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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Beneath the Underdog
His World as Composed by Mingus
Charles Mingus
A wild, lyrical, and anguished autobiography, in which Charles Mingus pays short shrift to the facts but plunges to the very bottom of his psyche, coming up for air only when it pleases him. He takes the reader through his childhood in Watts, his...
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Bill Evans
How My Heart Sings
Peter Pettinger
Perhaps it was a white jazz musician's need to negate his very ordinary American boyhood, or maybe it was in the genes he inherited from his alcoholic father--no one can be quite sure--but Bill Evans, one of the most influential American jazz pianists...
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Blues and the Poetic Spirit
Paul Garon
Paul Garon knows the blues, from the music itself to the poetry and psychology that are the impetus of its creation. The author of biographies of such blues icons as Peetie Wheatstraw and Memphis Minnie, Garon focuses on the social and political...
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Burning Down the Haus
Punk Rock, Revolution, & the Fall of the Berlin Wall
Tim Mohr
This secret history of East German punk rock is not just about the music; it is a story of extraordinary bravery in the face of one of the most oppressive regimes in history.
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But Beautiful
A Book About Jazz
Geoff Dyer
"May be the best book ever written about jazz."--David Thomson, Los Angeles Times In eight poetically charged vignettes, Geoff Dyer skillfully evokes the music and the men who shaped modern jazz. Drawing on photos, anecdotes, and, most important, the...
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Can't Stop Won't Stop
A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang, DJ Kool Herc
Many good books have been written about the history of hip-hop music and the generation that nurtured it. Can't Stop Won't Stop ranks among the best. Jeff Chang covers the music--from its Jamaican roots in the late 1960s to its birth in the Bronx...
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Collected Lyrics
1970 - 2015
Patti Smith
Initially published in 1998, Patti Smith's Complete Lyrics was a testimony to her uncompromising poetic power. Now, on the fortieth anniversary of the release of Horses, Smith’s groundbreaking album, Collected Lyrics has been revised and expanded with more than thirty-five additional songs and liberally illustrated with...
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Devotion (Paperback)
Patti Smith
In this groundbreaking book, one of our culture's beloved artists offers a detailed account of her own creative process, inspirations, and unexpected connections.
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Don't Suck, Don't Die
Giving Up Vic Chesnutt
Kristin Hersh
"A longform creative obituary written to one of the great American songwriters of the last 25 years. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) offers this personal glimpse into her extremely complicated friendship with Chesnutt. Wounded, prophetic, dreamlike, charming, and bloody, just like Vic's music."––Recommended by Chris C., City Lights Publishers
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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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Gypsy Cante
Deep Song of the Caves
Will Kirkland
Over centuries, Andalusian Gypsies developed cante jondo, or deep song, which grew from the experience of exile and marginalization. Although flamenco music enjoys wide popularity today, the words of the songs are often lost in the passion of the...
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Jazz and Cocktails
Rethinking Race and the Sound of Film Noir
Jans B. Wager
Film noir showcased hard-boiled men and dangerous femmes fatales, rain-slicked city streets, pools of inky darkness cut by shards of light, and, occasionally, jazz. Jazz served as a shorthand for the seduction and risks of the mean streets in early film noir.—Recommended by Michael
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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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Lady Sings the Blues the 50th Anniversary Edition
William Dufty, Billie Holiday
Lady Sings the Blues is the fiercely honest, no-holds-barred autobiography of Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz, swing, and standards singing sensation. Taking the reader on a fast-moving journey from Holiday's rough-and-tumble Baltimore...

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