wald explores the cultural, political and historical context of this seminal event that embodies the transformative decade that was the sixties. Wald delves deep into the folk revival, the rise of rock, and the tensions between traditional and groundbreaking music to provide new insights into Dylan’s artistic evolution, his special affinity to blues, his complex relationship to the folk establishment and his sometime mentor Pete Seeger, and the ways he reshaped popular music forever. Breaking new ground on a story we think we know, Dylan Goes Electric! is a thoughtful, sharp appraisal of the controversial event at Newport and a nuanced, provocative, analysis of why it matters.”


Just Kids by Patti Smith
Midlothian ML420.S672 A3 2010


“In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work–from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.”


 Hip-hop Revolution: the Culture and Politics of Rap by Jeffrey Ogbonna Green
Midlothian ML3918.R37 O33 2007


“In the world of hip-hop, ‘keeping it real’ has always been a primary goal-and realness takes on special meaning as rappers mold their images for street cred and increasingly measure authenticity by ghetto-centric notions of ‘Who’s badder?’ In this groundbreaking book, Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar celebrates hip-hop and confronts the cult of authenticity that defines its essential character-that dictates how performers walk, talk, and express themselves artistically and also influences the consumer market. Hip-Hop Revolution is a balanced cultural history that looks past negative stereotypes of hip-hop as a monolith of hedonistic, unthinking noise to reveal its evolving positive role within American society. A writer whose personally encountered many of hip-hop’s icons, Ogbar traces hip-hop’s rise as a cultural juggernaut, focusing on how it negotiates its own sense of identity. Hip-Hop Revolution deftly balances an insider’s love of the culture with a scholar’s detached critique, exploring popular myths about black educational attainment, civic engagement, crime, and sexuality. By cutting to the bone of a lifestyle that many outsiders find threatening, Ogbar makes hip-hop realer than it’s ever been before.”


 Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy by Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek
Midlothian ML410.H476 S5 1991


“Authors Shapiro and Glebbeek have painstakingly researched and written the life, death, and legacy of Jimi Hendrix. Complete with a family tree, Electric Gypsy follows Hendrix from his raw beginning in Seattle to his days in the Army, from playing for Bo Diddley and Ike Turner, to Greenwich Village and England where he gained the notoriety he sought. Color and black-and-white photographs.”

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