Music
Books in this online selection represent only a sliver of what we offer in the store. If you've got a particular book in mind and want to check on its availability, call us at 415-362-8193.

   
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Astral Weeks
A Secret History of 1968
Ryan Walsh
A fascinating exploration of the strange portal world that was Boston's counterculture in 1968, loosely centered around Van Morrison's recording of Astral Weeks there. The frightening Mel Lyman cult, oddball forgotten Psych bands, James Brown and the Velvet Underground all make guest appearances, and it’s riveting. —Recommended by Michael
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New Analog
Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World
Damon Krukowski
—Recommended by Elaine & Andy
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Kill 'Em and Leave
Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
An unconventional, Citizen Kane-like search for an essentially unknowable man, and the results are fascinatingly oblique and as deep as the heavy funk that the Godfather committed to wax. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books
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M Train
Patti Smith
Reading this book provided a meditative type of joy, and also reassured me that there is nothing wrong with my coffee habit. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
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Music in the Air
The Selected Writings of Ralph J. Gleason
Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason
The co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Ralph J. Gleason was among the most respected journalists, interviewers, and critics writing about popular music in the latter half of the twentieth century. As a longtime contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, Down Beat, and Ramparts, his expertise and insights about music, musicians...
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Conversations in Jazz
The Ralph J. Gleason Interviews
Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason
During his nearly forty years as a music journalist, Ralph J. Gleason recorded many in-depth interviews with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. These informal sessions, conducted mostly in Gleason's Berkeley, California, home, have never been transcribed and published in full until now.
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A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation
John Corbett
Improvisation rattles some listeners. Maybe they're even suspicious of it. John Coltrane's saxophonic flights of fancy, Jimi Hendrix's feedback drenched guitar solos, Ravi Shankar’s sitar extrapolations—all these sounds seem like so much noodling or jamming, indulgent self-expression. "Just" improvising, as is sometimes said.
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Lit Up Inside ***Unsigned Version***
Selected Lyrics
Van Morrison
Van Morrison selects his best and most iconic lyrics, spanning 50 years of writing and representing his entire creative journey. Gorgeous hardcover edition now available.
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I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen
Sylvie Simmons
Beautifly written, impossible to put down, and an absolute must for any Cohen fan! Or, for that matter, for any fan of the worlds of travel, religion and poetry, as well as the inner workings of the music industry. Cohen was such an interesting man...
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Mingus Speaks
John F. Goodman
A sun speaks. At times promethean, hilarious, and vexing, this is Mingus as spontaneous combustion. The music is in his words.—Recommended by Scott, City Lights Books
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The Nigger Factory
Gil Scott-Heron
Originally published in 1972, Gil Scott-Heron's striking second novel, The Nigger Factory, is a powerful parable of the way in which human beings are conditioned to think, drawing inspiration from Scott-Heron’s own experiences as a student...
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Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Will Hermes
Punk rock and hip hop. No wave, disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was teeming with musical innovators and cross-pollinations thereof. Hermes paints a breathtaking and panoramic portrait of the era. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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The Grey Album
On the Blackness of Blackness
Kevin Young
Taking its title from Danger Mouse's pioneering mashup of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical chorus to illustrate the African American tradition of...
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Just Kids
Patti Smith
Just Kids illuminates the impressive lover of literature that Patti Smith is. Her memoir will be of particular interest to City Lights enthusiasts as she is our quintessential reader, a fan of the Surrealists...

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