97 books like Gumbo Ya-Ya

By Lyle Saxon, Edward Dreyer, Robert Tallant

Here are 97 books that Gumbo Ya-Ya fans have personally recommended if you like Gumbo Ya-Ya. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Hear Me Talkin' to Ya

Franz Douskey Author Of Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years

From my list on the roots of social change through popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

More has been accomplished by music to wake us up that any marches, speeches, injustice, and/or wealth. In the beginning, music and its many forms I followed were an accident. Now I see that music is vital for social expression, intimacy, solitude. The walls in my writing room are covered with photos, CDs, 78s, and most certainly live recordings and books. I feel sorry for the soul(s) who will have to pick through this history when I’ve gone to that Upper Room.

Franz's book list on the roots of social change through popular music

Franz Douskey Why did Franz love this book?

This is a story of Jazz by the musicians who made it. Hear Me Talkin' to Ya is a wide study of the Jazz at its source (New Orleans) through the era of Big Bands and into Modern Jazz, from Kid Ory to Dave Brubeck. This book doesn’t have a narrative or authors’ opinions. This book features passages quoted by Billie Holiday, Mary Lou Williams, Lil Harden Armstrong, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Othello Tinsley, Dizzy Gillespie, and a hundred other musicians.

We’ve entered a second era of inclusion. Women now play an essential role in creating music. Add Lizzie Miles, Anita O’Day, Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Mary Ann McCall, Alberta Hunter, and Leora Henderson and we get a different perspective of the evolution of music culture.  

By Nat Shapiro, Nat Hentoff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hear Me Talkin' to Ya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hear Me Talkin' to Ya (Dover Books On Music: History)

"Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." — Charlie Parker
"What is jazz? The rhythm — the feeling." — Coleman Hawkins
"The best sound usually comes the first time you do something. If it's spontaneous, it's going to be rough, not clean, but it's going to have the spirit which is the essence of jazz." — Dave Brubeck
Here, in their own words, such famous jazz musicians as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Bunk Johnson,…


Book cover of Sun Records: The Brief History of the Legendary Record Label

Franz Douskey Author Of Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years

From my list on the roots of social change through popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

More has been accomplished by music to wake us up that any marches, speeches, injustice, and/or wealth. In the beginning, music and its many forms I followed were an accident. Now I see that music is vital for social expression, intimacy, solitude. The walls in my writing room are covered with photos, CDs, 78s, and most certainly live recordings and books. I feel sorry for the soul(s) who will have to pick through this history when I’ve gone to that Upper Room.

Franz's book list on the roots of social change through popular music

Franz Douskey Why did Franz love this book?

I lived in Memphis during the early 1960. I visited the Sun Recording Studios at 706 Union Avenue, and then 639 Madison Avenue. Sam Phillips created Sun Records. He was the first person to record, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, B. B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, /Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and dozens of other musicians. Race didn’t matter to Sam, even though he lived and recorded in a deep, tough Jim Crow city.

Escott’s and Hawkins’ book captures the remarkable history of that small record label stuck in the depths of the time of mean southern roots. Vital book to dig into the creative, insightful mind of Sam Phillips, and his journey to bring rural, rough-hewed music to a wider, white audience.

By Colin Escott, Martin Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sun Records as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Rythm Oil: A Journey Through The Music Of The American South

Franz Douskey Author Of Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years

From my list on the roots of social change through popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

More has been accomplished by music to wake us up that any marches, speeches, injustice, and/or wealth. In the beginning, music and its many forms I followed were an accident. Now I see that music is vital for social expression, intimacy, solitude. The walls in my writing room are covered with photos, CDs, 78s, and most certainly live recordings and books. I feel sorry for the soul(s) who will have to pick through this history when I’ve gone to that Upper Room.

Franz's book list on the roots of social change through popular music

Franz Douskey Why did Franz love this book?

Yes, the title is spelled correctly. I’ve known Stanley Booth from our days in Memphis. He has written about The Rolling Stones, B. B. King, Al Green, and Keith Richards. Keith wrote that “The interesting thing about music to me is that music has always seemed streaks ahead of any other Art form or any other form of social expression.” It has never been said any better.

Stanley Booth’s Rythm Oil contains studies of numerous, forgotten musicians and singers. It is a study of remote history. Stanley Booth doesn’t write with ink. He writes with grit.

By Stanley Booth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rythm Oil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of 20 essays centred on Memphis, Tennessee, and comprising a fusion of fact, essays and fiction in which the author describes his encounters with major figures of American blues and soul music. Stanley Booth also wrote "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones".


Book cover of Appalachian Patterns: Stories

Franz Douskey Author Of Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years

From my list on the roots of social change through popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

More has been accomplished by music to wake us up that any marches, speeches, injustice, and/or wealth. In the beginning, music and its many forms I followed were an accident. Now I see that music is vital for social expression, intimacy, solitude. The walls in my writing room are covered with photos, CDs, 78s, and most certainly live recordings and books. I feel sorry for the soul(s) who will have to pick through this history when I’ve gone to that Upper Room.

