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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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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Jazz Poems
Ever since its first flowering, jazz has had a powerful influence on American poetry; this scintillating anthology offers a treasury of poems that are as varied and as vital as the music that inspired them.From the Harlem Renaissance to the beat...
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Jazz Poetry Anthology
Sascha Feinstein
Dizzy Gillespie had this to say: "These poems hit it right on the head, and the book is certainly essential for anyone who is interested in our music." Containing poems not just about jazz, but also written in the spirit of jazz, this book is an...
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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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Kill 'Em and Leave
Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
National Book Award winner James McBride goes in search of the "real" James Brown after receiving a tip that promises to uncover the man behind the myth. His surprising journey illuminates not only our understanding of this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius but the ways in which our cultural heritage...
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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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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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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
Selected Lyrics (Unsigned Edition - signed editions are currently unavailable)
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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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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Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Invention of Post Bop
Jeremy Yudkin
Focusing on one of the legendary trumpet players in jazz, Jeremy Yudkin's book examines Miles Davis's often overlooked music of the mid-1960s with a behind-the-scenes study of the evolution of a new, post bop style. It spotlights Davis during an...
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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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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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