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Musical Memoirs Part 2

In part 2 of our article about musicians who have written interesting autobiographies, Music Lovers recommends some great books together with key albums by a varied selection of international artists, all available in the library catalogue.

Testimony
Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson was the guitarist and main songwriter for The Band, a legendary group of musicians who released a string of critically acclaimed albums from the late ‘60s to the late ‘70s. The Band are also famous for having backed Bob Dylan on his first tour playing electric rock music (as opposed to acoustic folk), and for withstanding the catcalls of many in the audience during the tour. This well-written book covers Robinson's childhood in Canada, where he spend time on the Indian reservation that was home to his Native American mother, through to his experiences touring with Ronnie Hawkins’ popular rockabilly band in the early 1960s. From there the story covers touring and recording with Dylan, the late ‘60s spend in Woodstock working with The Band, and ending with The Band's farewell concert in 1976, captured in Martin Scorsese's classic film "The Last Waltz." Robertson is a natural storyteller, and in "Testimony" he has plenty of exciting rock ‘n’ roll tales to tell.

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Recommended Album:
"The Band"

Widely regarded as The Band's finest album, this self-titled effort from 1969 perfectly presents the group's unique blend of Americana, blues, rock and country, with amazing singing, playing and song writing on every track.

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Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen

He may be a household name now, but in his excellent memoir "Born to Run." Springsteen explains that he experienced years of playing gigs every night to small crowds, sleeping wherever he could and eating only the occasional hamburger before finding fame and fortune. This autobiography presents an interesting account of what it was like growing up in a New Jersey suburb during the 1950s and ‘60s, and the excitement of discovering the music that was being created at that time. In "Born to Run," Springsteen comes across as a humble, hardworking person who is far from perfect, but who never forgets where he came from or takes his success for granted.

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Recommended Album:
"Born in the USA"

Probably Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's most famous album, "Born in the USA" is also one of their best, with highly focused song writing and passionate performances throughout. Even the slightly dated 1980s production doesn't distract too much from this flawless set of songs.

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I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp
Richard Hell

Music fans with an interest in the New York punk rock and art scenes of the 1970s and ‘80s will enjoy Richard Hell's entertaining memoir. Hell was a guitarist with several legendary bands of that era, including the Heartbreakers, Television, and his own group, Richard Hell and the Voidoids. While Hell can be annoyingly conceited and mean-spirited in his writing, this book is still a fun read for fans of the writer's music and other artists from the era such as The Ramones, Blondie and Johnny Thunders.

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Recommended Album:
"CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

The album is the soundtrack to a film about the scene around New York club CBGB, a scene that Richard Hell was very much a part of and that he writes about in his autobiography. The album features a track by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, as well as songs by other bands the guitarist was involved with such as Television.

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M Train
Patti Smith

Legendary writer and singer-songwriter Patti Smith followed up her acclaimed 2010 memoir "Just Kids" with "M Train," another excellent book in which this creative artist delves into her own mind and memories. In this book, Smith ruminates on a wide variety of personal interests including, cats, coffee, the creative process, favourite writers and travel.

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Recommended Album:
"Horses"

Patti Smith's 1975 debut album "Horses" is a classic of edgy New York underground rock. Critically acclaimed at the time of its initial release, it continues to inspire bands and listeners to the present day.

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