Franz's book list on the roots of social change through popular music

Franz Douskey Why did Franz love this book?

Tight, vivid writing about the poorest people in America in the richest country in the world. There is dignity and warmth of two sons caring for their blind father, and there is God in also every life, for better or worse. I have to read this book at least once a year to remember what hard times and resolutions are. Every word seems to matter.

By Bo Ball,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Appalachian Patterns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of short stories is set in Appalachia and include two Pushcart Prize winners.


Book cover of Songs in the Key of Z

Michael Tau Author Of Extreme Music: From Silence to Noise and Everything In Between

From my list on absolutely arcane corners of human existence.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following mysterious trails and uncovering esoteric stories: it’s what I love to do, and it’s also what I love to read about. Before I released Extreme Music, I wrote extensively about unusual music subcultures and audiological anomalies, for example artists who put out hourlong blocks of unchanging white noise. I’ve learned that the most interesting ideas – and tales – exist in these outer fringes.

Michael's book list on absolutely arcane corners of human existence

Michael Tau Why did Michael love this book?

The definitive book on outsider musicians, from The Shaggs to Jandek to the hyper-obscure likes of Y. Bhekhirst, who left copies of his outrageously bizarre cassette album, Hot In the Airport, at several NYC record stores before permanently disappearing into thin air. A detailed work that required copious original research to dig up murky facts about obscure musicians, it has been an inspiration to me as a writer. In fact, in my book I dedicate an entire chapter to outsider musicians of the digital age, in obvious homage to this magical tome.

By Irwin Chusid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Songs in the Key of Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Outsider musicians can be the product of damaged DNA, alien abduction, drug fry, demonic possession, or simply sheer obliviousness. This book profiles dozens of outsider musicians, both prominent and obscure—figures such as The Shaggs, Syd Barrett, Tiny Tim, Jandek, Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston, Harry Partch, and The Legendary Stardust Cowboy—and presents their strange life stories along with photographs, interviews, cartoons, and discographies. About the only things these self-taught artists have in common are an utter lack of conventional tunefulness and an overabundance of earnestness and passion. But, believe it or not, they’re worth listening to, often outmatching all contenders for…


Book cover of How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music

Nicholas Tochka Author Of Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America

From my list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi, my name is Nick, and I’m a recovering rockist. I’ve collected records and vintage gear; I’ve owned Ray Coleman biographies. I’ve played in garage bands that did terrible punk-rock covers of songs like Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” I even used to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. And most embarrassingly, I believed in the power of rock – to effect political change, to free people’s bodies and minds. But if once I was a true believer, today I’ve become a rock ’n’ roll skeptic. And I hope that this list might help you rethink everything you thought you knew about rock, too.

Nicholas' book list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll

Nicholas Tochka Why did Nicholas love this book?

A provocative pre-history of rock music, written to provoke. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for John, Paul, George, and Ringo to show up.)

Wald crafts a fascinating alternative history of commercial popular music in the first half of the twentieth century, asking readers to focus not on big names or influential records but on the everyday practices, technologies, and contexts through which musicians and listeners actually experienced the music. Avoid if you don’t want to see a few sacred cows slaughtered.

By Elijah Wald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There are no definitive histories," writes Elijah Wald, in this provocative reassessment of American popular music, "because the past keeps looking different as the present changes." Earlier musical styles sound different to us today because we hear them through the musical filter of other styles that came after them, all the way through funk and hiphop. As its blasphemous title suggests, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll rejects the conventional pieties of mainstream jazz and rock history. Rather than concentrating on those traditionally favored styles, the book traces the evolution of popular music through developing tastes, trends and technologies-including…


Book cover of Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations

Bob Beatty Author Of Play All Night! Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East

From my list on the crossroads of music, culture, history, and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

An academically trained historian, I'm a Music Obsessive/History Geek/Southerner/Guitarist/Public Historian/Teacher/Interpreter/Writer/Fan who studies the intersection of music, culture, history, and place. I grew up devouring Mom’s Beatles and Dad’s country records. My life changed in 6th grade when I got my first guitar and discovered the blues. In 7th grade I wrote a research paper on the hippies. That’s when I fell in love with the counterculture. Throughout my life I’ve interwoven my love of the blues, punk rock, the Allman Brothers Band, and the Jam Depression collective as a historian, fan, and musician. My enduring passion culminated in a Ph.D. and the publication of Play All Night! Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East. 

Bob's book list on the crossroads of music, culture, history, and place

Bob Beatty Why did Bob love this book?

I’ve spent a lot of time with this remarkable book over the years.

I suppose my greatest takeaway is the way Ward explores music’s meaning from a variety of angles and intersections: musical, economic, legal, racial, gender, class, and generational.

