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 Rest Is Noise
Listening to the Twentieth Century
Alex Ross
In this sweeping and dramatic narrative, Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, weaves together the histories of the twentieth century and its music, from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties...
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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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The Vulture
Gil Scott-Heron
Digging the rhythms of the street, where the biggest deal life has to offer is getting high, this hip, fast-moving thriller relates the strange story of the murder of a teenage boy called John Lee...
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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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Keystone Korner
Portrait of a Jazz Club
Kathy Sloane
During the 1970s, when jazz clubs all over America were folding under the onslaught of rock and roll and disco, San Francisco's Keystone Korner was an oasis for jazz musicians and patrons. Tucked next to a police...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Pure Solar World
Sun Ra and Afrofuturism
Paul Youngquist
The first book to thoroughly explore Sun Ra's vast and wondrous vision, both as cosmic philosopher and Afrocentric historian/mythologist. An essential voyage for Ra fans. —Recommended by Michael

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