The best music books covering late sixties and seventies

Ljubinko Zivkovic
By Ljubinko Zivkovic

Who am I?

Popular music in all its shapes and forms has permeated my life since my pre-teen years and has remained both an intimate and professional preoccupation of mine throughout my life, even when I was doing other things professionally. Books dealing with all aspects of music, from artist biographies to its cultural and social examinations have been and remain that essential element that both fuel and satisfy that interest and give it that expanded feature it needs. As somebody who has a degree in journalism and had careers as a journalist, diplomat, and a translator, and now as a freelance writer, music and books on music remain that thread that connects them all.

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From The Piles: Music News & Opinion

Writing about any specific subject, even if it is something so imaginative and free-wheeling like music can have its constraints, particularly if it is done for specific publications. Printed or online. Having your own space or space, where you can express your opinions and ideas about a certain subject gives you the possibility to express yourself in writing form and show what you really feel and think.

When discussing music, my outlet in that respect is ‘From the Piles.’ As a writer who deals with music reviews on a daily basis, you form piles. Music comes in incessantly, and you can write about so much of it. Yet, when you do it on a free-will basis, it can be old new, weird, or just straightforward pop.

The books I picked & why

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Never a Dull Moment: 1971 the Year That Rock Exploded

By David Hepworth,

Book cover of Never a Dull Moment: 1971 the Year That Rock Exploded

Why this book?

We’ve just closed 2021, 50 years on from 1971, many are now claiming was the crucial year for modern music. And they just might be right, particularly renowned British journalist David Hepworth, who published his book on the year back in 2017, actually under two slightly differing titles (and covers) — 1971 Never a Dull Moment was subtitled both as Rock’s Golden Year and The Year Rock Exploded. An excellent book and an intriguing read, whichever version you pick up.

The book was recently re-worked and expanded into Apple TV+ documentary series, which brought yet another title change, reflecting a wider musical spectrum — 1971 — The year that music changed everything. The series has some brilliant rarely seen or forgotten footage that is a must-see. Still, the key question here is — did 1971 have such a musical significance?

Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader

By Lester Bangs,

Book cover of Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader

Why this book?

Late Lester Bangs is probably the first name that comes to my mind when piercing, observant rock criticism is concerned, but it seems his books are currently collecting dust somewhere, even though they have not lost any of their relevance.

He is also one of the authors that not only shaped my personal views on music, but also the style of writing I’m trying to pursue.

Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes

By Greil Marcus,

Book cover of Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes

Why this book?

Greil Marcus is one of those authors that does not only look at music as an isolated phenomenon, but also details its cultural, social as well as political background. In Invisible Republic he covers the phenomenon of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, both from their musical but also cultural aspects.

Any Old Way You Choose It

By Robert Christgau,

Book cover of Any Old Way You Choose It

Why this book?

In many ways, this book by one of the rock critic veterans covers almost exactly the period in modern music history that relates to my perspective book. It is a collection of his early writings, partly at the time when he was the music editor at Village Voice. Personally, Christgau is one rock critic that perfected the art of album/single reviews.

Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul

By Stuart Cosgrove,

Book cover of Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul

Why this book?

Scottish author Cosgrove wrote probably the ultimate trilogy of books covering the 1967-69 period of soul music, of which the ‘68’ tome dealing with the Memphis sound and southern soul is one. Cosgrove is another author that looks at all the cultural and social aspects of music with an easy and understandable writing style that keeps you turning the pages with ease.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in rock music, civil rights, and Bob Dylan?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about rock music, civil rights, and Bob Dylan.

Rock Music Explore 116 books about rock music
Civil Rights Explore 91 books about civil rights
Bob Dylan Explore 23 books about Bob Dylan

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Garcia: An American Life, Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, the Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock, and Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead if you like this list.