The airwaves could not be segregated; music gave insight into the Black freedom struggle and a shared sense of humanity that helped topple Jim Crow barriers nationwide. I particularly appreciate how Ward unpacks the ways Black audiences shaped the sounds of the era. Black music reflected an optimism and an assertion of racial pride, and you’ll find the modern Civil Rights Movement at the heart of his book.

Crossroads: African American freedom struggle, Postwar America, the South

By Brian Ward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Just My Soul Responding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brian Ward is Lecturer in American History at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne .; This book is intended for american studies, American history postwar social and cultural history, political history, Black history, Race and Ethnic studies and Cultural studies together with the general trade music.


Book cover of A Women's History of the Beatles

Nicholas Tochka Author Of Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America

From my list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi, my name is Nick, and I’m a recovering rockist. I’ve collected records and vintage gear; I’ve owned Ray Coleman biographies. I’ve played in garage bands that did terrible punk-rock covers of songs like Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” I even used to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. And most embarrassingly, I believed in the power of rock – to effect political change, to free people’s bodies and minds. But if once I was a true believer, today I’ve become a rock ’n’ roll skeptic. And I hope that this list might help you rethink everything you thought you knew about rock, too.

Nicholas' book list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll

Nicholas Tochka Why did Nicholas love this book?

Over the past few decades, so much writing about rock has sought to overturn received wisdom about the music.

Feldman-Barrett’s excellent, funny, and beautifully written book – re-examining the Beatles in relation to the lives of women – is the best kind of alternative history. She turns the story of the Beatles upside down, and makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about the group.

By Christine Feldman-Barrett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Women's History of the Beatles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2022 Open Publication Prize by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-ANZ) A Women's History of the Beatles is the first book to offer a detailed presentation of the band's social and cultural impact as understood through the experiences and lives of women. Drawing on a mix of interviews, archival research, textual analysis, and autoethnography, this scholarly work depicts how the Beatles have profoundly shaped and enriched the lives of women, while also reexamining key, influential female figures within the group's history. Organized topically based on key themes important to the Beatles story, each…


Book cover of Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS

Katta Kis Author Of Love in the Liner Notes

From my list on for pop star lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with pop music since I was a kid singing Britney Spear’s “Lucky” with my friends. Eventually, I evolved into a punk-ass cynical teenager who disavowed my love of pop, but the fascination remained. In college, I started a pop star romance that would–many, many years later–become my debut book Love in the Liner Notes. In the process, I read an obsessively large number of books touching on music, celebrities, musicians, and the entertainment industry. I hope you enjoy a selection of my favorites, mostly romances (what can I say, I have a type) that brought me the kind of joy only a pop star can. 

Katta's book list on for pop star lovers

Katta Kis Why did Katta love this book?

I love reading about pop culture history and this was a technicolor burst of educational joy.

Written by a fan, this book was not a critical examination on the boy band industry but it was a delightful high-level look at male vocal groups from the Beatles to BTS. As someone with a fascination with fan culture, celebrity culture, and pop music, this book filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge, made me giggle, and brought back memories of my neighbor’s Tiger Beat posters.

By Maria Sherman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Larger Than Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The music, the fans, the choreography, the clothes, the merch, the hysteria... the hair. The pop phenomenon that dominated the 1990s and 2000s has left a long-lasting mark on culture, yet no book has fully celebrated them. Maria Sherman has a deep love of boy bands and has written extensively on them for Jezebel, where she currently works, as well as in Rolling Stone, Vulture, and more. In this book, her first, she celebrates the boy band revolution with a mix of serious fandom and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Larger Than Life begins with a brief look at the history of…


Book cover of Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé

Seth Mallios Author Of Let it Rock! Live From San Diego State

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Why am I passionate about this?

While it is tempting to insist that the reason we wrote a five-volume set on the history of local rock ‘n’ roll was as context for rescuing the famed 1976 “Backdoor Mural,” it’s not entirely true. Jaime and I love live music, mark major life events with important musical milestones, and delight in bizarre musical tangents. Music moves us, history matters, and the intersection of song and society is profound, elucidating, and eternally relevant.

Seth's book list on die-hard rockers

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Few books on popular music history include analysis of the evolving conditions of live concerts. Most inventory the top shows and offer quirky anecdotes, but Steve Waksman’s Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé refuses to separate the actual performance from the numerous behind-the-scene individuals that shaped the shows. Readers will come to appreciate diverse influences over a turbulent 170-year history that have led to today’s modern music festival.

By Steve Waksman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live Music in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Swedish concert singer Jenny Lind toured the U.S. in 1850, she became the prototype for the modern pop star. Meanwhile, her manager, P.T. Barnum, became the prototype for another figure of enduring significance: the pop culture impresario. Starting with Lind's fabled U.S. tour and winding all the way into the twenty-first century, Live Music in America surveys the ongoing impact and changing conditions of live music performance in the U.S. It covers
a range of historic performances, from the Fisk Jubilee Singers expanding the sphere of African American music in the 1870s, to Benny Goodman bringing swing to…


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