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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Hip Hop Family Tree 1
1970s-1981
Ed Piskor
This is a well-documented history of the beginnings of hip hop. Beautifully drawn in Old School comic form; hilariously written and sharply dissected. Open to any page and you'll be hooked. New York City, DJs and graffiti in the late 70s? You can't beat it, because "the beat don't stop til the break of dawn!"—Recommended by Don, City Lights Books
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The Jazz Standards
A Guide to the Repertoire
Ted Gioia
The Jazz Standards, a comprehensive guide to the most important jazz compositions, is a unique resource, a browser's companion, and an invaluable introduction to the art form. This essential book for music lovers tells the story of more than 250 key jazz songs, and includes a listening guide to more than 2,000 recordings. Many books recommend...
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Legends of the Blues
William Stout
Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Howlin' Wolf, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters—say their names out loud and you can just hear the blues. Now, acclaimed artist William Stout visualizes these artists and their music with 100 stunning portraits...
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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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Shotgun Seamstress
Zine Collection
Osa Atoe
Shotgun Seamstress collects all of the issues of a fantastic punk fanzine into one book that focuses on African American queer & feminist artists and musicians. Full of interviews, reviews, and so much more, Shotgun Seamstress was put out from 2006-2012
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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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Bob Dylan in America
Sean Wilentz
Wilentz is an historian by trade and it shows in his almost-anthropological survey of Dylan and the highlights of his life. It's almost as if Dylan himself were whispering the stories of his successes and travails into Wilentz's ear. But this book is...
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Miles
The Autobiography
Miles Davis
For more than forty years Miles Davis has been in the front rank of American music. Universally acclaimed as a musical genius, Miles is one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. The subject of several biographies, now Miles speaks out himself about his extraordinary life.
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Tom Waits on Tom Waits
Interviews and Encounters
Paul Maher Jr.
Tom Waits, even with his barnyard growl and urban hipster yawp, may just be what the Daily Telegraph calls him: "the greatest entertainer on Planet Earth." Over a span of almost four decades, he has transformed his music and persona, not to suit the...
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The History of Jazz
Ted Gioia
Ted Gioia's History of Jazz has been universally hailed as a classic--acclaimed by jazz critics and fans around the world. Now Gioia brings his magnificent work completely up-to-date, drawing on the latest research and revisiting virtually every...
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Why Jazz?
A Concise Guide
Kevin Whitehead
What was the first jazz record? Are jazz solos really improvised? How did jazz lay the groundwork for rock and country music? In Why Jazz?, author and NPR jazz critic Kevin Whitehead provides lively, insightful answers to these and many other fascinating questions, offering an entertaining guide for both novice listeners and long-time fans.
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Thelonious Monk
The Life and Times of an American Original
Robin D.G. Kelley
Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist's struggle to "make it" without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth...
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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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