A Hit Parade of Music History

Article by keaton

Books, music...these are the important things in life! It’s no secret that the booksellers at Brazos are also certifiable music geeks as well as book nerds. Not too long ago, we gave you a list of our favorite music-centric novels. But the actual history behind the music is intriguing enough on its own, and we couldn’t be more excited about two tuneful author events coming up in the next couple of weeks! 

The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807157985
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: LSU Press - August 11th, 2014

First up, Barbara Barnes Sims stops by on September 25 to discuss THE NEXT ELVIS, her amazing memoir of working at the legendary Sun Records in the late 1950s. Her tales of rubbing shoulders with icons such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and (of course) the King himself, will delight any music lover. Sims was lucky enough to be an eyewitness to popular music history. Now, with THE NEXT ELVIS, the reader can share her behind-the-scenes perspective and see these legends as never before!

Austin City Limits: A History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199812417
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - October 2nd, 2014

Then, on October 2, Tracey Laird presents AUSTIN CITY LIMITS: A HISTORY. For decades, Austin has been known as “the live music capital of the world,” and the TV series Austin City Limits has been there to chronicle it all. Now, Laird recounts the story behind the beloved series that has showcased acts from Willie Nelson to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Arcade Fire. Austin City Limits is a living testament to Texas and American music, and Laird’s history is essential reading for anyone who appreciates its lasting impact.

But the hits don’t stop there! Here are some more great titles from our music section to check out on your next visit.

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The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780300187373
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Yale University Press - September 2nd, 2014

Greil Marcus is hands down the greatest rock critic/historian of our era. He knows American popular music the way most people know their parents. His newest release, the astonishing THE HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IN TEN SONGS, is destined to become a modern classic. Eschewing the obvious canonical choices and traditionally-accepted master narrative of rock history, Marcus instead opts for deep cuts and b-sides in charting a free-flowing, non-chronological take on this most American of art forms. His idea is that you can find the “DNA” of rock ‘n’ roll in any song. So garage rockers, doo-wop groups, and even Beyoncé (as Etta James) make the cut, in an always entertaining and illuminating read. Of course, everyone wants to know who makes the top ten, but Marcus’ painstakingly detailed alternative lives of Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson are worth the price of admission alone. The what-could-have-beens are almost enough to make you cry...or sing.

I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451647853
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner - January 21st, 2014

Mavis Staples is without a doubt one of the most important American recording artists of all time. Whether leading the Staples Singers from gospel glory to the top of the charts or out on her own, few musicians have had such an impact as the great Miss Mavis. In I’LL TAKE YOU THERE: MAVIS STAPLES, THE STAPLES SINGERS, AND THE MARCH UP FREEDOM’S HIGHWAY, Greg Kot delves into her history-making career, though the most amazing facet of the story is how Mavis and the Staples Singers inspired and empowered the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Hits like the title song “I’ll Take You There” served not only as the soundtrack to the struggle for racial equality in America, but also as a rallying cry in the darkest of times. Staples is proof that music can help make the world a better place in this triumphant story of a true living legend.

Blues People: Negro Music in White America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780688184742
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Harper Perennial - January 20th, 1999

The book that started the career of the late great Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) was not a collection of poems or a play but his insightful study of African-American musical heritage, BLUES PEOPLE: NEGRO MUSIC IN WHITE AMERICA. Focusing on the music as both a product and a chronicle of African-American cultural history, Baraka traces the evolution of blues and jazz from call-and-response slave songs to the gospel spirituals of the black church, and on to the secular works of early bluesman and jazz pioneers who laid the foundation for all of American popular music. Quite simply put, BLUES PEOPLE is a classic.

Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451667059
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner - July 8th, 2014

Many of our customers are dedicated collectors of books. Some just want to amass a personal library. But others carefully speculate on first editions and diligently search for rare books that have great historical and financial value. The same can be said for record collectors, and none are as intense as those who collect 78s--very old, incredibly rare 78rpm recordings of early American music, most of which is on the verge of being lost forever. In Amanda Petrusich’s DO NOT SELL AT ANY PRICE: THE WILD, OBSESSIVE HUNT FOR THE WORLD’S RAREST 78RPM RECORDS, enthusiasts and conservationists scour the countryside from garage sales to conventions for these prized finds that can ultimately be valued at tens of thousands of dollars. Filled with quirky, real-life characters and a bevy of knowledge about the obscure history of early American recording, DO NOT SELL AT ANY PRICE is the perfect read for music lovers and obsessives alike!

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