A rockin' read: 'The Boy Who Cried Freebird'

Freebird_lI got handed a lot of random stuff at the free-for-all that was SXSW last month. Everywhere I turned, some dude was offering me a CD, a flier for his band’s show, an ill-fitting promotional t-shirt, a cocktail made using the super-expensive new liquor brand sponsoring the party I was at — it was a tough assignment, lemme tell ya. (I also caught a musical performance or two.) But of all that swag, practically the only thing that was truly worth lugging home from Texas was a book about music called The Boy Who Cried Freebird. Author Mitch Myers gave me a copy when we met through colleagues toward the end of the festival, promising it’d make good airplane reading on my return flight. He was right, and I’m still making my way through its pages almost a month later. It’s not that it’s a particularly long book (just 300 or so pages) — there’s just so much in there that it’d be a shame to rush through.

The Boy Who Cried Freebird
explores rock history through a strange blend of journalistic investigations, speculative rumors, solemn appreciations, and flat-out fiction. In one chapter, a kid from the future travels back in time to see the Grateful Dead play the Fillmore West; in another, Myers waxes philosophical about the true intent of Lou Reed’s infamous Metal Machine Music. It’s a weird little treasure trove of a book — funny, moving, and informative — and now that it’s come out in paperback this week, it’s even easier to add it to your nightstand rotation. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite books about music (fiction or non)?

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  • Winona

    That sounds like a cool book to check out – aside from the entire Klosterman catalogs and most of the Hornby catalog (which I’m sure will be mentioned ad nauseam), I personally enjoyed Piano Girl, by Robin Meloy Goldsby. She shares anecdotes about her 30-year career as a lounge pianist – at times hilarious, at times heartwarming… and it includes a very cool chapter about being married to a bass player. Also really enjoyed recording engineer Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere – a must for Beatles fans or anyone who’s ever set foot in a recording studio.

  • Joe C

    1) Led Zep’s Stairway to Heaven
    2) Eagles Take it to the Limit.
    3) Elton John’s biography(forget the title) 70’s Nirvana!

  • Jess

    Rob Sheffield’s “Love is a Mixtape.”

  • C. A. Bridges

    “Glimpses,” by Lewis Shiner. A man travels back into time to help rock legends avoid their untimely deaths and complete their unfinished albums, with varying results. Shiner’s love of music and reverence for the musicians shines through every page, and he nails the historical feel every time.

  • La La Love You

    The best music book I ever read is “Woody Guthrie: A Life” by Joe Klein. You don’t have to be a fan or even know much about Guthrie to enjoy the book – I read it before he enjoyed a mini-revivial from the Mermaid Avenue project. It’s a very well-written book about a truly unique and fascinating man.
    -Chronicles,Vol. 1 by Dylan
    -Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
    -King Dork by Frank Portman
    -England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage
    -Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad
    -Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
    -Deep Blues by Robert Palmer

  • Lauren

    High Fidelity, hands down. Absolutely amazing.

  • Rich

    It’s really hard to top Chuck Klosterman’s first three books. Any guy who can find parallels behind each one of his ex-girlfriends and a member of KISS is alright with me…

  • La La Love You

    I forgot “high Fidelity”, probably because I’ve tried to block its existance entirely based on the horrific movie adaptation, but yes, that’s a great one. Read the book, avoid the movie like the plague. And also pick up Nick Hornby’s “Songbook”, a collection of essays about various songs that comes with a CD.
    Just my opinion but I think Klosterman is vastly over-rated.

  • mj

    it’s been said already, but i’ll say it again.
    any book written by chuck klosterman.

  • Kirsten

    Yes to the Klosterman books, yes to the Hornby books. I admit to a fondness for Dave Barry’s Book Of Bad Songs, and I love my 1001 Albums You Must Listen To Before You Die Anthology to death. But I have to admit, the one that stays with me the most is Charles Cross’ Heavier Than Heaven. But I’m a child of the 90s with a never ending crush on Kurt Cobain…

  • M

    I love the Warren Zevon biography, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”. Also, “This Is Your Brain on Music” is really interesting.

  • nycgirllms

    I loved “How Soon Is Never” by Marc Spitz. It’s about this music writer who tries to recapture his lost youth and win the girl of his dreams by reuinting the one band that broke his heart–The Smiths. The paperback edition has an interview w/ Morrissey and they discuss the book amoung other things. Being a HUGE Smiths fan, getting this book was a no brainer.

  • bbc

    One of Tom Perrotta’s early books about a wedding band called The Wishbones. Signature Perrotta with a little struggling musician mixed in as well.

  • Dan

    Rob Sheffield’s personal biography Love is a Mix Tape is probably at the top of my list. I also would include the Chuck Klosterman and Nick Hornby books.

  • Winona

    Holy crap – how could I have forgotten Love is a Mixtape?!?!

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