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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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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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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Hip Hop Family Tree 2
1981-83
Ed Piskor
The second installment of this acclaimed graphic novel hip-hop history (originally serialized on the popular website Boingboing) covers the years 1981-1983. Covering the early years of 1981-1983, Hip Hop has made a big transition from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records.
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Hip Hop Family Tree 3
1983-1984
Ed Piskor
The third volume of the popular webcomic tells the true story of hip-hoppers The Beastie Boys, Run DMC, The Fat Boys, and many more. Ed Piskor's acclaimed graphic novel series continues! Book 3 highlights Run DMC's rise to fame and introduces unassailable acts like Whodini, The Fat Boys, Slick Rick, and Doug E Fresh.
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The Hippest Trip in America
Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style
Nelson George
An authoritative history of the groundbreaking syndicated television show that has become an icon of American pop culture, from acclaimed author and filmmaker Nelson George, "the most accomplished black music critic of his generation" (Washington Post Book World).
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How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony
(And Why You Should Care)
Ross W. Duffin
"A fascinating and genuinely accessible guide....Educating, enjoyable, and delightfully unscary."—Classical Music What if Bach and Mozart heard richer, more dramatic chords than we hear in music today? What sonorities and moods have we lost in playing...
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How Music Dies (or Lives)
Field Recording and the Battle for Democracy in the Arts
Ian Brennan
All recordings document life, arising from a specific time and place, and if that place is artificial, the results will be as well. Culled from a lifetime of learning through failure and designed to provoke thought and inspiration for artists in every medium, How Music Dies (or Lives) is a virtual how-to manual for those on a quest for authenticity
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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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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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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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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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Lion Songs
Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe
Banning Eyre
Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anti-colonial struggle and cultural identity.

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