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 History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs
Greil Marcus
"In his new book, which is surely one of his best and most beautifully written, Marcus revisits ten songs, recorded during the last sixty years, some of them long forgotten, in order to capture the pulsating and powerful language of rock 'n' roll. . . . The book, I am certain, will compel readers to return to the songs Marcus has anointed.
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The Elements of Music
Melody, Rhythm, and Harmony
Dr. Jason Martineau
An elegant primer on the principles and theories of music. This innovative book presents the elements of music by building upon the long-known fundamentals of acoustics, proportion and relationship—a kind of musical metaphor. In combination with...
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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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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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The Blue Devils of Nada
A Contemporary American Approach to Aesthetic Statement
Albert Murray
Albert Murray gives readers the redefined essence of his lifetime meditation on the blues as this musical style informs American life. Here are incisive essays on writing, music, and art that go beyond the social-science fiction of Negrohood to describe in no uncertain terms what it means to be American.
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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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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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Coltrane
The Story of a Sound
Ben Ratliff
John Coltrane left an indelible mark on the world, but what was the essence of his achievement that makes him so prized forty years after his death? What were the factors that helped Coltrane become who he was? And what would a John Coltrane look...
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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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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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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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